The Spring 2021 Preview Guide
Zombie Land Saga Revenge
by The Anime News Network Editorial Team,
How would you rate episode 1 of
Zombie Land Saga Revenge ?
What is this?
The undead girls of the Franchouchou idol group suffered a major setback after their major concert failed to fill enough seats. Saddled with debt from unsold tickets, the girls take up various part time jobs in order to pay it off with their hearts still set on idol work. However, Kotaro is taking the failure particularly hard and is living the life of a local drunk. Can Franchouchou get Kotaro back on the wagon and turn their luck around?
How Was the First Episode?
After two years lying six feet under, the undead idols of Franchouchou have risen from the grave once more to wreak havoc and chaos on the underground music scene of Saga prefecture. It's been entirely too long since ZLS came out of absolutely nowhere with its eclectic mix of idol aesthetics, black humor, and cartoon hijinks to take the idol anime landscape by storm. And while this premiere takes a bit to get itself fully back into form, I'm just glad to have these girls back. It's hard to express just how nice it was to again see Sakura, Saki, my wonderful daughter Lily, and of course The Legendary Yamada Tae.
That familiarity is very much assumed by this first episode, by the way. While the basic premise is re-established, to really get anything out of this you'll need to have finished and presumably loved the previous season. In fact this episode is largely played pretty straight, as far as idol anime storylines go. Between seasons Franchouchou made a decent dent in their local music scene, then promptly blew all that success by booking a huge stadium they came nowhere near filling up. The ensuing setback and debt left Kotaro wallowing in shame while the girls all got jobs to help pay back the debt from that failed show, but by golly these girls will stake their afterlives on making it back on stage! It's only when their gig (and Kotaro's return) sparks a panic(!) at the disco that ZLS's particular brand of irreverence makes a comeback, and while I could have stood to see more of that, it's still wonderful to have back regardless.
Otherwise though, this is pretty much identical to season one. The only major difference I spotted was that the CG models used for Franchouchou's dance performances have gotten a decent upgrade. They're still noticeably shinier and stiffer than the 2D animation, but generally move with a lot more energy and (most importantly) stronger facial expressions. It's still not at the level of Love Live! Nijigasaki's performances or anything, but it's still a laudable improvement over what was easily season one's greatest stumbling block.
The only real hint at what this season's story will be is Kotaro mentioning there's some kind of hard time limit on his plan to revitalize Saga via the undead. Presumably this has something to do with how long his unexplained successful resurrections can last, but knowing this show it could all turn out to be something else entirely. Regardless, I was already locked in to REVENGE since it was announced, and I'm ready to rock out with Franchouchou all over again.
Zombie Land Saga was a breakout hit in 2018 thanks to an impressive heavy metal show starter followed by a memorable rap battle. Also in a world full of idols, how many can claim that they're undead? Combine that with Mamoru Miyano chewing the scenery at every opportunity and you get a truly unique, gut-splittingly funny show in a genre that's known to take itself a little too seriously.
The episode opens with a reminder that part of the series' charm is how grounded it is in its specific locality. Zombie Land Saga has always been about "saving" Saga, as Kotaro puts it, and that translates to tourism highlights be it local landmarks or snacks. Ai Mizuno has taken up a job drying out and packaging squid, Saki works nights for a construction crew, and Lily is delivering milk. Essentially everyone's found a job of some sort except Tae and our grief-stricken washout Kotaro.
Zombie Land Saga Revenge isn't just about seeing our favorite underdog idols again after facing a career-stymieing hurdle. The first episode hints that we may get more information about Kotaro's motivation as a whole and why he decided to revive a bunch of girls from various time periods. His frenetic energy isn't just a facet of his personality; there's a deadline for whatever his end goal is and now that he's made a misstep, the entire plan is jeopardy. Revenge is looking like it may have some bigger questions to answer this time around.
One part of what made Zombie Land Saga's idol formula work is its genuinely good music and we see that return here with the group's new song played over the credits. There's always something about the Zombie Land Saga animation and songs that hit different and I certainly felt the passion in Sakura's performance. (The all out brawl happening at the same time didn't hurt either).
This looks like a return to form for the staff at MAPPA. If you enjoyed the first go around with Franchouchou, its second season is off to a great start.
discuss this in the forum (275 posts) |
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history