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Idolhood is realized in the face of death.note 

"Even though we're dead, we want to live our dreams!
No, we WILL live our dreams!
Is that despair? Or is it hope?
Our reanimated bodies are pulsing with courage, even though we don't have a pulse!
this is our saga!"
Sakura Minamoto, opening narration for Season 1note 

Sakura Minamoto is your typical Japanese schoolgirl who dreams of one day becoming an Idol Singer. She wakes up one sunny morning, listens to her favorite song, gets her idol application paperwork together, steps out the front door, and promptly meets the business end of a speeding truck.

The next thing she knows, Sakura awakens in an abandoned mansion in Saga Prefecture with no memory of who she is or how she got there. She quickly discovers six zombie girls from different eras of Japan's history lurking in the mansion, all gathered together by a shifty, shades-wearing stranger named Kotaro Tatsumi, who informs Sakura that she has been dead for ten years, and is now a zombie herself. But for what purpose has Kotaro brought these rotting, flesh-craving beauties back from the grave?

Why, to form a regional idol group that will save Saga from fading into obscurity, of course! What Could Possibly Go Wrong?


Zombie Land Saga (ゾンビランドサガ) is an original anime collaboration between Cygames and Avex Pictures, and animated by MAPPA. Marketed as a seemingly run-of-the-mill zombie horror series, its plot was kept heavily under wraps until its premiere on October 4, 2018, which revealed it to be an off-the-walls Horror Comedy with a biting yet loving satire of the Japanese idol industry. The series is currently licensed by Crunchyroll and Funimation.

Its second season, titled Zombie Land Saga Revenge (or Zombie Land Saga R, for short), was announced back in 2019, and premiered on April 8, 2021. Set just a few months after the first season, it follows the idols' efforts at getting back on their feet from one Epic Fail of a bomb right on the heels of a smash performance that left them with a multi-million yen debt.


A manga adaptation that focuses on Kotaro's side of the overall story began its run in October 2018 and is currently ongoing. A manga anthology was released in April 2021. A spinoff manga titled Zombie Land Saga Gaiden: The First Zombie will begin in May 2021.

A Japanese stage play adaptation titled Zombie Land Saga: Stage de Doon! was announced on October 19, 2019, with its own original cast as Franchouchou rather than the anime voice actors. It was set for a short run in March 2020, but was initially cancelled, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was subsequently brought back from the dead, with the play running in September of 2020.

Has no relation to the similarly named 2009 movie Zombieland, although the makers are aware of the similar name and eventually cross-promoted the movie's sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap.

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Tropes, COME ON!

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: CGI models are sometimes used during the girls' idol dances.
    • This is noticeable early on during their proper idol numbers in episodes 3 and 4.
    • In their Episode 7 performance, the girls' models are in CG, but they don't look that different from their hand-drawn versions. The CGI visuals become clear after lightning strikes the stage and gives the girls a blue aura around each of them.
    • Revenge shows that this trope is still in effect, although the 3D models' faces are much more expressive this time around, as seen when the camera focuses on Sakura singing near the end of episode 1.
  • Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: Tae briefly demonstrates this after crashing into a wall in the first episode. The rest of the girls later demonstrate the ability to headbang so hard their necks dislocate. Since they are zombies, this is actually pretty reasonable.
  • Accidental Public Confession:
    • Subverted in Episode 2. Sakura blurts out the fact that they're zombies on stage in front of an entire audience while scolding Saki for almost blowing their cover, but the fact that their argument gradually transitions into a rap battle, with Kotaro and the other girls providing a beat and music, convinces the crowd it's just another part of their performance.
    • Narrowly averted in Episode 7, when Saki introduces herself at Saga Rock as having "lived and died in Saga". One verbal backspace later, and nobody in the audience seems to have noticed.
  • Actor Allusion: In Episode 9 Tae chews on Maria's Odango Hair/Girlish Pigtails combo. Tae's voice actress is Kotono Mitsuishi, whose breakout role of Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon also wore a near-identical hairstyle combination.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The manga version expands a few story elements, such as the group's first concert, which reveals that it had to be cancelled due to the pre-awakened girls attacking the crowd, and Kotaro getting a sponsorship from Drive-in Tori.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Sakura dies mere moments after she runs out the door for school, and her last words are her calling out to whoever's in her house like any perfectly ordinary day.
    • Lily's backstory death reveals this: She had a bad argument with her father to the point of shutting herself in her room. She then discovered she was growing a piece of facial hair, and the shock led to her dying of a heart attack. By the time her father managed to barge into her room, she was already dead. Years later, he's still devastated by her death and he's even sworn off watching TV.
    • Reiko, the former leader of Saki's biker gang Dorami, is now a regular housewife who's dealing with her rebellious daughter Maria wanting to keep Dorami going. This is already worrying enough for her, but it gets even worse when Maria is challenged to a game of chicken by a rival gang on the slopes of Kagamiyama... where Saki fell off a ledge to her death 21 years ago.
    • Most of the girls died in their teens and within living memory. Leaving out Saki, who doesn't seem to have blood relatives, Yugiri, who died over a century ago, and Tae, who is already a young adult, there's a good chance that Sakura, Ai and Junko have relatives who are no less grieving for them as much as Takeo, Lily's father, and Reiko, Saki's friend in life. Considering his apparent history with Sakura, it's likely that Kotaro, too, has mourned for her.
  • Affectionate Parody: The show certainly takes a few not-so-subtle jabs at the Japanese idol industry, such as long work hours and the emphasis on idols having to be "pure". Kotaro is also a blatant parody of abusive managers. All that said, the show still mostly frames idols in a positive light and puts forth the idea that performing and working together in a group can be a good experience.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: Saga Prefecture isn't exactly what you would call well known or a popular fictional setting, being one of the more obscure prefectures in Japan (besides its porcelain-making industry), yet here it is at the center of a zombie idol story. Its obscurity is in part why Kotaro resurrected the girls to form an idol group, because he wants to change that.
