First Look: Zombie Land Saga

Anime original by MAPPA
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Sakura is an average, idol-loving high school girl…who’s hit by a van and dies. Resurrected a decade later, she’s been picked by a bizarre man named Kotaro to join a bunch of other zombie girls as the world’s first undead zombie idol group.

Zigg’s verdict: Master of Puppets

This is very, VERY weird, which earns it points in my book. It’s kind of refreshing to see something so profoundly oddball, and it helps that it’s occasionally very funny, although a lot of that laughter is just from plain bafflement rather than any meaningful set-up/punch line jokes. My worry here is that there won’t be too much to the show beyond the initial impact of the premise. Even by the back half of this episode we’re beginning to slip into slightly tired idol cliches. I think a lot of it will depend on the kind of dynamic the girls will have once they’re all ‘awake’ – there’s the chance for a delightfully dark ensemble comedy, but there’s also an equal chance that they’ll decide death is just something they can GANBARE their way through, and this will become the kind of heartwarming mismatched-ensemble-bands-together-with-the-power-of-dreams shctick we’ve seen countless times before. At least it’s all lovingly animated, and Mamoru Miyano gives it both barrels in his spirited performance. I realy want this to continue being wonderfully odd, but you’ll forgive me if I’m a touch sceptical.

Iro’s verdict: The Idol genre is basically a zombie at this point anyway, so…

It’s pretty hard to lampoon idols these days without blatantly having your cake and eating it too (even Glorio standout Girlish Number falls into this pitfall), but Zombieland Saga is doing a bit better than most. I spent the entire episode in a mixture of awkward laughter and utter bafflement, and it can’t be denied that I was just having fun... I’m just not sure how long it’ll last. There’s some surprisingly sharp directing and comic timing here, but you can only take the zombie gimmick so far before this becomes Just Another Idol Show and I instantly lose all interest. It’s earned a couple more episodes though, and here’s hoping it can stay alive.

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