Zombie Land Saga

February 3, 2019

At first I was going to give Zombie Land Saga the skip. Yeah, it was that time of the new anime season when I had to choose which animes I want to watch and had to be selective thanks to the dozens of animes I WANT to watch. Yeah, I’m such a busy (anime watching) guy. So when I heard about this show was going to have zombies, I said, “Skip!”. Not really into zombies. Not liking the horror genre. And then my guts told me to properly read the synopsis. What’s this? Not a horror genre? But a comedy? Okay… But then zombie idols? No thanks. Had my fair share of idol themed animes. So I said again, “Skip!”. And then my guts were like screaming to me this time, “You sure you read the damn synopsis properly?!”. What’s the big deal? Idols in the form of zombies taking storm in the idol industry, blah, blah, blah. So what?! And then my guts just told me to shut up and watch the first episode. I will not regret it. Sighs. Can’t argue with that, voices in my head. “In your head, in your head… Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie…”.

Episode 1
Sakura Minamoto is excited to go for an idol audition. Life is going to be beautiful. When suddenly she gets hit by a truck! OMFG! Death metal music cue! Next thing she knows, she is a strange house. Exploring about, she is ‘attacked’ by a zombie girl! Run! Worse, she corners herself in a room full of other zombie girls! Luck is on her side as she manages to escape out. She tries to seek help from this policeman but he gets scared and shoots her! Sakura sees in the mirror… She is a zombie herself! Before the policeman could do anything further, he is taken out by Koutarou Tatsumi. Sakura wakes up back in the house as Koutarou explains she has died 10 years ago. Now revived as a zombie, she will become an idol to help save the Saga prefecture. So how did he revive her as a zombie? If you watched enough zombie movies, that’s your answer! Too bad Sakura is the only zombie with consciousness as the others are still mindless zombies. Don’t forget to feed them dried cuttlefish or they’ll bite you. Koutarou explains his Zombie Land Saga Project and they will revive the regional idol craze that has been dying in recent years as part of his plan to save Saga. That’s why he has put together these legendary girls to form an idol group. Sakura, meet legendary biker boss Saki Nikaidou, legendary 80’s idol Junko Konno, legendary Meiji courtesan Yugiri, legendary child prodigy actress Lily Hoshikawa, legendary 2000’s idol Ai Mizuno and just legendary Tae Yamada. So tonight they’re going to have their first performance? At this death metal live concert?! Thanks to Koutarou’s makeup skills, the girls do look pretty dolled up. With the zombie girls suddenly doing head banging, Sakura gets worried unlike Koutarou. He tells them nobody expects anything from them. Not even himself. So go out there and blow everybody’s expectations away! On stage, as expected, the death metal crowd is hostile towards cute idols, Death Musume (temporary group name). More trouble as Tae jumps into the crowd and starts biting. Sakura is already confused and starting to panic when Koutarou gives the cue to start the death metal music. So how do zombies sing? THEY SCREAM!!! Holy sh*t! The crowd loves it! And with their head banging style, they’re really going to rock everybody tonight! If you can’t beat them, join them! Scream your heart out, Sakura!!! OH YEAH!!!! Next morning back home, I guess Sakura must be pretty confused. But not as confused as the other zombie girls (except Tae) start to regain consciousness and are pretty horrified over their zombie condition. Good morning everybody.

Episode 2
Our zombie girls gather as Koutarou once more explain his Zombie Land Saga Project and he is their mysterious producer. No kidding. Not that the rest are impressed anyway. He reminds them to keep their zombie identity a secret because you know what humans will do to zombies? Here’s a few clips from American movies. ZOMBIES HAVING THEIR BRAINS BLOW OFF!!! Since they’ll have another performance at some old folks home, it’s time for idol training. Only Sakura goes along while the rest ignores him. Because of that Saki has bad blood with Sakura for being a pussy to that zombie producer. Ai tries to get away but looks like Koutarou’s zombie pet dog, Romero is guarding the door. Don’t let your imagination fool you… Aww… So cute… Ai still tries to get away but bumps into Junko doing the same. Yeah, zombies freaking out each other. Sakura tries to stop them but don’t pull too hard or their hands and even eyeballs will come off! Sakura explains she is going along with Koutarou because during their previous performance, she felt that excitement in her heart. Wait a minute. Zombies have feelings? Anyway she wants to feel that again. In town, the trio stumble into rapper boys who try to hit them with their cheesy hip hop rap lines. They are ‘saved’ when the policeman is here but with better lighting and seeing their zombie face, let the scream fest begin! They almost get shot by the policeman! Run! It’s time for the performance as the zombie girls are now known as Green Face. Don’t ask. With the normal idol music starting, the usual chaos. Tae still a zombie and the rest just standing there and only Sakura doing some dancing. Until Tae decides to bite the dried cuttlefish from some old guy and when Sakura tries to get her back, her head pops off! OMG! Nice magic trick, right? With Saki fooling around not wanting to put Tae’s head back, suddenly Sakura snaps. She reprimands Saki for not even trying to hide their zombie identity! Oops? Then it descends into a hip hop rap battle among them and others slowly adding some beatboxing and sound effects. But it is Sakura who takes the cake as she starts showing her rap prowess to diss everyone including the audience. In the end, everybody loves it!!! Best performance they’ve ever seen! Even death metal fans can convert to this music style! Later Sakura apologizes to Saki for it all but looks like Saki admires her guts and now becomes her friend.

