This recap contains spoilers for the Zombie Land Saga Revenge episode “Pure-Hearted Electric SAGA.”
If a 12-episode anime is going to have an early “showstopper” episode, there are basically two places you can do it. One is episode three, a quarter into the series, and the other is episode four, one-third of the way into it. Zombie Land Saga Revenge has done the latter. Last week, we were reintroduced to Ai’s old group, Iron Frill. This week, “Pure-Hearted Electric SAGA” brings things back around. It’s essentially a two-parter.
Before we talk about Ai and Junko, the two characters this episode is really about, we should briefly go over Iron Frill. Iron Frill was Ai’s former group. That’s a known fact. Iron Frill was founded long enough ago that they’re now on their (at least) second “generation” of performers.
This isn’t unusual in the J-idol industry, even in real life. (The most famous example here is AKB48.) But it does provide some interesting context for Shiori’s attempts to recruit Ai. Late in the episode, we see a clip of a young Shiori actually watching the original Iron Frill, the one Ai was part of, on TV, presumably sparking her passion to become the best idol in Japan in the first place. It does a lot to make her sympathetic.
But, Zombie Land Saga Revenge is not Iron Frill’s story, of course.
“Pure-Hearted Electric SAGA” is as much about Junko as it is Ai. It’s her perspective that most of the episode revolves around. Junko spends a lot of it wandering and despondent before being brought back into good spirits by one of the manager’s legendary “pep talks.”
(In this one he encourages her to metaphorically “smash” a guitar. Remember that, we’ll come back to it.) She spends some of that wandering time on a beach, where, incidentally, the sleazy policeman last seen in the first season makes a return appearance. As was his lot back then, he briefly hits on Junko before seeing her without her makeup on and promptly runs away in a panic. Some things never change.
It’s a little odd to say this, given that Zombie Land Saga Revenge is an idol series, and thus revolves around music, but the show’s actual tunes have never really been its strongest element. Like a lot of idol anime, where Zombie Land Saga Revenge shines is more on the character writing side of things. That’s still true in “Pure-Hearted Electric SAGA.” But this is also the best Zombie Land Saga has ever sounded.
The manager’s pep talk convinces Junko that she — and the rest of Franchouchou — have to blow the roof off during their opening spot. They do this by, more or less, returning to their roots. I was a tiny bit disappointed when in the first episode of this season they didn’t actually perform a rock number at the metal club. This time, it’s a different story.
Pure-Hearted Electric SAGA
The song in question is probably the single best piece of music to come out of the Zombie Land Saga franchise other than perhaps the seasons’ respective opening themes. It’s a powerful, blow-you-down pop-rock tune. It’s also an opportunity for Junko (or rather her voice actress, Maki Kawase) to really holler in a way she doesn’t otherwise get to.
The sheer energy of the song is infectious, and I found myself grinning throughout the whole performance. It’s really something special. Oh, and that whole “smash the guitar thing”? Junko takes it literally. She caps the song by smashing it to pieces, to her manager’s dumbfounded surprise.
There’s an encore, too, where Ai rejoins them on-stage. “Pure-Hearted Electric SAGA” here brings back a fantastical element from the first season. Zombies + loose wires = autotune and cool lighting effects.
The episode ends with a TV interview with Iron Frill, where Shiori, now impressed by them, declares Franchouchou Iron Frill’s “biggest competition” in Japan.
What, exactly, does being Iron Frill’s rival entail? Time alone will tell.
Be sure to catch up on Zombie Land Saga Revenge with our recaps!