「一度は尽きたこの命なんの因果か蘇り歌い踊るが宿命[さだめ]なら親友[とも]への想いを胸に秘め貫くまでよ己のSAGA」 (Ichido wa Tsukita Kono Inochi Nan no Inga ka Yomigaeri Utai Odoru ga Sadame Nara Tomo e no Omoi o Mune ni Hime Tsuranuku made yo Onore no Saga)
“Though My Life May Have Ended Once by Some Twist of Fate I Have Risen, and If Song and Dance Are to Be My Fate, Then Carrying the Memories of My Comrades in My Heart As I Sally Forth Shall Be My Saga”
Now that Zombieland Saga is starting to peel back the layers behind the girls’ backstories, its Saki’s time to take over. The anime picks up the momentum built from last week’s episode by creating a conflict for Saki that forces her to get back in the saddle again with the Dorami gang, even if it means crossing paths with her closest friend Reiko.
As my choice for best gril, I’ve been looking forward to Saki’s backstory the most, and they fully delivered on giving her an episode that matches the spirit and tenacity she carries with herself. While she’s been highly competent as Franchouchou’s appointed leader, her thought process in the past and present is often to approach conflicts with reckless abandon. Previously, it led to her making a name for herself as an esteemed member of a biker gang, but it also led to her demise when she didn’t brake during a game of Chicken. But seeing Reiko’s child attempt to keep the Dorami name alive spurns her to intervene by reenacting the game that got her killed and then using the moment to gather people together for an impromptu concert.
The coolest aspect about this episode is how much of its structure, conflict, and conclusion fit Saki to a T. What she faces not only brings out Saki’s best traits as a tough but caring hooligan, but also allows her to reach out to her best friend as Lily did for her Pappy. And while the end of the last episode was Lily’s farewell message to Pappy, Saki’s song at the end of this one is a celebration of her life and spirit all the while she remains open-minded to both the cutesy idol aesthetic and her sentimentality for the town of Saga. No performance could have encapsulated Saki’s character like having her reenacting her death to save her friend’s daughter only to bring out the band to perform a song about having the guts to do it.
At the same time, it was also a powerful episode for showing us Reiko’s perspective. Like Pappy, she was one of the couple people they have come across so far that would be able to identify the band members from their past lives. Although Pappy’s connection with Franchouchou was much sadder, Reiko’s side of the story also holds emotional weight to it. With her, she saw her best friend die in front of her eyes not long after she told her about her dream to quit the Dorami gang and become the mother she wished she could have had. And after all of that, her daughter ended up trying to lead the same gang and follow the trajectory that her deceased best friend followed in playing Chicken with a rival gang leader. Reiko’s point-of-view is rough enough with her daughter’s attraction to the gang life that cost Reiko her best friend, but then to see a girl who is the split image of her best friend taking her bike to reenact her demise only to crawl back up with a smile is much more for her to bear. The only closure that would be enough for her to have some catharsis would be to give Saki the punch she wished she could have given her for playing Chicken on that night in 1997.
Saki’s episode was a welcome change of pace from the last episode by delivering the heavier themes of how Reiko lost her best friend in an optimistic tone as Saki handled saving Reiko and her daughter from the gang life in her own bombastic way. Rather than having the heavy shadow of tragedy hanging over her attachments to the present day, her laidback and carefree demeanor helped to give how she solved the turf war an optimistic spin by celebrating the guts she has to put herself on the line constantly to help those around her. The chances she has to continue this way of life as a zombie helped to preserve that very spirit without compromising her emotional attachment to those around her. Yuugiri gives the narration for the next episode, so hopefully, we’ll get to see more of her and her life centuries ago next week.