This Week in Anime
Is Zombie Land Saga Worth Watching?

by Michelle Liu & Steve Jones,

Zombie Land Saga stitches the flesh-melting fear of the undead to the saccharine sweetness of pop idols, but did this Frankenstein's monster turn out heavenly or horrific? This week, Micchy and Steve offer their takes on this unusual anime.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead. Not Safe For Work warning for language.

@Lossthief @Liuwdere @A_Tasty_Sub @vestenet

You can read our weekly coverage of Zombie Land Saga here!

Whaddup Steve, it's the spoopiest time of the year, by which I mean it's the point in the school semester where I start dying inside. In related news, Zombie Land Saga is mood as hell.
I certainly understand, but stay strong. It's nothing to lose your head over.
And so begins our attempt to cram as many awful zombie puns into this column as we can. You're welcome, faithful readers.
Idol shows, much like the living dead, just can't seem to quit, so what better gimmick to deploy than a troupe of colorful young girls whose main color unfortunately happens to be green?
Sometimes idols can be horses, sometimes they're theater actors, and sometimes, like the rest of us in 2018, they're just dead inside (and out). The question with every new idol show gimmick, however, is whether the gimmick will be enough to set the show apart from its brethren. So far, what's your take?
My take is that I have no freaking clue who at Cygames is bankrolling projects like this, but I'm glad all that gacha money is going toward a noble cause. I'm liking the show a lot! So far it's been a pretty weird and irreverent take on the genre, and I'm all for using necromancy to spice up any kind of show.
Any idol anime that holds its first live at a death metal concert is an idol anime worth watching imo.

It's different, I'll give you that. The first death metal live is a riot, as the girls win over their audience by headbanging impossibly hard, and the freestyle in episode 2 is equally hilarious. That said, I'm kind of getting idol fatigue, and I'm not sure Zombie Land Saga is quite different enough to remedy that. Not that it has to! There's nothing wrong with optimistic shows about girls following their dreams and bonding with each other, and under the irreverent humor and quirky brand of horror, that's Zombie Land Saga to a Z.
Yeah, I totally get you. Four episodes in, I'm still not quite sure how to pin it down. The first two eps are a lot more outrageous and farcical, while the most recent two have been more along the lines of "idols but zombies." It's still good, but I'd really like to see Saga lean more into that satirical edge.
I'm kind of afraid ZLS played its hand too early. Those first two episodes are glorious in their excess, but I'm not sure the writing can sustain this joke for a full dozen episodes. It made a hell of a first impression, though!
Rapping zombie idols is one hell of an act to follow.

I mean, it's certainly one way to resolve the ol' "clashing personalities threaten team chemistry" plot.
Right? Like, even taken as just an idol show with a twist, I do appreciate that the characters are allowed to be more petty and cartoonish. The zombie gimmick lets us blend a group of girls from several different generations and careers, so the natural friction that arises adds a pretty great quality that has nothing to do with them being undead.
That's neat and all, but it doesn't sit 100% well with me that the solution to this conflict is to get all the girls to do the whole standard idol act. Some in the group have been there, done that (Junko and Ai), while others aspire to that career (Sakura), but it'd be nice to acknowledge Saki's history as leader of a biker gang in more than throwaway jokes. The transition from live normal girl to undead idol is much bigger for some of them than others, so I wish the show would get into that more.
I'm definitely hoping it reveals some loftier ambitions as it progresses, but I'm still finding some neat things to latch on to. Saki's character has actually been a major factor carrying the past two episodes for me. She's about as far from the portrait of a stereotypical idol as you can get, but she inserts herself as the de facto leader, and seeing that play out is pretty great, especially when you'd typically expect Sakura to take up that mantle.
It's certainly not explored as deeply as it could be, but I'm also easily swayed by dumb visual gags like her making a dry erase marker look like graffiti.
also this is a much better name than Franchouchou, let's be real
Saki is a fountain of underappreciated genius (and
good faces).
And good punches!
Speaking of which, honestly the most outrageous thing about Zombie Land Saga isn't even the zombies. It's this motherfucker.
Zombie Land Saga follows the proud legacy of UtaPri's hammy producer played by Norio Wakamoto with a character who's just Mad Scientist Mamoru Miyano and I Am Here For It.
Seriously: it's literally just Mamoru Miyano.
In anime form, his name's Kotaro, and he's an idol producer and veritable renaissance man with such diverse talents as necromancy, Hollywood-caliber makeup, and beat-boxing.
He's such an entertaining character, in part because he's so candid about what the girls' job actually entails.
I never thought Ultraman Zero would betray my hopes and dreams like this, but it do be like that sometimes.
I think the zombie metaphor is a really neat way to say something about the facade, demands, and vicious cycle of the idol industry, so I hope the show fully commits to that.
But if not, it's also entertaining to hear Miyano deliver zingers like this with deadpan seriousness.
Kotaro's easily the most interesting part of the show for me, and I'm also really hoping the show digs harder into what he represents about the industry and the influence he holds over the girls' lives.
But in the meantime, we can laugh at his inability to spell, that's cool too.
Hey cut him some slack, guerrilla is a tough one.
Besides, he was never gonna get 'guerrilla live' to fit on the board at that size.
His illustrative talents lie elsewhere.
Also, because every idol show needs a mascot, Saga introduces an adorable little zombie pupper appropriately named Romero.
Well okay, he's mostly adorable.
I say that's the pinnacle of kawaii, fite me.
Also apparently dried squid is an adequate substitute for the craving of human flesh? I mean, good to know. That's a hot tip for you zombie apocalypse preppers out there.
Even the legendary Tae Yamada doesn't distinguish between biting Sakura and gnawing on squid.
Ah yes, truly the greatest question at the heart of Zombie Land Saga is which idol will be the one to surpass the most legendary of them all.
If such a thing is even possible, of course.
Chewing on markers is clearly working for her.
Tae is legit legendary, because her weird shuffling actually makes the janky CG of their dance routines tolerable to look at. Whenever the camera shows her doing her own thing, I feel at peace.
CG dance sequences are unfortunately the bane of every modern idol anime that isn't [email protected], but Tae makes it work. That alone is an achievement for the ages.
She looks so at home awkwardly flinging her limbs in every direction, I love her.
Every bit the living legend! Er, living dead legend.
She truly is the 2018 mood.
So yeah, I dig the zombie idol anime. It's got a lot of potential that it might end up squandering, but it's also got the comedic chops to provide a more silly venture in the increasingly absurd world of anime idols. Either way, I'm in it for the long haul. (because i have to review it lol.)
So long as the show continues to be different, I think I'm on board with it. If nothing else, it's an endless fountain of reaction images, and that alone makes a cartoon worth watching imo.
Also I have to know what's going on with these chicken suits, because holy shit.
Saga is a magical place indeed.

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