Zombies have begun to infiltrate Japan’s animation industry as a result of the zombie genre and subculture’s success in the West and around the globe. Even while there aren’t as many zombie anime programmes and films as there are live-action ones, it won’t be long until Japanese animation catches up. While we wait for the next episode or season of their preferred zombie programme, viewers can watch one of roughly 20 zombie anime series. And while it might be difficult to find decent anime to watch, here are the top 8 zombie anime series available online right now.
Pop culture has a lot of references to zombies. Numerous motion pictures, television programmes, and anime are based on the concept of zombies. It seemed like a good idea to update this list of the most well-known zombie anime available given all the free time we now have.
Check out the following list of suggestions if you enjoy the zombie apocalypse subgenre to see if any of them pique your interest enough to watch.
1. Highschool of the Dead
Highschool of the Dead is undoubtedly the finest zombie anime to date, while not necessarily being the highest ranking anime on our list based on MAL (MyAnimeList) ratings. This is mostly due to the movie’s serious premise, thrilling turn of events, and closeness to current Western zombie TV series and movies. The narrative follows five high school students—plus two additional characters—as they band together to flee their zombie-infested high school, as the title suggests. Even while the fan service in the show might occasionally be over the top, the blood and carnage more than makeup for it.
Highschool of the Dead may be contentious to include on the list, but it is far too well-known to not be included on a list of zombie anime. A Japanese interpretation of surviving in a zombie world, if you will, this anime follows survivors in the wake of the apocalypse.
Highschool of the Dead is noteworthy for being extremely sincere, despite its somewhat overused theme (at least when it comes to zombie fiction). Instead of only focusing on random zombies, attacks, and kills, it addresses concerns relating to people. Unfortunately, the intended plot was never completed since the artist opted not to continue the story when the chief writer passed away from a disease.
At first, it’s difficult to realise this programme is about zombies because of how adorable the animation is. The Japanese animation industry’s approach to the zombie theme differs frequently from that of the West, so it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. But School-Live! might seem a little…off when you watch the first episode and witness adorable school girls doing nice things but then discover that they are the last survivors of their school in a post-apocalyptic zombie world. With a MAL score of 7.68, though, amusement is certain. Watch how these adorable girls attempt to keep their lives somewhat regular while attempting to survive the zombie apocalypse.
I’m sorry for spoiling the first episode by including this on the list, but you must watch School-Live if you enjoy odd zombie shows with endearing characters. Prepare yourself because you’re going to feel severe whiplash while viewing this show. Have you ever wished to see a spooky, post-apocalyptic horror film right after a sweet, slice-of-life club show? Look nowhere else! The main heroine, Yuki, is so blind to the external zombie threat that she occasionally has the power to deceive the audience as well.
Some people could argue that ignorance is bliss, however in this programme, ignorance actually functions as a superpower. When the comic tone has to be dropped, the anime only needs to cut away from Yuki because of how solid her ignorance is. The characters are endearingly odd and well defined, and you grow to know and love them thanks to the substantial chunk of the plot that is recounted in flashbacks (how did these females arrive to the school? What form did the zombies take? So on and so on.
3. Ajin (2016)
Another “primary character dies and comes back to life” zombie, but this one has far darker themes and a much different twist. In the parallel universe where Ajin is set, humans accidentally discovered a new subspecies of creatures known as “Ajin.” Ajin are supposed to be immortal and have a human appearance, but they also possess extraordinary powers.
Ajin, on the other hand, are extremely uncommon—to the point that they are thought of as superstitions rather than actual beings—until they suddenly make a comeback in contemporary Japan. When Ajin enters the story, the deeper themes shift right away to concerns about who is genuinely “human” and who is “us” against “them.”
Here is an anime that, aside from the supernatural, zombie-like beings, comes pretty darn close to a 1:1 parallel with contemporary life. Your xenophobia, prejudice, mob mentality, and social criticism are all neatly bundled up in this programme. Additionally, Nagai Kei, our heroine, is incredibly relatable; who among us hasn’t grown weary of the world’s racial politics, sexual prejudice, and lack of acceptance? Seeing those emotions of disappointment, tiredness, and despair in Kei is so moving since we’ve all experienced them at some point.
Another anime with a visual style that tends to split otaku, so be warned! You probably may infer from this review which side of the “love it”/”hate it” debate I belong to regarding the animation.
4. The Empire of Corpses
Scientist Victor Frankenstein develops a way for reviving a corpse in an alternative 18th-century England. A different technique of reanimating corpses is found after his invention is destroyed, opening the door for the use of reanimated bodies for physical work in the 19th century. But unlike Victor’s technique, this more recent technique is unable to bring the corpse’s spirit back to its body. The British government subsequently assigns medical student John Watson the duty of locating Frankenstein’s writings on reviving a corpse with a soul. The characters in The Empire of Corpses are modelled after famous historical and literary luminaries, which adds to the film’s original and intriguing narrative.
I was certain that Hellsing would top this list for the most absurd concept when I first started making this list. But then, I thought of The Empire of Corpses. Maybe it’s because I love English literature so much, or maybe it’s just too crazy to not love this movie.
Follow John Watson (yes, the partner of Sherlock Holmes) as he searches for Viktor Frankenstein’s how-to-make-a-zombie study in an effort to attempt to give the dead new life. Talk about a brain-storming session for which no one is ever ready.
