Friday’s Feature: The Not-So-Wonderful Wizard of Saga

Zombieland Saga Episode 1 - Zakura and Tatsumi

Three episodes in to Zombieland Saga, and I spent a good hour of my life staring at a blank blog post thinking of how to actually review episodes 2 and 3 without just throwing the entire thing into the trash and calling it a day. As much as the first episode had left a strong impression and made me interested in the show to follow, episodes 2 and 3 (watched together) essentially brought the worst of my expectations to life in that while the anime had a concept (Zombie girls become idol group) it felt devoid of direction or actual theme. Simply parodying other musical scenes while occasionally throwing in a zombie limb separation joke isn’t enough to build a series around unless the comedy is really landing its mark which after the shock of the episode one opening act hasn’t managed to reach such a height again.

Zombieland Saga Episode 1 - Sakura
Admittedly, this would be a hard act to top in terms of shock and comedic timing.

But while there are a myriad of problems facing Zombieland Saga in terms of actually crafting a story worth paying attention to over the next couple of months, perhaps my biggest concern at this point came in the form of Kotarou, the manager and he one who more or less proclaimed he brought the girls back to life. So while I delay writing a draft of my review of the episodes yet further (it is due out later today but that’s neither here nor there at this point), I’d like to consider Kotarou as a character in the past three episodes and why he has become the face of my problems with the anime.

Zombieland Saga Episode 3

The Wizard of Oz reference in the post title also wasn’t just for my own amusement or because I’m suffering from a creative block (though I’d probably agree that there might be a bit of both of those behind it). After carefully contemplating the hollowness of Kotarou’s character the comparison seemed beautifully apt. While he may not be hiding behind a curtain, everything about Kotarou’s interactions with the girls seems scripted, over the top, and designed to distract from seeing the man behind the shades and the inability to actually use jacket sleeves (those who remember my Top 5 questions after rewatching Snow White with the Red Hair will know that Prince Izana also bothered me to no end because of his inability to actually wear a jacket the way it was intended).

Yes, sometimes I’m petty. Okay a lot of the time I’m petty but I usually try to minimise the truly petty criticisms when writing a blog post (usually).

Zombieland Saga Episode 1 - Tatsumi

There’s also the manner in which he deflect questions or providing explanations. Kotarou quickly goes on the attack when Sakura wants to know how they became a zombie. Whenever asked about the specifics of the idol group or Saga he launches into a rant or some other distraction and the question is swiftly forgotten. While there might be another reason for this, like he could just be a jerk, it kind of feels like perhaps he just doesn’t know the answers and is hoping to bluff and bluster his way through. Though that in turn leaves me with bigger questions about how the girls became zombies if Kotarou either didn’t do it or doesn’t know how (somehow I doubt the show is that deep but maybe we could give it the benefit of the doubt that we’ll get a bit reveal later on that someone else in fact resurrected the girls).

ZombieLand1e

Alas, that is where the relatively favourable comparison of Kotarou to the mostly charlatan Wizard of Oz will end and we just have to look at his actions at face value.

Whether he raised the girls from the dead or not, he has claimed responsibility for turning the girls into literal monsters that other people want to kill on sight. He has offered no apology for this. Having raised them from the dead, he has forced his plan of them forming an idol group upon them and accepted no criticism, questions or refusal. The girls have nowhere else that they can go and are seemingly entirely dependent upon this eccentric ‘manager’ who has a vision but no plan and seems to be rushing on some agenda that he hasn’t fully explained. His only reaction when something doesn’t go to plan is to shout loudly. Like literally getting inches from one of the girls’ faces and shouting at them.

Zombieland Saga Episode 2

While Zombieland Saga still has some potential, the problematic character of Kotarou may very well see me bail on the show long before it ever realises that potential. Or maybe that theory I saw floating around on other blogs that Kotarou is also a zombie and just wearing make-up will pan out as true and while that won’t excuse his actions, it would certainly make him a bit easier to empathise with depending on how that situation came about.

