It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, it’ll make you cringe! And sometimes, all three at once! Zombie Land Saga is one of the funniest yet emotionally charged combos you’ll ever see. With an amazing cast of characters, pretty artwork, and simple but crazy but effective story, this one will have you on the edge of your seat, sometimes falling off your seat laughing! Hey, it’s an idol anime with zombies. What could go wrong?

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Characters

Rating: 8

I’m just gonna come out and say this: is it weird that Tae-chan is my favorite character?

But that kind of tells you about this set of characters. While I dislike overused words like “connect,” you really feel involved with these characters in that way. Not even that you can understand what they’re going through. After all, they are zombies! But you feel for them all in ways that you can’t always express. They touch your heart that way, even down to Tae Yamada and her stereotypical zombie behavior.

Yes she’s the odd one out in the group. It’s hilarious. In a group of zombies, she’s the one behaving abnormally, for the simple fact that they other six are behaving like living humans, and she’s the one making zombie noises and crossing her eyes and drooling out of her open mouth. She just kind of does whatever she wants up on stage too. You’ll be watching the main characters sing or dance, but you have to look over and see what she’s doing occasionally. Usually you’ll just laugh hopelessly and think “What on earth is she doing??” She apparently can understand just a little of what’s going on, expressing herself a little more as the show progresses. I don’t know, I just think she’s fun somehow. In a show about zombies, she behaves like a zombie. How crazy is that?

My second favorite is Saki. I love the tough girls. She seems so out of place in this group! If she even considered doing music in her life, it would have been something like death metal you’d think! She’s so coarse in her language and often violent in her actions, it’s so unlike the ladylike behavior of the others. It’s definitely not what you expect of an idol. It’s funny, there’s a point in the show where the two former idols are at odds over how an idol should behave, and yet here you have Saki who, quite obviously, doesn’t give a damn about any of that! I don’t quite understand exactly what she’s saying in her pet phrase, but “korosu” is in there somewhere! Her energy and rebelliousness are a big dynamic changer in their group, and she’s a ton of fun to watch.

You wanna die?

Sakura Minamoto is the main character, but I don’t have a ton to say about her actually. She’s really easily moved emotionally. Very excitable, but also easily depressed apparently. She has some stereotypical self-doubts that young people often experience. This doesn’t do a ton for the show or her character, but you can understand it, and it adds some heartfelt elements. Her dying initially is shocking. If you’re watching the show for the first time, that whole first episode is quite alarming. She’s so excited and exuberant, then she’s hit by a truck, then she shows up “alive” in a dark and empty house, and then the other zombies appear. That episode is a great start to the series, even if we don’t get to see the real character of the others cast members until later. And she’s thrown into the fire right away. Kotaro has her doing a concert right away, even while the others are still looking for something to bite.

Poor Kotaro. It’s in the very last episode of S1 that we learn he’s one of Sakura’s classmates from ten years ago. We realize he probably was in love with her, and it’s so sad. It makes you smile even so, because now you know why she’s the only one of the group who isn’t “legendary.” He just wants her there, so she can pursue her dream of being an idol. It’s the others who are ancillary to him. She’s the only one who is truly important to him. It’s so sweet.

He does a good job of not giving it away. On the contrary, his behavior towards her, and the others also, is borderline maniacal. But it is the number one funniest thing in this show! It’s kind of hard to believe that this guy’s VA is Light Yagami from Death Note! Most of his dialogue is yelled out at the top of his voice, and in this strange cadence that’s hilarious to listen to. I don’t know what to call this style of speech, nor do I know how to describe it very well, but you have to hear it to know why I’m saying it’s so funny. Usually what he’s saying is kind of funny as well, but it’s much more the tone and delivery. This show wouldn’t be very funny at all if it wasn’t for this guy. He’s quite a character.

Tae-chan ably detains Kotaro.