Episode 3
No rest for our zombie girls. Heh. Do zombies need rest? This time, Koutarou will have them do a guerrilla concert in the streets of Saga. That’s tomorrow and need to practice everything tonight. Hey, it’s not like zombies need to sleep, right? But first, Lily suggests having a group leader. Saki appoints herself since no one dares take it up. Then they brainstorm (oh, the irony) for a group name and many of them stinks. Ironically, zombies don’t smell so they don’t stink, right? Haha! Anyway, it is only when Tae somewhat sneezes, they hit upon an idea. Her sneeze sounded like Franchouchou and so this is going to be their group name. But as soon as they begin practising, those with no idol background soon find it heart. Wow. Zombies losing heart? But after some thinking, they believe putting hard work will make them pull through. Even as they return to practice, some mistakes are made and this causes Ai and Junko to leave. Not interested. Koutarou has some ‘advice’ for them as they think this idol thingy will fail. Why did they become idols? The rest are trying to live despite being zombies but they are just rotting away. A zombie who doesn’t dance is just a regular zombie. OMG… Next day as they begin their guerrilla concert, only Ai and Junko remain in the car and won’t join the rest. Hmm… Mediocre techno track but horrible CGI animation!!! They attract a decent crowd but when Lily makes a mistake and trips, Sakura tries to help her out. This breaks the momentum as the crowd disperses. They try to get back into the groove but nobody is seriously watching and just sniggering what a bunch of weirdoes. Just when Sakura thought it is all over for them, Ai and Junko jump in to perform. Even though their performance is slightly better this time, they at least attract the attention of a young girl who is excited enough to try and imitate their moves. In the end, they thank her but promise to do better next time. But Franchouchou have to leave as the policeman is here threatening to arrest them for performing without a permit. Luckily, no gunshots were fired this time. Back home, Sakura expresses her gratitude to Ai and Junko and hopes they can work together. The duo feel awkward but at least now they want to try and make this work.

Episode 4
Not sure if Koutarou is praising them or belittling his zombie girls. I think it’s more of the latter. Because now here’s the problem: They ran out of money! Gas don’t come free from chauffeuring the girls everywhere. But don’t despair. He has hooked them up with some pharmaceutical company and they’ll do some performance at a hotspring. If everything goes right, they’ll have a contract. Sounds fun and all until Franchouchou is ordered to do all the practice in their room and can’t go out and do anything fun. Don’t want their zombie identity to be busted, right? However Franchouchou isn’t happy with this double standard since Koutarou himself tells them straight he is going sightseeing while they practice. So why work so hard? Yeah, they go sightseeing too. Meanwhile Koutarou actually sees the boss of the pharmaceutical company and looks like his suaveness could actually seal the deal. On the other hand, the girls get to do some reflection and thinking about their future. Eventually they get motivated to see this through. Going back to their room, they try to learn more about the pharmaceutical product. Even though they are zombies, man those patches make them feel good! Is it because they are dead their skin absorbs better? Dead skin absorbs?! They incorporate this during their performance and the crowd loves them. Double the pleasure, double the happiness. Dead in the night, Saki and Junko try to coax Sakura to sneak into the hotspring while the rest is asleep. You better make sure nobody finds out. So as they enjoy and relax, the pharmaceutical boss comes in. Hide! An accident happens as Sakura head pops off! The boss sees it and runs for her life! The scream wakes up the others and now the boss has to confront creepy zombies in the creepy hallways! RUN!!! Next day as they leave, Koutarou is shocked to learn the boss was so scared that she forgot the deals they had made. Now the hotspring is listed as a haunted place as Koutarou gives Sakura a stern warning. I wonder what could be more than rolling heads. But thanks to the patches, Franchouchou are motivated to make up and earn money next time.

