This recap contains spoilers for the Zombie Land Saga Revenge episode “The Saga Incident, Part 2.”

Zombie Land Saga Revenge is an idol series. It’s easy to forget that, because in “The Saga Incident, Part 1,” as in last week’s episode, it has fully transmuted itself into a historical drama. It’s an incredible transformation and is the sort of thing a lesser anime would struggle to pull off. Zombie Land Saga Revenge has no such difficulty.

Yugiri and Kiichi remain our central characters here. “The Saga Incident, Part 2” isn’t a big departure from last week’s episode in that sense. But it is significantly more high-stakes. This is easily the most serious episode Zombie Land Saga — either season — has ever had. That’s no mean feat for something that still manages to end on a musical number. (And a great one, at that.)

Ronin

The plot of “The Saga Incident, Part 2” is fairly simple. The core of veteran samurai that Kiichi has recruited for his peaceful attempt to re-establish Saga Prefecture are, surprise, not actually interested in a peaceful solution. The entirety of the episode is built on the tension between Kiichi, his supporters, Itou (here unambiguously revealed as an agent in service of the Imperial government) and finally Yugiri and Kiichi’s grandfather. 

Itou (Zombie Land Saga Revenge, season 2 episode 9)

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Itou initially tries to talk Kiichi down. Indeed, Kiichi is visibly not comfortable with the Saga War survivors’ attempts to escalate his protests into an armed insurrection. But things escalate nonetheless. By the midpoint of “The Saga Incident, Part 2,” the samurai have augmented their melee weapons with a handful of cannons.

It might seem like Zombie Land Saga Revenge‘s “The Saga Incident, Part 2” is about to segue into a full-on battle, but we get no such thing. Itou takes out the entire “rebellion” before it can even properly begin, killing them. (And giving these samurai the dubious distinction of being the first people to die on-screen this season.) Kiichi arrives soon after, now faced with the knowledge that his friend was a Meiji agent the entire time.

Wakizashi

Things look grim for Kiichi. But Yugiri, both fulfilling her role as the main character of this story and performing a wonderful reversal of the whole “damsel in distress” cliche, saves him. And, in a climactic duel, kills Itou. We don’t get details about the source of her skill beyond a few cryptic name-drops, but she keeps a kind of Japanese short sword inside of her shamisen. That says plenty on its own.

Yugiri (Zombie Land Saga Revenge, season 2 episode 9)

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In the end, Yugiri offers herself to the closing-in military police as a scapegoat. Kiichi escapes Saga, and the final chapters of his story are not shown to us directly. Instead, brief text flashes tell us what became of Saga Prefecture. The story here is that of history itself. Saga would, indeed, become a prefecture again not many years later. In this way, Kiichi can be said to have succeeded.

As for Yugiri, the final shot of the main body of “The Saga Incident, Part 2” is an officer’s sword held above her, ready to come down. We hear the chop of the blade, but see only a cut to black.

Red Comb

Worth analyzing beyond just the literal plot is what “The Saga Incident, Part 2” means about Zombie Land Saga Revenge on the whole. It’s long been a common selling point for the series that Franchouchou as a group is not made up of traditionally “pure” idol girls.

And that, nonetheless, they are worthy of happy, successful lives. The fact that they died serves as a central metaphor for society giving up on them. (And what is their existence as zombies if not the most literal “second chance” possible?)

Yugiri’s backstory takes this to an entirely new level. While it was easy to assume given past information that she was “just” a courtesan, “The Saga Incident, Part 2” makes it clear that she was at least in part a political dissident. All of the previous very much still applies to her. That is quite the statement for a mainstream TV anime to make. And Zombie Land Saga Revenge‘s writers deserve praise for it.

Yugiri's comb (Zombie Land Saga Revenge, season 2 episode 9)

Zombie Land Saga Revenge: The Saga Incident, Part 2

The final scenes of Zombie Land Saga Revenge‘s “The Saga Incident, Part 2” take place in the present day. As mentioned, there’s a musical number. It serves as something of a comedown after the long, tense ride of the previous episode, but it, too, is worth thinking about. Yugiri takes center stage.

The dance routine is themed after the very Saga Incident that gives the episode its name. The lyrics to the song speak of feeling like a tied-up harlequin and of being bound together by blood. “Drop by and see me, even in Hell” stands out as a particularly sharp line.

After the show, Yugiri stops by the bar. The bartender, who looks an awful lot like Kiichi’s grandfather (and may, if you go by the credits, in fact be the immortal alchemist Xu Fu), offers her a drink. Yugiri talks about how satisfied she is living in the current era. Given her second second chance, Yugiri is finally happy. The episode ends here.

Yugiri combing her hair before a show (Zombie Land Saga Revenge, season 2 episode 9)

Until next time, Franchouchou fans.

ZOMBIE LAND SAGA REVENGE Recap: (S02E08) The Saga Incident, Part 1

 

 

 

Jane Auman
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