「GoGoネバーランド SAGA」 (Go Go Neverland Saga)
“Go Go Neverland Saga”
It’s been a while since I’ve sobbed during an anime, but the end of this episode managed to get the job done. Lily’s death might not have been taken as seriously with a heart attack brought out by a cheek hair, the backstory and characterization behind Lily and her father was some of the most heartfelt material that Zombieland Saga has worked with so far.
The show has played around with the idea of people catching onto the notion that the members of Franchouchou are all deceased, but the first people to confront them about it turned out to be Lily’s dad. The initial set-up made him suspicious from the get-go as a creepy loner, but the more we learn from him, the more tragic his story becomes. His past encapsulates every adult fear imaginable for a father with his wife and his child dying, the latter of which was brought on partially due to the amount of pressure he ended up placing on her to live vicariously through her success on television. The flashback of him looking at the empty spot on his couch where Lily used to be was devastating in how it kept panning to his surroundings; a lone TV screen with his daughter, a drawing she made of the both of them watching TV, the memorial shrine with his wife and daughter present. As if the realization of his downfall wasn’t sad enough, the concert at the end of the episode was heart-breaking. Just as he made it to the end, the new song that Lily and the rest of Franchouchou dedicated to him highlights how she’ll always be there for him and think about him even after she’s gone. Between this, flashbacks of Lily hanging out with her dad, and his reaction to the song, it’s hard to write about this without getting teary-eyed.
While the emotional drama of the episode packed such a powerful punch, it was Lily and her backstory that ended up being the most fascinating part. It took a second viewing to realize it because I assumed she was worried about getting hairs because her career wouldn’t take off if she didn’t stay a child star, but it made the events of the episode far more poignant to know that Lily is transgender. The reveal was very subtle and gradual up until her death when she recalls her dad trying to get her to do a show by saying that she shouldn’t worry about one leg hair because she can’t always look how she does as a young star. Then the scene builds up with her not wanting to look like her dad when she gets older and the fact that her dad keeps calling her by Masao up until the chin hair triggers the heart-attack that would eventually play into why zombie Lily’s heart bursts out of her chest every so often. How the band handles it is interesting as well with the girls taking it with stride as it’s not like Lily would ever stop being Lily (granted, she would still retain how she looked before she died because she’s an immortal zombie). Even Saki, who goes out of her way to poke fun at Lily’s height, is perfectly fine with Lily regardless of her sex. Kotarou openly chastizes them for questioning why he never said anything about it by asking if they were just going to stop seeing Lily as Lily after this, but at that point, the girls were already fine with having Lily on-board.
I didn’t know what to expect from Lily’s backstory, but I didn’t expect to see a Zombieland Saga that tugged on my heart-strings up until now. While Lily’s dad having a hunch that Lily was his daughter wasn’t exactly the powderkeg to blow Franchouchou’s cover as a zombie idol group, it had a lot of emotional depth to it. Lily’s own struggle with having to face her dad and pretend she doesn’t know him is as painful and tragic as her dad having to face the possibility of seeing his daughter again after his work as a strict manager made him hate himself and television. It makes me excited to see what Saki’s backstory will be like, especially since Saki and Yuugiri are my favorite members of Franchouchou, but we’ll have to wait till next week to see how that goes.