380th G-View: Zombie Land Saga

Fans were waiting a long time for me to review the following show. Wait no longer for it is finally here as we take a look at the zombie idol anime Zombie Land Saga.

ZOMBIE-LAND-SAGA Cover.jpg

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Horror, Idols, Music

Themes: Zombies

Number of Episodes: 12

G-Rating: 8/10

Plot Summary: In 2008, high school student Sakura Minamoto is on her way to audition for an idol group when something unexpected put an end to those plans. Ten years later, she discovers that she, along with six other “legendary” girls from various eras of Japan’s history, are resurrected as zombies by Kotaro Tatsumi to save Saga Prefecture as an all-zombie idol group.

Sakura's rude awakening

Sakura meets zombies.

Before we get to what the show is about let us go over the commendable presentation. The cool soundtrack and especially Insert Songs, both ones surely to be included in CDs/performed at live concerts and random ones thrown here and there are enjoyable to listen to and different from the usual idol fare. Then there is the animation. The character designs are good but what stood out for me were the “horror close-ups”. This being an anime starring the undead there are some episodes that took advantage of this with close-ups of their cold, shriveled, decaying, scarred, patched and bandaged blue bodies despite looking cute and/or sexy from a distance. These are very effective during the more scary parts of the show. The rest of the animation is also good, even during CGI performances, which are intentionally slow at points as both a parody and to invoke character progression within the songs, specifically in character centered episodes like the eye-opening “Episode 8”.

Saki and Sakura arguing

Sakura, Saki and Tae.

Now we talk about the show as a whole. To me the show felt like Locodol X Love Live! Sunshine!! X Shaun of the Dead/Zombieland. It can be split in two kinds of narratives.

1: A show about zombie girls doing idol things. This is personally the preferred narrative. First reason is that when episodes are about the girls forced into weird predicaments to get noticed or gather a following, these are when the show is at its best. Without spoiling anything most of these episodes are where the girls step out of idol comfort zones, tacking music genres one would normally not expect in idol anime. The second reason is these are the episodes that focus more on the ZOMBIE part of zombie idol. There are even references to popular zombie series and franchises. Let me put it this way. Episodes 1 and 2 were some of the funniest television in 2018. While other episodes such as 5 were also filled with more laughs than usual the show could not capture the magic of the first two again. Luckily it made up for this in other ways as we discuss the second narrative.

2: A show about a zombie idol group starting from the bottom. This, at first, was not as interesting. Unless the reader is a fan of idol media (specifically anime) then this may not be a show for you. Initially the idol stuff was standard fare for the genre full of predicaments seen before in other shows of its ilk. However, similar to Girls Club shows, a good idol show is one that finds a way to stand out in either its gimmick or character arcs. For example, what helps the first season of Wake-Up! Girls stand out from The Idolm@ster is it covering the dark side of the idol industry. This is why, unlike most, I enjoyed the Ongaku Shoujo TV anime. What helps Zombieland stand out from other idol shows, besides the undead gimmick, are the character arcs. Besides the eye-opening Episode 8, the other arcs feel familiar but have an extra spice added to them to make them stand out from similar arcs in other idol shows. Basically there is drama but it is pretty good drama.

3: Ah yes. The Locodol part of my description. The show in some parts is also a commercial for the city of Saga. Keep in mind that anime are primarily made with a Japanese audience in mind. The West (usually) comes second. Anyway the Saga promotion is more of a side activity and does not take precedence so readers need not concern themselves with it much. It is there to serve its purpose.

Kotaro

Kotaro. The “Producer” of the group.

Next up are the characters and once again we must address the elephant in the room, the producer. It feels like I have to do this every time I talk about a female idol show with a male producer/manager. In Zombieland it is the insane and hammy Kotaro. Unlike most producers he does all he can to steal the spotlight with his (sometimes) admittedly funny insanity and berating of the girls. I get the point of the character. Instead of encouraging the girls he mostly insulted and was generally mean to them so they would not let success get to their hands. However, though intentional for laughs, he often berated them for no good reason. For me it was hit and miss. Sometimes I got a laugh out of his kookiness, but more often than not I wanted to see him get clobbered, which he thankfully did a few times. Of course because he is their producer/manager he secretly had private conversations with the girls and helped motivate some of them THEN.

There are some notable side-characters who serve as running gags or for a select few moral support for the main seven. Most were neat. Some possibly becoming fan favorites like the police officer.

Zombieland Gang.jpg

Image source HERE.

Now for the main seven.

-Sakura is the first one noticeably dragged into this zombie idol gig. Even so she cares enough to go along with it, do her best and help the others cope when needed.

-Saki is the appointed team captain thanks to her confidence and upfront personality. She is the “punk with a heard of gold” of the group.

-Junko and Ai definitely have their defining (Junko being the shy one and Ai the serious one) traits but for most of the first half they were the “grouchy veterans who needed extra convincing”.

-Lily is the cute one and youngest of the group. Though cheerful she is a bit snarky towards Saki, for good reason though.

-Yugiri is the oldest and hottest of the gang. She is the onee-san of the group, having a “just go with it” approach to everything. Be sure not to upset her though or she will give you some tough love even though you learned your lesson long before she delivers her “swift justice”.

