May 3, 2006
Tokyo of the Dead


aka Tokyo Zombie

[Note: This review is nearly incomprehensible. That should be taken as a sign of how much I liked this manga]

Wow! Picked up this manga semi-randomly, and man is it good!!! A movie was released at the beginning of the year and it's out on DVD in a couple of months, so I need to check it out.

I love Romero's Dead series. Dawn of the Dead is probably my favorite movie. I mean the original - I hated the remake, it totally missed the point of the original. Then Land of the Dead came. The premise is actually sound, but the execution was really weak. I enjoyed it mostly because it fueled my imagination. I was disappointed by it mostly because for the last 15 years or so I've been imagining what the next movie would be like. What would it have to say about current society? It let me down there.

So why was it so bad? Is it possible that Romero didn't actually come up with the plot for Land of the Dead himself? Is it possible that he ripped off a Japanese comic, and ignored all of the rich, positive aspects of the original? The second half of Tokyo Zombie is so similar to Land of the Dead, it's hard to ignore. But Land of the Dead is missing the pig stampede, the calpis-loving renegade, and the mind-blowing zombie wrestling rivalries.

Tokyo Zombie was published from 98 to 99 in a monthly magazine. It came out in condensed form in 1999. Romero has really lost my respect. He should have made the Tokyo of the Dead movie and shared credit with Hanakuma Yuusaku.

Land of the Dead is still at least watchable, unlike yet another rip-off, Zombie King aka Enter Zombie King. Zombie King was released in 2003 from Canada - I guess it was made for TV?? The writer must have gotten his hands on a copy ofthe manga of Tokyo Zombie but lacked Romero's translator. It has the visuals of Tokyo Zombie, but lacks all of the personality and plot. Avoid unless you have a wrestling mask fetish or a zombie fetish or both (like me).

Here's the teaser plot for Tokyo of the Dead. Know that after this it essentially turns into Land of the Dead.

In Tokyo's Edogawa Ward, A mountain of garbage has gradually taken shape, nicknamed Black Mount Fuji. The only rule: you must bury your waste. First used appliances, then dead bodies, then still living but unwanted relatives are buried. Murder has become an everyday thing in this future Tokyo.

Some dark force brings all of these bodies back as the undead, and a horde of zombies are unleashed in Tokyo.

A master and his pupil continue their training as the madness rages outside. Their venue: the factory that they worked at to make ends meet. Their martial art: wrestling.

The door is knocked open by zombies, and student and teacher wrestle their way to a semi tractor-trailer. Can they make it to the elitist stronghold of Dorei alive?

8/9/2006 Update
Well, the movie is out on DVD so I thought it was worth posting a comment about that and some other stuff.

First, some random realities that should serve as background material for Tokyo Zombie.
- Ubasuteyama was an old 'tradition', where the elderly would be taken by their children and dumped in the mountains so that they wouldn't have to deal with being a burden any longer.
- In modern Tokyo it's really a pain to deal with garbage because of strict pick up and recycling laws. Many people find alternate ways of getting rid of garbage, like dumping it in a convenience store's cans.
- I used to walk this dog all the time in Tokyo. The owners gave me a shovel and told me to take the dog to an empty lot and just bury the poo. (see my entry about dog poo for more info on dealing with it in Tokyo)

So, while Black Fuji is funny and all, it's not a huge stretch of the imagination.

The DVD was great, I loved it. The writer and director did a great job carrying the mood of the comic book, and retained more of the original story - including the zombie fellatio! - than I expected. There were two things that were changed that I wasn't thrilled about. First off, the sport that the main characters practice was changed unnecessarily from wrestling to jujitsu. Second, the cute dog that becomes their sidekick is changed to a foul-mouthed love interest. I'm sure the teens like rude eye candy, and I hope it helped sales, but I really liked the dog.

Other things worth mentioning...
- The comic author has a cameo role as a zombie in the arena.
- There is no pig surfing
- The ending is changed to allow for a sequel (the comic author doesn't write continuing stories, so this is understandable)

Written at May 3, 2006 7:54 PM
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