(Watch out for these killer spoilers!!)
When we think of zombies, shows such as Walking Dead, Night of the Living Dead and World War Z come to mind. Zombies in anime, however, take on a different role from the traditional flesh-eating creatures that many of us are so familiar with. Zombie Land Saga puts yet another new spin on the zombie genre. Sakura Minamoto was a normal high school girl when she is abruptly killed in a vehicle accident in 2008. She is revived ten years later as a zombie and, while Sakura does retain her consciousness, she has no memories of when she was alive. Upon her awakening, she meets other girls who were also given a new lease on (after) life and the man responsible for their resurrection, Kotaro Tatsumi, wants to make them into zombie idols to save the Saga prefecture.
The first episode wastes no time introducing Sakura Minamoto with a bang. The poor girl is immediately hit by a truck just as she steps out the door of her home. I was quickly reminded of the first episode of “Is This a Zombie?!” in which the series protagonist was given the same introduction. From that point, Sakura awakens in a strange house unaware of what happened to her and that she is now a living dead girl. Zombie Land Saga takes the comedic approach to the undead. Sakura must form an idol group with other dead girls from different periods in Japan’s idol history. At first, the other girls have yet to awaken (in other words, regain their consciousness) but they are sent by their eccentric manager/necromancer to their first gig – at a death metal concert. Following their performance, most of the other girls regain their identities. It was interesting to see Sakura try and deal with her predicament as best she can, such as headbanging exaggeratedly with her zombie pals and screaming incoherently into the microphone much to the delight of the audience. Things take a turn when Sakura immediately has a rival in Saki Nikaido, a delinquent girl and former biker who regains her human consciousness after the girls’ metal performance. The two engage each other in a rap battle with Kotaro Tatsumi providing the beats and the remaining members of the group providing the music. The lyrics of Sakura and Saki have melody and flow even when spoken in Japanese, albeit if they seemed a bit hammy. But this was good ham. I almost expected L.L. Cool J to appear to announce a winner.
Zombie Land Saga does more than just convey the story of an up and coming new idol group, there are also comedic moments at the girls’ expense. A running gag is their near constant encounters with a Saga prefecture police officer who is quick to take shots at the undead darlings which leads to an entertaining sight gag, such as both parties screaming in shock when the officer haplessly runs into the girls and the girls reacting when the officer draws his weapon.
In short, there best way to describe Zombie Land Saga is that combines the rising star elements of “Love Live!” with the comedic timings of “Is This a Zombie?” into an entertaining horror comedy that brings new life into zombie genre.
Zombie Land Saga OP (Z.L.S. cast)
Sakura and Saki rap battle
Zombie Land Saga (Zonbi Rando Saga) is an anime television series produced by Cygames in collaboration with Avex Pictures, and animated by studio MAPPA. The series began airing in Japan from October 4, 2018 and is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Voiced by: Mamoru Miyano
A manic producer who resurrects Sakura and the other girls as zombies to revitalize the Saga prefecture by forming the idol group Green Face. He is a skilled make-up artist, able to make the zombies look like normal humans during their public appearances.
Sakura Minamoto / Zombie 1 (Zonbii Ichi-gō)
Voiced by: Kaede Hondo
A high school girl and aspiring idol who died in 2008 after being hit by a truck. She is the first of the zombies to regain consciousness after her resurrection, but retains no memories of when she was alive.
Saki Nikaido / Zombie 2 (Zonbii Ni-gō)
Voiced by: Asami Tano
A delinquent girl and former biker gang leader who conquered all of Kyushu with her gang, Dorami, during the 1990s.
Ai Mizuno / Zombie 3 (Zonbii San-gō)
Voiced by: Risa Taneda
The lead performer of the 2008 idol group Iron Frill, whom Sakura previously idolized in life.
Junko Konno / Zombie 4 (Zonbii Yon-gō)
Voiced by: Maki Kawase
A soft-spoken idol from the Shōwa period who was popular during the 1980s.
Yugiri / Zombie 5 (Zonbii Go-gō)
Voiced by: Rika Kinugawa
A courtesan who lived between the Bakumatsu and the Meiji Restoration eras in the 19th century.
Lily Hoshikawa / Zombie 6 (Zonbii Roku-gō)
Voiced by: Minami Tanaka
A prodigious child actress and the youngest member of the group.
Tae Yamada / Zombie 0 (Zonbii Zero-gō)
A young woman who is simply referred to as being “legendary”, and the only zombie who does not regain her human consciousness.
Voiced by: Hiroyuki Yoshino
An unnamed police officer who repeatedly encounters Sakura and the other undead girls.
Voiced by: Yasuhiro Takato
Kotaro’s undead pet toy poodle.