「 史上最大の SAGA」 (Shijou Saidai no SAGA)
“The Greatest SAGA in History”
In the season finale for Zombie Land Saga Revenge, their big concert is finally able to happen as a charity concert that would eventually gather up support from their entire prefecture and beyond. But right when you think things will be wrapped up with a nicely tied bow, the series leaves you with a number of curveballs that might have you clamoring for an explanation.
While the Kyushu disaster is an odd place to insert Franchouchou’s big concert, it makes sense given how the turnout is largely due to the band wanting to unify the prefecture during a time of strife. Because of this, the outpour of support for Franchouchou’s efforts is very touching given how everyone in town did their part to make the stadium usable and perfect for the charity concert. It was also sweet that they ended up giving props to the two metalheads who were major supporters of theirs since the beginning.
Three songs might’ve been overkill for the second half of the episode, but it did help to set the scene for the girls to reflect on their experiences. Seeing Sakura give a heartfelt speech about remaining confident in their talents was effective enough to make Kotaro cry. The highlight of the concert in my eyes is Yamada Tae’s performance since she had that hilarious moment where she tried to do the audience call-and-response that Freddie Mercury did during Live Aid ‘85.
If I’m to be honest, it is frustrating that the last half of the episode had major bombshells that might not be tackled until a possible sequel or film is in the works. Kotaro trying to cover up blood he spat up being one of the massive developments that is wedged in between the second and third songs. We did see the bartender weakened by the weather changes as well, so seeing him and Kotaro going through these dire health situations has got to be something more than a throwaway to hedge your bets on it being answered sometime in the distant future.
Similarly, the last 10 seconds of the anime decide it’ll prove the existence of aliens in this universe with a massive UFO dropping a laser on top of Saga. I suppose there’d be little to no outrage if Franchouchou were exposed as zombies during an alien invasion. But switching over to a story where now the town is obliterated would end up transforming the show into a story where Franchouchou will spend most of the story have to worry about escaping from aliens. If they end up going full-hog on the next installment being about the alien invasion, trying to tie up the loose ends involving Kotaro, the bartender, or zombification will be near impossible.
While it’s pleasant to revisit the girls of Franchouchou and shed more light on otherwise neglected characters like Tae and Yugiri, Zombie Land Saga Revenge, unfortunately, lacks much of the charm or intrigue that the first season had. With how much of this season focused on getting “revenge” for a concert that Kotaro mistakenly made in between the two seasons, Revenge plays out no differently than your standard boilerplate idol anime sequel with very few traces of the emotional peaks or horror-comedy that helped Zombie Land Saga stand out.
Because the premise is centered around making enough money to recoup the costs of a disastrous concert and then get prepared for another massive concert, the show drags its feet through episodes focused on gaining enough popularity to pack seats. It also ends up making any episodes about the girls less about them maneuvering around their past lives and more about how far they’ve come since the first season. It ends up making for dull scenes where the girls will just remember the events of the first season and smile that they’re where they’re at now when they come across otherwise minute obstacles.
That’s not to say it was bad at all. A majority of the musical performances were memorable this season, and the songs the cap off the Lily, Yugiri, Saki, and Ai/Junko episodes were notably great. The added tidbits about Iron Frill are interesting as well because of how they still have a hard time letting go of Ai and would do anything to have her back.
I also have to give kudos for the moments we have with Yugiri. Yugiri’s much-needed backstory didn’t disappoint as we learn of the events that went down that led to her untimely demise and how storied her short life had been. It gave us connections to the present day too with the bartender being a distant relative of Kotaro who was connected to how zombification became a possible reality in this world.
Similarly, Okoba’s investigation added tension that should’ve been more front-and-center with his investigation into Franchouchou paying off with his conclusion that they’re all zombified. It adds an extra emotional layer to the series because he’s an outsider who is only horrified because Kotaro decided to create a side-show with deceased girls. We’re only comfy with it because we’ve followed their story, but to anybody else, it would feel like you’re disrespecting them and their family by playing Weekend at Bernie’s with their reanimated corpses all for a ploy to boost Saga’s tourism.
Zombie Land Saga Revenge does what it can to add to the first season’s story, but the revenge plot that is anchored to this season weighs down many of the opportunities it could have had to explore some of the lore behind zombification or dive further into the girls’ pasts. Additionally, learning that a prequel manga will be released to explain Yamada Tae’s backstory ended up making this season sting even harder because it would’ve been cooler to adapt something like that alongside the Yugiri backstory and Okoba’s investigation. I guess it loses many of the past season’s attempts to obscure the show’s status as an idol anime whilst this season embraces more of the idol anime tropes to make it feel like most of Revenge was padded out. Hopefully, we’ll get to revisit Franchouchou at some point in the horizon, and that the Yamada Tae manga will have some interesting details in-store.