This recap contains spoilers for the Zombie Land Saga Revenge episode “The Saga Incident, Part 1.”
Were it not for the opening sequence, you could probably pass “The Saga Incident, Part 1” off as an episode of a different show entirely. Zombie Land Saga Revenge has never been afraid to get a little out there. The series has tossed occasional curveball episodes since its first season, but “The Saga Incident, Part 1” changes its genre entirely. The episode gives us Yugiri’s backstory. It transforms Zombie Land Saga Revenge from an idol series with a comedic twist into a sort of historical drama. (If you’re wary, don’t worry. There is still enough comedy to keep “The Saga Incident, Part 1” from feeling dry.)
We open far away–in time, if not place–from our usual setting. The year is 14 Meiji, or in the western calendar, 1881. This corresponds to the middle years of the Meiji Era, a time of great change in Japanese society. “The Saga Incident, Part 1”, as a result, assumes you’re decently versed in at least the broad strokes of modern Japanese history.
“The Saga Incident, Part 1” is set during the aftermath of the Saga Rebellion, an uprising by the disenfranchised samurai that rocked the area some ten years prior. True to history, this has resulted in the area being split up between the neighboring Mizuma and Nagasaki Prefectures. “The Saga Incident, Part 1” begins against this historical backdrop. The episode in some ways is a restatement of one of Zombie Land Saga Revenge‘s core points. That being, regional pride as a connector of people.
It makes sense, then, that Yugiri begins the episode preparing to depart the capital for what was at the time, briefly not Saga.
Down in Saga
Yugiri was a courtesan. We’ve known this since episode one of season one, but this is the first time we’ve ever actually seen her in that context. She leaves the capital after a client buys her freedom. Her new home is the former Saga castle town. Here, she meets past lives (or maybe ancestors?) of several other Zombie Land Saga Revenge characters. The most notable by far though is Kiichi.
Kiichi is the manager. Or he’s his ancestor. The specifics don’t matter. He’s a rowdy young man devoted to the cause of bringing back Saga. He may even succeed! Saga was historically re-separated from Nagasaki Prefecture in 1883. But if he does succeed, it’s not in “The Saga Incident, Part 1”. Instead, he spends much of the episode butting heads with his decidedly sketchy friend Itou. And, of course, falling head over heels for Yugiri.
The Saga Incident, Part 1
While Kiichi falling for Yugiri is cute, his activism to restore Saga is where the episode’s real meat is. But that’s not to say the two aren’t connected. In fact, Yugiri seems to be the one who gives Kiichi the motivation to redouble his efforts. This in spite of Itou’s prodding him to settle down. (Possibly with Yugiri, an idea that flusters him to no end.)
Itou remains a sinister figure throughout “The Saga Incident, Part 1.” And it really seems like the forthcoming Part 2 is only going to further cement that fact. The episode ends with him tossing what appears to be some kind of order to an agent disguised as a beggar by a roadside. Something foul is afoot in Saga, and we’ve only just begun to see it.
How, exactly, all of this will connect back with the modern story of Franchouchou remains to be seen. Mention is made of Kiichi’s grandfather, and his power to raise the dead(!), but only briefly. A familiar-looking zombie dog shows up, too, but again, only briefly. Yugiri’s time is limited; we know this just by virtue of her status as a zombie in the present day. What becomes of Kiichi and his movement to restore Saga is not something it seems like we’ll know until next week.
Until then, anime fans.
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