Land of the Rising Dead is part manga and part text: a zombie survival guide with manga illustrations and strips throughout the book adding up to a full story. The manga parts star four girls, each representing a particular archetype and poking fun at themselves, each other, and the genre as they make their way through instructional zombie apocalypse situations. The manga is cute, with self-aware and tongue-in-cheek comedy, though the cartoony art style works better for the gags than it does for the color pages at the start.
The substance of this book is in the text, though, written by a group of zombie geeks who also happen to have occupations like games writer, military writer, and archaeologist. This guide is comprehensive, taking readers through the history of zombies, different types of zombies, the merits of different weapons (“frying pans: you won’t be disappointed in their power”), how to survive emergency scenarios in various settings, and real-world exercises you could do to prepare for all of this. It’s light hearted but fact filled, with trivia about Japanese history and legend dropped in alongside references to Hollywood films and classic anime.
What really makes this book stand out is how international it is. While the concept of zombies as we know it originated in Haiti, and America has since popularized their image through cinema, this book acknowledges that countries like Egypt and China have their own zombie myths. That said, there is a clear Japan focus that manga fans will love, bringing all survival guide tips back to “But is this possible in Japan?” For example, in one scene the manga girls are looking at shotguns before remembering guns are difficult to access in Japan and heading to the hardware store for some hammers and chainsaws instead. There are diagrams exploring the effectiveness of these weapons alongside more traditional Japanese options such as kendo swords or ninja throwing stars.
Overall, Land of the Rising Dead strikes a good balance between taking itself seriously, with the text carefully weighing and contextualizing all your zombie apocalypse options, and not seriously at all, with the gag manga packing in black comedy, slapstick action, and film & anime in-jokes. It’s a fun and genuinely
interesting book, though manga fans with an interest in zombies will get the most out of it. Recommended.
publisher: Seven Seas
story: Various Authors
art: Sakazaki Freddy