Episode 5
I suppose Koutarou isn’t going to let that hotspring fail go easily. Franchouchou’s next job is to do commercial for a locally famous Drive-in Tori chicken shop. Nobody is excited or knows about this except for Saki. Apparently during her heydays, she often stopped here with her gang to eat. The president treats them to their signature grilled chicken. Tastes good. Then they put on chicken outfits to film the commercial. Too bad they need several takes since Tae is giving out those zombie sounds. With some improvising, the shoot was a success. However Koutarou isn’t satisfied. He tells his girls if they really chicken up. WTF?! So when Tae starts trying to eat the real mascot chicken, Koutarou wants the crew to film and incorporate this! Yeah, funny commercial… In the end, the girls thought they could have more grilled chicken as gifts. Too bad, just some t-shirts. Can’t have them eating everything, right? But no rest for Franchouchou as the next job to boost their profile is Gatalympics. A local sports event. Let’s say it’s muddy and messy. Again, Saki is the only one super excited for this. Heck, Koutarou has them wear lame Franchouchou design t-shirts for this event. For the first event, participants have to cycle across a thin slippery board. Fall off and you’re muddied and out. All our girls fail. When they wash off the mud, they realize they are in zombie mode! Heck, dive back into the mud! Then they see Koutarou participating and hope to laugh when he falls. However… He crosses the finish line! And a wheelie to go with that! WTF?! Next is some Tarzan swing. Judges judge you by how far you swing as well as your showmanship. As expected, our zombie girls either flor or put on a good show but fail to get some distance. Until it is Tae’s turn. She swings the furthest but then she breaks apart in mid-air!!! Thanks to the sun in everyone’s eyes, nobody could clearly see what happened! So the rest have to scramble and quickly put her back together again! Tae wins the event but too bad her zombie groaning means she can’t speak or advertise for Franchouchou. Sakura remembers she wore another shirt beneath and tells her to show it off. Uhm… It’s that Drive-in Tori chicken t-shirt… Nice bird… Meanwhile a journalist remembers why Junko looks familiar. He is going to investigate this.

Episode 6
In order to find out today’s trend, thank goodness for internet! For some reason doing so is forbidden by Koutarou and they’re doing this secretly. Ai talks about the many idol groups that form and break up as well as their staying power over the years. Ai and Junko have different ideas on what makes an idol. Ai believes fans want to see their idols improve over time because if you’re trying to be perfect from the start, there won’t be anything to manage. They stumble upon Saga Rock Festival. Possibly the biggest music fest in the prefecture. Iron Frill, Ai’s previous idol group is going to perform there. Koutarou announces a big job for Franchouchou. They’re going to have a special event from fans thanks to their successful advertising. Yes, Franchouchou has fans now. First they do a concert and these fans really love them. Next is the photo session. However Junko has cold feet and opts out. She doesn’t believe this is how an idol should be. Worst, she said it in public. So back home, I guess Koutarou is very disappointed and lectures them. Not much. But soon Ai and Junko become loggerheads again at their different approach for being an idol. Remember, they are from different eras. This causes tension among them and it affects the whole group. Sakura talks to Junko and learns her ideal of what being an idol is. Because she is mostly an idol on TV, she believes in giving fans her dreams and not showing any imperfections. She worked hard for it but unfortunately she died in a plane crash when she was about to head to Saga for her first tour. Junko feels she can’t be part of Franchouchou any longer. Meanwhile Saki finds Ai cowering from the lightning flashes and thunder. Their talk reveals Ai is afraid of them because that was how she died! Apparently her group was performing during the thunderstorm of the outdoor concert at Saga when lightning struck! OMG. She has got to be so bad luck to die like that. Died standing. The kind of legend she doesn’t want to be remembered by. And then Koutarou relays the good news. He has got Franchouchou to perform as the newcomer line-up for this year’s Saga Rock! Oh dear. Ai and Junko remembering their tragedies… And nobody’s excited…

Episode 7
The rest are wondering if they should go ahead because it has been 2 weeks since Junko barricaded herself in her room. Sakura thought they should ask Koutarou for help but got scolded to figure it out themselves! Should have known this better herself. No choice, Ai suggests they practice without Junko. I guess the time is right for Koutarou to barge in and give Junko an earful. Yeah, aren’t zombies the ones supposed to be on the other side of the barricade? First he tells her about the age of the internet and how everything is so online and hence he understands why she is so afraid. Things have changed, people have changed. Franchouchou are zombies, not robots. So it’s safe to say that everyone still has their own personality? Franchouchou exists to support each other’s dreams. As one isn’t enough to achieve herself, that’s why they have each other. He also tells her about how Ai died and her fears. Because it is predicted that a storm will hit this year’s Saga Rock. On the day of the festival, the rest prepare to head out but no Junko in sight. I don’t know why she need to wait till last minute to decide to follow them. Is it for drama effect? Because Koutarou rams his van into her! Is there some sort of lesson her? With Junko steeling her resolve, Franchouchou is back in business. Before the festival, Koutarou sprays them to make them waterproof. Shoe spray? Then they watch Iron Frill perform. By the time it is Franchouchou’s turn to go on stage, the rain is already heavily pouring. Many take cover since they think they won’t lose much missing this never-heard-of group. As they begin, it is obvious that Ai is shaky and breaking up from the lightning flashes. Before she breaks down, Junko covers for her and they proceed to sing the rest of the song perfectly. At the end of it, lightning strikes! Holy sh*t! Again?! Thank goodness that’s the benefit of being a zombie, eh? Koutarou won’t let it stop here and continues the music. So now Franchouchou have other ‘special effects’. They are glowing and their voices are like synthesizers. They can also shoot light beams from their fingers? No wonder the fans are so thrilled in seeing their performance. It’s like angels have descended onto Saga Rock!

