Released and serialized by Shueisha, Zombie Power premiered in 1999 within Weekly Shōnen Jump. Created by Tite Kubo (Bleach), Zombie Powder follows the story of Gamma Akutabi and his search for the twelve legendary “Rings of the Dead.” The rings are said to hold immense power, even over death itself. Gamma wants them in order to become immortal but others want them as well; and they will stop at nothing to get their hands on them.
Zombie Powder is your everyday generic shonen manga. Its story is not original; you’ve got your “badass” hero and the young naïve companion on a journey. The journey is to collect X number of legendary items in order to fulfill their wishes. It is similar to a number of titles under Shonen Jump and does not differ from the pack in terms of storytelling or art to a degree. Our main hero Gamma is similar to Vash the Stampede from Trigun or Kenshin Himura from Rurouni Kenshin in that he is serious when he wants to be and seemingly weak the next. There are also archetypes in this manga; from the eye candy of Wolfina, to C.T. Smith the mysterious character you know nothing about. Zombie Powder is filled to the brim with generic components but that does not mean there are no good points to it.
The art is nothing new or special with little to no backgrounds appearing. Every once in a while the reader will be graced with a building interior or exterior but do not expect panels to be brimming with flora and fauna. The costume design on the other hand is something to be admired. Tite Kubo thought about become a fashion designer when he was younger but a faithful encounter with the Saint Seiya manga (Masami Kurumada) inspired and led him to become a mangaka. This love of fashion is prevalent when looking at certain characters and also by the splash pages that separate each chapter. Another example of this knack for fashion is in his other series Bleach. In this anime some episode openings will have the characters dressed in everyday cloths that look fantastic and match excellently. The clothes look like you would be able to find them in the real world, Kubo has said “I just put the characters in the clothes I wish I could buy, but can’t find in stores.” Aside from the main characters and a few sides, everyone else, such as the town’s people and those who show up in one panel, will wear basic threads. The volumes themselves are durable with the covers being the same as anything else you would expect from Shonen Jump. With that the paper quality is average, not the best and yet not the worst, dead middle. Zombie Powder ends with an eloquent poem by Kubo and is a nice ending to the canceled series.
Fans of Tite Kubo will be treated to three different stories found within the volumes of Zombie Powder. In Volume two there is Ultra Unholy Hearted Machine, which was written when Kubo was only eighteen years old and is his very first manga story. Volume three includes Rune Master Urara, and finally volume four has Bad Shield United. Each of these stories has nothing unique to them but do provide an interesting read as well as a short break from Zombie Powder. They can be classified as shōnen and still follow the same rule as any other manga or anime. The art looks like sketches and not as sharp as what you are reading but nothing too distracting. At the end of each story I found myself wanting more; it gives you just enough to peak your curiosity and then ends.
Zombie Powder is not a well known series, even for fans of Bleach. For claiming to love Kubo’s immensely popular show they looked puzzled when this series is mentioned; at least to the ones I have talked to. Even though it is not the best or even close to the best manga out there it is still a good short read. Anyone wanting a quick read to add to their repertoire and not wanting to sink money into twenty plus volumes should pick up Zombie Powder. Even though it offers nothing new it still is worth at least one read.
A short read that gives you just enough shōnen without overwhelming your mind. Zombie Powder would be considered a light version of other manga such as Rave Master.
A problem I have with Zombie Powder is that I find it a bit too short story wise. I feel as though it should have been at least expanded out to an eight volume series to be able to wrap things up nicely. Unfortunately, you cannot help cancellation so this becomes only a little quam I have understanding their circumstances.