Zombieland Saga – Episodes 1 & 2

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What did I think of Zombieland Saga‘s first two episodes? Easy.

It started with a bang, and it ended with a bang.

I wasn’t expecting much from this, really, and I’m certain most who picked it up last week didn’t either. “Zombie” and “idols” written over its premise doesn’t really offer much of a clue as to what kind of anime we’re getting, yet the fact that those two words are in the same sentence should be enough of a head-turner (pfft! those headbanging scenes) for anyone looking for something original and fresh. Of course, being an “original” anime doesn’t always cut it, which is why to my great relief, Zombieland Saga showed that it can handle its own unique brand of swagger very, very well.

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It’s wild, yet there’s a level of controlled chaos to be observed here. Viewers will often find themselves thrown into one ludicrous situation onto the next without so much of a preamble. Done wrong, and pacing starts to crumble; done right, and you’ve got Zombieland Saga. I didn’t really have to wait for too long to understand that it knew what it was doing. Sakura’s early flowery introduction about how hopeful she is for her bright future got abruptly interrupted by none other than… um, Truck-kun. That in itself is already funny enough to elicit some giggles from me, but I nearly lost it when they maxed up the volume and played some screamo metal track, as if Sakura wanted to shove a middle finger onto Truck-kun’s filthy ass muffler all the way done to the deepest parts of hell. And the best thing about it? They turned it into its OP. Just wow. That, my friends, is how you open a premiere within two minutes.

It was just a perfect transition, a great and effective way to shift gears. Trust me when I say that when an anime does this, nine out of ten times, it is special. It’s an indication that whoever is behind this knows full well how to make use of what they have and blend all those together into one confident stroke.  They didn’t just say Oh hey this is a nice place to stop. Let’s start the OP/ED then! They obviously flexed their creative thinking here. It took years to make this, after all (or so I heard). Yuru Camp did it at one point, and look at where it is now: it got an OVA, a film, a season two, and a whole legion of fans. Girls’ Last Tour did it too, and damn that was one of my (and I’m sure everyone else’s) favorite episodes from last year. Diebuster? Dude. That ending.

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It didn’t just last in this specific instance. It’s thankfully consistent all throughout these first two episodes. Smooth transitions, shifting gears is I guess somewhat important to Zombieland Saga especially with the nature of its structure wherein it relies on the element of surprise to catch you off guard. Who here thought they were going to scream at the top of their lungs in front of a bunch of geezers? Well, those two metalheads from the first episode sure did. Not that they were disappointed by the genre shift in the end.

While a big chunk of the fun comes from Zombieland Saga‘s surprises, it can also prove to be its own reason for decline. At this rate, how long can they keep the gig up? Will the following musical genres live up to the hype the first two has set? I don’t really want to see another Hataraku Saibou here wherein it was funtastic from the start and kinda fell off towards the end. Hopefully, they’ll be able to take this momentum into the next episode where, surprise, surprise: 3D-CGI is rearing its uncanny head again.

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Short thoughts:

  • And speaking of transitions… can we take this moment and appreciate just how awesome Mamoru Miyano is? That dude can shift gears between dead serious and a chuuni faster than someone drifting in Initial D. The lack of Houoin Kyouma last season may have gotten into him.
  • Angel Beats, anyone? Where these girls are given one last chance to fulfill their dreams?
  • Well, who really cares about the specifics. It’s fun. Enjoy it.
  • Full of epic moments, full of great character reaction faces.
  • I guess having an assorted taste in music made it easier for me to enjoy this. Classical metal is awesome. Rap? I don’t dislike it, though I haven’t really given it much thought either. I listen to K. Ronaldo, if you guys know who that is.
  • I love how chill the courtesan is for someone who belongs from another era.
  • Character bios are up on its website. I’m too lazy right now to look for its translation again.
  • The VAs are doing a stellar job here. Even that damn cop rapping on duty had some rhymes.
  • Man, I think KanaHana would’ve been great as Sakura.

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