Episode 8
Franchouchou are considered famous with articles about them and even the internet is talking about them. With a few more events, there is another photo shoot. This time they noticed this huge guy. They think he is a loan shark looking for Koutarou. But wait. He is waiting in Lily’s line. Is he here to kidnap her? When it’s his turn, he puts his hands on her shoulders, prompting Saki to kick him away! Interrogating him, he apologizes and thought Lily looked like that child star he knew. Back home, Lily reveals the truth. That guy is her father! OMG! Wait. If he was so big standing in that line, wouldn’t have Lily saw him? Unless too focused in front. Anyway, Lily is indeed his child as she takes after her mom. Mom died a long time ago but Lily never felt alone because papa was always with her. Because he loved TV so much, she decided to go into TV and with him being her manager, they can always be together. But one day, something happened. Lily refused to appear on an important TV show. And there’s something about she will never grow up too. When Lily saw in the mirror a small hair on her chin, she died of shock!!!! So Lily is actually a guy and her former name is Masao Gou?! Why didn’t the other girls notice this despite being so close together? My theory is that his junk dropped off… Haha! Sorry… More flashbacks from the father’s side. He was so engrossed in this TV thingy, he never realized the important things until Lily died. That is when he hated TV and never watched one ever since. But papa comes to terms this Lily couldn’t be his child so the next photo session, he goes to apologize for scaring her while also blaming himself for being a bad parent. This breaks Lily’s heart (and ours) so after Lily cried enough tears, Franchouchou organizes a special mini concert just for him. They’ve done all they can but he didn’t show up. You know how the heroes always show up at the last moment. You can’t miss him. That big guy at the back. It is the cue for Franchouchou to sing their new song with Lily in the lead. A lovely and beautiful ballad dedicated to papa. Damn it, somebody bring me a box of tissues! In the aftermath, papa doesn’t hate TV so much and returns watching them.

Episode 9
So now Franchouchou have to dance with the old folks? Weird, but this is part of Koutarou’s plan to appeal to the demographic since Saga has a lot of old people. During the break, Sakura is confronted with this delinquent girl and her mini group, Maria. She doesn’t like such dancing on her turf? Until Saki shows up, she leaves. But it brings back some memories because Maria is now the leader of the biker group she was once in, Dorami. Later as Maria pouts about it, they are confronted with their eternal biker group rival, Korosuke led by Misa. Saki on her way back butts in. This could have blown out of proportion had the policeman threaten to call reinforcement. Misa will settle this another way soon. Maria is not pleased with Saki’s interference but when Saki asks about her mom, Reiko, Maria ignores her. Maria returns home and mom is worried. She hates mom who was once the leader of Dorami and is now pathetic and apologizing for nothing. Reiko is worried because there is a challenge letter in the mail and wants Maria to stop this. Like daughter will listen. Meanwhile Koutarou warns Saki about getting into a fight because if idols get into violence, it will be the end of them. It will be the end of Franchouchou. Saki ‘gets it’. However she sees Misa’s entourage passing by and has a bad feeling. Reiko realizes Maria has snuck out. She sees the challenge letter at a certain place. It brought back bad memories because that was where Saki was killed in a twisted chicken race. And now, Maria might share the same fate as she prepares to do it with Misa. Dust off those dirt on your old bike and get ready to save your daughter. This chicken game has both girls riding towards the cliff. The first one brakes, loses. Reiko reaches in time to try and stop them but Maria again is unimpressed. Now here comes Saki. She appoints herself as Dorami’s captain for the day and will take the challenge. She reminds Maria that if she knows Dorami’s history, somebody died. Is she prepared to put her life on the line? Reiko thought she is Saki but she plays dumb. The race begins and Misa is shocked that Saki accelerates. Saki goes off the cliff! Déjà vu? The perks of being a zombie, she can get back up. Reiko then punches Saki for doing something this stupid. In turn, Saki tells Maria that her mom has got guts. If she intends to continue with Dorami, she must prove to mom that she doesn’t have to worry about her. Saki then tells everybody this is no longer the trend to become legendary. This is: Everyone is invited to Franchouchou’s concert as Saki takes the lead in singing a badass delinquent rock piece. Ride on!

