「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.

Preview

50 Comments

    1. Zombieland Saga has been a pleasant surprise so far, but with the quality of this episode’s twist and the last 5 mins, I have high hopes that it’ll keep the momentum once they get deeper into both the other girls’ backstories and the mystery behind their resurrection.

      Choya
    1. Yeah… no. It’s pretty obvious she has always identified as being female, had a heart attack because she knew she was hitting puberty which would stop her being able to pass as a female, on top of her stress from being on TV. This isn’t some Astolfo thing. If Lily was a trap then the way it was written would have been entirely different, but it wasn’t. I love a good trap as much as the next guy, but this is an actual trans character right here and full props to them for doing it.

      Ghost
    2. I go with “that’s a man baby”. “She” and everyone else can go on with their delusion but when you ask me I’m going to be an ass, I can’t lie to myself to make you feel better.

      Identifying as female doesn’t change the fact you were born with a penis, no amount of forced progressiveness and/or medical advancements will make me ignore that if things go towards the sensual/sexual.

      zijz
  1. This episode is brilliant. It blended between humor and drama very well. I never expect this kind of emotional episode from this series. It’s beautiful. I totally love it. That scene when her dad said to her that he was a bad father and Lily said that her dad is really nice. It’s very sad.

    I’m kind of confused about Lily’s heart attack and Sakura’s reaction about her old name at first. I figured out that Lily was a boy when Sakura said that Lily used to be Masao-kun. Kun is usually used to refer to male in Japanese language. Sometimes, it may be used to refer to tomboy girl in anime. For those who are more familiar with Japanese culture can probably figure out when knowing that Lily’s old name was Masao. Masao is apparently a name for male in Japan.

    HoHo
    1. The situation with Lily’s dad was a gut punch with how he had to learn the lesson that he had become neglectful of Lily, especially with flashbacks when she clearly needed a break hitting him hard as he reflects on the role he played in Lily’s building stress. On Lily’s side, holding onto the fonder memories of her dad was also strong in that she forgave her father by focusing more on their happiest moments and, in death, not holding resentment for overworking her as he lived vicariously through Lily’s success

      Choya
  2. Yeah, no. Lily is a trap. As soon as he starts to hit puberty, he can’t maintain his on screen persona and “brand” of Lily Hoshikawa. Hence why the title has the Neverland title. It harks to how the kids in Neverland never wants to grow old and lose the innocence.

    Nork22
    1. I noticed the “Peter Pan syndrome” in the title, this confused me. But after more thinking I too think Lily is trans.
      Why was Lily always presented herself as Lily?
      We can say that she wanted to look more like her deceased mother, in part because she wanted to please her father, but don’t you think that she looked at her father, then looked at the photos of her mother and thought that she hated to grow big and masculine like her father? In the end I believe that Lily didn’t just wanted to stay a child, more precisely, Lily wanted to stay as a “little girl”.
      That’s why all the discussion between the members after are more about her gender than her age.

      Why may confuses people is that they made a non-issue about this in the story. Like the father that apparently never questioned his “son”, and not questioning puts him in character. For what I saw about him he is very understanding.

      So, yeah, Lily is trans.
      The anime don’t need to say this explicitly just because some may refuse to believe otherwise.

      1. I’ve seen some concerns raised about the accuracy of the translation, or mistranslation as the case may be, with Western fans inferring a non-Japanese/Western “gender” position being taken.

        And FFS, can we not have the comments devolve into “gender” politics? I want to avoid all the “gender” hullabaloo from both sides in the West, and pretty much avoid most popular media because of that, and so I watch anime to enjoy some entertainment where I don’t have to bother thinking about it.

      2. @LoliHat
        Those “concerns” you saw were totally fake made in bad faith.
        These are the people who are “devolving” the comments into gender politics.
        Sorry, but it’s necessary, there’s still people out there shouting (not kidding) that Lilly isn’t trans. This episode wasn’t even really much about this and look the reactions.

  3. My appreciation of Lily’s character has increased tenfold following this episode. Glad to see ZLS reinforce individualistic themes on top of its zany shenanigans (Junko’s struggle to remain herself in a 2018 world was also a welcome bit of character development).

    1. Lily was low on my radar because she wasn’t as strong of a personality and the only two things that stick out for her st that point was her nickname “Shrimpy” and her heart popping up when she’s shocked. I’m glad they took this episode to give Lily depth though because they definitely have her more to work with as she has to cope with being a zombie, knowing that her dad is within an arms reach, and knowing that he can never know that she was brought back to life.

