ZOMBIE LAND SAGA – Mid Season Anime Review
Synopsis: A typical morning. The usual music. Their normal lives. The peace these seven girls experience will suddenly be destroyed. By the living dead… zombies. A reality that they never wanted a part of, an amazing and terrifying zombie world. They all share one wish: “We want to live.” These girls will struggle through this saga, in order to achieve a miracle. MAPPA, Avex Pictures, and Cygames team up to bring you a juicy, 100% original anime. A timeless shocker for all audiences, a brand new style of zombie anime, will soon rise. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Zombie Land Saga came out swinging. Its attention grabbing, sheer absurdity became a highlight of the Fall premieres, and solidified itself as a title to watch. Sadly, six episodes in, it’s become clear that Zombie Land Saga isn’t capable of continually generating new levels or avenues of insanity, often doubling down on the same absurd quirky elements introduced early on, with little clever variation.
Linny: Zombie Land Saga had one of the most quirky and unique starts in recent anime. For the first episode or so, it’s high energy and filled with comedy, making one feel like this was going to be a truly fresh take on the idol genre. Throw in the manager character who steals the show thanks to bizarre dialogue, delivered by his VA with gusto and style and you had a show that seemed poised to turn idol anime upside down. Alas, this energy and innovation was short lived. Two episodes in and Zombie Land Saga began to shed its quirky nature for more typical idol trope ridden content. This includes worrying about putting up a perfect performance or struggling with how to expand their fame and appeal as an idol group.
Tom: That’s the thing. Zombie Land Saga introduced itself as a crazy, quirky zombie/idol series, when in reality it seems so much more poised as a quirky idol anime instead. Sure the Zombie stuff is still there, but with Episode 3 the show starts to trade much of that insanity in for more traditional idol content. Those first two episodes, and their utterly bizarre nature doesn’t seem to be returning. Perhaps equally frustrating is the fact that Zombie Land has taken forever to really delve into the potential character conflict. Our cast of Zombie Girls is comprised of individuals from multiple different eras. Yet that potential for characters to crash against each other in comedic ways, due to their wildly different sensibilities, is rarely touched upon. In fact it’s not really till episode six that it’s exploited for any kind of gain, and even then the series remains muted in potential criticism for the Idol industry, even when two characters butt heads over where the Idol industry has gone over the last several decades. Otherwise most of the girls personality is saved for a gag here, a joke there, making it so that the show progresses as it sees fit, and the characters have near little to do with it.
Linny: Not only does Zombie Land Saga fail to build upon its characters, it also fails to truly employ and develop its zombie supernatural element for more than cheap and predictable gags. It seems to exist solely for the ‘can’t let people find out the truth’ factor and often the girls will do something that should clearly and easily reveal their secret in very public settings yet nobody ever really catches on. Heck, in episode 6, Tae-chan, the one girl who still acts like a zombie, literally comes apart limb by limb during a televised public sporting event, yet nobody ever questions it seriously. In fact, the only people who get suspicious about these girls are two reporters who notice that one of them looks a lot like an idol from a bygone era yet neither seems that investigative about their suspicions.
Tom: Despite my heavy criticisms I still think Zombie Land Saga is a good series, just maybe not so much as advertised. Initially described as an action thriller, Zombie Land was anything but. It was clearly a comedy from the get go, but the further we get in, the more apparent it is that Zombie Land Saga is really just another Idol centric series. It’s far more focused on the girls and their struggle for success than it is on their Zombiefied nature, the comedy that entails, or anything else. That’s fine, at least for Idol fans. And when viewed purely as an Idol series, I actually think Zombie Land Saga stands as one of the best for the year. While I don’t personally find much enjoyment in Idol series, I’ll still be recommending it for a crowd that does, because for as much as certain elements are underused, they’re used well enough to take the classic Idol set up and inject enough fresh blood to give this wholly overdone tale a much needed resurrection.
Linny: I second Tom’s opinion that Zombie Land Saga holds merit (even though we both have been picking it apart). Yes, it fails to truly utilize its twist on the idol genre but still provides plenty of laughs and enjoyable moments. It’s particularly good for someone who’d like to watch an idol show with a bit of uniqueness to it.It still doesn’t do enough to break away from the tropes and cliches associated with the genre, making it a skip for anyone already jaded with idol anime. But for anyone more willing to give it a shot they’re sure to find it somewhat enjoyable. If nothing else, I would recommend it as worth a watch solely for the over the top manager who has got to have one of the best comedic VA in recent anime.