But much as with animated films, there is a lot going on in both the animation and the story, so it would be unfair of me to focus exclusively on how absurd the idea was. The characters and scenario ask what exactly defines a person, as could be expected in a tale of living dead automatons. The soul, perhaps? Is it the capacity to engage in experiences? Does it has agency? How are these dead people brought back to life somehow inferior to the people they once were? What moral repercussions might dealing with corpses have?
Overall, The Empire of Corpses features a tonne of entertaining and outrageous aspects in addition to its philosophical themes, including steampunk tropes, necromancy, science, flamethrowers, the Afghan War, and a tonne of other things that I will not reveal to you.
Gungrave is a sombre anime programme that focuses on the main character’s quest for vengeance. It is based on a well-known third-person shooting game. The main character in the movie Beyond The Grave, or Grave for short, was once a person called Brandon Heat who, after being betrayed and killed by his closest friend and mafia syndicate partner, was resurrected as a nearly unstoppable zombie-like creature. He now lives to kill other undead on the side and get revenge on his closest buddy for betraying him as well as the syndicate he formerly belonged to.
Brandon is the zombie in question, my dear readers. He’s not attempting to disguise it, either. Don’t you think adopting the moniker “Beyond the Grave” and turning into a zombie is a bit much? Brandon is such an intriguing character, despite his dubious naming habits. Brandon is a mute protagonist in the original game on which this anime is based, and the anime tries to keep true to that. However, you can follow Brandon’s journey on this programme and watch him develop from a naive boy to a silent, observant man; this trip, with its incredible characterisation, is lovely.
In case that doesn’t convince you, Nightow Yasuhiro, who created Trigun, also created this anime, and the two series have a very similar tone. It’s so wonderful, that it almost makes you want to wrap yourself in a blanket in the shape of Trigun (for those who are fans of that show).
6. Tokyo Ghoul
If you’re seeking for undead monsters that want to devour humans, you’ve come to the correct spot even if this anime doesn’t fit the usual image of “zombies” that most media seem to focus on. In Tokyo Ghoul, Tokyo has changed into a ruthless metropolis where vile beings known as “ghouls” coexist with people. These ferocious savages and their hunger for human flesh are a continuous threat to the residents of this once-great metropolis. However, these ghouls’ hazardous capacity to pass for people and blend in with civilization is the biggest threat they provide.
Tokyo Ghoul is a must-watch if you don’t have a rigid definition of what a zombie is. It recounts the adventures of Ken Kaneki, an unassuming, 18-year-old college student. After a near-fatal accident from which he is recovered by obtaining an organ transplant from a ghoul, his life is flipped upside down. He becomes a human-ghoul hybrid after the transplant who now has to consume humans in order to survive. Ken needs to seek out a way to maintain his humanity while keeping his new status as a ghoul a secret. Ghouls attempt to live normal lives in society, in contrast to your typical flesh-eating zombies, which makes the viewer feel sorry for them and occasionally side with them.
7. Corpse Princess
The title character of Corpse Princess, Makina Hoshimura, has also been transformed into a zombie. She might not have a zombie appearance and doesn’t consume brains, but she belongs to the undead nonetheless. After being slaughtered along with her family, she is reanimated and must now kill 108 additional resurrected corpses in order to join her family in paradise. Her ultimate objective is to fight the Seven Stars, an undead gang, in order to exact revenge for the loss of her family. Makina is a cool female character with strong physical prowess who wields two MAC-11 machine rifles to eliminate her adversaries.
The anime’s visual aesthetic is what first caught my attention (well, and the zombies, of course). In addition, there’s something peculiarly endearing about the term “an extraordinary fascination to death.” It’s possible that when it comes to zombie anime, I’m just easy to sell. However, despite the fact that this programme seems like your standard zombie vengeance plot (complete with an undead organisation to boot! ), its presentation is unique, which is why it is on our list. The creators of this show accomplish some incredible things with the storyline and characters—which are comprehensible and essential for a decent show—as well as with the music (which is excellent and perfectly appropriate for the mood) and the visual aesthetic.
The art style was my initial drawing, as I already stated, and Corpse Princess doesn’t let me down. By largely using a palette of greys, reds, and blacks to truly accentuate and focus on the dismal, horrible mood, this anime uses colour to express feelings of melancholy and hopelessness.
8. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is a narrative that is highly bingeable and will have you on the edge of your seat. You’ll assume the narrative is going to go one way, but it’ll shock you by defying your assumptions. It’s a zombie anime with a novel idea that will one-two sucker punch you from the shadows.
As the protagonists in this drama struggle to survive against the Kabane, it has a piece of stunningly eerie and evocative music that blends in so perfectly with the themes of resolve and struggle (zombies). How about the mind blowing fact that Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress was directed by the same person who created Death Note and Attack on Titan, if this description hasn’t yet convinced you to watch it?
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, a game that takes place during the Industrial Revolution, is sometimes compared to the steampunk Attack on Titan, except that the adversaries are tough, undead monsters known as Kabane rather than unidentified huge beasts. Because the inhabitants of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress are protected from the Kabane by fortress-like stations and large walls, the two displays can be compared. One day, a steam locomotive that the Kabane have taken control of ploughs into a station. Ikoma, a youthful engineer, defies this bad luck and succeeds in developing a weapon that can kill the Kabane, starting his heroic voyage.