The other group members are less remarkable, but add their own unique fun to the show. Yugiri, the Edo era courtesan, is a strange addition, and she gives the show an extra element of strangeness in her dialogue. She’s clearly out of time! S2 brought us a lot of extra backstory on Yugiri as I guessed it would. It was a fun if tragic interlude on this otherwise modern-day-based anime. Lily and her troubles sadden you a lot, as her childhood led her to all kinds of emotional trauma and ultimately her death. Her heart popping out of her chest is pretty wacky. Her poor father is a very sympathetic character too. Ai Mizuno has the instantly endearing aspect of having Risa Taneda as her VA (Kaori, YLiA). Junko has a very interesting voice (courtesy of Maki Kawase, a relatively new VA), at times very girly, at times very deep and mature, but always rich and engaging. Man, Maki-san brought it in S2! Her voice is fantastic.

I’m not mentioning the the dog.

The old guy at the bar, Xu Fu (the Chinese name has some explanation), does have something to do with the whole Yugiri and zombie revival situation, but S2 didn’t shed a very bright light on that. We just learned he’s been involved, and is possibly immortal himself. The journalist Oukoba almost outs them in S2, but changes his mind after seeing how they all get along so well. But he knows the truth! Hey, Light Oozara is kind of fun! Not because he does anything for the story, but because somebody, somewhere, in this production, wants to poke fun at Mamoru Miyano (Kotaro) and his most famous role, aforementioned! Then the fan girl Mai Mai is fun too, not the least because we get Kana Hanazawa, who has left her mark on many popular shows over the years, involved in this series!

Artwork

Rating: 9

How can the undead be this pretty?? From Sakura and her nice round head and pretty eyes and reddish-pink hair to Tae-chan’s overflowing mass of unkempt black hair and unfocused gaze, they’re all so much fun to watch! I love the styling on Saki so much. The colored highlights on the bleached blonde hair are perfect, and speak well to her punk character. Yugiri looks appropriately more mature and somewhat out of time again, really like she’s from a different era. Which of course she is!

Anime art is all about eyes, and this one is a great example. Large and round and colorful, they’re a little on the unique side, but not alarmingly so. I love all the colors. Ahaha, they’re all red in their zombie forms. I love how when they put on their makeup they’re careful to change their eye colors too (contacts we’re supposed to think?). We know that Sakura’s eyes are the same as when she was alive, but we actually don’t have any way of knowing this for the other characters. Well, the famous three I guess have photographs. But Yugiri and Saki and Tae don’t have photographs, at least not that Kotaro would have access to. Now that I think about it we do see an old photo of Saki with her buddy, so I guess we could confirm eye color there. I say all this but I’m guessing it’s supposed to be the same as when they were alive, so whatever! I love their eyes.

It’s about idols so you’d expect everything to be really pretty. And between the girls and their outfits, they certainly are. Hell even their zombie forms are pretty. A couple of the girls either have bandages or patches placed around their faces in various places. A couple of the girls have noticeable scars. Sakura’s is of course right in the middle of her forehead, having been hit by a truck. Hm, we never saw any wound on her when she got hit. But who cares? Even the scars add to their personalities.

Other than that, lots of bright lights and large, open scenery. It’s all quite colorful and visually attractive. Well, some scenes are in the dark, but not many, and you still have a good sense of the color and vibrance even. Cutest zombies you’ll ever meet.

If I have any complaint, it’s about the CGI. It went kinda crazy in S2. It works alright, but it’s in such contrast to the normal artwork, and it looks so computer-y, it bugs me. They only used it during the concerts in S2, why I’m not sure, so it works alright. But I’m not a fan of this element mixing into anime too much. But, it’s a tiny complaint. Overall the art is still what it is, and that’s excellent!

Story

Rating: 7

The story is ordinary to nonexistent initially. All we know is seven zombie girls have been revived by someone, probably Kotaro, and he intends for them to “save” the area called Saga. From what I’m not ever entirely sure. I think it has something to do with a dwindling population, but that seems a little strange. But either way, that’s what he and they are setting out to do from the first few minutes of the show even. And apart from the million questions we all have at that point, that’s all there is to it!

