Minami TanakaRisa TanedaKotono MitsuishiZombieland Saga
Zombieland Saga Revenge
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2021: Z
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2021
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: Zombieland Saga, anime, zombies, favourite
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: Season 2, episodes 13-24
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=24019
Website category: Anime 2021
Review date: 23 February 2024
Zombie Land Saga
Zombieland Saga is the greatest. This is another season of it. Enough said.
...but that would be an unconvincing review, so I'll keep talking.
Franchouchou are seven zombies who were raised from the dead by a loon (Koutarou), whose voice actor (Mamoru Miyano) is epically transcending sanity. When my children watched Zombieland Saga season 1, they loved Koutarou. He's so loud, incompetent and random that you can't take your eyes off him. In Season 1, he dragged his undead girls into becoming a idol group... so, naturally, in the season gap he blew it. When Season 2 opens, he's been drunk off his arse for a month and the girls are doing dead-end part-time jobs to pay off a 20,000,000 yen debt. Where did that come from? Whose idiot fault is it? I laughed and laughed, although it's less funny when we see everything in brutal flashback in ep.10.
Incidentally, the transliterated English word "revenge" doesn't mean "revenge" in Japanese. It means trying again and succeeding, after previously failing.
The first half of Season 2 is more of the same, in the best possible way. There's a strong Ai/Junko two-parter with Iron Frill, the hit band Ai used to play with when she was alive. There are also focus episodes for Saki the delinquent who's full of weird enthusiasms (ep.2), Lily the former child actress (ep.5) and best of all the barely sentient Tae (ep.6). She'll bite and try to eat anything. She can't talk, although her growls and snarls will occasionally resemble words. No matter how serious the episode, she'll probably be doing something daft in the background at some point. And, of course, everyone loves Tae. It's the law. I don't think it's possible not to think that Tae is glorious.
This year, we also discover that she's brilliant on the drums. Tae understands hitting things.
Ep.7 then gives us the adorable Mai-Mai and it's all great fun... and then the show changes gear. Yuugiri's flashback two-parter (eps.8-9) isn't funny at all, being a period drama set in 1881. No jokes. We learn some surprising Saga history and meet people with swords. We know Yuugiri's going to die and it's unlikely to be undercut by the ridiculous elements that the show had added to other girls' deaths to avoid undermining the comedy. It's not. It's pretty damn harsh. That's one hell of an end for her, although of course we then return to the present day and see her being magnificent with one of Franchouchou's most kick-arse songs.
After that, the present day gets serious too. Real-life stuff happens that trumps all the usual idol nonsense... which gives greater meaning than ever before to the girls' singing and dancing. It's strong because Japan is the natural disaster capital of the world. These scenes have reality. They're not grimdark at all and everyone's still optimistic and likeable, but it's obvious that the production team know what events like this look like.
Ep.11 is astonishing. It's doing so much with the story and finding so much meaning in the girls' actions that I checked afterwards to see if it was double-length. It's not. They fitted all that into the standard 24 minutes. Then, after that, ep.12 briefly made me think that it would be impossible to make Season 3 because you couldn't possibly top this season finale. I was wrong, of course. There are hundreds of other potential directions for the story (and a completely mental one is suggested right at the very end). However, I think "couldn't top this" is accurate.
It's still just singing and dancing, admittedly, and it's slightly disappointing that the ep.12 songs don't contain any of Franchouchou's show-stopping blockbuster numbers. (They have a few.) That doesn't matter, though.
I love this show. It's one of the best anime of recent years. If someone who'd never seen any anime said "show me some", I might pick this. It's working on all sorts of levels, from broad zombie comedy to unexpectedly heartfelt character stories. It has depth. It's subverting idols, both the real idol industry and the anime portrayal of it. (I've seen one interesting analysis suggesting that the series is about celebrating different and sometimes unconventional kinds of femininity in the ultra-straight-laced idol industry where the girls are banned contractually from even having boyfriends.) It's also explicitly about the depopulation and degeneration of unfashionable Japanese regions, i.e. here Saga.
It's laugh-out-loud funny. It's exciting. It's moving. It's dramatically changing gear in its last five episodes. The end suggests that there might be a Season 3 and I'm hoping for that.