Kotaro as the manager is doing a good job at fighting with Haiji from Run With The Wind for gaining the title of most obnoxious character of the season. Haiji at least has his good moments in between being a blatant manipulator whereas Kotaro here is just obnoxious in every single scene he is in. It is almost a shame that he’s voiced by someone so recognisable because I’m honestly never going to be able to hear that voice again without seeing this smirking idiot screaming into the faces of the zombie girls or being unbearably smug about doing something fairly lame.
And the reason I’m fixating on that is because very little else in this episode gained my attention. The girls are all about working together to overcome their doubts and actually practice to become idols (meanwhile they have this touching heart to heart while shirking practice to take in some sights). We get a performance that goes better than most of their shows so far and then we get dumped into what I guess is more traditional zombie horror territory but here it is played for cheap laughs and to be honest it wasn’t so much amusing as it was just a little mind boggling.
Still, I guess episodes 3 and 4 have at least established the idol tone this show is going to take, I’m just not so sure I’m up for a whole season of this. The character dialogue between the girls is very flat, the music isn’t really getting any better, and even though the girls are zombies they clearly have no interest in exploring the horror element of that, so I’m just not sure what is left for me to enjoy here.
I’ll probably give this another episode but I’m fairly certain this one is going to get a mid-season drop because I’m just not feeling it and unlike other titles that aren’t exactly nailing it for me, I’m not even overly optimistic that this one will improve as time goes on.
As much as the first episode made a splash and instantly grabbed my attention with its zany and hard hitting first scene and a follow up that was fairly surreal mostly because the audience didn’t see it coming, episodes 2 and 3 had an uphill battle to maintain that. Firstly, the surprise is lost. We now know what this Zombieland Saga is about and so far there hasn’t been anything added to the plot beyond that initial zombie girls forming an idol group to somehow save Saga. So without surprise and without any kind of overall plot we’re left with a group of zombie girls who intermittently practice and perform slightly improved routines becoming more and more idol like interspersed by Kotarou (the manager and supposedly the guy who brought them back from the dead) shouting at them or generally being fairly incomprehensible in both his motives and actions.
Needless to say, this isn’t going to be enough for this to stretch a whole season riding on the shock enjoyment of episode 1. While meeting the now awakened rest of the girls is reasonably done, and the scene where they were essentially playing catch with Tae’s head while attempting to perform a concert and it ended up being a rap battle was amusing, and even the bad CGI actual idol performance in episode 3 kind of served its purpose if you are attempting to mock idol culture and idol anime, there just isn’t enough in this show to offset the lack of direction and the generally bad writing that even the most enthusiastic Mamoru Miyano (of Steins;Gate and about a zillion other anime fame) cannot seem to elevate beyond slightly eye-brow raising.
Not to mention, any pretence of this actually being a horror got thrown out the window once we started to meet our zombie crew. In the first episode, Sakura was alone and scared and neither she nor the audience knew what was really going on. It really worked as both horror and comedy. With no suspense left, nothing lurking in the shadows, and zero atmosphere to speak of, episodes two and three suffer horribly as they need to be carried by the momentum of the actual story (which we already established isn’t up to the task) and the character interactions (which might get better but certainly aren’t amazing here).
Now it isn’t bad enough yet to declare dead in the water, but without an injection of some serious chemistry between the characters or some fantastic plot direction, this one is going to end up wallowing in its own inadequacies before someone finally puts it out of its misery. A few good and eye-catching moments aren’t enough to hold an episode together and they certainly won’t hold a show together for a whole season without something sitting behind them.
Right, so I have no idea where this plans to go or whether or not MAL labelling it as an action/horror is accurate. So far I’m getting a very horror/comedy vibe and this first episode is highly entertaining but it left me wondering what they intend to do for the next 11 episodes and whether or not this one is going to suffer from diminishing returns. That said, its a zombie story so of course I’m going to keep going for at least another couple of episodes.
Of course, that makes it sound like this first episode was disappointing which is completely untrue. This first episode is a blast. We start off with our typical high school girl, Sakura, who wants to be an idol dressing for her day at school and running out the door and immediately get hit by a car. The timing is perfect as this sequence doesn’t drag and the impact of the girl flying through the air as the music starts to play is pretty fantastic.
There’s also the fact that when the girl awakens she doesn’t seem to realise she’s a zombie. Though I think the real supernatural effort goes to her clothes and hair ribbon which somehow have survived her getting killed and being dead for ten years. Even the bullet hole she acquires just kind of seems to disappear.
Tatsumi, as the manager and guy I assume is responsible for making them zombies, might become super annoying. He has this tendency to either be really vague in his responses and explanations or to just randomly start shouting. While it could be amusing in small doses if it becomes a prominent and repeated theme it is definitely going to become one of the lower points of this anime.
However, the end of the episode where the zombies are taken to perform at a death metal open mic kind of thing, is fantastic. No rehearsal or plan, most of the girls still mindless zombies, and there they are up on stage. It is exactly the kind of train wreck you would expect from such a set up.
So yes, plenty to enjoy provided you find zombie idols amusing though I still have to wonder what the long term plan for this show is because the vague ‘save Saga’ goal the manager threw out there isn’t exactly something I can see happening in 12 episodes.