OP: 「徒花ネクロマンシー」 (Adabana Necromancy) by Hondo Kaede, Kawase Maki, Kinugawa Rika, Tanaka Minami, Taneda Risa, Tano Asami
「I♡HIPHOP SAGA」 (I Love Hip Hop Saga)
“I Love Hip Hop Saga”
The second episode of Zombieland Saga has risen and continues to build off of the momentum it created with our introduction to Sakura’s struggles as a zombie idol. This second installment one comes out stronger than ever now that most of the girls are awake other than the Legendary Yamada Tae as we start to see the dynamics that each of the girls will play now that almost everybody conscious enough to be a part of the band.
Zombieland Saga’s humor is one of its strongest assets as it plays up much of the body mechanics that come from the girls’ zombified appearance. Because all of the zombies have been wiped out aggressively by the living, Kotarou places a high priority on making sure the girls can blend into their surroundings by pretending to be alive, lest they be re-killed in violent retaliation. Since the girls are going through the same trouble with getting used to being zombified, they go through the same pattern of fright at their counterparts’ zombie selves such as when Ai and Junko end up scaring each other when they try to flee to Tokyo. On the same level, the zombies being just as scared of the living as they are of them ended up being hilarious with the cop and the rapping cat-callers acting as predatorial threats to the zombie girls as the cop and cat-callers are equally frightened by the zombies possibly getting them. And because the girls are zombies, the concert scene ended up being funny as well with how Tae’s still-unconscious self has her head launch from her body to eat dried squid or how Ai’s arms pop off when she tries climbing a gate to escape to Tokyo.
Kotarou also ended up being hilarious thanks to Miyano Mamoru putting his all into his performance as their loud, obnoxious, and airheaded manager. Early on, humorous sections came from Miyano’s inflection when Kotarou is trying to outsmart Ai only to have it slowly thrown back into his face until he resorts to looking up Saga facts on Wikipedia. While his ditsiness shows how easily it would be for the girls to overrule him with how little he is willing or able to explain simple facts about the town he’s in, it also lends itself to the show’s mystery. On top of the first episode’s science behind zombification being a mystery, his logic behind why zombie idols are necessary when they need to still act human is puzzling as is his logic behind zombifying characters that weren’t technically “in” the industry like Saki or Sakura. But nonetheless, the confusion behind why the series focuses on this particular zombie cast plays into the level of desperation that Kotarou has in using the exemplary figures from the past to create a dream team whether they were the leader of the biker gang, icons from the 2000’s, 80’s, and the 19th century, or were just deemed legendary like Tae.
Character interactions are pivotal to the show’s physical comedy, but they also help the cast stand out with each lending themselves to their frame of mind during their time and onwards. For Episode 2, we learn about Ai, who is still under the mentality of being a popular idol from the city during Sakura’s lifetime, and thus, feeling completely out-of-place in the far-off town of Saga as a zombie. She ends up having this same quality in common with Junko as the two are in agreeance about wanting to leave the compound they are stuck in to return to the city life they once knew. Yugiri is a fun character to follow in that her personality is brought out through the actions she takes as a courtesan from the 19th century such as smoking from a pipe regularly and incorporating enka into most of her movements and routines. Of the side cast, however, Saki is given a bulk of the second episode as we learn of her legend as the leader of a local biker gang that took over Kyushu, where Saga is located, in the 1990’s. Because of her ambition, she finds the idol group as a double-edged sword that is restricting because it forces her hand in being a member of an idol group, but exciting because it could potentially lead her towards fulfilling the ambition she had while she was alive to take the world by storm.
Sakura’s sense of belonging is also explored thoroughly in the episode as a majority of the girls start to notice that she has been the most eager to be a part of the idol group, dubbed “Green Face” by their second performance. Although Sakura finds herself unable to convince the other girls to share her mentality as someone excited to finally work to be an idol, it is because she is the only member who was just beginning her path to stardom that she sees her visit with Truck-kun as a new lease on life that brought her into an environment that encouraged her to reach her dreams. Her main dedication to being a part of Green Face is what helps to create the tension when she gets fed up with Saki going out of her way to play with Tae’s head on-stage and drawing attention to their status as undead zombies.