  • All Drummers Are Animals: In S2 Episode 4, Franchouchou's rock-inspired opening number opens with an epic drum solo played by Tae, the most feral and ferocious of the zombie girls.
  • All Part of the Show: When Tae's head comes flying off in Episode 2, Sakura insists it's all just a special effect designed for the show. Strangely enough, the audience buys it, even as one of them feeds squid to Tae's removed head. Later, when Sakura and Saki start arguing onstage, it segues into a rap battle while Kotaro and the other girls provide beatboxing and background music to disguise it as part of their performance.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The official website includes certain details about the characters that aren't stated in the anime, including the exact dates of most of the girls' deaths sans Tae (Sakura's full profile was absent until after Episode 11). It also presents episode summaries in the form of diary entries written by Kotaro, providing little tidbits for each episode such as his decision to change the idol group's name because he wanted to push it in a more suitable direction.
    • The names of Iron Frill members, whether it's from Ai's or the current generation, comes with the first BD that the insert songs and in-universe CD covers come with.
  • Alternate Character Reading: Saki prefers to write in showy kanji, though when she writes the girls' suggestions for the group's name, she gets the meanings a bit wrong. She writes "Jeanne d'Arc" as "Wicked Rage Void Slackers" (邪怒無怠佝) and "Franchouchou" as "Rotten Chaos Stank Gang" (腐乱臭衆), at which point the girls just ask her to stop using kanji.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Drive-in Tori, the fried chicken restaurant the girls help promote in Episode 5, is a real-life restaurant, and the jingle they perform is the actual song. The same goes for the Kashima Gatalympics in the same episode.
  • Amusing Injuries: Being zombies, injuries such as removed limbs and broken necks are easily fixed.
  • Animation Bump:
    • The girls' performance in Episode 7 is much more smoothly done and well synchronized, especially when compared to Episodes 3 and 4.
    • The scene in Episode 9 where Maria and her two friends try to intimidate Sakura, Lily and Tae by doing an Ominous Walk towards them is animated rather fluidly.
  • Appearance Is in the Eye of the Beholder: How the zombies are depicted changes on how they're perceived by whoever sees them. Amongst each other, the zombies look like normal girls, albeit with greenish-blue skin and the occasional bandages or Scary Stitches. However, when people are frightened by their appearance—including each other when they realize their makeup washed off in public—their putrefied complexions, sunken features, and bulging red eyes become apparent, reminding the viewer that they're still walking corpses.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Kotaro gives one to Ai and Junko by pointing out the irony that both of them are professional idols who won't even make an effort to practice for their guerrilla performance, unlike the rest of the girls who try to give their best even though they weren't idols in the first place. He later ends his statement with this:
    "A zombie that doesn't dance is just a regular zombie. Those girls are trying to live. Are you just going to carry on rotting?"
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Zig-Zagged. When taken all on its own, the final name of the zombies' idol group, "Franchouchou" (pronounced "FRAN-shoo-shoo"), doesn't really mean anything apart from containing the cutesy French word chouchou. When spoken in Japanese, however, it's pronounced similarly to furanshuu, which fittingly means "smell of decay".
  • Aspect Ratio Switch: In episode 3 of Revenge when Junko plays the guitar on the roof while singing, the aspect ratio shrinks from 16:9 to 4:3 and the color palette becomes more muted, reflecting how Junko is from an earlier time period when aspect ratios on television were smaller.
  • Attractive Zombie: Zig-zagged. Before regaining their consciousness, the zombie girls have sunken, bulging eyes and contorted faces that make them look quite monstrous. However, they become reasonably more attractive after regaining their rational thought. The makeup is capable of hiding it, but without it, everyone else sees them as monsters.
  • Baguette Beatdown: Following the success of Drive-In Tori's advertisement shoot, Kotaro makes his morning greeting as a stereotypical Frenchman carrying a baguette, which he uses to smack Ai in the head for snarking about it. Ai immediately retaliates by grabbing the baguette from his hand and clobbering him with it so hard it knocks him to the ground and breaks the baguette.
  • Bait-and-Switch Character Intro: introduces the protagonist as a plucky young girl who is excited to try out in an idol competition until mere minutes into the first episode she is killed by a truck. The death metal theme kicks in, further indicating to the audience that the show will not be straightforward.
  • Bait-and-Switch Credits:
    • The first opening theme, "Adabana Necromancy", wouldn't sound out-of-place for a tokusatsu, and certain parts of the accompanying visuals, as well as the single CD cover, show the girls acting as a sentai team. Nothing sentai-related happens in the show at all.
    • The beginning of "Adabana Necromancy" also has a subtle bait-and-switch, with the first couple of seconds having dark, disturbing zombie imagery. When it zooms in on a zombie's face, the intro decides to rewind everything from that point a la VHS tape rewinding, which segues into the actual intro featuring absurd colorful zombie imagery.
  • Battle Rapping: In Episode 2, Sakura and Saki's on-stage argument segues into a rap battle, with Kotaro and the other girls providing backing music and beatboxing to disguise it as part of the performance.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • Sakura gets her dream of becoming an Idol Singer midway through the first episode. It's just that she has to go through getting killed and brought back as a zombie first, and even then, she's thrust into the spotlight with zero experience and no preparation whatsoever. She doesn't even remember wanting to be one.
    • When Lily was still alive, she desired to never grow up out of fear of developing a masculine body. She got her wish by dying and becoming a zombie, which means she can't go back to her father.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • In Episode 1, the Japanese "Zombie Land Saga Project" text shown when Kotaro flips the other side of the blackboard is actually written upside-down.
