Sakura Minamoto has a dream: to become an idol. Looking forward to her second year of high school with eyes bright and full of hope, she dashes out of her front door with nothing but her opportunities ahead of her – right before she’s hit by a truck and instantly killed. Zombie Land Saga takes the “rising idol” archetype and turns it on its head, delivering a series that’s intriguing enough to stick around for at least a couple more episodes.
Sakura Minamoto acknowledges that she’s a bit of a klutz – but going into year 2 of high school, she’s resolved to make a change in order to pursue her dream of becoming a famous idol!
With an envelope for a talent company in her hands, she’s prepared to take the next step in her journey to stardom when she’s unceremoniously hit by a truck in front of her house, and dies immediately.
Awakening in an unfamiliar space, Sakura is confronted by a ghastly creature that moves in a creepy, irregular manner. Crawling on all fours and diving after her, it’s quickly determined to be a zombie! Trapped in this house of horrors, Sakura attempts to make her escape, only to stumble into another room filled with even more zombies.
Battling back the slow-moving threats, she finally makes an escape to the main road. Caught in a torrential downpour, she realizes she’s now in the Saga prefecture…a long way from home. When she attempts to call a nearby police officer to help her out, he appears mortified and draws his weapon. Confused, Sakura catches her reflection in a nearby mirror.
Now “zombified”, Sakura is shot in the chest by the officer as he attempts to battle back the monster. She falls, but doesn’t seem to be fatally wounded as her eyes move to meet her attackers. Just when the officer is about to finish her off, a solid shovel swing knocks him unconscious, and Sakura spots a mysterious man in sunglasses.
Coming to consciousness some time later, the man in the glasses (revealed as Koutarou Tatsumi), explains to Sakura what was going on. It’s his dream to put together an Idol group that can save Saga from falling into obscurity. In commitment to this goal, he (seemingly?) resurrected some of the most influential young women from the history of Japan as zombies.
Sakura finds this ludicrous, but can’t help but deny her own situation. Begrudgingly, she plays along with Koutarou’s ambition, and the group heads to a heavy metal concert/performance with an “Open-mic” policy. Mortified that she’s the only one who can talk, Sakura is sure that the performance will be a total dud. However, after Tae makes a stage dive and attempts to bite at one of the heckling fans, Koutarou turns on the music and the girls all begin to headbang and scream into their microphones. The audience takes to the performance and Sakura feels the rush of fulfilling her dream.
As the episode concludes, Sakura reflects on the previous night’s performance before hearing a crash from inside the house. Making her way inside she notices that some of the other girls seem to have pulled back in fear, and they’re talking! She wishes them all a “Good morning!” as the credits roll.
So far, Zombie Land Saga definitely wins the “unexpectedly interesting” award for the season. Fans of zombie series will be surprised to find that it’s not your typical “survive the zombie apocalypse” archetype. Instead, it uses the trope of zombies to set a unique stage for an idol anime.
Sakura and Koutarou really carry this episode, namely because they’re the only characters able to actually talk to one another. I think that this dependence on their dynamic from the start really helps you to get attached to their respective eccentricities. Sakura is remarkably chill, considering that she’s a zombie on a path to Idol stardom, and Koutarou is just…a lot.
As their creator (?) and wannabe manager, Koutarou seems to have a unique selection of skills – not the least of which is the ability to use makeup to literally turn dead girls into Idol material.
The pacing and animation were both solid – and the music was an added treat…well, if you’re a heavy metal fan.
Overall, I found myself grinning from ear to ear while watching Zombie Land Saga, and a show like that is definitely something I definitely like to keep in my weekly lineup. You can find Zombie Land Saga on Crunchyroll here – it airs weekly on Thursdays!