For now, I’m going to go back and try and write my episode reviews but I’d love to know your thoughts on Zombieland Saga so far and Kotarou as a character so be sure to leave me a comment below.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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CALL OF CTHULHU: THE OFFICIAL VIDEO GAME

Zombieland Saga Episode 1: Zombies and Idols, Who Would Notice the Difference?

Zombieland Saga Episode 1 - The Zombies

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.

Zombieland Saga Episode 1 - Sakura

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.

Zombieland Saga Episode 1 - Tatsumi

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.

ZombieLand1e
Make-up fixes everything. Even death and decay apparently.

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.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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No Game No Life Wall Scroll

The Laughing Salesman Episode 11

salesman11b

Review:

If you’ve made it this far through the series you already know the formula that this show is going to follow. Our first contestant this week is a salaryman with self-destructive tendencies. Even after being shown the error of his ways, he still pursues a touch of danger and so Mogruo, being the helpful soul he always is, let’s him have exactly what he is after.

Salesman11

Then we meet the ultimate idol stage mum who is essentially forcing her dream on her daughter despite the daughter not being all that interested.

Salesman11c

This second story worried me a bit because it seemed at first that the one who was going to end up hurt would be the daughter but we got another twist and as usual, Moguro’s customer (victim) is the one who faces the consequences.

Another week and another two hearts filled, though I’m starting to think the hole in their heart is being filled with sheer terror of sales people at this point. Good fun but pretty predictable.

The Laughing Salesman is available on Crunchyroll.


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Akiba’s Trip Episode 3

akiba3b

Review:

When you start something expecting to not like it and it surprises you, there’s always still the underlying caution that maybe they just had a good week or two. Akiba’s Trip is apparently that show. I kind of thought they’d get to episode 4 before the shiny started to fade but they haven’t even made it past the first three episodes for those who do a three episode rule.

akiba3

This episode is not good. We spend 8 minutes of the episode focussed on Tomotsu as he pursues his new hobby as an idol fan and audio enthusiast in the lamest kind of parody that is actually kind of insulting to the viewer. The end result is its boring and predictable to watch and with none of the action or humour of the first two episodes it falls completely flat. By the time his credit card debt arrives and he’s forced to get another part time job (which then leads us to the second half of the episode and remembers that there is supposed to be something resembling a story happening) you just don’t care. The second half embraces the sleazy fan service that the synopsis of this show suggests should have been here from the start, putting the three main female characters through idol training before getting them into swim suits. Again, the vast majority of the jokes don’t work and with an over reliance on bust shots visually its pretty ordinary.

This far in I’ll give it another episode but if this is what is in store for the rest of the season, I am going to put this one in the dropped list.

Akiba’s Trip is available on Crunchyroll

Fuuka Episode 3

fuuka3b

Before I get into my episode review I am going to admit that I didn’t watch the entirety of this episode. The fourteen minute mark features yet another anime near drowning and I stopped watching. Going back I skipped forward a few minutes when the characters were back at the beach house. Given it is unlikely that there will be any future drowning incidents in this show, I’m sticking with it for now.

Review:

The first nine minutes of this episode actually did a very good job of making me like Yuu Huruna and seeing him as an actual person (which is something the previous two episodes failed to do). Part of this is because I could totally relate to not being good at dealing with people and really not being able to stand the  kind that ask you to endlessly repeat things louder or casually slap you on the back.

fuuka3

So, that really helped this show work to win me over. Then of course, he get’s a pep talk from Fuuka and suddenly trying hard can help you overcome your inner anxiety and social issues in an instant so there goes any chance of this show actually intending to take the personalities of the characters seriously. We then have the cheap plot contrivance of nearly drowning a character (which I would have had issues with regardless) that only serves to force Fuuka and Yuu’s relationship to a point where it might actually matter that she later sees him with his childhood friend now idol. I’m not dropping this show, but honestly, the cliché laden opening with the characters running into each other was definitely a sign that the writers of this have learned about human interactions from watching other anime and not from reality.

On the bright side, other than a couple of close-ups of Fuuka’s bikini the amount of fan service in the episode was way down on episodes 1 and 2.

Fuuka is available on Crunchyroll.


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Karandi James.

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