    • The final, settled-upon name of the idols' group, Franchouchou, is meant to sound cute while also subtly evoking the image of zombies. To achieve this, its transliteration contains the French word chouchou (a very childish term of endearment), while its Japanese name sounds similar to the words furan and shuu, which mean "decomposition" and "stench", respectively.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Zig-zagged; Light Oozura from "Little Bodda Bope Saga" is introduced as a friendly Cheerful Child, but he's quickly shown in private to be a bossy and ambitious prima donna. However, he's also a Graceful Loser, as while he wins the regionals for Japanese Got Performance he acknowledges that Lily's improvised performance made it a close race.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Episode 8 ends with Lily being unable to fully reveal herself to, let alone reunite with, her father Takeo, who likewise remains unaware that "Number 6" is his long-dead, now-zombified daughter, lest Franchouchou blow their cover. Nevertheless, they part ways at peace with themselves: Lily contents herself with the knowledge that Takeo dearly loved her and deeply regretted overworking her to death, and that she still loves him back in spite of their unfortunate history; as for Takeo, Lily and her friends (including Kotaro) compose a special number obliquely directed at him at a street gig, expressing Lily's love and forgiveness, allowing him to finally move on with his life after wallowing in self-loathing for the last seven years. Sakura subsequently notes in Episode 10 that Takeo has started coming to Franchouchou's shows, which has given Lily a lot more energy, and he's in the audience at their concert in Episode 12.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • In a somewhat blink-and-you-miss-it moment when Kotaro opens his laptop's browser, his homepage displays "Yafooo!!".
    • Hisanaka Pharmaceutical, which Kotaro attracted as a potential sponsor for Franchouchou in Episode 4, is based on Hisamitsu, a real-life Saga-based pharmaceutical company. In particular, their "Saganship Z" dermal patches are based on Salonpas, their most famous brand.
    • In Episode 6, a search engine showing news on Ai's death shows a website called Ukipppdia, likely referencing Wikipedia. The search engine itself uses Google's typeface.
    • Another from Episode 6: Franchouchou's official website, described by Ai as "so lame you'll want to die. Even if we're zombies already", is so old-fashioned looking it looks almost like it came straight out of the 1990s. Appropriately enough, the website is hosted on "Geocitys".
    • In Episode 3 of Revenge, Ai and Junko separately use the computer to visit the "MyTube" and "Cookle" websites.
    • In Episode 5 of Revenge, Lily tries out for Japanese Got Performance, a reality Talent Show rather blatantly based on America's Got Talent and Britain's Got Talent.
  • Bloodless Carnage:
    • The scenes where Sakura gets hit by a truck in slow motion, and is later shot straight through the chest by a terrified police officer, play out with no blood or gore whatsoever.
      • Ditto when Junko is hit by a van in Episode 7: she does get splattered with mud, but there's no blood or any other visible injuries.
    • Whenever the girls lose a limb or head, the part in question just pops off like a doll's.
  • Book-Ends:
    • Episode 1 begins and ends on a shot of a bird flying in the sky, as a counterpoint to the massive upheaval Sakura goes through during the episode.
      • Taken Up to Eleven in the first episode of its second season, where it starts and ends with the exact same shot of the bird flying through the sky.
    • The eighth episode begins with a man later revealed to be Lily's father, walking out of his workplace to eat by himself after his coworkers turn on the TV. At the end of the episode, he watches Franchouchou's commercial with his coworkers, having come to terms with Lily's death
    • Episode 1 is "Good Morning Saga," while Episode 12 is "Good Morning Again Saga." The first storyline of the series is Sakura dying and losing her memories of her life, while the end of the season involves her regaining her memories of her life, and (temporarily) losing her memories of her time as a zombie.
    • Continuing the above, Episode 1 of S2 is "Good Morning Returns Saga," and sees Kotaro having a Heroic BSoD.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Episode 6 marks a rift forming between Ai and Junko over their conflicting views on how the idol industry should work based on what was normal in their respective times: for Junko, it means putting herself at arm's length from the public so she may present her ideal self that she wants her admirers to strive towards; for Ai, it means forging close relationships with her fans and using their support to propel herself forward. Unfortunately, their mutual inability or refusal to understand each other due to their own deeply rooted issues—Junko's feelings that her efforts were rendered meaningless, and Ai's unwillingness to accept her own premature death—keeps them from seeing eye-to-eye. The trope itself is also discussed when the other girls try convincing them to bury the hatchet.
    Ai: I don't see how any of what I said was wrong.
    Yugiri: There are plenty of fights that start because both sides have a good point.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In Episode 3, while Lily is giving her idea for their idol group name, a visual accompanies her imagination showing all the girls looking like Lily. Sakura appears to be able to see the visual and asks where the rest of them were.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In Episode 3, when Yugiri mentions that as zombies they're supposed to stink, the girls immediately sniff themselves to discover if they have a foul stench for being zombies. Odor is briefly brought up again the next episode, and the girls immediately react by smelling their bodies.
    • In Episode 11, an amnesiac Sakura stumbles into the room where the rest of the girls are sleeping without their makeup, and grabs the fireplace poker to defend herself. Ai immediately panics, covers her head and dives for cover, apparently remembering the time when Sakura impaled the same poker through her skull back in Episode 1.
    • Also crossed with Book-Ends; in their first real concert in Episode 2, Sakura attempts to sing "Yomigaere" and fails because of the others' uncooperative antics. In Episode 12, the song almost fails to be sung again, but this time, the one who is being uncooperative is Sakura. It's only when Sakura successfully sings it that she completes her Character Arc.
  • Brutal Honesty: In Episode 3, when Junko explains that she prefers solo performances over groups, Kotaro immediately calls her a "loner".

  • Call-Back:
    • In Episode 10, Sakura gets hit by a truck again, triggering the exact same pose she and Junko had when they got hit by vehicles in previous episodes. Where the first time killed her, kicking off the whole show, this time restores her memories of her past life but at the expense of her current memories.
    • In Episode 12, Tae attempts to jog Sakura's memory of her time with the group by reenacting their dance for "Drive-in Tori", doing her rooster-crow pose, and bringing her a magazine article showcasing Franchouchou's success.
    • Also from Episode 12, Sakura locks herself in a room to mope, which is the same room Junko barricaded herself in during Episode 7. Tae is unable to break the door down, as Junko explains she had reinforced it after Kotaro previously kicked it down simply to reach out to her, and instructed her to repair it.
    • In the first episode of Revenge, Franchouchou held their anniversary concert at Geils Live House where they first performed. Also, Tae's headbanging in the staff room is in the same manner as she does from the first episode.