Episode 10
Sakura is glad Franchouchou members are feeling a lot better (despite being zombies) but Sakura still has no memories of life before being a zombie. Koutarou announces Franchouchou will perform in a big concert hall, Arpino. Sakura is so excited that she messes up her practice. And then suddenly Koutarou has them go camping in the snowy mountains as part of the practice. You mean right now? Not sure if they reached the spot thanks to the poorly drawn map. But upon reaching, all of them decide to do the basics of survival like starting a fire, collecting shrubs, fishing and hunting for food. Do the dead need all that? Except for Sakura who remains adamant they need to practice. Unfortunately she is only doing it alone. And then when they decide to set a trap to catch a boar (because do zombies really crave for meat?), Sakura accidentally falls into a trap and here comes papa boar! Can someone who is already dead play dead? The boar eats her instead! Now it’s Tae versus the boar! Although the boar is chased away, now here comes Koutarou being preachy. Only Sakura is not amused. She blows her top (ironically her head was torn off) and decides to go home. What you gonna do Koutarou? Pull back! During practice, Sakura remains sloppy but she blames everyone that they were fooling around instead of practising like her. Later Yugiri confronts Koutarou and knows this mountain trip was a bid to help Sakura. Though Koutarou dismisses and that his plan is to save Saga’s depopulation. Then Yugiri slaps him! Have more faith in her! Eh? Isn’t that what Koutarou said? Confused. Sakura finds herself awkward after all that. However she sees her comrades planning their performance in sync. That is when she realizes that the mountain camp was all about teamwork and she selfishly sit out of it. She apologizes and rejoins her team. With everything back to normal, Sakura is back to her happy self. Next morning she decides to go jogging, that damn déjà vu again as a truck slams into her! OMG! The truck guy would have wanted to do something had he not feared Romero. Sakura regains consciousness. Yeah, she’s dead, remember? However she doesn’t have memories of her idol stint. Now she passes out. Or is she dead?!

Episode 11
Déjà vu again for Sakura. Waking up in a strange dark house. Tae attack! Run for your life! Entering the room with other zombie girls, she gets scared while the others are confused. Then, Tae attack! Later Sakura comes to again and she is happy to see Ai of Iron Frills. However Ai tells her the brutal truth and Sakura is unable to accept it. It is confirmed she has lost her memories when she is a zombie but in turn now has her life memories. With Sakura refusing everything, this puts their Arpino event in danger. She remains adamant that nothing good will come out of anything she tries. So all the girls try to take turn to talk to her but the pessimism force is strong in her. When it is Yugiri’s turn to talk to her, I guess she wasted dolling herself up as a geisha as Sakura has ran away. We see her reminisce about her past. All nothing but bad memories. Like when she was chosen to play Snow White, she worked so hard but on the play day she got a cold and had to miss it. During her middle school years, she trained hard to be on the relay team but every time she pulled a muscle on the opening ceremony. Then she studied hard to enter the high school she wanted and stopped hanging out with friends and do all the fun stuffs. Nothing but study. She scored great during the mock exams but during the actual day, she had to help grannies in trouble. Barely reaching the hall in time, she panicked and it ended with failure. Depressed, she saw Ai’s interview of not giving up and working hard and that reignited her passion again but we all knew what happened. Reminiscence interrupted when policeman speaks to her. Yeah, déjà vu again. Zombie! Luckily Koutarou is here to save the day. They talk and as usual, Sakura is being pessimistic because with everything bad always happening to her, she thinks it is best she doesn’t become an idol. She doesn’t care about his plans to save Saga and they can go ahead without her. Well, if that is how you feel, so be it. Be stuck in feeling like sh*t for the rest of your life. Although technically she’s already dead. Sad Sakura resigns to her fate but Koutarou returns! He hasn’t given up on her yet! With more big intimidating words, he says he will never abandon her.

Episode 12
Sakura reluctantly returns to the group but sits out during practice and remains depressed. During handing out of flyers, she is surprised there are fans who come to greet and praise her. Still, all meaningless to her. More depression. Sighs. Do zombies really feel depressed? I guess Tae can’t take this anymore and attacks her! She brings her back to the rest as they try to motivate her. However she doesn’t appreciate it because she can’t remember a thing with them. Time for Yugiri’s slap and lecture. She reminds her that it was her who motivated them to get this far. If Sakura says she doesn’t want to be with them on stage so they can succeed, they rather be on stage with her and fail! Sakura returns to practice and amazingly her body remembers the moves as she was the one who practised a lot. When the mirror cracks, Sakura almost returns to her pessimistic ways but the rest punch it broken. She isn’t the only one with bad luck. They’re all dead. So let’s see what a bunch of bad luck zombies can do! Meanwhile it is hinted that Koutarou was Sakura’s classmate and not sure if it was her who introduced her to the world of idol because he was enthralled by her smile. Franchouchou go up on stage at Arpino. The hall is full and Franchouchou dances to the crowd’s delight. And then signs of bad omen. Uhm, the tree just crashed into the window. Isn’t it a sign to leave? No matter. Continue performing. Then the roof starts collapsing! Don’t mind. Continue. And then the entire stage collapses!!! Damn! Does God really want them off stage?! With everyone in shock, but slowly Franchouchou gets back up (because Koutarou’s slow clap?) and get back to singing! And then there is enough power for music and lights to make them continue their outstanding performance! Hah! Take that, God! You can’t bring down our zombie girls!!! Back stage, the girls are happy that Sakura has her memories back. She apologizes and hopes they can be together. Koutarou spoils their party and tells them to get their asses back on stage to give the crowd an encore! Franchouchou forever! Final cliff-hanger: The journalist finally has put the picture together about the members of Franchouchou. He smells something stinky going on…

