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.
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