I run an anime blog, so it is pretty obvious that I am a fan of not just anime, but almost everything Japanese as well. I like the food, the culture, the history, the scenery, you name it, I am probably a fan. However when it comes to Idol culture, that has always been the point where I get ‘off the bus’ with that love.
Perhaps it is just too strange to me, perhaps it is just not my taste, but I have never cared for Idol culture, like at at all. Maybe it is the pre-packaged feeling of it all, perhaps it is the horror stories I’ve heard of women having to apologize for the most mundane/insane shit. Maybe it is just because I am older now, and it’s not for me. Either way, I just do not care for Idols, and that has extended into Idol anime. Never liked it, never thought I would.
However when this show came around, and I finally sat down to watch it, I was surprised at how much I really, REALLY enjoyed it. So after the cut, let us (finally) take a shallow dive into Zombieland Saga.
In realm of anime shows, Saga is proof that you can make a really good show by just making one or two key changes to the formula. While it is an idol show through and through, full of dancing, cute girls, and singing. Saga is also a show that didn’t decide to just rest on those laurels, and instead it also a supernatural comedy about, what else, zombies. The story follows Sakura Minomoto, a would-be idol who, after a fated encounter with the dread truck-kun, finds herself revived as a zombie and roped into a group of fellow zombies with one mission: Become the most popular idols in Japan and save the Saga prefecture. During this, Sakura and the other girls, a mismatch of various idols from different eras of Japan claw their way to top of the idol scene, all the while trying to hide to the world that they are literal walking corpses.
Now that idea alone makes for a great show, and Saga gets a ton of points for taking the idol anime, a well worn and thought-out branch of the artform and injected some fresh blood into it. Coupled with some stellar animation, and some solid 3D work (that thankfully is improving each year) and you already have a solid show on your hands. What takes it over the top though is just how funny this show is. And make no mistake, Zombieland Saga is really, really REALLY fucking funny.
This is again one of those shows that you have to just watch to see. The over-the top comedy, the facial gags, the jokes, the crazy antics of the characters, the situations they get into to try and get their name out, all of it is absolutely 100% on point. Better yet, Saga is blessed with one of the strongest dubs in probably the last 5 years. Say what you will about Funimation (and there is plenty), it is comedic shows like this where the company truly, truly shines. Everyone in the crew, from the script-writers, to the voice actors bring their absolute best to their performances.
Not since Shimoneta have I laughed as hard, or have enjoyed an english voice-cast as much as this one. Putting aside the attempts at singing the songs (and credit for these actress, none of them who are singers, for actually trying), they are perfect for the roles, and all of them put in their best effort. Special mention however needs to be made for Ricco Farjado as insane, and manic producer Kotaro Tatsumi, who slips into the role as if he was born for it.
Yet, Saga is not also a straight comedy, and while that is the focus and where most of the fun comes from. It is also a show that doesn’t forget to mix a bit of drama and character development in there as well. While not a true look at the idol industry, the mismatch of the main cast, all who come from different eras, provides a wide ranging look at how idols have changed throughout the decades. Furthermore Saga takes time to delve into the past lives of its main girls, showing you how they died ,what their lives were like, and what made them into the people they are. Sakura’s own backstory, revealed in the final two episodes is especially heart-string pulling, as anyone who has tried and failed at things can attest to the sadness and hesitation that can come from trying to stick your neck out. Thankfully though, these dramatic moments never get in the way of the comedy, which is firing at 100% from start to finish.
Like I said at the top, I don’t care for Idol culture at all, and even after watching this, I still don’t. But make no mistake, Zombieland Saga is one of the best comedic anime in years, a rip-roaring good time with amazing music, fun characters, and one of the strongest English dubs in the last five years. Don’t let the content turn you away, if you enjoy the anime industry, love cute girls, and want to see them in funny situations, then this is a show you NEED to make time for. Brimming with creativity, humor, and a whole lot of heart, this is a show you worth coming from back from the dead over. And that fucking opening song…