    • In Episode 4 of Revenge, Junko electrocuted Franchouchou with a cable in order to re-enact their lightning-powered concert from Season 1, complete with the same unnatural glow, autotune, and ability to fire lasers from their fingertips. Their metalhead fans even remark, "Here we go again!" when they realise what's happening.
  • Cassandra Truth: When Ai and Junko attempt to leave in Episode 2, Sakura tries to stop them, telling them about how she tried the same and got shot by a policeman for her efforts. They refuse to believe her until they also get shot at by the same policeman.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Celebrity Crush: In "Saga of an Almost-Broken Radio", the girls suspect that Saki might have a bit of a crush on White Ryu, a former rock star and host of the radio show So Saga Can Be Saga. This is seemingly confirmed when Saki confesses she loves White Ryu as he's leaving near the end of the episode.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Episode 6 marks a huge tonal shift in the series as episodes begin focusing less on comedy and more on how the girls died, and how seriously they and those they knew in life were affected by their deaths, such as Ai and Junko struggling with their place in a world that had changed drastically (more so for Junko) since their deaths, Lily's complicated relationship with her father Takeo, Saki getting involved again in her old gang's troubles, and the other girls struggling to repay the kindness Sakura showed them when the latter falls into a deep depression after coming face-to-face with her troubled pre-mortem memories.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Just like real idol groups, the girls are marketed with assigned colours (which makes it easy to cheer for your favourite at live events with the voice actresses if you've got an idol penlight): yellow for Lily, dark pink for Yuugiri, white/grey/light purple for Junko, blue for Ai, orange for Saki, light pink for Sakura, and gradient black-purple for Tae.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: For Franchouchou's concert in Episode 12, seen among the audience are their two metalhead fanboys from way back in Episode 1, Sakura's high-school friends (and the daughter of one of them), Takeo (Lily's father), Reiko (Saki's old friend) and her daughter Maria as well as her friends, Misa and her fellow Korosuke bikers, and Okoba and Inubashiri. During the credits sequence, the members of the current incarnation of Iron Frill and Kotaro's bartender acquaintance are also seen.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In Episode 7, Kotaro throws Saki a megaphone for introducing Franchouchou in Saga Rock, since she is the group's leader. This brings to mind the death metal scene from the first episode where Saki starts the screamo performance by picking up and shouting into the same megaphone.
    • In Episode 1 of Revenge, Franchouchou decides to do an anniversary performance at Geils Live House, the venue where they first performed in the very first episode of the series.
  • Covered in Mud: This happens to all the girls in the second half of Episode 5 during the Kashima Gatalympics, which revolves around people falling into mud. This proves problematic to them on two fronts, as a.) they're wearing T-shirts to promote their group, which does them no favors when their logos are hidden, and b.) washing themselves off just washes their human makeup off with it. Subverted with Kotaro, who avoids falling into the mud despite all the girls spitefully hoping he would.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: The show revels in this trope on every level. It was advertised as a straight horror, but quickly transitions into a bombastic Horror Comedy. Kotaro's big plan to save Saga with an idol group isn't too unreasonable, but having the performers be the undead really puts a mad spin on it, and all the girls are convinced from the start that it's doomed to fail. However, thanks to Kotaro and the girls' quick improvisations, they always manage to wow the audience one way or another.
  • Cross-Referenced Titles:
    • Episodes 6 and 7 are titled "Because It's Sentimental SAGA" and "But It's Zombiemental SAGA".
    • The first and last episodes of the season are called "Good Morning SAGA" and "Good Morning Again SAGA".
  • Cryptic Background Reference: In Episode 11, Kotaro is at a bar, having a conversation with the bartender, who is fully aware of Kotaro's Zombie Land Saga Project, briefly confuses Saga with Hizen Province, and has a history with Yugiri, apparently as far back as her living days. Kotaro ribs him about always talking about the good old days, to which he says, "That's rich, coming from you." A potential clue is provided by the bar's name, New Jofuku, "Jofuku" being the Japanese name of Xu Fu, a legendary court sorcerer of Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of a unified China, who never returned from his quest for an elixir of immortality.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Sakura's rap in Episode 2 turns into this towards Ai and Junko, who are in the middle of a Heroic BSoD. She also points it to the audience of elders, encouraging them to be more productive members of society.
  • The Dead Can Dance: The girls can dance just fine as sentient idols, but when they hear death metal as mindless zombies, they instinctively begin to headbang like crazy. Tae as a shambling zombie tries to imitate Sakura's idol dance, but the best she can manage is to wave her arms above her head. Tae's dance moves do improve later, but she's mostly imitating others and gets distracted from time to time.
  • Death Metal: The very first performance (then-)Death Musume puts on is at a death metal concert, where the girls simply scream into microphones while banging their heads so hard their broken necks dislocate.
  • Decon-Recon Switch:
    • The anime's premise is clearly a satire on the Japanese idol industry, with its long work hours, repetitive content, mental and physical stress, and a lifestyle very difficult to adapt into. This translates into the main characters being zombies, which is about as on-the-nose as anyone can get with metaphors. That being said, the anime also shows that the idol industry can be a place of genuine fulfillment for everyone involved, as long as everyone—from the fans, to the producers, to the idols themselves—remains respectful of one another.
    • The anime has pointed things to say about the idol industry's concern with having its stars maintain a public image of "purity", firstly by having its idols be corpses, which are about as impure as you can get, then by forcing them to hide the truth about themselves lest they risk alienation. However, it also allows the anime to make a stand for inclusion with Yugiri and Lily, neither of whom would normally be accepted as idols by the industry—the former having been a High-Class Call Girl, the latter a transgender girl—but who are valued bandmates to the other members of Franchouchou, and whom Kotaro recruited anyways despite their background.
    • Episode 8 shows how the entertainment industry can wreck a performer's life, overstressing them and ruining their relationships, but also how it can be a source of support for them and a way to find catharsis.
