Few anime combine both shounen- as shoujo-roots in their premises. I’m not sure why there are so few of them, because Zombie Loan shows that this can become pretty successful, as it combines the good points of both styles. The personalities of the characters are those typical in shoujo-anime. A female is surrounded by two bickering guys, there’s one guy who has a lot of similarities with Ensei from Saiunkoku Monogatari (they also share the same voice-actor, and you can recognize Shuurei in the main female character as well), and the dialogue is written in a very shoujo-esque way. And yet, the entire premise of the show revolves around busting zombies and there are a few Yuri and shoujo-ai scenes once in a while.
The shoujo-roots become even more welcome when they provide good and well-defined reasons for out characters to be involved in the story. Unlike shounen-series, none of the characters are plot-devices to become the best X in the world. The two main guys are just zombies that try to pay off their debts by killing other zombies (the anime explains this better), and the main female, while she does have hidden powers, they’re not some strange hidden powers to kill off zombies in an instant at the last possible moment. She’s just got a talent to spot zombies, something the two main characters can’t do for themselves, so the three of them come together.
In addition to this, Zombie Loan manages to deliver some powerful character-studies throughout its episodes. Shito, Michiru and Chika’s characters have all their unique and well-written problems that make you think for once. On top of that, it knows exactly when to be funny and when to be serious, resulting in some hilarious banter between the different characters.
I wish I could keep raving about this series, but unfortunately it’s got its flaws. It’s too damn short!! The length is only 11 episodes, and a dvd-only episode will be released in a few months (I may edit this review after seeing that one), and that’s all there is to this series. This series could have been so much more, and it would have easily had enough material for 26 episodes. Right now, Chika, Shito and Michiru may have had enough background, but there are so many threads left open and worst of all: nearly none of the side-characters gets any decent form of screen-time, while they’ve all got really interesting personalities and so much potential. I would have loved some in-depth look at their own cases. Isn’t there really going to be some kind of second season?
Then there’s a second flaw, which is more on the technical side. Zombie Loan has awesome-looking art, but the animation has issues on so many levels. The entire series looks so stylish, but the pictures we see are often still frames or unnatural-looking movements. Even somebody like me who knows almost nothing of animation can see that a lot of corners were cut in this department.
You could say that if I want to see the rest of the story, I should just go and read the manga. But when I watch an anime, I want to watch an anime; not promotion-material for a manga. Here’s hoping that a second season will be arriving someday.