      I really liked Junko’s development too where she became more comfortable with both the group and 2018. While it took her some time to realize she can be herself without compromising her perspective, seeing her mingle with the cast more was developed so well starting with the hot springs.

      Choya
      1. I concur. Also disappointing that the uptick in commentary mostly consists of folks espousing collectivist arguments that belittle Lily’s individuality.

        Anyone has the right to redefine themselves of their own volition in a way that doesn’t involve non-willing participants, with being transgender being one of many conscientious forms of identity-based self-reliance.

        If one doesn’t self-actualize, then it’s unlikely they’ll experience a genuinely fulfilling life. To be human is to be individualistic. Why do you think so many philosophers spent their livelihoods analyzing the self? ????

        ‘Kay, I’ll doff my existentialist hat for now.

    1. It is obnoxious how people overobsessing about traps or refusing to accept Lily ended up overshadowing this because it is a huge development in how the band has to handle someone else being wary to a member of the band still being alive now that they recognize them. Even more so that it’s someone who recognizes them from their past life as their child.

      Choya
    1. Why I didn’t immediately catch on to Lily’s reveal is that women also get a stray facial hair and leg hair they have to maintain. Of course, worrying about resembling your dad and not wanting people to know you by your real name are major clue ins toward the dysmorphia she was facing, but Nair for legs and tweezers are very useful for women’s grooming habits for hairy/patchy legs or the occasional cheek hair

      Choya
  4. For the love of christ, you can’t just CHOOSE to be female when you have male genitalia and call yourself trans. Like holy shit the fucking SJW bullshit today. Can’t go one step without someone demanding they be called something despite their biology.

    Frutootin
  5. There’s a whole lot of….ignorance going around here. I mean not surprising since its anime fans and they for the most apart aren’t used to “things happening outside of their computer screen.”
    Lily is trans and not a trap because of this:
    Trap: A male or female who chooses to act and dress like the opposite gender, but still retains their biological gender they were born with. Usually utilized in media for comedy.
    Transgender: An individual who is displeased with the gender they were born with, and chooses to act and dress like their physical opposite gender because they want to be seen as the gender they are mentally. Typically surgeries/ hormone therapy is done. Their sexual organs play no factor in this but they tend to get the operation sometime down the line if they want to go 100% into this.

    Like obviously Lily has her penis still because no parent is going to let their 12 year old get that done to themselves. These kind of operations are essentially for after puberty hits and their body officially has grown itself in. Cuz slicing your dick off, and turning the folds inside out (I’ve watched an operation…wasn’t pretty.) is something that’s physically demanding and kids in general shouldn’t have to go through that stuff until they’re old enough….so of course she had her male genitalia….*coughs* Fruttotin. Doesn’t mean Lily is any less transgender.

    So asides from chastising ignorance.
    I have to give props for this show for handling it smoothly. And the fact that Lily being transgender really did play into her death. Like obviously she was mentally stressed thanks to her dad overworking her. But being that she wanted to do everything in her power to avoid being seen as male, the hairs was the final straw that broke her. I mean its ridiculous for her to die at first glance. But thinking about it, she’s a child going through puberty who already has the mindset of a trans person and is already fatigued.

    I mean ya’ll can not like the notion of transgender people, but don’t just dismiss that transgender people exist and play it off as a comedy trope “Trap”, or throw that people are spreading “SJW bullshit” all when a series casually just brings up different characters. If you had a problem with something like that being shown subtlety (Like the show wasn’t even being preechy), then it pretty much shows the level of pitiful ignorance one has.

    SDFGS
    1. Thank you. “Trap”, while sometimes lumping in trans characters, has always been associated with characters who crossdress for reasons unrelated to personal gender indentity. Then there’s folks who refuse to acknowledge the difference between Sex and Gender, so they get aggravated when someone says that someone can identify was a gender not associated with their sex.

      ZLS honestly did a best case scenario for representation by acknowledging and accepting Lily’s gender, but not beating the audience over the head with it like some western shows. It does an effective job at normalizing Lily preferring her present identity and the group’s “live and let live” mentality without bombarding the viewer with transphobic characters or making Lily’s dysmorphia her only defining trait.

      But I highly agree, it’s been depressing to see how far people regress when they’re propped up with the mere thought of a character being transgender. Where true mere idea of existing is considered to be “SJW bullshit”

      Choya
    1. They were already inside. And if this is the way they conduct themselves about a fictional character, I don’t want to know what they think of real trans people. I’m guessing they’d point to me saying “real” and make a snarky yet ignorant comment about it.

