Zombie Powder

Alt title: Zombiepowder.

Vol: 4; Ch: 27
1999 - 2000
3.659 out of 5 from 921 votes
Rank #18,831
Zombie Powder

In the world there are thirteen "rings of death" which, once collected, can be used to create "Zombie Powder": an elixir capable of granting immortality and restoring life to the dead. Many have tried to collect these dangerous rings which devour their wearers - and all have failed. John Elwood Shepherd is a young pickpocket who lives in one of the many small towns surrounded by the wasteland. When he meets Akatubi Gamma, a wanted criminal on a hunt for the rings; and his mysterious partner C.T. Smith, a highly-talented gunman; he is drawn into following the two in the hopes of saving his sister and having an adventure along the way!

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Contrary to popular belief I'll be explaining why this, being one of my all time favorite manga gets a 9.5 despite the fact it is worthy of a 10/10. Here we go... This series was Tite Kubo’s first published work in Japan. It was serialized starting in 1999, two years before his mega-hit Bleach started its run in Weekly Shonen Jump. As an early work, it is an interesting look at an artist’s growth and development. Like in Bleach, Kubo’s characters have intelligence, cocky attitudes, cool fighting moves, and, in the case of many of the girls, gigantic breasts. In addition to the serious moments when characters struggle with death, family issues, guilt and courage, there are also humorous asides that help alleviate the darkness. This is a much bloodier manga than Bleach, keep that in mind. Since the two series were released so close together, there isn’t much difference in the art style between Zombie Powder and the early chapters of Bleach. Starting in Volume Two, fans can begin seeing Kubo’s distinctive illustrations for the chapter breaks, which often have the characters in more modern, almost hip-hop-style clothes and poses and incorporate the name of the series within the art. Extras are included in the last three volumes. In Volume Two, there is the short bonus story “Ultra Unholy Hearted Machine,” Kubo’s first work, written when he was 18. The characters in that story don’t yet have his trademark sharp-faced look, but it has the twists and turns readers have come to associate with him. The short in Volume Four, “Bad Shield United,” shows the growth that his art style underwent during a period of about two years. The only problem with Zombie Power is that it is unfinished, leaving readers hanging at the end, just as they are beginning to get to know the characters. I’m not sure why it stopped being serialized, but I do hope that he picks it back up at some point. Gamma’s world is an interesting one, and I’d love to read more about it. Fans who are looking for more works by a beloved creator, especially those who want to see his early efforts, will enjoy this four-volume series. It will also appeal to readers looking for a high-octane, high-action, fast read. Well, hope you enjoyed that as much as I'm going to enjoy re-reading Zombie Powder once again. (Just wish Kubo would take a quick break from Bleach just to finally finish this would be masterpiece up)


Story: I really liked the idea of the Rings of Death, and that gathering them together can do something for the gatherer{s}. However, I felt like Zombie Powder was Dragon Ball Z meets Trigun. We have the aspect of gathering many of the same item to grant a wish, and the aspects of the main character having a large bounty on his head and the setting of a futuristic western. I feel like Kubo could squeeze a little more originality in there somewhere. Pace was a thing with me in ZP. It moved at a pretty quick pace, but I'm not sure if it was TOO quick of a pace. At some points, I feel like the story was rushed to get to the main objective, that side-plots were suddenly cut off. The rating for this manga is going to suffer because it's incomplete. The stopping of the serialization left a LOT of lose ends that I was really looking forward to having tied up. Like the mystery behind Gamma's armored arm, and how the surgery turned out. If Kubo wasn't planning on finishing the manga, then he should've planned out the story better to fit 4 volumes.   Art: The art was nice. Very propotional for the main characters. And where people were supposed to look rediculous, they looked rediculous. The action scenes weren't unclear, but they weren't a moving picture, either; you could tell what was supposed to be happening. There weren't a lot of background images to admire, and the setting, as I said before, was a futuristic western. Thus, there was only really a flat landscape. But it looked like a beautiful flat landscape.   Characters: Again, the rating is going to suffer because Zombie Powder is incomplete. The characters had nice little spices to them, but I think that the story was too short to get in to some character development. You learned a little bit about Gamma and Elwood. But I would've liked to see more inner monologue from Elwood, some mysteries about Gamma resolved and what the hell was with Smith. All the lose ends and stunted plot lead to weak character development. But they were original characters, so I give them a 9 out of 10.   If you like Tite Kubo's work, then you should give this a look. It's short and sweet, but don't expect too too much out of it, because it's not finished. I think it's something you should read on the side, when you get sick of whatever long series you're reading.


I was somewhat on board in the first few chapters (it was still somewhat mediocre, but an interesting enough premise and presentation), but I quickly began getting disinterested and annoyed at the half-assed storytelling. The first problem is that there are far too many fights, with most of them only having weak reasons for taking place. The inclusion of magical flame attacks was also a huge mistake, the attempt to make Elwood relevant was pathetic, and the idea of a berserk state being suppressed felt uninspired. The second problem, which is related, is that the world-building feels undeveloped and weak, especially as it relates to the overarching goal. Yes, the characters are looking for the "rings of the dead." But how did the rings get separated from each other, and why does each group they run across seem to only have a single ring (why hasn't anyone other than them collected more than one)? It feels like the author wasn't concerned with actually asking how a world and society with rings of the dead in it might develop, and was instead just wanting to create a scenario that could provide cheap excuses for characters to fight so the series could have a bunch of fight scenes. Now, is every manga that solely consists of a bunch of fight scenes a bad manga? No. One Piece does exactly that and it's able to be a very engaging story because it has solid worldbuilding and interesting characters. Which brings me to the third problem with this manga: it's characters are not interesting. None of these characters felt horribly unique or fascinating. None of them were charismatic or lovable in any real way. A lot of the character development felt corny or cliched. Like, when they tried showing some hints at Gamma's backstory, I genuinely just did not care at all. Obviously, none of these characters were meant to be "realistic" as they were just too shounen-y, but they also weren't particularly amusing or otherwise heart-grabbing in their over-the-top personas. I would consider the art high quality. It basically just looks like early Bleach did, with the only real problem being its oddly-placed eyes. The faces are angular and there are a lot of zoomed-in shots of a single eye doing eye things. Sometimes, the way characters (Gamma specifically) will be drawn in "cool" poses will feel a bit much. For reference, the story can basically be split up into four sections: the introduction (ch. 1-2), the fight against Calder's group (ch. 3-8), the fight against Balmunk's group (ch. 9-24), and the ending (ch. 25-27). The second section introduces Smith and the third section introduces Wolfina. The ending section doesn't come to any sort of satisfying resolution and is instead set up as though this were just the prologue to a larger story or something.

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