Studio BUG Films may not have been around for long, but they make a big impression with “Zom 100,” particularly the premiere, which is one of the best first episodes of an anime in years. The episode starts losing color and becoming more and more static as Akira becomes a company drone, but the moment the zombie apocalypse begins, the screen goes full technicolor — a fantastic riff on zombie apocalypses post-“The Walking Dead” being rather grim and monotone.
On top of that, Akira quite literally rips the black bars off the screen and expands the aspect ratio just as his mind is expanding to embrace life for the first time in three years. It is a brilliant piece of visual storytelling that fully uses the medium of animation to expand on the source material — a manga of the same name by Haro Aso.
One small way in which “Zom 100” feels refreshing in today’s saturated zombie market is that the characters are fully aware of what zombies are, which means we don’t waste time re-discovering the rules.
Though the anime focuses on Akira as he begins to live life to its fullest, it manages to find time to explore small vignettes in each episode that showcase different zombie survival stories. In episode three, we meet people from a Host Club who defend their sanctuary from a horde of zombies. This helps paint a picture of the larger world outside of Akira’s story, similar to “World War Z,” but these more somber stories also serve as great parallels to Akira’s cheerful journey. It is outright impressive how much the episodes pack in such a short runtime, from expanding the world to fleshing out new characters you care about, all in just over 20 minutes.