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It’s a hallmark of the stoic to react to tragedy with nothing more than a shrug of acceptance while possibly brimming with unacknowledged emotions. The emotionless “zombies” at the heart of the 2019 Japanese dark comedy We Are Little Zombies, four orphaned 13-year-olds who bond over their inability to shed a tear over their parents’ deaths, are prime examples. On a retro-gamer-inspired quest to regain their capacity to feel, Hikari, Ishi, Takemura plus Ikuko, the sole girl in the quartet, form a wildly successful electro-punk band called Little Zombies. They belt out lyrics like “There is nothing to us! Absent! Absent! Absent!” with deadpan energy while dressed in explosively colorful outfits that combine street style with punk rock references.
For the first half of the movie, the Little Zombies march about in their somber school uniforms, all starched collars, structured shapes and navy blue winter fabrics. It’s a fitting tribute to their unfortunate circumstances and a huge contrast to the technicolor world around them. Then comes viral stardom, and their wardrobe undergoes a complete reversal.
First, their signature stage costumes combine loose, deconstructed silhouettes, paint-splattered fabrics and outsized accessories with a precise color scheme running the gamut from pale pink to cobalt blue. Off-stage, the boys’ wardrobes are dominated by loud colors, snazzy patterns and hip-hop vibes, while deceptively simple outfits in milky colors provide an ironic contrast to Ikuko’s budding femme fatale traits. As the film progresses towards one final escapade – and catharsis – their style settles into the perfect balance between brashness and boldness.
(Film stills below taken from We Are Little Zombies)
Based on the Little Zombies’ iconic stage costumes and their street-style-infused casual wear, I’ve created two wearable alternatives that preserve their original punkish energy: one for guys and one for girls.
1. The Zombie Guide for Guys
The Little Zombies always have perfectly coordinated color schemes for their ensembles. They’re also high on theatricality, and experts at mixing post-modern elements with traditional style. That’s why I’ve chosen a dramatic red-and-black palette for this outfit, combining Japanese touches with street-style vibes. The red graphic tee comes with a cryptic message that echoes one of the film’s final sequences when Hikari faces a life-or-death decision. To go subtly punk, pair the tee with splashed with green and purple, and throw on an elegant kimono jacket with minimalist crane embroidery. Go extra with jewelry – this silver-tone necklace with an evil eye embedded in a claw pendant is loaded with Middle Earth vibes. As for kicks, why not opt for a pair of red high-tops with a paint-splattered sole for instant street cred? If you’re looking for something to tie the look together, I suggest this red cap emblazoned with the word “none” at the front – a reference to the stoic’s resigned worldview.
2. The Zombie Guide for Girls
Inspired by Ikuko’s on-stage look resembling a demented duchess, I’ve paired a fluffy tie-dyed cropped top in cotton candy colors with an almond-colored mesh skirt with cascades of off-kilter ruffles. It’s over-the-top girly but also charged with street-style energy and the mix between cute and punk that informs much of the Little Zombies’ costumes. Go subtle with this clean, simple necklace featuring a slender golden cross, a low-key alternative to the Little Zombies’ outrageous bling. For footwear, match the dreamy undertones of the outfit with frilled pink socks before slipping into golden cowhide flats – the practical Ikuko would probably never be caught dead in heels. Finally, seal the punk Lolita vibes with a studded golden hairband – it’ll undercut the softer elements of the outfit with a gothic edge.
Achievement Unlocked: We Are Zombies But Alive!
By the time the credits are rolling, the Little Zombies finally wear their colorful ensembles with hard-won confidence as they belt out “We Are Zombies But Alive,” a life-affirming number that’s a direct challenge to their previous stoicism. They’re still tough and unsentimental but now they can shed a tear. Achievement unlocked and game cleared – in no small part thanks to the transformative effect of punk rock and punk-worthy fashion!