-Tae is an undead angel who filled my heart with hope for a brighter future despite humanity as a whole sucking so hard.

Yuri ships are Sakura X Saki and Junko X Ai. Yugiri X Lily is a potential third ship but it is not as strong as the other two. The reason why is hinted in Episode 11 though whether it means much is unknown due to the following point. While the episode had a conclusion it was more like “This is only the beginning”. Long story short the season ended with some unanswered questions and huge sequel baiting. Considering how successful the show was it is a matter of whether the real life idol group can get bookings for a season 2. I do not doubt it will happen but you never know.

Oops: Cannot forget the super important legendary pairing that is Tae X Sakura’s head.

Overall Zombie Land Saga is a pretty good idol show with a cool twist. As an idol show it is standard fare but thanks primarily to the interesting character arcs and nice use of the zombie gimmick it manages to stand out from the rest. The main seven are likable (two of which after they calm down), the animation is really good during horror scenes and the soundtrack has varied tunes. While the show peaked in awesomeness at Episode 2 and the idol centered stuff was alright, there were several great episodes and moments here and there. As for who to recommend the show to, readers who are fans of or are okay with idol anime. As for others it, as always, depends on personal preference.

PS: Readers who saw Episode 8 and plan on throwing fits over it will be banned from the blog for life. Viewers who saw Magical Girl Site, was okay with “it” there but plan on criticizing “it” here, will also be banned.

About OG-Man

Yuri and Slice of Life are my anime passion.
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26 Responses to 380th G-View: Zombie Land Saga

  1. SilverFox says:

    Been a while since I’ve posted on the blog, a long time. But this show was wonderful! The comedy, the story, and the characters were great. Lily’s episode actually had me crying tears of happiness for her.

    Tae is best girl in my opinion. Anyone who hasn’t watched it and is curious, just enjoy it. It’s a great watch.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is one that’s on my watch-when-I-Have-Time list. it looks good fun.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. tbiscut74 says:

    I really loved this show! So good. One of my favorite things about this series is the over the top facial expressions that pop up with episode 5 having the best examples.

    I liked Kotaro personally. He had more hits with me. I like hammy characters.

    Saki was my favorite. Punk anime girls have a special place in my heart. And I definitely ship her with Sakura! My fav ship in this series.

    I am totally fine with episode 8. Good for her.

    Tae is indeed best Zombie. No question. She melted my heart every time she was on screen! She’s so cute!

    And as I thought about who would be a good ship for her I realized its obvious who it is. Tae Harem! Because who doesn’t love Best Zombie!

    And as my comment in Episode 5 made it obvious That it is my all time favorite episode of the series! No episode had made me laugh like that for a long time.

    And as for side characters my favorites would have to be the first 2 fans. Dont ask me why that when every time I saw them at their shows, made me happy. I have no idea why, but they did.

    PS The Yugiri Slap is probably one of my favorite running gags of this show.

    Liked by 3 people

    • OG-Man says:

      Chicken Zombies FTW!

      He’s an uber ham for sure.

      Top 3 zombie for sure.

      Best Zombie rules all! I wouldn’t mind seeing her winning the hearts of the others. She can do it without trying.

      They’re funny and devoted.

      Hilarious and sexy each time she did it.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Kaylee R Smerbeck says:

    Thx for banning the transphobes
    Lily is the 2nd best girl would be best but TAE

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Giack31 says:

    This was a good anime. I feel like I didn’t enjoy it as much as most people but that’s because I’m not really into idol anime.
    One think I really liked about this anime was the character of Saki. At first when they made her the leader I thought that it was going to be a running joke like “she’s supposed to be the leader but it’s actually Sakura”. I’m really glad that’s not it. She really cares about every member of the group and her happy and pumped up personality (not in a genki way that can sometimes be annoying) make her a great leader. I also think they did a good job with her “delinquent side”. Usually characters like that are really cocky and unlikable but she was always cool and never annoying. Her passion for her Tamagotchi was really cute and it was cool seeing that in her episode her friend still had her Tamagotchi. I also ship her with Sakura.
    On the whole I’m so glad she is much more than just “the girl who used to be in a gang and acts like a delinquent”.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. LuzeriP says:

    I loved the show. 10/10 for me. It has everything. Comedy (best comedy I’ve ever seen in a long time), drama (I cried in episode 8), great horror scenes and great songs. The song is an important part for an Idol show. I might be biased here cuz I love Idol anime but Zombieland is my top 3 anime of the year. As for how the show ended, I think the creators were having a good time making it and forgot they running out of episodes. If nothing goes wrong in the future we’ll get the sequel. The seiyuu still working hard promoting the show.

    My best girl is Yugirin. I loved all the slappin’. And my favorite ship is Saki x Sakura. Too bad Yugirin x Lily ship got slowing down as all the drama started. And Tae is a special girl, she’s just too cute. She may wake up or be like that forever, I don’t mind either way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • OG-Man says:

      As I told OYP below idol anime to me are Girls Club shows with musicals hence why they’re easy for me to en

      Fingers crossed its massive popularity will help make the wait time for the sequel short.

