Tokyo Zombie by Yusaku Hanakuma: B+

tokyozombieFrom the back cover:
Tokyo Zombie is a horror-comedy manga about two blue-collar factory workers, Mitsuo and Fujio, whose plans for martial arts fame are sidelined when zombies take over Tokyo. In this gory and hilarious tale, the survivors of the zombie apocalypse have been enslaved by the wealthy ruling class, and must cater to their every depraved whim… or be thrown outside the city to fend for themselves. When some of the survivors are enlisted to fight in an undead gladiator arena for the amusement of the rich, Mitsuo and Fujio are locked in a battle for fame, freedom, and their very lives!

Our bizarre tale begins when factory workers Fujio and Mitsuo, a pair of martial arts buffs, kill their blowhard coworker and then head to Dark Fuji, a mountain of garbage, to bury his body. It just so happens that on that same day, zombies rise from Dark Fuji’s mix of industrial sludge and disgruntled spirits and begin terrorizing society. Fujio and Mitsuo are content to continue practicing their grappling moves in peace, but when zombies invade their factory and Mitsuo gets bitten during a food run, they can avoid the world’s crisis no longer.

The story picks up five years later. Humans have erected a wall to keep the zombies out. The rich are living well while slave labor provides their power and their amusement, particularly in the form of the gladiator deathmatch show, in which humans are pitted against zombies for the benefit of a bloodthirsty and moneyed audience. Fujio is one of the fighters, disliked by the crowd for how easily he wins using skills and techniques they couldn’t begin to understand. When the promoter tries to change things up, Fujio meets his next opponent, zombiefied Mitsuo, while outside a timely slave uprising (on pigback) is brewing. The outcome must be seen to be believed.

You’re likely to like Tokyo Zombie if:
* Absurd things appeal to you.
* You liked Shaun of the Dead.
* You don’t mind gore. These are zombies and they do go around biting people, sometimes in sensitive places. Humans commit acts of brutality against each other, too.
* You think dialogue like “Whoa. I think an old lady’s head just rolled by” is funny.
* You aren’t turned off by the heta uma (literally “bad, but good”) art style that works well for decomposing zombies and justice-dispensing dogs but not so well on protagonists.

I fit most of those categories, so I definitely enjoyed Tokyo Zombie. I can’t lie—it’s totally gross and I’m not entirely sure what the point is, but for sheer strangeness alone this isn’t one to be missed.

Tokyo Zombie is published in English by Last Gasp. It’s complete in one volume.

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