Zombie Land Saga Revenge Episode 3: Junko Unplugged

Quick Summary of Zombie Land Saga Revenge Episode 3

In Zombie Land Saga Revenge Episode 3, “The Acoustic SAGA of Love and Youth,” Koutarou Tatsumi had some good news and some bad news for the members of Franchouchou. First, the good news: He had booked them as the opening act for an upcoming large concert! Next, the bad news: The group they’ll open for is Iron Frill — the group that Ai used to lead! Ai’s understandably nervous about being that close to her old group until Koutarou says she won’t be in that concert. He doesn’t want her that close. So, Ai hands off her role as lead choreographer and group senpai to Junko. Junko felt honored, but her experience was as a solo idol. Can she possibly fill Ai’s shoes? Especially as the group they’re opening for got to where they are in no small part due to Ai’s leadership — before her death by lightning?

Opening Thoughts on Zombie Land Saga Revenge Episode 3

Welcome to our collaboration review of Zombie Land Saga Revenge Episode 3! Irina from I Drink and Watch Anime and I have teamed up to give you our take on the latest antics from our undead idols.

Before we kick off the review, how has your week been, Irina? We had four inches of snow a couple of days ago. Which came the day after I was walking around outside in shorts! No, I’m not hardy — I live in Ohio. Heater in the morning, AC in the afternoon!

It’s been snowing here for the past few days. I think they said we had 20cm fall so that’s like 7.87 inches according to Google but there’s really only a couple of inches that stayed on the ground. And it did get really hot a few weeks ago.

Montreal has always had really capricious weather mind you. I used to discuss it every week with Moya so this is a very familiar way to start off review posts…

I’m glad I didn’t get 20cm. You must be hardy folk up there in Canada!

Review of Zombie Land Saga Revenge Episode 3

Junko in the Spotlight and Feeling the Heat

In the previous episode, Saki confronted the implications of her zombie-ness (zombie-ocity?). This week, it’s Junko’s turn. And talk about expectations! In retrospect, it’s clear that Ai had always used her experience as Iron Frill’s lead singer to help Franchouchou. She not only had a ton of experience, but she had the mindset to push forward and succeed. Now that Koutarou had her off doing individual projects, Junko had to fill that role. Let’s just say that she encountered some strong head winds.

Irina, any opening thoughts on the episode?

I really like Junko so seeing her take a more central role was a very good start for me. I know I’m going a bit out of order, but there’s a later scene where she’s trying to look something up on the internet and she doesn’t know how to type and takes the power cord off the wall to close the computer cause she has no real concept of modern tech. I like touches like that. 

So that’s why she was so upset! Thanks for explaining that — and I probably shouldn’t have admitted that in public…

Iron Frill Arrives in Saga

When Iron Frill arrived at the Saga airport, having just flown in from Tokyo, reporters mobbed them. One of them asked how it felt to be the queens of the idol world. Shiori, the group’s current lead singer, tried to answer philosophically. She sounded a lot like Ai did in the previous season. Almost eerily so! Then she ended by saying, “I want to be sure to prove we’re one of a kind and beyond compare to our legendary original center, who I’m sure is watching over us all.” Koutarou’s orders to Ai made a little more sense — seems like Iron Frill hasn’t forgotten Ai. That is important later.

Zombie Land Saga Revenge Episode 3: Iron Frill arrived in Saga

Iron Frill arrives in Saga. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I had to laugh at some of Ai’s solo gigs. For one of them, she had to wear an onion hat at an onion festival. It looked kind of like a beret! Well, a beret that had a stem. Anyway, at one point, Ai performed “Awaken Returner.” Did it seem a little unusual to see her performing it alone, Irina?

I watch a lot of idol shows and having members do weird gigs and solo performances is sort of a staple so it seemed pretty normal to me. It’s a great way to get some extra publicity for the club as well.

I actually thought Ai looked really cute in her onion hat. I hope she got to keep it. 

Junko Tries Her Best

Junko watched Ai’s performance, and she looked scared. The rest of Franchouchou tried to get ready for their show and they were anxious about what Junko thought of it. Saki and Sakura seemed like they knew it was missing something, but they weren’t sure what. They came up with a really off the wall routine where they used brooms and sheets to dance with. Turns out that Tae is an excellent drummer, even using an overturned plastic pail. 

As an aside, I really hope we get her back story. I mean, seriously! The anticipation is wearing me down.

Junko had come home from work late to see their practice session. They all wanted her opinion, but you could see she felt overwhelmed. She asked for some time to think it over and left. Sakura knew something was up and followed her.

Zombie Land Saga Revenge Episode 3: Junko struggled

Junko wanted to justify Ai’s faith in her. She struggled to know how. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Sakura found Junko on top of the roof playing an acoustic guitar. She sang her first big hit. I’ll say this: the song was pretty. As Junko played, she remembered back to her first life, and as she did, the aspect ratio changed and the colors became less saturated. I thought it was an easy but effective way to set her memories off. 

Irina, what’d you think of the song?

Junko Sings Her Memories

At the beginning of the episode we saw how Ai does internet research to help Franchouchou out. She was looking at an Iron Frill performance with their impressively synchronized dance moves. But then, she switched to something else. We never got to see wha she was watching but she smiled. It was that song. She was watching one of Junko’s old performances. 

I thought that was sweet. I mean it was heavily implied and most of the audience would have figured it out without having Junko play it but I liked the throwback nonetheless. It made it a sure thing. 

