Irina and Crow in Zombieland (Saga) ep6: Zombie Divisions Appear!

It’s Crow’s World of Anime’s turn again to host the Zombieland Saga collaboration review! If you missed the review of the last episode, you can read Irina and Crow in Zombieland (Saga) ep5: Mud Idols on Irina’s site I Drink and Watch Anime! My comments will be in regular type and Irina’s, in an attempt to express her effervescent writing style, will be in bold. I AM bold – Thank you!

After last week’s comedic high points like Tae’s rooster imitation, this episode felt a lot different. It took a turn for the dramatic! We still get some solid comedy (with Tae once again front and center!), but we get some character development, too.

This episode veered towards the dramatic — and it included a lot of fun little character moments! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Before we get into that, any opening thoughts, Irina? I find that I am looking forward to Zombieland each week. Not in an intense, can’t wait to see what happens next way, but in a ya – fun little show to watch tonight sort of way. This said, I’m not sure how this one would fare as a binge – I think I would get impatient with it if I was taking it in, in one go…

It does seem to be in no rush to develop some of the ideas it revisited in this episode…

Speaking of this episode, it starts with a reminder that a journalist thinks he recognized Junko. Then we jump to what acts as this week’s dramatic center of tension: the zombie idols are practicing their next number, and Junko can’t keep up with Ai.

You know, as they were all crowding around that computer I realized something. Even though they were surfing the net to figure out how to become better idols, and arguing idol philosophy in a surprisingly serious and actually logical way (the perfect dream vs the attainable every girl), tonally it was presented more like a thriller than anything else, maybe even with a touch of noir. This show has always mixed genres and it does it very well. This technical feat is likely to go unappreciated because of the overall wacky nature of the series.

I hadn’t thought of that, but now that you mention it, it did have that feel! The manager’s imminent return added to the thriller feel.

Just look at Tae’s expression! Have you ever seen a more concerned zombie in your life? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I was glad we got at least some humor. One of the funniest parts of this episode was when Koutarou was taking a bath. First, did you notice how the frame got all sparkly when he shook the water out of his hair? What was up with that? And did you notice that he was using “Medicated Hair Shampoo?” Hmmmm… maybe because he has try zombie scalp? But he was sitting in water, and I saw no hint that any makeup was coming off… Maybe he’s not a zombie, but I’m still wondering what’s going on with his glasses — we’ve never seen his eyes! I noticed the medicated shampoo too. It wasn’t very subtle. Of course Zombies would have dandruff. Makes perfect sense!

Anyway, he runs out of shampoo, and calls out for help. Who answers his call? Tae! With Romero in tow. Now, remember she still seems to be in full zombie mode (though I wonder if she’s messing with everyone!), so did she bring him shampoo? No! She brought “Nice and Soft Tap Clothing Detergent!” Because that’s what everyone uses to wash their hair! Though I suppose that’s better than what she tried to bring later, which was soy sauce. Light soy sauce. Industrial sized, too! It was a cute running gag and a good way to have Koutarou in the episode while keeping him out of the way. And you know – I liked that it was the adult man in the tub and not the teenage girls. It was a nice subversion of expectations.

You thought it was going to be a teenaged girl in the tub, but no, it was me, Dio… Well, close enough… Hats off to Zombieland Saga for continuing to mess with our expectations! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Why didn’t the other zombie idols respond to their manager’s call for help? They were busy watching Ai use Koutarou’s computer! They were learning about contemporary idols! Lily wondered if they had a homepage; seems like she was alive in the late 90s, maybe? Ai said they did have a page, but it was “…so lame you’ll want to die. Even if we’re zombies already!”

Irina, what’d you think of Ai taking the lead in research and choreography in this episode? I think it served as a great way to better define her character. Young and driven. On the cusp of real fame and cut down in her prime, she’s not ready to let go. She has that drive and thirst that fame seems to bring out in some people. Sure, she’s nice, but she’s also ambitious and smart, and she knows what she wants. It impressive that Zombieland manage to convey all that with little to no exposition. Of course Ai’s the type of person who would take her career into her own hands. And of course, that strong personality can sometimes be difficult to work with…

So the rift between Junko and Ai (and pretty much the rest of the gang) grows as they participate in a meet and greet with their fans. Junko was an idol during a time when there were strict boundaries between idols and their fans — and apparently when Polaroids were a thing. After Franchouchou gives a mini-concert, they put their merchandise up for sale (remember the tee-shirts from the last episode?) and pose for pictures with their fans.

Junko was really uncomfortable with the very idea of posing with fans. Yuugiri , on the other hand, was fine with it — until Junko lost her composure. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Irina, I think you shared in a previous review that you like recurring characters. Did you notice one of the death metal fans? Wasn’t it great to see him again? I did and I loved it!! Although I kept looking for that little girl that was dancing along to their spontaneous street performance. I didn’t spot her…

Yeah, I missed her. The policeman, too.

Junko held it together, even though she seemed uncomfortable, until it was her turn to pose with fans. Then it looked to me like she had an anxiety attack. Her excuse was that this wasn’t how things were done when she was an idol, but her emotional reaction said it was more than that. Back at the mansion, Koutarou really laid into them all (unfairly, but that’s never stopped him before!); Ai kept it up until Junko walked out. Side note here, Yuugiri’s photo ops, with her pipe on that chaise, were epic. I would pay dearly for such amazing idol pics.

Yeah, me too! I have to admit that Yuugiri might well be my favorite zombie idol! She is so amazingly graceful and elegant!

