In researching this list, I came to find out that zombie characters are few and far in-between if you restrict yourself to the traditional notion. It'a quite difficult to find a character that died, has come back to life, and their new purpose in life is just to devour people for sustenance. Instead, we're going to expand the zombie definition, just a little, to incorporate "undead" characters as well ghouls (since they devour humans and flesh). Just this little wrinkle to the parameters greatly opens up our character pool.
We need a resurgence of great zombie anime with outstanding casts. It's been too long since we had characters like Shito and Chika (Zombie-Loan) or Brandon Heat (Gungrave). Alright, enough nostalgia. Let's take a look at look at male characters that made our list!
5. Friday from Shisha no Teikoku (The Empire of Corpses)
- Episodes: 1
- Air Date: October 2, 2015
Like many undead characters in recent times, Friday is very skinny, has pale white skin, and gray hair. Unlike the others on this list, Friday basically has no personality. He obeys his companion, Watson, without speaking. He also has a blank expression on his face at all times. That's how he behaves in the present.
We know from flashbacks that he was quite different in the past. He was a highly intelligent individual who had a deep, mutual connection to Watson. Friday went so far as to give up his own life so that Watson could use him for an experiment. This self-sacrifice showcases the fact that these two were very close and cared for each other. Though he doesn't have much of a personality (present time) he's on our list because his character appearance, cinematic shots in the film, and unique relationship with Watson are engaging and moving.
4. Kuki Urie from Tokyo Ghoul Re:
- Episodes: 15
- Air Date: April 2018 – Ongoing
As opposed to Suzuya from Tokyo Ghoul, Urie doesn't really stand out much in terms of appearance. When we first see him, he looks like an average nineteen-year-old boy. He has a slim frame, a bowl cut (think of the Beatles), and usually wears the CCG uniform. In fact, the most notable thing about his appearance is two small moles located near his left eye. But he has been infused with ghoul-like abilities and weapons.
Appearances don't mean much when you have such a strong personality and complex motivations. Urie is one of the characters fans love to hate (early on). He is a dedicated investigator who strives to climb up the ranks as fast as possible, even if that means stepping over others or manipulating colleague against each other for his own personal gain.
He kept up this selfish and composed exterior up until the Rose Extermination Arc. It was here where he underwent a traumatic experience when his companion (Ginshi Shirazu) was attacked by Noro and died slowly in Urie's arms. From then on he began to change his ways. He sought to work together with his fellow investigators and stop acting so selfishly. This dramatic change in character turned around our opinion on Urie. That single scene with him and Shirazu turned Urie into one of our favorite characters from that series.
3. Hampnie Hambert from Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi (Sunday Without God)
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: July 2013 – Sept 2013
This male protagonist is from Sunday Without God. For those of you who haven't seen the anime here is a short synopsis: God has abandoned the world. Because of that, people can no longer die nor can children be born. The dead continue to walk the earth aimlessly. Only a select few known as "gravekeepers" have the ability to end someone's life for good. Hampnie is one of select few who can put the dead to rest.
Hampnie has the appearance of a seventeen-year-old boy. He has white hair, red eyes, and usually wears a dark coat. Though he appears to be seventeen, he's actually about thirty years old. Every time he dies, his body restores itself to its prime condition, which is why he looks so young. His connection to Ai, the female protagonist if this show, and search for Hana are what flesh out this character. He has a touching past and strong connection to this girl. His narrative and death scene are why he's on this list.
2. Ban from Nanatsu no Taizai (Seven Deadly Sins)
- Episodes: 52
- Air Date: Oct 2014 – June 2018
Ban aka Fox's Sin of "Greed" is the oldest looking male on this list, so you wouldn't call him a "boy" per se. But, despite his age, he's a male, undead character from an anime that came out in the past five years, and has one of the best personalities, backstories, and fighting capabilities of any recent character. So, we couldn't let his age hold him back.
Ban received a mortal wound when fighting a demon in the Fairy King's Forest, but he didn't technically die. He drank from the Fountain of Youth through a kiss he shared with the fountain's guardian, Elaine. which has given him immortality. Since then he's been on a journey to bring her back to life and kill the demon that destroyed the forest that fateful day.
Despite this tragic moment in his life, that haunts him to this day, most of the time Ban is carefree when he's with his comrades. He enjoys fighting is captain, Meliodas, and is an extremely skilled chef. This complex character is a fan favorite who just gets better as the series goes on.
1. Kaneki Ken from Tokyo Ghoul
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: July 2014 – Sept 2014
Ken Kaneki is the main character of Tokyo Ghoul. He undergoes several transformations physically and mentally. Each time this happens he becomes a more complex character with new motivations. His original appearance is that of a young university student, very slim, dark black hair in a bowl cut, and a very timid personality. He wanted to live a life where he never hurt anyone but would rather suffer for others' sake.
His entire life changed when he was attacked by Rize, a gluttonous ghoul. After the two of them were mortally wounded, Kaneki received transplant surgery whereupon organs of the ghoul were put into his body. This changed him into an entirely different creature from human or ghoul. At that point, he faced an inner battle between his ghoul tendencies and passive nature. Eventually, he changed to become a protector of those he cared about and unrelenting killer to those who threatened him. His transformation is not quick or easy, and we've only seen parts of it in the anime thus far. We hope to see much more.
That's our list this time around. What do you think? This is one of the tougher lists we've worked on, so we would leave to hear input from all of you. As always, thanks so much for reading and we'll see you in the next one!