Risa TanedaKotono MitsuishiMamoru MiyanoMinami Tanaka
Zombieland Saga
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2018
Director: Munehisa Sakai
Writer: Shigeru Murakoshi
Actor: Asami Tano, Kaede Hondo, Kotono Mitsuishi, Maki Kawase, Mamoru Miyano, Minami Tanaka, Rika Kinugawa, Risa Taneda, Yasuhiro Takato
Keywords: anime, zombies, favourite
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=21363
Website category: Anime 2018
Review date: 16 May 2019
Zombie Land Saga
It's fantastic. There isn't anything else like it out there and I loved it.
It's an idol show where seven girls work really hard on their singing, dancing and idol performances, also sometimes struggling with personality problems. They're also zombies. There's undead slapstick, e.g. with severed heads. (The girls' body parts aren't firmly attached.) One of them, Tae-chan, never develops proper intelligence and is liable to run around wildly and chew on anything.
Oh, and they also have the world's goofiest manager, Kotaro. He's the kind of guy whose idea of starting an idol group is to raise seven zombies. He's a fountain of terrible ideas, he's childish and he's an idiot... but they're stuck with him because, well.
The first few episodes are explosive. The girls are a million catastrophes waiting to happen. They're not merely clueless, but a black hole of anti-competence and ill-matched personalities. "Don't let anyone know you're zombies!" is one of Kotaro's few sensible instructions, so of course you know they'll fail at that. What makes it hysterical, though, is the epic, magnificent, deranged manner of their failure. (Rap.)
These girls are capable of failing so hard that it turns into success anyway. Also, everything Tae does is hilarious.
That's just stage one, though. After that, the show starts getting into the characters. Ai and Junko really were idols when they were alive, but that just means they know what a joke Kotaro is. What's more, they're from very different eras (Ai being only ten years dead while Junko was a 1980s idol), so they have very beliefs and professional expectations. Lily's... well, I won't say. But wow. Yugiri's the most mysterious girl, probably because she's the longest-dead (a former 19th century courtesan) and so her old life's gone. Most of the other girls have someone who used to know them when they were alive and is probably still bearing the scars.
Then there's Saki, who's amazing. She doesn't belong in an idol anime at all and Kotaro's a maniac for resurrecting her. She's an ex-biker with attitude and a kick that can send a man-mountain flying into the wall. It's her, not Sakura, who gets voted as the group's leader, because any other choice would be suicidal. However she can have unexpected (and funny) fangirl moments and is a passionate believer in giving her all, so ultimately she was a good choice. We also learn in ep.9 that she's AWESOME. Bloody hell.
As for Sakura... well, she's the main character. She's a "never say die" idol anime protagonist. However she also has zombie amnesia. There's a completely different Sakura who's so different that it's kind of jarring and you'll have to remind yourself that this is someone we never knew, but with the same face.
Is there anything I don't like about this show? No. It's a fantastic show and I wouldn't change it. That was easy. However I suppose it's worth mentioning that the girls' deaths can be a bit silly, which was apparently deliberate from the showrunners. Lily's is the goofiest, although it gets a lot darker if you think about it.
This show is great. It's a black comedy that's being played straight, which is by far the best way to handle this material. The situation and the characters are all taken seriously, no matter how ridiculous or how often someone's head falls off. Even Tae-chan of all people gets character development, as she stops being just a comedy monster and develops some level of emotional awareness. (She's okay on stage, incidentally, since even an old-school zombie is capable of mimicry and repetition. Sometimes she'll completely ignore the choreography... but that's okay because she's The Legendary Tae Yamada.)
Besides, being dead can sometimes make you awesome. Ep.7 and ep.12 spring to mind.
I don't use a star system in my reviews, but I suppose I have something similar in my head. The categories would go something like "rant-worthy", "bad", "okay but I wouldn't recommend it", "worth watching", "excellent" and "I'm waiting for it to appear on English-language DVD so that I can give it to everyone for Christmas". This anime is in the last of those categories.
"You zombies can be overworked without dying!"