  • Deus Angst Machina: Every goal Sakura ever had in life, fate snatched from her. She mastered her lines for a school play in third grade and then missed the play because she came down with mumps. She trained for a relay race until she was the fastest runner in her school, and then pulled a muscle during the opening ceremony—three years in a row. She spent her middle school years studying to get into the high school of her choice, but was delayed on the day of the placement exam by an improbable number of little old ladies needing assistance. Then when she made up her mind to audition to be an idol, she was hit by a truck and killed right as she left her house to post the audition paperwork. Then she achieved success as an idol after her death, but before a performance that would make or break her future, she was hit by a very similar truck, restoring her memories of failure at the cost of her memories of success.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune:
    • The opening and ending themes are sung by the idols' voice actresses (minus Kotono Mitsuishi, who voices Tae, since Tae can't really sing). Heck, even Kotaro's VA does the male back-up vocals for the first season's OP.
    • This also applies to the (uncut) dub version, albeit the male back-up vocals from the Japanese version are retained for the dubbed S1 OP.
  • Don't Try This at Home: On occasion, the series will give out warnings against doing dangerous things the characters have the luxury of doing because they're undead, such as feeding dried squid to dogs, or using dermal patches without prescription (which counts as practicing medicine).
  • Double-Meaning Title: The "Saga" in the anime's title refers to Saga Prefecture in Kyushu, which the main characters are trying to revitalize, as well as the story being a "saga" of how the girls aim to become successful idols despite being zombies.
  • Drool Deluge:
    • In Episode 4, Saki and Junko rise out from the hot spring with water coming out of their mouths like a waterfall.
    • In Episode 12, this presages Tae going berserk with rage over her inability to shake Sakura out of her depression.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole:
    • In Episode 2, Saki mumbling about an "old fart" is actually her talking about a Tamagotchi; a more precise translation would be "Next time, (she) won't get an Oyajitchi." Oyajitchi is an adult Tamagotchi that you'll get if you raise it well enough but without proper discipline, and Saki always got this one according to her character sheet. It actually serves as a foreshadowing to the implication in Episode 9 that she had no life except for her delinquency prior to Franchouchou, thus was incapable of raising an upstanding Tamagotchi.
    • The official English translations incorrectly label Saki as the overall captain and leader of the all-female biker gang Dorami, when the Japanese script specifies her as captain of the gang's special attack unit. This translation is contradicted when the gang's actual boss, Reiko Kirishima, is formally introduced in Episode 9, and her daughter Maria tries to succeed her.

  • Eat the Camera: In episode 5, the camera zooms in on Saki's mouth as she scolds the other girls for having never eaten at Drive-In Tori.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: Because the world absolutely needed Japanese Idol Singers that happened to be undead.
  • Evolving Credits: For Episode 11, the opening gives vocal noises for the zombies, Kotaro's silly hijinks, and the girls' footsteps as they head to their afterlife on stage.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: When the frightened sponsor runs away from the rest of the zombie girls, she sees Yugiri in the hallway and asks for her help. Yugiri calmly responds and turns her head, revealing her zombified face.
  • Fan Disservice: When Sakura, Saki, and Junko are bathing, they try to hide from the company president sponsoring them until she comes across Sakura's naked back (with her bottom only conveniently covered by bandages). While Saki has a sarashi covering her breasts, Junko doesn't seem to wear anything to cover even with Censor Steam. Note that they're not wearing makeup, and Sakura's head is detached from her body by accident.
  • First-Episode Twist: The first seven minutes play out like a Slice of Life-turned-Survival Horror anime that opens with the death of the main heroine and ends with her discovering she's become a zombie. Then Kotaro Tatsumi appears and announces he's going to turn the undead heroine and the other zombies in the mansion into an Idol Singer group, revealing the whole show to be a Horror Comedy idol series.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: In Episode 10, Ai gives this helpful advice to Sakura, a few seconds before the latter gets hit by a truck... again.
    "Be careful around traffic."
  • Flashback Echo:
    • Reiko has a Type 3 example in Episode 9, where "Number 2" mentions a phrase which was also spoken by Saki in their biker gang days. Reiko then has a brief flashback of her friend, visually identifies a resemblance to the stranger and shouts Saki's name, which the latter ignores. After all, Saki and "Number 2" are one and the same.
    • A Type 2 variant is shown in Episode 12, as Kotaro listens to the weather report warning of heavy snow on the day of Franchouchou's Arpino concert and flashes back to when he was a student named "Inui", handing over a CD dropped by Sakura. A close-up later and the student's face is superimposed with Kotaro's as the scene cuts to the present. Notably, the CD is a single of Iron Frill's "Fantastic Lovers", the song Sakura was listening to just before she died.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the first episode before the girls wake up, the way each of them shamble around the room foreshadow their final actions in life.
      • Saki walks around the room with her arms stretched forward. She died riding her motorcyle
      • Ai keeps trying to walk to the center of the room. She died when she walked out on to center stage during her final show
      • Junko grips the bars and presses her face against them. She most likely kept looking out the window as her plane crashed
      • Yugiri hands her head low and presses it against the wall. With the scar circling her whole neck, this could suggest she was executed by beheading
      • Tae keeps appearing on and off-screen.
    • While taking a break from late-night practicing in Episode 3, Tae, Lily, Saki, and Sakura are on a merry-go-round that the former keeps repeatedly speeding up. Sakura is so focused on her internal thoughts that she completely fails to notice this - or the others jumping off - until long after she's flung away by Tae's sudden stop, hinting at her Fatal Flaw.
    • The seeds for Ai and Junko's argument in Episode 6 are shown throughout the previous episodes. While both of them consider Kotaro's idea of zombie idols to be insane, they usually bring up different reasons: Ai generally brings up how the other five are all untrained and the amount of work needed to be an idol, showing her professionalism; while Junko brings up the audience's desires, which hints at her belief that an idol must be perfect to their fans.
    • In Episode 4, Lily freezes in shock when she realizes the gang is about to visit the hot springs. Four episodes later, it is discovered that she is a transgender girl, and thus implicitly fears revealing the truth about her body.
