This recap contains spoilers for the Zombie Land Saga Revenge episode “Good Morning Returns SAGA.”
It’s hard to believe, but it’s been nearly three years since Zombie Land Saga‘s first season aired. It was the product of what was, in hindsight, an incredible year for the medium. Zombie Land Saga managed to stand out in a year that also included SSSS.GRIDMAN, Revue Starlight and A Place Further Than the Universe. That’s no mean feat and it’s worth commending all on its own.
The franchise is widely beloved beyond that, though. One of its characters, Lily, has even become something of a minor LGBTQ+ icon in the years since the first season aired. Its fanbase has never stopped clamoring for a second season. Things like this don’t happen to just any show.
I have to admit that Zombie Land Saga (like fellow Class of ’18 alum getting a second season right now SSSS.GRIDMAN) holds a special place in my heart, too. Zombie Land Saga Is Smarter Than You Think was my first article for this site. I was thrilled by the prospect that the series would eventually return, but despite being announced not long after the original aired, Zombie Land Saga Revenge has been a long time coming.
There were delays on the project and for a time there was a worry that it might’ve been canceled. Thankfully, those have ultimately proven false. It’s the Spring 2021 anime season and Zombie Land Saga Revenge is finally here.
Dead or Alive
“Good Morning Returns SAGA” spends absolutely no time getting anyone who missed the boat up to speed. So if you haven’t seen the original Zombie Land Saga, it’d be a good idea to check out its 12-episode first season before you get your start here. Indeed, Zombie Land Saga Revenge‘s first episode banks on you knowing who these characters are and caring about them.
Far from a nostalgia grab though, “Good Morning Returns SAGA” shows the girls of Franchouchou are in a somewhat desperate situation. We do get a quick primer on what they’ve been up to since the climax of the first season. The short version? A failed concert caused by booking a far larger stadium than the still-somewhat-underground idols could fill has put them deep into debt. We open on our zombie idols working day jobs, semi-incognito.
The manager is in an even worse spot. After being the blustering, driving force behind the creation of the idol unit in the first place, seeing him reduced to a sobbing, drunken mess in “Good Morning Returns Saga” is just heartbreaking.
This isn’t to say the episode is outright depressing, though. Zombie Land Saga Revenge seems to be angling for a sidestep to the usual problem idol anime run into in their second season. Generally, stories like this expand in scope, which has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, it does rob them of some of the small-scale character intimacy they tend to have in their earlier episodes. Franchouchou are instead back at the bottom. There’s nowhere to go but up.
So with that in mind, how are Franchouchou’s first steps back up the ladder going? Well, their manager is out of the picture for most of the episode. He spends it in a bar alternately cracking up over food with silly names and crying his eyes out about how he was “wrong.” Wrong about what? Well, we don’t learn that yet, but I imagine it’s going to become relevant as the season develops. He doesn’t spend the entire episode out of commission, as we’ll shortly get to. But his condition here is effective in portraying just how far he’s fallen.
Franchouchou is thus left to fend for itself. They book a show at the same death metal venue they rocked back in episode one of the first season. Things, putting it mildly, do not go quite as well this time. The two unnamed fans who have stuck with Franchouchou since that show are present, but the stage is otherwise hostile.
It’s the manager who, improbably, saves the day in “Good Morning Returns SAGA.” He’s talked out of his stupor by his mysterious bartender friend and rushes to the show. Franchouchou are soon singing in front of an active fight rather than a concert crowd, so it’s hard to say that the show is “saved” exactly. Still, the girls are re-energized, and Franchouchou can begin its mission of saving the Saga Prefecture through music all over again.
Good Morning, Saga
“Good Morning Returns SAGA” is a slightly unconventional season opener in how it opens on this back-at-the-bottom note. It’s worth thinking about the various hints dropped here regarding the manager’s “Zombie Land Project” that we still don’t know much about, among other things.
But it is excellent at reminding us why these characters are so great. Sakura, in particular, kills it here. This only makes sense, given that she’s Franchouchou’s front-zombie and Zombie Land Saga Revenge‘s main character. The concert is pretty solid too, even featuring the return of the slightly janky CGI dance models. (Which are a bit smoother this time around.) It’s an important act of getting things off on the right foot.
And in the weeks to come, I hope we’ll be hearing many more songs from this particular idol group. Until next time, anime fans.
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