Attempting to create a dramatic atmosphere with creepy music and occasional psychobabble about murder and God, Zombie-Loan is Death Note’s retarded third cousin that the family keeps hush-hush. Frequent, boring shots at comedy mesh together with the so-called action like a block of granite and a zucchini, and make about as much sense. Imagine chibi comedy randomly popping up in a bad Death Note parody every five minutes, and you’ll have the mental image. Zombie-Loan doesn’t deserve to be in the same dimension as Death Note, let alone the same paragraph, but I’m man enough to write that anyway because I love you, and you need to know.
The story stumbles around like a three-legged rhinoceros, ignoring gaping plot holes left and right while pretending to be serious. The “twists” in this story are hinted at so obviously that it is more a relief than a revelation when they finally happen so events can finally move on. Chibi comedy cuts in at the height of fledgling drama, destroying any pretension this anime might have had towards a serious message, or a semblance of organization, for that matter. One major theme of the story, introduced in the first few episodes, can be explained in one, simple sentence: “Get busy living, or get busy dying”. Yes, just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, they ripped off The Shawshank Redemption. I commend their steel balls, if nothing else.
Rather than take advantage of the unique concept that is a “Zombie Loan” - allowing a zombified existence after death and the chance of regaining full life - the characters throw around fancy supernatural-related words like “ectoplasm” and leave it at that. Patiently waiting for an explanation of events, any basis for the mystical powers, or more details about the heavenly system the characters are supported by, my hopes were shot in the head and dumped unceremoniously in a ditch on the side of the road.
Apparently the director had short-term memory loss, as the anime periodically summarizes information through dialogue as if you just jumped in and didn’t watch the past nine episodes (yes, it happens in the tenth episode). A brief recap at the beginning of the episode would have done the same job. It is boring filler that proves they had nothing else worth showing, and it is totally unneeded in a show that is 13 episodes long.
Finally, making (surprise!) another huge mistake, the show has no conclusion. Just as the major villains are introduced and the story ramps up to something a tad interesting, the anime ends. There is one thing Zombie-Loan does well, though - disappointing the viewer.
Zombie-Loan must take pleasure in things that raise my blood pressure, for example, a lack of reasonable effort, say, coloring in their cels. A main character would often stand in a crowd of blue or gray sketches, as if the animators forgot to color in all those objects all the way up until the last episode. Also, where they existed, the backgrounds were boring and repetitive – a “motion haze” was often used as a cheap substitute, with the unfortunate side effects of burning my retinas out of my skull.
Action scenes have so many still frames that I call them action scenes only because I can’t think of a better term. The sections deemed worthy of coloring in looked pretty good, but these portions flowed more like a manga than an anime. Character movements left much to be desired whenever they weren’t fighting in slow motion. Moreover, my 4-year-old cousin has drawn stick figures with more artistic value than the faces of these characters. Their heads are flat sheets with noses and mouths, and every male figure is constantly slouching, bent back at the waist. Wow, they’re so cool! Hold on though, I need to grab the barf bag I keep for characters like this, just bringing the images to mind is making me nauseous.
The opening theme was pretty catchy. Drum-heavy with plenty of symbols and a cool guitar riff, it had me leaning in for more... then the singer started screaming bloody murder, slowly scraping a layer of skin off the inside of my ear canals. The rest of the anime did little to redeem this ear-splitting atrocity.
Rather than starting and stopping, like normal music, each episode of Zombie-Loan has a 20 minute track that plays in the background the entire time, leading to extremely awkward transitions between settings as well as the highest number of inappropriately backed scenes I’ve ever heard in any anime. The sound guy left Moonlight Sonata on repeat and said “eh, it’ll work”. Yeah, it worked all right – like a pile driver slowly pounding stakes into my temporal lobe. A character shouting obnoxiously would trigger a chibi animation from an affronted cast member – moments that might have been at least a tad amusing, if it weren’t for the sad piano/harp/violin/boringashit music inevitably present in the background. Characters would beat each other up and trip over themselves, but the droning music instantly killed the humor. By the third episode, the sad violins finally let up in exchange for generic lounge jazz, which is their idea of lighthearted, apparently.
Voice acting, as you might expect at this point, did little to improve this whirlpool of inanity. I was tired of Michiru’s voice after her first line. She sounds just like a 16 year old girl; one that’s been crawling through a desert without water for two days. I actually felt thirsty whenever I heard her dry whisper of a voice slip out from her throat. Also, Chika was nasally and annoying. The other voices weren’t great but at the least weren’t offensive.
While it was almost too little too late, the slow-starting character development was enough to make one of the protagonists, Shito, a good character. Beginning with a great mistrust and introversion due to his troubled past, Shito is able to somewhat free himself from a depressing pattern by the end of the anime, an interesting journey to observe. The development of his relationship with the mad scientist’s golem was especially enjoyable, revealing his caring side and drawing back the curtain on a few more tidbits of his past. However, this one bright spark is darkened by clouds of mindless simplicity. Every other character is either motivated by a single, straightforward goal, has taken one too many stupid pills, or is given no background at all.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: a show this bad has to have a girl with large breasts and a tight-fitting track suit somewhere, right? One that inexplicably gets drunk on normal soda? One with an alternate personality that gets involved in a naked lesbian scene in a hot spring filler episode? Fear not, because here Zombie-Loan exceeds all expectations in one Koyomi Yoimachi. It seems trash this bad can’t help but include an ecchi lesbian character, as if it needed another huge rocket booster on its flight to mediocrity. I certainly appreciated the effort because her ecchi antics were a lot more interesting to watch than the story. If there weren’t so many convenient steam clouds I might be more forgiving.
In all seriousness, what really killed this one was the constant flow of disappointments – disappointing animation, disappointing music, and a disappointing storyline – all of which had some potential. The strange and uninteresting conglomeration of contradicting ideas and shortcut methods left a sour taste in my mouth – but that’s probably just the barf.