    • After "Number 6's" resemblance to "Lily Hoshikawa" is noticed (unsurprisingly by her actual father), Ai states that this incident of being recognized could happen to any of them, but especially herself and Junko since they were famous too. The Stinger at the end of the season finale shows Okoba quizzically comparing photos of "Number 3", "Number 4" and "Number 6" to old photos of Ai, Junko, and Lily, respectively.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Episode 6 has a couple during Ai's search on the internet. Such as detailing the aftermath of her death.
    • During the "Tokkou Dance", Ai doesn't fully stretch out her pointing finger upwards unlike the rest of the group (As seen at the 0:51 mark of this video). This means that she still holds a trauma of how she died.
    • When Kotaro is giving Junko a pep talk in the fourth episode of Revenge, you can spot some mannequin heads with wigs resembling the hairstyles of Saki and Ai.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: While Sakura is pitying herself as being bad luck after regaining her memory, Ai tells her that doesn't make her any different from the rest of the group. They're all zombies, and they all died in ways that are just as unlucky if not more unlikely than hers.
  • Friendly Zombie: While the girls behave like your typical mindless zombies at first, after regaining their intelligence they act no different than ordinary teenagers.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • Episode 1 is filled with shots of the zombies shambling around and bumping into/walking up against walls in the background.
    • When Yugiri starts playing her shamisen during the rap battle in Episode 2, Tae's disembodied arm can be seen drumming to the beat next to her.
    • In Season 2 Episode 1, the first scene inside the Franchouchou mansion has Tae's headless body walking around while her head is chomping on Sakura's hair.
  • Game of Chicken: Saki died in such a game: she and a rival biker both sped towards the edge of a cliff, with the first to brake being the loser—Saki "won" the game by driving off the cliff entirely. In Episode 9, Maria, the daughter of her (now-retired) fellow Dorami biker Reiko, gets caught up in the exact same scenario, leading Saki to intervene and take her place: this time, she's already dead, so she's not afraid of the consequences should she crash.
  • Gender Reveal: Episode 8 marks Franchouchou's discovery that Lily Hoshikawa, the Token Mini-Moe of the group, is a transgender girl born with the masculine name Masao Go. The other girls' reactions range from bewilderment to (in Saki's case) amusement, but they ultimately accept that she is still "Lily" regardless, while Kotaro himself knew the truth and was unperturbed all along.
  • Genre Mashup: Zombie Land Saga is predominantly an idol comedy series with zombie horror and various non-pop musical genres such as death metal and rap thrown into the mix. There's also a little local tourism thrown in with the "saving Saga" angle Kotaro planned.
  • Genre Roulette: As noted under Genre Mashup, Franchouchou have an impressively versatile repertoire. Exemplified by their performance at Saga Arena in Episode 4 of Revenge: their opening number is a Nu Metal song (albeit with considerably more upbeat lyrics than most examples of the genre), followed swiftly by the AutoTuned version of "Mezame Returner" in all its electropop glory.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man:
    • Parodied. Yugiri slaps Sakura in Episode 3 when she believes that the latter was about to say that they should give up on becoming an idol group, giving her a stern Rousing Speech on what they should do next. In actuality, Sakura was about to say exactly what Yugiri told her, but Yugiri and everyone else cut her off before she could say anything further.
    • Yugiri does it again in Episode 10, this time slapping Kotaro when she thinks he said he doesn't believe Sakura can sort out her current problems, telling him not to be so weak-minded and to have faith in Sakura. In actuality, Kotaro said he does have faith in Sakura, but was pointing out it wasn't going to be easy.
    • Finally in Episode 12 Yugiri slaps Sakura when she refuses to listen to the group's pleas, and despite Sakura still being upset with them all, after the slap their words finally seem to reach her a little bit more.
    • Tae of all people in the same episode had attempted it earlier. Culminating in her finally getting fed up, breaking into the room Sakura had locked herself away in and dragging her back to the dance studio with her teeth.
  • Ghost Amnesia: Sakura doesn't remember much of her original life, which starts coming back to her in fragments after she performs for the first time. This becomes her primary motivator for continuing to perform.
  • A Glass in the Hand: In episode 1 of Revenge, Kotaro grips his glass of liquor so hard it shatters as the bartender badgers him into going back to support Franchouchou.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • Kotaro is chock-full of it, notably his habit of cuing the backing music for Franchouchou's performances by shouting "MUSIC! COME ON!". Expect at least one of his lines in each episode to be said in full English.
    • In episode 5 of Revenge, Lily performs on a Talent Show called Japanese Got Performance. Her main rival is Light Oozura, a child acting prodigy whose catchphrase is an English "Never give up!"
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: Whenever people are scared of the zombies, they're portrayed with much more detail than usual. Episodes 1 and 4 are particularly notable examples.
  • Hand Wave: When Sakura asks how she became a zombie in the first place, Kotaro gives this simple answer:
    Kotaro: Come on. Haven't you seen a zombie movie before?
    Sakura: I have, for the record.
    Kotaro: Well there you go, then.
    (extended beat)
  • Happy Ending Override: The first season ends on a high note, with Franchouchou having a successful show at Arpino and setting forth on the path to become wildly successful idols. Then the first episode of Revenge starts with the girls recovering from a slump after their last show only attracted 500 fans to a venue that seated 30,000, which sent Kotaro into an alcohol-fueled Heroic BSoD and forced the girls to get part-time jobs.
  • He's Back: Near the end of episode 1 of Revenge, Kotaro rushes to the venue where Franchouchou is performing and encourages them to sing their encore, even if him and the Metalheads are the only ones who want to hear it (and his stubbornness results in an all-out brawl breaking out). The next morning, Kotaro is back in his old outfit and haircut (though still bruised and scratched-up) and doing Franchouchou's morning meetings as his usual bossy and boisterous self.
  • Hit Stop: In Episode 1, when Sakura gets hit by the truck, Episode 5, when Saki and Ai hit back at Kotaro, and Episode 10, when Yugiri slaps Kotaro and Sakura gets hit by a truck again. On other occasions, such as Yugiri's slaps in Episodes 3 and 12, and Junko getting hit by Franchouchou's van in Episode 7, the slowdown is around the impact, rather than the impact itself, for much the same effect.