In turn, Sakura’s frustration resulted in one of the coolest rap scenes in anime in recent years save for the hip-hop narration of Devilman Crybaby. While Saki takes her own expertise with rap to diminish the overly serious demeanor Sakura has about wanting to be a part of Kotarou’s goofy band, but Sakura holds her own strongly and tears into Saki’s lack of concern about being caught and killed by the living if their zombie identities are revealed, goes after Ai and Junko for wanting to abandon everything knowing that they have nowhere else to be and nothing else to do if they left, and tackles the audience themselves for spending all these years not making a difference. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say it was the highlight of the episode, and with many remixes floating around the internet, it’s easy to see why Sakura was able to win Saki’s respect by the end of the episode.
「DEAD OR LIVE SAGA」 (Dead or Live Saga)
“Dead or Live Saga”
With the past two episodes, the girls were only just starting to get accustomed to live performances with one freestyle dance to heavy metal and one concert that devolved into a “magic show” that only battle rap could salvage. In the third episode, however, the girls find themselves at a crossroads now that they are expected to hold their first actual performance as an idol group, and hold it all together for a guerrilla concert.
Episode 03 continues to bring the laughs with how the girls had to come together to solidify their idol status behind Kotarou’s back. Considering his lack of experience with the relevant know-how on what makes idols appealing, the girls take it upon themselves to come up with an image and a routine for themselves. Their new name “Franchouchou” being inspired by the noise Tae made when she sneezed up marker ink is one of the many ways that the show presents its sense of humor with the characters winging it with any possible solution that seems to work. Yuugiri taking credit for Sakura’s motivational speech she was about to give was also hilarious as was Kotarou and Tae’s eccentricities. The physical humor wasn’t as off-the-wall as the last episode, but there was a funny moment where the girls act offended about being told they smell only to laugh when they realize of course they would because they’re zombies. The dance sequence could also count as being funny with how zombie-like the CG was, but it could also be poking fun at how other idol shows incorporate CGI dance routines. To cap off the more humorous parts of the episode, the officer finds himself in a tight spot when he finds himself charming when he talks to Sakura without knowing she’s the same zombie from a short time ago.
In its essence, Episode 03 was significant in how it developed the remainder of its cast. We have a little more to work with as far as what Lily’s personality is like as she is the most enthusiastic of the bunch and is heavily invested in fitting the mold of your standard bubbly idol. Saki particularly has built up a level of maturity since the beginning considering that she went from being confrontational and hostile towards those around her to volunteering to be leader and being the one idol to approach the little girl dancing to their music to thank her for her support. In this episode, its our experienced idols, Junko and Ai who have the spotlight on them as they have the hardest time adjusting to their situation. As a solo idol from the 80’s, Junko’s unfamiliarity with girl groups has her perplexed, frozen about what she should be doing from here, and feeling like she won’t adapt well to a group Even though Ai has experience in a previous idol group, the idea of starting from the very beginning, receiving very little guidance, and being given no valuable information to go off of has her discouraged from wanting to take part in Kotarou’s idol project. While helping Franchouchou recover from a snafu at the guerilla performance has Junko enthusiastic about wanting to take part in performing as a group, Ai still has some reflecting to do as she gives further consideration to possibly finding her niche in a new group.
It feels great to be following Zombieland Saga because of how much promise it has as a hilarious anime that combines the pop idol fascination of shows like Love Live with the horror comedy that comes from zombies trying to adjust to the world of the living as entertainers. While the past two episodes were a great proof-of-concept for what the premise would be like for an idol group where the members are all zombified, this third episode shows us how interesting it will be when the lines start to blur between the girls’ public image as an idol group where the girls are alive and the possible obstacles they could face as zombies now that they are getting more serious about being exposed to a wider audience. For a show that centers around the humor behind zombie idols and the charm behind idol anime, it also rakes up the tension with how the girls will be able to keep their cover going. And with the next episode’s hot springs antics, it’ll be sure to put their sense of comfort to the test with who could possibly catch them in their zombie forms.