Saga Living Dead Idol
OMG! My guts! My dear guts! You were so right! I love this series! This series was amazing! Although it is not a masterpiece but I enjoyed a lot of it. So you see, sometimes all you need to do is give that first chance and everything else will fall in its place. Man, I don’t know what I would have been missing had I really skipped out on this one. By the end of the first episode, I was already hooked and loving the zombie girls as I really wanted to see how far they can go and achieve in their new zombie life. I mean, hey, it’s not like you get to see and hear zombie idols every day, right? We have idols who are from outer space, idols from the spiritual world and all other walks of life. But have you ever heard of a zombie idol? Yeah…

Sure, this series has its ups and downs. It is not perfect after all. I realized that I have built up some sort of expectations for this series as I go along. Probably that is why I felt a bit ‘disappointed’ when the series ended. Before I knew it, the series has already reached its end with its dozen of episodes. Eh, you mean this isn’t going to go on for another cour? Oh well, maybe they need time to cook up some more plots and storylines as this series is an original anime series and not based on any manga or game.

So perhaps my initial disappointment of certain parts left unexplained is unfounded. For example, we have some of the episodes that flesh out the girls’ past and their trauma. Not really in depth and detail but it is sufficient enough to give you an idea of their past. Therefore I was somewhat disappointed when it ended because I realized doesn’t Yugiri have a past of her own? Was she left out? After all, all of Franchouchou members died in an untimely manner so it would have been interesting to see how Yugiri as the ‘oldest’ member died. Poisoned by a fellow jealous courtesan? Can’t say she died of old age because she is such a beautiful and young woman in her zombie form so she must have died during her youthful days.

But the biggest dissatisfaction in terms of the character comes from Tae. I thought this zombie girls was some sort of secret weapon or trump card to Franchouchou. And that they will leave it to the final arc of the series to finally transform her and give her a conscience like the rest. Maybe she has some secret laser cannon in her belly to shoot aliens out of the sky? Haha! Freaky. Unfortunately, she remains a retard for the rest of the series. It is not a bad thing but it is hard to say if Tae being a retard is cute or annoying. Maybe a bit of both. You see, Tae isn’t completely mindless zombie like how they are in the beginning. As the series progresses, you will find that Tae is capable of listening to orders and even doing the simplest of tasks. It is just that her intelligence is not as ‘high’ as what we would considered as ‘civilized’. Hence Tae feels more like an animal moved by instincts rather than complicated goals and ambitions like the rest. Even at this point I myself begin to wonder if Tae actually becomes conscious, would she still be the Tae we all have gotten to know and love. Tae will always be Tae so a change in character would only be for a shock twist.

I also had this thought that Franchouchou will face an enemy. No, not another rival idol group but I had that idea too. The fact that there was a journalist that seemed to be curious about them, that died out after Franchouchou’s status elevated to become angels. Therefore the danger of Franchouchou’s real identity being found out puts a risk on them as the pesky journalist intends to get to the bottom of it all no matter what. This is hinted in the final scene cliff-hanger so if this series gets another season, my bet is that this trouble might soon follow for our zombie girls. After all, we have seen them defy acts of God trying to kill them! And yet they stand back up. Ah, the perks of being a zombie. Did God forget zombies can’t technically die just like Him? Hence I think even in the worst case scenario the journalist did expose them, the most he could do is kill their idol career. But I guess that would be like being dead because Franchouchou is only alive being idols. Let’s hope that never happens.

My next trivial nit-picking is regards to whether or not zombies feel anything. Whether it is physical pain or emotions. Well, from what we have seen here, the zombie girls do experience different types of emotions from happiness to depression. I don’t know, I’m not well versed in zombies so I have always thought they would be dead on the inside and have no feelings. Even if the lore here allows for the zombie girls to have feelings, it feels rather inconsistent. For example if their heads or body parts drop off, do they not feel any pain? It’s like they don’t feel anything in this department but at the same time they can feel happy or depressed? Ironically, if zombies don’t need to eat or sleep, we see Franchouchou doing so, would it be like redundant? I mean, do zombies get tired? I thought in this state your natural limiters are off? I don’t know. So in regards to this topic, it feels somewhat inconsistent to me. But one thing is for sure, Franchouchou is more alive as zombies than they were as humans! Oh, the irony. It must be those magic patches. I gotta get me some of those patches too!