  • Horror Comedy: After Episode 1's double genre fakeout, the overall series transitions into an absurd Idol Singer parody, with much of the humor stemming from the fact that it's an otherwise normal idol anime where said idols are the undead trying to hide among the living. The horror aspect occasionally picks back up whenever the girls are outed as zombies in public.
  • Hot Springs Episode: Episode 4 features Franchouchou performing at a hot spring for their first sponsored performance, after which Sakura, Saki, and Junko decide to sneak into the springs for a soak despite the risk of blowing their cover. Hilarity Ensues when Sakura's head falls off and is found along with her decapitated body in the water by their sponsor.
  • How We Got Here: S2 Episode 1 begins with the girls' current situation, then flashes back to explain how they got there. Franchouchou managed to become a hit for quite some time, but their next venture into a larger stadium only filled 500 people against the 30,000 total seating capacity, incurring them a huge debt, so they're all working at part-time jobs to pay it off.
  • Identical Stranger: An Invoked Trope on the part of Kotaro. Due to being zombies, the girls are all documented as long having died, so he has them only be referred to as numbers so no one tries to look them up and finds out they died. The subversion comes in however with the fact that, of the girls, three of them were former celebrities, and one was a Saga native. Both Lily and Saki are recognized by people they knew when alive, their father and best friend respectively, and noted to act identical, the only thing stopping them from confirming they're one and the same being the idea they've been dead. Intrepid Reporter Okoba meanwhile first notices when he spots Junko, then slowly pieces together that something is up, culminating in The Stinger having him making connections between Franchouchou and the (thought to be) deceased Ai, Junko, and Lily.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode ends with "SAGA", at least in the original Japanese.
  • Idol Singer: The seven main girls have all been revived by Kotaro to form a regional idol group, though only Ai and Junko have any experience as idols from when they were alive. The show as a whole tends to satirize idol anime and the idol industry in general.
  • Internal Homage:
    • In Episode 7, Junko gets hit by a vehicle in the same manner as Sakura's case from the first episode. Both have the exact similar pose when they are flung into the air; the difference is that Junko is rammed by Kotaro's van while Sakura is rammed by a truck.
    • S1 and S2 both have their first episode begin and end on a shot of a bird flying in the sky.
  • Irony: Kotaro points out how ironic it is that a human like him has to break down a barricade to get to a zombie like Junko.

  • Jump Scare: Tae is introduced through one in which she lunges at Sakura through a window, though she is visible mere moments before she crashes through the glass.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In Episode 4, the girls briefly discuss their confusion at how Kotaro was able to resurrect them, especially since bodies in Japan are usually cremated. Then they acknowledge that they'll never get a straight answer out of him.
    Saki: Hey, don't sweat the small stuff.
  • Light-Flicker Teleportation: Near the end of the fourth episode, Lily suddenly appears to the sponsor in a hallway with flickering lights, and she gets closer to the latter almost instantly every time the lights blink out.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: A regular human can die by being struck by lightning. Zombies? It AutoTunes their voice and enables them to shoot Frickin' Laser Beams out of their fingers.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: How the girls name their group "Franchouchou". Sakura tries to come up with group names having "Fran" as the first syllable, then Tae sneezes in the background after playing with the pen marker, letting out "achoo-choo". Lily then combines the two, and the rest is history.
  • Living Relic: "Living" being in lieu of a better term as they are undead, a handful of Franchouchou's members hail from different eras of Japan's history: Saki comes from the mid-to-late 90s when Tamagotchi was all the rage, Junko represents the late Showa period (the 1980s) where idol groups had yet to hit their stride, and Yugiri represents the era between the end of the shogunate and the Meiji Restoration (the mid-19th century). Meanwhile, Sakura, Ai, and Lily hail from the late 2000s and early 2010s, leaving Tae's era the only one unspecified.
  • Long Title: Episode 9's title is ridiculously long: "Though My Life May Have Ended Once By Some Twist of Fate I Have Risen, and If Song and Dance Are to Be My Fate, Then Carrying the Memories of My Comrades In My Heart As I Sally Forth Shall Be My SAGA". Saki lampshades it in the preview.
  • Loophole Abuse: In Episode 9, Kotaro lectures Saki with the rule that they can only interact with regular humans when they're doing idol business. When Saki leaves to try and save her old friend's daughter from certain death, she not only abides to the rule against violence, she makes her actions into idol business by turning it into a "captain-for-a-day" publicity stunt, taking Maria's place in the contest and using that to not only save the girl and help repair her relationship with her mother, but also promote Franchouchou, therefore not breaking the rule.
  • Losing Your Head: The girls can survive having their heads detached, being zombies and all.
  • Lost in Translation:
    • Kotaro says the girls have green faces in Gratuitous English, though they are really a grayish blue.
    • In "Pure-Hearted Electric SAGA", Junko stumbles onto the beach and wails about Ai. Policeman A then strolls out and says she must be having love troubles. The pun is that "Ai" means "love" in Japanese, but it's lost in English.
  • Masquerade: Kotaro tries to keep the girls' true nature as zombies a secret from the public using top-of-the-line makeup to pass them off as living people. Their detachable body parts, and the fact the makeup washes off easily, make this a little difficult, though.
  • Mathematician's Answer: Sakura's pressing question about how she and the others became zombies to begin with is met by Kotaro with the vague answer of "It's just like in the movies," followed by the insistence that zombies don't really need any more explanation than that.
  • Metalhead: The zombies instinctively turn into these when exposed to Death Metal music in Episode 1. They turn out to be popular among an audience of real metalheads, as their inhuman shrieking and dislocated necks allow them to scream-sing and head-bang like no one else, at least until they try devouring the crowd.
  • Mic Drop: Sakura ends their second stage performance by spiking the thing.
  • Mirror Reveal: This is how Sakura discovers she was a zombie all along in the first episode, after she attempts to escape the mansion and the rain washes off the makeup that makes her look human.