Or for a while at least. Eventually the main question is answered. Why is Sakura there? I already mentioned above that reason above. And that’s ultimately the basis for the story. The rest is just a lot of learning about each individual character as they develop. Except Tae-chan. She’s just a dumb zombie. We visit a few locations, see a few concerts, hear some new songs, and get into some really weird but funny situations, which of course Kotaro ends up yelling about later. So while there isn’t much story, the important part is there, and the rest works well as just episodic adventures.

S2 added to the story a bit, even if it mostly was about them recovering as a group from a recent flop. We learned about Yugiri and so a bit more about the necromancy being practiced by Xu Fu and subsequently Kotaro. We had some interesting twists that caught us by surprise! The flood was the most surprising. This was probably based on some of the major flooding that actually did occur in July 2020 in and around the Saga prefecture in real-world Japan, but it was such a surprise in the show! Given how frustrating and difficult a year 2020 was for a lot of people, I feel this element was added to make a note of that for the history books, and to actually allow Franchouchou, and this series, to kind of play that encouraging role they undertake in the show itself during this time. I thought it was timely and well-handled, and it added to the emotion in the final show of S2. I definitely flooded over with lots of crazy emotions as Kotaro broke down crying, “a grown-ass man crying!” It was great.

Overall: 9

I’ll watch almost every genre of anime. But when it comes to sports or music anime, I almost always bail out. Yet somehow three of my favorite series all time are music animes. And Zombie Land Saga is tops on that list! I love love love this show. I will laugh through it the whole time, no matter how many times I’ve seen it. Kotaro yelling wildly and the girls’ alarmed (or totally unimpressed) expressions are pricelessly hilarious. And on top of that the part about Kotaro being Sakura’s classmate in highschool and hence reviving her as part of the group is so sweet. This show is so many things an anime should be.

I mentioned there were parts you would cringe at. Basically it’s this. The reason I don’t like music anime usually is because the music is rather ordinary, or the songs’ lyrics are cliche. But above all, and particularly with the girl idols and their groups, they do all that dancing. I am not a fan of all those seemingly unnecessary gyrations these idols do. I know it’s supposed to just be dancing, and add to the effect of the music. But it just looks like random movement to me sometimes. It doesn’t even look like it’s in-sync with the music sometimes. That being said, it’s not super bad in this show. In fact, the dancing is often nicely done with the music. The artists manage all this movement very effectively. But I’m just not a fan of all that, and it definitely makes me cringe.

Regarding the music, their first song is fairly well known if I’m not mistaken. I seem to remember it being used in a karaoke scene in another anime, if I’m not mistaken. It’s tuneful and decent. I forget the name at the moment, but it’s the one where they’re saying “Awaken,” or so the subs say. The opening for the anime itself is a lot of fun, and I believe it’s the seven cast members performing it. That’s one nice thing about music anime, the VAs get to sing. We’re not used to actors being able to both sing and act. That’s kind of an old thing, at least in Western filmmaking, etc. But these girls are able to do both, so they can make a few original songs and have a lot of fun with it. They may not always be in tune or together, but that’s part of the fun of it. They’re not super perfect, but it works perfectly. And I have to say, while I didn’t enjoy their songs in S2 as much, they all sounded really, really good together in S2, especially in the later songs. They could all make it easily as a singing group at this point!

Yeah, there’s a lot I like about this show. Interestingly, it’s so simple, so there’s not a lot of super complicated points I can make about it. But the feelings it inspires are remarkable, and they’re fairly continuous too. You’re almost always feeling something as you watch. It might be cringing. It might be sadness. It might be laughter. But it keeps throwing it at you. And it’s a ton of fun! I highly recommend it!

Given how S2 ended, I expect a S3 at some point. And speaking of how S2 ended…what the hell?

This is for shoes!!!

S2 Gallery

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