One of the most interesting characters that you would love to hate but also love to love is Koutarou. This guy is like everything. I don’t know if I described him properly but he feels like larger than life. You got to love his loud and flamboyant ways. He is always at my pace and you don’t really know what is going on in his mind. From certain angles, he sounds like a big bully and drill sergeant because of his constant yelling at Franchouchou for whatever reasons. I’m not sure being loud = motivation. It’s not like the zombie girls are death, right? RIGHT?! He also uses big words but it feels it lacks any sort of meaning. It’s just like for show. It’s not what it means, it’s how he says it. That’s why when he starts ranting out loud, the girls don’t really understand all that he mean but it certainly makes you feel that there is something big going on. Although he looks like he doesn’t give a damn at what you say, many times he does care for his girls. It’s not the usual cutie tender loving love that you would expect. More shouting and nonsensical ranting. And then when he surprisingly goes into his soft speaking mode with advice that really hit you, before his words can sink in, it’s back to that loudmouth comeback or whatever. Gotta love this guy or what? Yeah, better get used to it. GOT IT???!!!

Koutarou is also one of the mysterious characters because although he says his goal is to save Saga from depopulation, it feels like there is an ulterior and hidden agenda beneath it all. If he wants to revive Saga and bring youths to the prefecture, are zombie idols the way to go? Could it be this zombie idol thingy is just a cover to fight the zombie apocalypse! Gasp! Plot twist! Maybe that’s what the opening credits are hinting… Yeah. Now you wonder why Tae is just legendary Tae… After all, it is not really explained why he chose these particular zombie girls and even more curious and baffling is how he brought them back to life. How did they all (except for Tae) regain their consciousness about the same time? How long and where were the dead girls preserved? How did Koutarou get their hands on them (because if you consider Yugiri as the ‘oldest’, her body must have been preserved somewhere, right?). So all these questions make Koutarou sound even more suspicious and shady than he looks even if he already told us to use our imaginations and stereotypes to come to our conclusions. Uh huh. Maybe he doesn’t even know. But because of his flamboyant, my pace and ‘charismatic’ (*puking*) ways, we let it slide and go with his flow. Can’t argue with him, no? No. Don’t argue with him if you know what’s good for you! This guy is damn good in persuasion and if he does sales, I’m sure he’ll make a killing.

For the Franchouchou girls as I have mentioned some of them in my previous paragraphs, the different backgrounds of the girls are amusing and interesting. We see a glimpse of some of their past but it is sad that we didn’t get to see Yugiri and Tae due to Sakura ‘hogging’ the final arc for some ultimate drama and plot device to further enhance the bonding of the Franchouchou members. My favourite and most touching story goes to Lily. That was almost a tear jerker and sad story of her father and her son, uhm, daughter? That one really pulled my heart strings. It was sad, it was inspiring, it was bittersweet, it was overall heart-warming and lovely.

Oddly, I know that some of the Franchouchou girls are not that famous (Yugiri’s dead for a long time so obviously nobody knows her, Junko’s fans may have forgotten and moved on) but if you consider Ai and Lily who are considered popular enough especially the former, it is mind boggling to think that nobody actually thought that Ai looks like the dead member of Iron Frills. Looks like her, sounds like her, but she’s dead, so nah, can’t be her. Since the Franchouchou members’ stage name are numbers (like Sakura is Number One, Saki is Number Two, Tae is Number Zero, etc), so it helps in masking their identity. But don’t tell me fans aren’t dying to know their real names? They have a webpage, you know? Or do they think that being mysterious idols and not knowing everything about them (otherwise it makes you look like some creepy perverted stalker knowing every inch of their detail) has some sort of charm to it?

As for the other side characters, Romero seems a bit wasted as the series’ mascot. I am not sure if everyone sees this little zombie puppy differently. Because they see it as a vicious dog. Otherwise from our viewers’ perspective, it is just a cute harmless puppy whose bark is properly cuter than its bite. There is also a running joke of that lone policeman dude. He has the bad luck of stumbling into our zombie girls and gets freaked out and whipping out his gun. Heh. Has he ever seen zombie movies? But one would wonder if he ever learns from this because this scene happens and repeats almost always the same. I assume this guy is single so he makes cheesy pick up ‘arrest’ lines and when he realizes the zombie face of the girls, he goes berserk. You would think that he has seen this so many times, he would have at least taken some precautions or stop doing his night patrol. Maybe it is all a dream. Yeah, must be bad luck to have the same kind of recurring dream all the time! It is also amazing he doesn’t experience any sort of trauma after a few encounters. From the way he freaks out every time, I think if I was him, once is enough for me to get out of the police force! There is also a couple of death metal hardcores who have become fans of Franchouchou and it is just odd to see them still in their death metal makeup and all. Shouldn’t they be dressing closely to match their favourite idols? Nah. Maybe they still want to keep their death metal identity.

