The Fall 2018 season of anime brought with it several interesting anime but one was a pretty big mystery at the start, Zombieland Saga. Nobody really knew what this show was going to be, outside of it plausibly containing zombies. It was with great surprise to many, myself included in this, that it was an idol show of all things. Not a fan of shows like Love Live!? Wait! Don’t go… Zombieland Saga may just be for you, so let me tell you why.
One of the big draws of this anime is its premise. Zombie idol girls? Sure! Cold opening with main character Sakura hurrying out the door, excited to apply to an idol group, only to end up getting hit by a truck (in the slap-stick comedy kind of way, complete with metal-type music). It’s one heck of a hook that immediately sets the tone. Zombieland Saga isn’t going to take itself seriously, or at least, that’s what it wants you to think.
A major problem some folks have with idol anime is the large cast and melodrama surrounding every little event. While it would be wrong to say that this show doesn’t have any of that, it largely avoids this problem with the prior established tone and a greater focus set on providing biting commentary on the current real-life state of the idol industry.
Each character represents different facets of the idol industry, which is achieved because each girl is, well, a zombie! Since most of the girls get a dedicated episode you learn more about certain aspects of not only that character, but the context of what being an idol was during their time in life. In this way the show is very clever.
Zombieland Saga also chastises how the idol industry treats people now. Restrictions on the girls dating, overwork, and several other issues are also explored. Generally, these are given a comedic slant with the girls’ manager, Tatsumi, Koutarou (voiced by Miyano, Mamoru of Steins;Gate fame, by the way) screaming at them about how he can do whatever he wants with each of them because they are zombies.
Lastly the show wasn’t afraid to feature socially forward thinking through the character, Lily. She’s a trans person, and idols like this do exist in real life. For an example just look at K-Pop’s Harisu. Zombieland Saga isn’t the first, and surely not the last, anime to do this in the idol genre, but it was handled particularly well (even if fan reaction wasn’t….). Even if you don’t agree with this sort of thing, it is out there in the real world and deserves a place for exploration in media like this.
Ok, so maybe one reason you’ve avoided an idol show in the past is the music. Fair enough. Well Zombieland Saga is going to go to some outright weird places as far as your typical idol show is concerned. Death metal, rap, the more traditional songs, and even a commercial jingle! There is a fair amount of variety here and it just works. Don’t like a song? No problem, the next one is going to be different.
On the subject of music, the OP is super stylized. It’s not even something I can explain fully so please check it out for yourself (provided below). What’s more? You can listen to the OP and ED for free on Spotify if you would like as well!
All-in-all the story here is interesting, especially as a gateway into other idol anime. It does a surprisingly good job of cluing you into the culture surrounding this type of media, the story beats, and can even get you generally excited for/invested in the very characters.
However, this does lead me to the bad bits of the show which prevent it from being as good as it should have been. First off, the pacing towards the end is not very good and basically repeats an arc twice in a row. The context for this is fine, but it wasn’t exactly the most interesting to watch. Then you have the actual ending itself, which was, in a word, unsatisfying.
Zomebieland Saga feels like a big prologue for a much larger story that you might see from the longer-running idol anime like Love Live!. A fair number of the plots are tied up and you know the general outline of why/how every character relates to each other and the events occurring, but it just feels incomplete despite that.
I had to include the ridiculous trailer XD
Still, I would ultimately recommend Zombieland Saga, especially if you’ve never watched an idol show before or are looking to get into them. For all the playing around with the troupes these types of anime contain, it still plays into them just as hard but in a way that doesn’t take itself overly seriously. Plus, it was genuinely one of the better shows of the season.
Did you enjoy Zombieland Saga? Are you a long-time idol anime fan, or was this your first time? Going to watch other idol shows now? Let me know all this and more in the comments below! Please support my content creation by clicking my donation button and I hope to see you back here at Jon Spencer Reviews again soon!