「グッドモーニング アゲイン SAGA」 (Good Morning Again Saga)
“Good Morning Again Saga”
The last episode of Zombieland Saga focuses on the fight for Franchouchou to regain Sakura’s memories of her time with the group in time for their next big concert. However, with her past life’s depression hindering her ability to see anything other than the abysmal luck she had up until she was hit by a truck, it takes more than encouragement to get her back in the saddle.
For all intents and purposes, this is Sakura’s episode. Much like the episodes dedicated to Junko, Ai, Lily, and Saki, this one is primarily focused on the others girls having to return the favor for Sakura by encouraging her to face her own fears brought out from her baggage from her past life. Rather than it being the loved ones she left behind or a violent end that comes back to haunt her, it’s the fact that every step she’s taken to do something positive for herself has ended in failure. She isn’t able to fully align with the belief that she’s been able to excel as far as she has in Franchouchou until she’s 3/4ths into the concert, but once her current memories returned, she could finally experience the feeling of achieving success in one of her life-long goals.
The push for Sakura to be a part of the concert is thanks in part to the influence she’s had on the girls. While they’ve had a hard time reaching her, it’s THE LEGENDARY YAMADA TAE remembering when Sakura lectured her on following the beat of a song that inspired the rest of the girls to explain how much of their accomplishments came from the encouragement Sakura gave them along the way to do their best as idols. Yuugiri also finally landed a slap at the appropriate time as she pushed for Sakura to see that they would rather have bad luck on stage together than have good luck in a subpar concert without her. While the rest of the girls were equally inspired by Sakura’s commitment to the group, it was Ai and the same encouragement she gave to Sakura on television that helped Sakura put the effort into performing to her best abilities.
That being said, it could have been a far better episode in the sense of tying up many of the loose ends. Whereas some shows leave smaller threads behind that the show can tug on under the impression of getting a sequel, Zombieland Saga is banking entirely on the idea of a sequel coming to fruition based on the questions that have yet to be answered. With the revelation that Kotarou was Sakura’s classmate named Inui-kun, it opens up a can of worms as far as his intentions were. Him resurrecting Sakura to have her fulfill her dreams as an idol is a given, but how much did he know about Sakura to get the grasp that she wanted to be an idol? Did he resurrect her out of grief for a beloved classmate, or did the “ZLS” lettering on Sakura’s envelope mean that he had her killed specifically to have her be a zombie idol? Did the bartender teach him the ways of zombification? How is the bartender familiar with Yuugiri? What can the senior journalist do now that he’s piecing together that all of the girls passed away? Did anyone in Iron Frill recognize Ai? These are all questions I’d expect would be answered in a second cour or a second season, but if we’re treating the first season of Zombieland Saga as a standalone title, it is an agonizing feeling to know that so much of the lore is still a mystery that won’t be revealed up until we get the confirmation of something more concrete in the works.
Zombieland Saga, without a doubt, exceeded all expectations by being one of the finest shows this season. Instead of falling prey to the standard idol anime trappings or the tackiness of your average horror anime, it did an amazing job being its own thing and carving out a unique identity. It took full advantage of the idea behind melding the horror and idol genres together by capturing a story that doesn’t only strive to portray how funny it is to see zombies try to become pop idols, but also takes a deeper look into what it means to be brought back from the dead. Where the idols being zombies serves to intrinsically explore the regrets and memories left behind from a person’s past life, the search for purpose and meaning during a person’s second chance at living, and creates the resounding message of not living the life you have like you’re already in the ground.
The show also succeeds in having a wonderful cast with every member of Franchouchou having both purpose and personality. As their manager, Kotarou has all of the makings of a fun character with the eccentricities that Miyano Mamoru’s performance in Mad Scientist mode lends to his personality. Sakura has her dream of being an idol leading her to fuel her ambitions and bring the girls together, yet also needs some encouragement when she starts to doubt her abilities. Ai is the most experienced in contemporary idol culture, but still has learning of her own to do as she shapes up to be an admirable leader who faces the regrets of having her dreams snatched away right when she got famous and the overwhelming anxiety she has over lightning, thunder, and pokers. Junko finds herself in strange territory as she’s used to the solitary and formal efforts of a 1980’s pop star, but begins warming up to the group as she finds herself getting more comfortable being herself as she assimilates with Franchouchou. I absolutely adore Saki since she’s a rough and brash gangster whose role as the group’s leader causes her to mature quickly to the point of being more personable with the other girls and wanting to make sure that they feel comfortable with the decisions they make. Lily has such a powerful story with how her desire to always be herself made her a perfect fit for Franchouchou and the zombie life. And yet, it also forced her to face the pain of eternal life when it means having to see her dad mourn for her while being unable to reach out to him without blowing her cover as a zombie. Yuugiri is my second favorite as a dignified and refined courtesan who finds herself fascinated to discover all of the new wonders that the 21st century has to offer in spite of being 155 years old, and doesn’t hold back her feelings as she always has a well-intended slap on-hand to encourage her friends to give it their all. And who could forget THE LEGENDARY YAMADA TAE, the mysterious member who remains trapped in her zombie-like mindset complete with a gurgling speech pattern and head-chewing tendencies, yet is conscious enough to communicate and let her feelings out. Truly a nice bird.
Zombieland Saga is without a doubt one of the best original anime this season. Although the last episode did leave questions unanswered and the CG was distracting at times, every component of the show stuck the landing with grace. Its comedy is amplified by the dark physical humor that zombies bring to the table, its dramatic moments are surprisingly hard-hitting and heavily emotional in part to the girls being brought back to life in a world that laid them all to rest, the cast is as endearing as they are engaging to follow, and the musical tracks are pretty impressive for an idol anime. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for Zombieland Saga and what MAPPA, Avex Pictures, and CyGames have in mind for the next stage in Franchouchou’s plans to conquer Saga.