I think the most interesting part of this episode was learning how Junko and Ai died the first time. Junko was flying to her first tour in Kyushu when her airliner crashed. Maybe in the 1970s? Pretty dramatic stuff! Ok, there’s a lot to unpack here. I agree, learning how the other girls died felt very significant and really brought me closer to the characters. The fact that both Ai and Junko lost their lives directly due to performances also seems important as they are trying to become idols again. I hope we get to know how the other girls died, too. I know it sounds really morbid but it seems like and important moment in your…*life*? 

Sometimes, a comedy can land a dramatic punch with more power than a drama can. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

As for the 1970s…This episode really emphasized the generation gaps the girls are dealing with. It’s not just a matter of having to keep up with technology and current events. Ideology and social climate has change significantly throughout the years, especially with respect to young women. Of course the thought of being perceived as less than perfect (or even as human) is unacceptable to Junko and of course Ai will go out of her way to not be *too* perfect. There has been a significant shift in what is considered desirable and I like how they acknowledged that.

Leave it to you to pick up on thematic nuances like those! I hadn’t even considered that aspect, but it goes hand in hand with the show’s commentary on idol life, doesn’t it?

This episode was even better than I thought!

As startling as Junko’s death was, Ai’s was even more shocking. We get a hint when we see her running in the rain — she’d had a confrontation with Saki and wanted some time to think. A flash of lightning so terrified her she just crouched in the middle of the street, her arms over her head, paralyzed with fear. That’s how Saki found her. By the time the two took shelter in some playground equipment, the rain had washed their makeup away. Saki tried to cheer her up and playfully said she’s surprised Ai is afraid of lightning.

“It’s how I died,” she said. She’d been leading her idol group, Iron Frill (what a name!), in an outdoor concert. She’d struck a post with her finger in the air — and a bolt of lightning incinerated her. Her corpse just stood there in front of all the fans, still in the triumphant post, smoke rolling off her body.

Saki’s reaction was fantastic. She said, “Holy crap, girl. That’s actually legendary!”

I loved how Saki comforted Ai in this scene!

I wrote down and underline – Sweet Saki is Best Saki. Honestly, I thought her light but caring attention to Ai was genuinely endearing. I was touched.

Irina’s right. Sweet Saki is best Saki! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Irina, did you notice how they both died in ways that should not have left a corpse that could come back — even as a zombie? What do you think of that? OMG Crow – I did NOT think of that at all…Crow I’m not smurt… Oh wow – now I can’t think about anything else…. Do you think they’ll address it?

“I’m not smurt…” says the writer who caught the barest tendrils of the theme about social changes and brought them to the world’s attention! And I really hope they do address it. The show’s been doing a great job of giving us hints to entice us!

In fact, I’m still trying to put all the pieces together. Sakura was contemporary to Ai? She seemed to remember seeing an Iron Frill concert with Ai in the lead. We still have the manager and his glasses; reanimations from various periods in history (heck, Yuugiri is from the deep past!), sometimes with the impossibility of finding the original body. Just what’s going on here?

The show’s consistently developed these questions from the start, so I think we’ll get a payoff. I’m really curious to learn the answers! And though I missed the comedy this week, I liked the little character moments like Saki patting the normally confident Ai in the storm!

What did you think of the episode overall, Irina?

Here are a few of my random thoughts:

Sakura sure faceplants a lot…

Come to think about it, Sakura does seem to faceplant a lot… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

What do all of Sakura’s flashbacks mean? She seems to remember them being idols – together…

Wow Ai – Talk about going out in a blaze of glory!

As for the episode: I am generally consistent in preferring comedy to drama, and this episode was dramatic. Very dramatic in fact as it dealt with two healthy young women tragically losing their lives in their prime. Yet I liked it. A lot even. It was dramatic yes but it didn’t go into melodrama at all. Everyone was acting fairly rational and consistently with their context and character.

As I mentioned above, I find myself looking forward to this show. In my opinion it’s better crafted and more cleverly written then it will ever get credit for. I think Koutarou occasionally obnoxious presence, mixed with noncommittal genre mashing will likely blind a lot of people to the strengths of this series, which is a shame.

I’m enjoying it though!

On top of everything you just mentioned, I’d like to add the little details the show plays with, like Romero on the roof howling at the moon or waiting for the eagle to leave so he could finish eating the fish!

I wonder what we’ll get next week? Confrontation with the journalist? Confrontation with Iron Frill? Insight into their zombie-fication? Or maybe even more Sweet Saki/Best Saki? That’d be cool!

How you readers? What did you think of the episode? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

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3 thoughts on “Irina and Crow in Zombieland (Saga) ep6: Zombie Divisions Appear!

  1. Ooh, the generation gap. That was awesome (there was also a comment by Yuugiri, who basically said that to here everything’s pretty much new, so she just takes things as they come). And then the memorial concert of Ai’s band; the journalist may currently be trained on Junko (the older one, who shouldn’t be this young anymore, even if she’d survived), but what if he finds her, and then someone else recognises Ai in the group pic, maybe a former bandmate? Can you imagine the fallout? The confusion? If someone were to go public? That’s the other zombie apocalypse. I never considered, before this episode, how risky it is to resurrect celebrities. (It’s obvious, in hindsight.)

    1. “there was also a comment by Yuugiri, who basically said that to here everything’s pretty much new, so she just takes things as they come”

      If I can get time, I’m going to give Yuugiri a Caw Out Award for Best Attitude Among the Undead or some such. She is just _so_ classy!

      “That’s the other zombie apocalypse. I never considered, before this episode, how risky it is to resurrect celebrities. (It’s obvious, in hindsight.)”

      I hadn’t considered it, either! That’s what I love about this show: It is so smart, and it plays with so many subtle ideas!

      Well, that and it let me collaborate with Irina. She had the insight about what the generation gaps could mean.

      And to take something that’s obvious in hindsight and hide it — in plain sight! — is fun to watch unfold!

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