      We’re in an era in which one of the leading science journals in this continent just reminded everyone right before Thanksgiving that real, tried, tested, and peer-reviewed biological and medical science confirms gender isn’t sex, to a deafening chorus of “then I guess this journal isn’t about science anymore”. I wish I could just slap them with a printed stack of related sources and tell them “facts over feelings”, relishing in the delicious irony.

      TheYepMan
    2. Being tolerant means that you also have to tolerate intolerant people. Some countries have gone as far as criminalising transphobic hate speech, which I don’t think is good as any restriction on speech is eroding an essential liberty. The answer as always is education, but educating a free society takes a long, long time.

      Angelus
  6. I was impressed with how they handled Lily’s reveal. The anime brushed it off as no big deal.

    The internet I was less impressed with.

    I’ll never understand the logic of “we wanted to be treated normal like everyone else regardless of birth gender or sexual orientation” who are the same people who make a giant big deal of every trans/bi/gay character in any form of mass media.

    I mean Lily is Lily.

    weasl
    1. The show did a great job with the message, but based on the fan reaction, the anime community really needs to do better if the idea of being faced with a trans character is to either refuse to acknowledge them as anything more than a trap, or get outraged about transgendered people existing.

      Choya
    2. I’ll say that ZLS pretty much has more to it than what it actually is.

      I have to say that I liked the way they handled Lily’s character. I would say that this is how inclusion and/or reveal of people of other sexual orientation should be handled and other shows need to learn from ZLS.

      I don’t think they never ever did promote Lily as a trans-character during the show’s promotion or kept harping on it. Unlike a certain “intergalactic gambler whose pan-sexuality reveal had no bearing on the show”

      Call be a bigot or any other name but I think that if a character’s sexual orientation has no bearing to the show, they should just leave it out in promotional material. If however it helps to create a back story to a character, the writers need to skillfully weave it into the show itself instead of just shoving it down people’s throat like what they did to Lando.

      Henrietta Brix
      1. So if we highlight it it’s bad because no one need it down their throats but if we incorporate it as another element of the plot it’s bad because no one need it down their throats.

        Just admit it. We all as a community have a huge amount of bigotry against trasgenders, just go to any trasgender manga and see the ratings and comments, they are all usually on the floor. Even there is a work where the author explained in detail the stages and her state of mind in all the surgery process, even if it was an informative manga about the surgery and not trasgender as a concept it got bashed. Whenever you consider if it’s a problem or not the fact that authors still can’t talk about this things in their works without getting backlash for doing it is up to you, I think it is and it portraits how much of troglodytes we still are.

        If you are asking why I didn’t say homophobia is becase homosexuality is more accepted, even if there is too. There are a lot of yaoi and yuri out there and the only proven thing until now that works against that is not hiding it. Like it or not.

        cvb
    1. I actually brushed it off as a throwaway comment during the first watch but after seeing the shit storm on Twitter… I had to go back and watch it again.

      It’s very slight and quick but the reveal pretty much happened just before and after the commercial break.

      Henrietta Brix
  7. Something worth mentioning though.
    Despite how good this episode was… it neglected Yuurigi too much in favor of Sakura. Sakura isn’t the leader like Saki and it not the closest to Lily like Yuugiri. Sakura was the one to hear Lily’s story just because of her “protagonism”.

  8. I think a point being missed is that of second chances. This episode seemed more about that than the trap/trans “discussion” I’m reading. Lily’s father is repentant about how he treated her in thinking about himself more than about what she was going through and what she wanted. After Lily died is when it all came together in his head and then it’s too late. Both Takeo and Lily get that second chance, and take it, because zombie. I think we’ll be getting more of this theme next ep with Saki.

    In other news, Tae-chan:
    – More self-awareness as she’s looking at herself in the dance mirror at the beginning.
    – At the meet’n’greet, the pic of Junko getting Tae-chan’s love noms was too cute.
    – Zombie Tae-chan is still there as she goes after the kappa mascot. Food!
    – Tae-chan the guard-dog-zombie during Takeo’s “interrogation” was great as well.
    – Best for me was Tae explaining what “junk” meant to Junko.

    Tae-chan is best zombie.

    Keep Refrigerated
  9. “Lily is trans, hooray!”
    “Lily is trans, boo!”

    Remember when people used to watch anime without inserting western politics into it? Lily/Masao doesn’t identify a girl, he wanted to be an idol singer and make his dad happy, which would end when he grew up (hence the episode title). That’s it.

    Longhaul

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