This weekend, I found Zombie-Loan on Crunchyroll. I loved it about five years ago, so I decided to see what I’d think of it now. As expected, I’m no longer a fan. I’ll knock my rating for it down at least 25% by the time I finish re-watching. And yet, there are some nuggets of truth to find in its first few episodes, as a live girl learns about living from two zombies.
The main character, Kita Michiru, can see a darkening ring around the necks of people who are about to die. They’re marked for the shinigami (translated as Grim Reaper) to harvest with his scythe. In other words, she has shinigami eyes. (And she didn’t even have to contract half her life away for them, like in Death Note. In fact, I’m not sure why she has them, and I don’t remember if that’s ever explained.)
She’s shocked to see black rings around the necks of two classmates, Akatsuki Chika and Tachibana Shito. It turns out that they are the only survivors of a terrible accident… and “survivors” is currently an overstatement, since they’re technically zombies, working to pay off debt so they can be wholly alive again.
Ironically, these “zombies” are more alive than Michiru. As they explain their situation to her, she wonders at their determination. She doesn’t feel so attached to life—she’s not suicidal, and she has “fun everyday in my own way,” but “If it had been me, I’d have accepted my death and been done.”
This response angers Shito: “Then why not die? That’s the lowest. Being dead even when you’re alive… If you’re just living, even a zombie can do that.”
Shito could have stated things more gently, but I can hardly blame him for his anger. He and Chika have been through a lot of pain, and they should be dead. They keep working toward repaying their debt so they can be completely alive again. And here, in front of them, is a girl who is doesn’t even value her own life.
Michiru has the ability to see when people are about to die—and, as an extension, to identify zombies—but she doesn’t use it. She wears glasses to avoid seeing the rings around people’s necks. But there’s more to her passivity. She lets her friends insult her and treat her like a gofer. She doesn’t speak her mind or do anything to change her situation with her friends or family.
From Shito’s perspective, she’s no more alive than the mindless, instinct-driven zombies they hunt.
And then she dies (or practically dies… anyway, nothing normal can save her).
Chika and Shito take on more debt so that she can come back to life—completely back to life, not living death as a zombie like them.
By the end of the second episode, Michiru has made a big transformation. She starts to actively live: she pays her aunt and uncle for the time they’ve (reluctantly) taken care of her, but informs them that she will not share her inheritance with them when she comes of age. Then she leaves. In the next episode, she finally tells her friends that no, she will not make a lunch run for them.
Chika and Shito give her life… and a purpose. They expect her to use her ability to identify bad zombies.
Do you see the parallels to Christian life yet? Or even to real life in general?
We’re not meant to live passively. Christians, especially, are called to something more. Jesus came so that we may have abundant life (John 10:10). And it really is eternal life, not merely eternal existence. While on earth, we’re to be alert to the world around us—actively aware of deceptions that can ensnare us and others, and compassionate toward others in their trials—and ready to actively resist the enemy and embrace faith and truth (1 Peter 5:8-9). We have a mission to spread the good news about Jesus Christ, and to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). Life spent in fellowship with Christ is a life of action, awareness, and relationship.
Michiru is awakened to dangers around her: even before the boys save her life, she comes out to help save her friend from the zombie that’s already taken six girls. She once embraced blindness to the presence of death around her. Now, she is actively aware.
It’s tempting to be complacent. We don’t use our gifts to the full. The reasons vary. In Michiru’s case, it’s fear and lack of confidence. In my case… actually, it’s the same. The fears vary: fear of failure, of discomfort, of loss, of responsibility… Some people’s fear goes beyond the normal level and can be called anxiety. Such anxiety requires more than a little willpower to overcome.
God gives us a lot of guidelines on how to live, but he doesn’t take away our responsibility to make our own choices. He gives us instincts, too, but those can be muddled, and we can’t always trust that our instinctive choices are the right ones. The older I get, the more clear this becomes. But that’s part of what makes human life so exciting: we get to choose. The Holy Spirit and human advisors can—and should—help with our decisions, of course. But ultimately, a full life is something we actively choose multiple times a day. Is it difficult? Scary? Often. And it’s worth it.