The Undead. Creatures from the beyond the grave, resurrected by unholy powers. In many stories they acts as little more than hordes of braindead creatures, with only a select few managing to become notable villains. Even rarer are the cases where zombies, skeletons, or vampires star as the protagonists of their own stories, even though such a perspective is truly fascinating. Today’s article is a list of recommendations for series in which this premise is explored, divided by different types of undead.
As always, I intend to keep this list updated whenever I discover new series that fit the description. If you have any suggestions of your own, please let me know and I’ll update the article when possible.
Is This A Zombie?
The Star of this week’s review is a 2-season anime series about the difficult unlife of Ayumu Aikawa, a regular high school boy turned zombie turned magical girl-boy, turned harem protagonist. An energetic comedy series with an endless supply of satire to dish out and some remarkably good action scenes to supplement it.
Zombie Land Saga
Years after her tragic death, Sakura Minamoto is brought back to life by a deranged madman alongside an ensemble of other zombies. Not to conquer the world or sow chaos, but to take over the idol scene with an all-new group. How? Why? Who cares! Zombie Land SAGA is a strange series that often mocks the trappings of other idol anime, but also stands on its own with good comedy, surprisingly decent music, and interesting character arcs.
To the best of my understanding, Francesca is a promotional anime for an idol character native to Sapporo, Hokkaido. I don’t know if that means there is an actual idol singer or if Francesca is just a character that exists to promote the region, but the anime series attached to her is quite fun. The titular undead idol teams up with an exorcist to protect Hokkaido from various threats in this lighthearted, but low-budget comedy series. It’s short, but definitely a novelty for the right audience.
On the day that an old MMORPG is scheduled to shut down its servers, a player by the name of Momonga decides to survey his old guild hall one more time while waiting for server shutdown. Until the clock strikes midnight, and he suddenly finds himself being in total control of his undead lich character, with an army of former-NPCs now worshiping him as their supreme overlord. He decides to roleplay along while trying to make sense of the strange fantasy world he now finds himself in. Overlord is a cool isekai series with fantastic character designs and great action sequences, sadly held back by a story that collapses after the phenomenal season 1.
A parody action series produced by Trigger’s A-team soon after they split from Gainax. The anime is deliberately created to look stilted with paper cut-out animation and intentionally-bad voice work, but comes with all the fanfare and extravagance you’d expect from the now-renowned studio. Raunchy comedy and extreme violence are guaranteed when Inferno Cop is on patrol.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride
Elias Ainsworth is an enigmatic creature, even to his fellow magi. When he one day breaks from his solitude to appear at an auction, he lays down a fortune to purchase Chise, a young, orphaned girl whose magical powers have ostracized her from Human society. Elias makes her his student and introduces her to an intricate world of sorcery hidden from ordinary people, but he also makes his romantic intentions very clear. The Ancient Magus’ Bride is a wondrous and beautifully-animated fantasy series, with great focus put on the character development of its eccentric, skull-faced protagonist.
Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-San
While it doesn’t come up in the story much, Honda-San is a skeleton man who works in a local bookstore alongside many strange co-workers. He maintains the shelves, helps customers find their manga, and deals with many strange problems as they come his way. Not the usual kind of trials the undead face, but man’s gotta make a (un)living.
The titular Hellsing organization protects the world from the evil influence of vampires, backed by their own, bloodsucking aces Alucard and Seras Victoria. It’s an intense action series filled with blood, gore, drama, and style, which was sadly kept to just a brief 13 episode TV series. A remake called Hellsing Ultimate was in production for 6 years and offered fans a longer story with improved animation, but would also include comedy segments that aren’t exactly in line with the grim tone of the original.
The Monogatari series is home to many different monsters, all brought together by the exploits of the vampiric highschooler Koyomi Araragi. Most prominently, this includes the 3-part movie series Kizumonogatari, which acts as a prequel to the rest of the series. It chronicles how Araragi first comes to meet the vampire who’d infect him, and how their initial adventure leads into the events of the rest of the Monogatari saga.
Interviews With Monster Girls
In a world where people and monsters live side-by-side, misunderstandings and culture clashes are bound to occur from time to time. A high school teacher called Tetsuo Takahashi is very interested in demi-humans and decides to begin interviewing his monster students. Both to learn about their lives, as well as to help them sort out problems unique to their species. Chief among them is Hikari Takanashi, a young vampire who seems to do everything folklore claims vampires can’t. Interviews With Monster Girls is a great comedy slice-of-life series with a unique cast. The manga is still ongoing to this very day, but it was adapted into a 12-episode series in 2014.