      The ship is still there but as you said it slowed down over time. Saki X Sakura is best ship for sure.
      Tae is an undead angel. She can take as long as she needs to wake up.

      Like

  7. I loved the hell out of this show! (Probably helps that I was already an idol fan, watched a lot of idol shows, and love well-done parody.) Though, unfortunately, while amazing, other shows were just slightly better this year, but still…particularly episodes 1-2, 8, and 9 were favourites. Most especially 8, but I also really liked Saki’s episode. Definitely one of my favourites shows of the year, though, while not quite maybe the best, thanks to shows like Bloom into You, Revue Starlight, Comic Girls, and A Place Further Than the Universe…

    Generally I think both Saki and Lily managed to edge just slightly ahead of Tae in their episodes. Tae is still great, though, indeed. As is generally everyone, to be fair. I think it ends up being something like Saki = Lily > Yugiri = Tae = Sakura = Ai = Junko, or something like that, in the end..

    Kotaro was generally pretty funny to me. He did go overboard a couple of times, but was reprimanded for it enough, at least, and did actually occasionally also help them out. I do tend to like absurd characters, to be fair. And I am still curious about what kind of existence he really is, considering certain scenes in the anime…questions to be answered in a potential 2nd season, I suppose…

    Both Saki x Sakura and Junko x Ai are great pairings!

    Romero is also a good doggo.

    Liked by 2 people

    • OG-Man says:

      Same here. Idol anime are usually lots of fun since they’re pretty much Girls Club shows with musical numbers here and there.

      Ah. Your now famous equations. Saki and Lily as top two are great choices.

      We’ll have to wait till S2 to find out.

      That they are.

      Respect the zomdog.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Mauron says:

    “It doesn’t matter what kind of junk she’s got!” ~ Saki cementing herself as best girl 2018.

    I LOVED the handling of Lily’s arc.A little backstory, a couple questions, then on to dealing with Lily’s dad.

    I was hoping to see a comment by Yugiri that episode, but Saki clearly spoke for the group with her line.

    Saki x Sakura got together early on, and only got better as the show went on. Junko x Ai had their spotlight episode later on. Yugiri x Lily kind of hooked up in the background while the others were being nutty, and I first noticed them when rewatching the first six episodes to introduce a friend to the series (we successfully became real chickens).

    Saki should have been allowed to use kanji in Franchouchou’s name.

    I wasn’t a fan of the “Kotaro is a stalker” twist at the end. Maybe in season 2 the girls will use their sentai transformations to beat him up.

    Speaking of, Season 2 when?

    Liked by 2 people

    • OG-Man says:

      Wise words from the best and sexiest delinquent of 2018.

      Yup. Nicely done.

      Saki said everything that needed to be said.

      Yugiri and Lily’s bonding wasn’t hard to spot but yes, it’s more noticeable in the 2nd viewing.

      Would have been cool.

      I heard some saw that and went “Kotaro X Sakura” and I was like…”That’s it? PAH.” Still an entertaining jerk face creeper to me but nothing else. Him getting crushed always brought me joy.

      Hopefully we won’t have to wait long.

      Like

      • Mauron says:

        Saki definitely covered it, but a line from Yugiri still would have been nice… mostly because I ship her with Lily. Preferably at a time where the two are alone… my fanfic gears are turning right now. A line that reaffirms that Lily is most definitely a woman in Yugiri’s eyes would make a huge impact.

        Het shippers can work with even less than I do for a yuri ship. Kotaro obviously has creepy obsessive feelings for Sakura, but Sakura was barely aware of his existence.

        Liked by 1 person

      • OG-Man says:

        I too ship Yugiri X Lily, hence why I mentioned them.

        And they call us yuri fans desperate…

        Like

      • Mauron says:

        I know, but that’s also what makes a Yugiri line so much more important. Take it from a transwoman: 5 friends repeatedly showing their support has less of an impact that one sentence from someone you have feelings for.

        Some people just write romance better when they’re not trying to.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. yurimylove says:

    Great review that nailed all the show’s good points on the head. Many lol moments throughout the series, one of which I really liked was when Saki slapped Sakura’s face and her head just kept spinning around. I’ve got to try that on a zombie myself one of these days…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. K says:

    This was a great series.

    There were nice characters here. In my eyes, Junko’s character arc was the strongest and I liked how her and Ai’s character arcs were intertwined, what with them being veterans from close but different eras. Incidentally, I’ve taken a liking to the Junko/Ai ship. Sakura’s arc at the end was second best.

    Kotaro’s eccentricities and Tae’s LEGENDARY everything spiced up the fun factor in this show.

    There are still some mysteries left unsolved. Will they remain that way, I wonder?

    Liked by 1 person

    • OG-Man says:

      Junko X Ai is your fav ship and you enjoyed their arc the best. Good choice.

      Tae is a treasure and Kotaro is take him or leave him.

      Show is too popular to not get a sequel.

      Like

  11. Ioni says:

    What’s the problem with episode 8 ??

    Oh yes: Lily’s father, he’s a half-giant with a height of more than 2.5 m. How did he make his daughter so small?

    Like

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