Being a show that is about saving Saga, of course there are going to be some promotions of what the prefecture would offer. The most blatant one would be that Drive-in Tori chicken shop. I am not sure how famous this restaurant is in the prefecture but I can bet that its popularity or at least the number of people knowing about it after watching this anime has skyrocketed. Guess what? I saw a simple Q&A on Google that asks if there are zombies in the area! WTF?! Of course, the answer as expected: No, there aren’t. Aside from this hogging and taking a big chunk of the promotion of Saga, there are also others like foodstuffs and local arts and crafts. But these are mainly featured during the mid-intermission eye-catches.

Being an idol themed series, one of the biggest highlights of it all is of course the songs (mostly sung by Franchouchou). While not every song is my favourite but some of them are quite memorable. For instance, the opening theme Adabana Necromancy. The song might feel a bit out of place because it sounds like a song very much suited for a sentai series! Even more so, the animation has the girls in clichéd coloured tokusatsu style fighting zombies! Yeah, it’s that awesome. After all, Franchouchou not only sings songs that are so pop idol generic. They branch out into many other genres and hence these types of songs are my favourite. For example the dissing rap pieces of Dead Or Rap and Saga Arcade Rap, the lovely tribute ballad of To My Dearest, the badass delinquent-like Tokkou Dance and even that head banging death metal Youkoso Saga E! Actually, not to say that I love that death metal song, but it is so funny and with the girls doing their head banging, it’s just hilarious to watch and listen. Other pop idol songs aren’t too shabby too like the techno synthesizer filled Mezame Returner and the rock revival piece of Yomigaere but not really as amusing and entertaining to hear compared to the rest. Oh, I almost forgot another song I prefer, the ending theme of Hikari E is another slow lovely ballad. But sometimes it sounds a lot like a graduation song.

The best voice acting goes to Mamoru Miyano as Koutarou. This guy really rocks in his role. Like as though he was born to voice this character. He played it so well to perfection that I can see no other seiyuus replacing him for this character. If you think Show By Rock’s Shuuzou, Soul Eater’s Death The Kid and Tada-kun Wa Koi Wo Shinai’s Kaoru defines his lively joker voice, wait till you hear this one. Kudos and hats off to Mamoru Miyano! I suppose Kotono Mitsuishi has the ‘easiest’ job as Tae (Boa Hancock in One Piece). Just moan and sound like a retard all the way! Oh well, once you think about it, it’s not easy to do that for the rest of the series and still maintain your sanity.

Oddly even Romero has someone behind its voice. So is this technically the easiest voice acting role? Anyway, sometimes Romero’s bark doesn’t sound like an authentic dog and more like some gay dude climaxing (serious! That’s what I thought sometimes!) as zombie pup is voiced by Yasuhiro Takato (Gluttony in Fullmetal Alchemist). Other casts are Kaede Hondo as Sakura (Kon in Urara Meirocho), Asami Tano as Saki (Sarah in Love Live! Sunshine), Risa Taneda as Ai (Yukina in Strike The Blood), Maki Kawase as Junko (Ingrid in Hyakuren No Haou To Seiyaku No Valkyria), Minami Tanaka as Lily (Mary in Kakegurui), Rika Kinugawa as Yugiri (Takako in Orange) and Hiroyuki Yoshino as the policeman (Saruyama in To Love-Ru).

Art and animation are pretty standard. Everything is bright colourful while our Franchouchou girls look cute even in their zombie forms. Even supposed ‘horror’ moments like when the scene goes exaggerated in showing them as horrible zombies, they still look cute instead of frightening. But there is one aspect of this that is ‘frightening’. Yeah, the use of horrendous CGI! Not sure if I got used to it because I don’t seem to mind it (thanks to me having fun watching the series) but I’m wondering if this is the current standard of the industry as many idol dances are now using this CGI output. This anime is animated by Mappa who did Shingeki No Bahamut series, Teekyuu, Punch Line, Banana Fish, Zankyou No Terror and Kakegurui.

Overall, never judge a zombie flick by its cover. A lesson learnt. For now. This is easily one of the best series of the season. It is funny and it is heart-warming all together in one package. The irony of zombies bringing life to this anime is very much underrated and underappreciated. I hope this series gets another season to flesh out the characters and plot properly. And then we can see Franchouchou not only taking over Saga, but the rest of Japan and hopefully conquer the entire world! After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And Franchouchou can only grow from strength to strength without having to worry about dying all over again. Now, if only they can do a cover of The Cranberries’ Zombie, that would be so perfect and legendary…

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