And I’m not sure who sings for Junko, as in is it her voice actor or do they have a session singer come in for the songs, in any case whoever it was really has a beautiful voice. 

Junko opening up about her memories would have, in another series, been a Touching Moment. Here, Sakura lost her footing on the roof. Junko grabbed for her but only caught a handful of hair. Sakura’s body hitting the ground sounded really painful! From then on, until Sakura’s body fumbled back onto the roof in search of her head, Junko poured her heart out to Sakura’s head. Which sat on the roof beside Junko.

Sakura's head enjoyed Junko's music.

Just another moment in Saga! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

That’s a Zombie Land moment if I ever saw one.

Junko Faces Her Fears

What I loved about this scene is that Junko understood the source of her fear: She was a solo act and she had no idea how to get a group ready. Even in her flashbacks as she performed, backup singers and musicians were well away from her, typically in the background. She sung alone in front of the crowd. 

And now, she had to help Franchouchou open for one of Japan’s hottest acts. I’m not surprised that she felt scared.

What did you think of how they framed her struggle, Irina?

Sakura’s body stumbling about and almost falling again was perfect. It just created the best possible contrast for that scene. I loved it.

And I actually really liked Junko’s conflict here. I’m not sure I’ve seen it explored before. A solo act struggling to fit into a group is almost always framed as a problem of ego. But this is much more fitting for Junko and so understandable. She simply isn’t sure how to bring a group together. Anyone who’s ever been put in charge of a team for some reason has had one of those moments. 

The Search for Ai

At the end of the conversation, Sakura suggested they go talk to Ai to get her perspective. Koutarou said Ai couldn’t perform with them. He did not say they couldn’t consult her. Junko looked almost jubilant in relief. The two of them, Sakura’s body now having reunited with her head, went off in search of Ai.

They found Ai shortly after Shiori did. Turns out the Iron Frill lead singer had noticed Ai’s resemblance — and the quality of her performance. As an increasingly frantic Junko and Sakura listened (and seriously — how did Shiori not see Junko and Sakura? They were right there!

Zombie Land Saga Revenge Episode 3: Will Ai listen to Shiori?

Seriously — Junko and Sakura were right there! Oh, and the animation for Ai’s expressions was particularly lovely in this scene. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Anyway, Shiori told Ai she didn’t belong with a low-talent group like Franchouchou. In fact, she said Ai belonged with Iron Frill and even offered her a position! 

Now, I can’t see how the logistics would even work — Ai’s living challenged, after all! And I doubt Iron Frill has anyone as skilled in makeup as Koutarou. Plus, I think Ai’s fully committed to Franchouchou. 

But Shiori’s words wounded Junko. It struck me then just how young Junko was. Her reaction to talking about romance an episode or two ago reminded me, but this moment felt stronger. She’s trying her best, and now Shiori not only reminded her of her own fears about Franchouchou’s abilities. Shiori threatened to take away Ai.

Junko Struggles to Keep Herself Together

I also think Junko is quite attached to Ai. On a simple and straightforward level she’s probably scared her friend might leave. 

And this is a conflict I like as well. I’m not in fact worried at all that Ai would leave. It’s sort of a classic setup and a twist on a love triangle. But I still like this conflict. I’m interested in how it will get resolved and it makes for a decent cliffhanger. Not infuriating because there really isn’t that much tension but intriguing enough to make me want to watch next week.

Irina, last week, you said you thought how the narrative handled Saki’s big scene a little clumsily. What did you think of this scene?

I thought the editing was great this week. 

Sakura's head searching for her body? Nothing unusual to see here!

Sakura’s body trying to reunite with her head provided a wonderful comedic counter-weight to Junko’s struggle. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Closing Thoughts on Zombie Land Saga Revenge Episode 3

Overall, the episode’s story-telling felt solid. Using Shiori’s words to book-end the episode gave it a finished feel. Irina, does the art feel a little less robust this season? I can’t call it bad. In fact, I like a lot of the subtle gestures I’m seeing — for example, as they met the reporters, one of Iron Frill’s members looked around the crowd, and her eye movements looked great. There was another time, though, around 09:40, where Ai’s head looked enormous and her arms tiny.

Kinda like an Ai-Rex.

What’d you think?

I didn’t notice at all. I guess I got lost in the episode. The only visual aspect that I found this season is that the CG looks so much better. Like leaps and bounds.

Any closing thoughts on the episode?

As always I can’t wait till next week.

Me, either. I’m still amazed I got so attached to a zombie idol group!

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2 thoughts on “Zombie Land Saga Revenge Episode 3: Junko Unplugged

  1. I really loved the rooftop song. Zombieland saga is really good at getting all the different music styles right. At least the ones I can sort of judge.

    Also, we’ve seen Koutaro watch the group rely too much on Ai. I think that’s the real reason he took her out of the performance. Or at least a major factor. I take this from the narrative framing, and that look we got shortly before the reveal.

    1. “Zombieland saga is really good at getting all the different music styles right. At least the ones I can sort of judge.”

      The styles they’ve used are so diverse! Rap to electronic pop to metal to acoustic pop — and they’re all good! As you said, “at least the ones I can judge.”

      You’re probably right about Koutaro’s decision about Ai. He’s got to know Iron Frill has already seen her. But he needs all of them to step up, and this is a great way to encourage Junko.

      Like throwing her into deep water…

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