  • Mistakes Are Not the End of the World: This is a Wham Line for Sakura whenever Ai says this, as she realizes that maybe being massively unlucky is okay.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Just as Sakura is about to leave for school in "Good Morning Saga", a truck hits her. When she regains consciousness, she's in a strange room with zombies.
    • In "But It's Zombiemental Saga", Junko has a dramatic She's Back moment and runs in front of Kotaro's van in the middle of the road to stop him, only for him to comically run her over.
    • In "Saga of an Almost-Broken Radio", Saki cries over her thwarted crush on White Ryu and the fact she might never find someone else (especially because she's a zombie now). Then Sakura starts crying because Saki's sad, and Sakura cries so hard her body starts to dry out.
  • Murphy's Law: Most of Franchouchou's ventures never go according to plan, often having anything that can go wrong actually going wrong. Eventually Sakura tries to back out of the group after regaining her memories and believing herself to be the source of the group's misfortune, but the group convinces her to stay by reminding her that they are a whole group of unfortunates for having all died young. This resulted in their following concert in episode 12 taking the cake, with a heavy snowstorm breaking into the concert hall and the entire stage crashing down onto them, but despite this they persevered and managed to pull off a stellar performance.
  • Mythology Gag: In Episode 1 of Revenge, when Sakura narrates what happened after their Arpino concert, she mentions that Franchouchou managed to have a hit CD album (and it also gets shown on-screen). That CD album actually exists; it's the ZOMBIE LAND SAGA Franchouchou The Best album that was released on November 17, 2019.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Most of the show's promotional material before its release advertises it as a straight-up horror series about seven girls whose ordinary lives are shattered by a Zombie Apocalypse. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who correctly guessed it to actually be an Idol Singer-themed Horror Comedy where the girls are the zombies. Youtubers who have watched Episode 1 for the first time are shocked and surprised upon discovering the real theme of this anime halfway through the episode.
    Youtuber: So you're telling me that this anime is actually an idol anime?!
  • Ninja Zombie Pirate Robot: Cross-time Zombie Idol Singers.
  • Not Growing Up Sucks: Downplayed in episode 2 of Revenge, when Saki starts crying as it sinks in that there are things she'll miss out on because she can no longer physically age.
  • Number of the Beast:
    • In Episode 4, when they're to be performing in a hot spring inn, the girls' room is Room 606 and their performance is at 6 PM.
    • At the start of Episode 6, a group of local journalists are looking up Franchouchou's homepage, and the counter at the top tells them that they're the 666th visitors.
  • Off-Model:
  • Our Zombies Are Different: At first the girls act like typical zombies (although without the whole "turn you into one of them with a bite" thing), but once their brains are properly stimulated via Death Metal, they start acting like humans again. The girls are closer to Russo zombies than the Romero-style mindless ones, and can blush, eat (though whether they can digest what they eat is a mystery), sweat, get winded, and even cry. They also require nightly sleep for rest. If it weren't for that pesky extremities-popping-off thing, they might even seem alive. See Lightning Can Do Anything above for extra perks.
  • Passing the Torch: In Episode 2 of Revenge, when Saki learns that retired rock star White Ryu is planning to quit his radio show, she tries to convince him not to leave. Instead, Ryu announces that he thinks he's found the perfect replacement hosts in Saki and the other girls of Franchouchou.
  • Product Placement: The anime features some real-life buildings, and companies/establishments:
    • Episode 5 has the girls performing a reenactment of the real life "Drive-In Tori" ad complete with chicken suits.
    • Episode 7 has Lily and Yugiri promoting the new building of Cygames in the commercial bumper.
    • The Maizaru Shopping Center seen in the background near the beginning of Episode 9 is based on the Maizuru department store in Karatsu City.
    • Iron Frill is watching Franchouchou's Arpino Live at the end of Episode 12 on TV streaming service Abema TV, which not only aired Zombieland Saga in real life, but is also owned by the same company that owns Cygames.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: If a zombie is dismembered or decapitated, the severed part can be popped right back into place.
  • Ragtag Band of Misfits: For his plan to save Saga with a group of zombie idols, Kotaro resurrected a Heisei-era idol, a Showa-era idol, a Heisei-era would-be idol, a 90s biker gang captain, a nineteenth-century courtesan, a child actress prodigy, and Tae, none of whom had met any of the others before.
  • Reactive Continuous Scream:
    • Twice in the second episode. First when Ai and Junko bump into each other when they try to run away from the mansion, then when those two plus Sakura meet with Policeman A and a trio of rappers: the living freak out at the sight of zombies, the girls freak out when Policeman A tries to shoot them, and their screams scare the living even more.
    • In the fourth episode, Ai screams back when the sponsor screams at her face out of terror, making it the second instance Ai does this to humans.
  • Revenge of the Sequel: The second season for the series uses this as its subtitle.
  • Reverse Psychology: How the bartender is able to snap Kotaro out of his Heroic B So D at the start of Revenge. He tells Kotaro that the project was doomed from the start, repeatedly gets Franchouchou's name wrong, and suggests that since Kotaro has given up on them, he should go to them and tell them to their faces that he no longer believes in them. It works, and Kotaro smashes his glass before sprinting to the girls' performance in time to inspire them to finish their set.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The comedic focus of Episode 2. First, three of the zombie girls attempt to leave the mansion but they come across three rappers on the street. Policeman A later arrives on the scene speaking in rhymes, warning the boys not to pick on the girls in the middle of the night. Then the episode's climax turns into rap battle when Sakura unexpectedly slips some rhymes on-stage, with Kotaro providing the beatbox upon seeing this opportunity.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Kotaro explaining that how he revived the girls needs no explanation? By the end of Episode 12, there really is no explanation given. Several other questions are similarly left up in the air. Most notably, Tae's identity and past are never revealed, nothing is explained about the mysterious bartender of New Jofuku or his relationship with Yugiri, and we never learn why Kotaro wanted to save Saga so badly or what his exact relationship with Sakura was.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Kotaro threatening to shave Sakura's head if she exposes the group a second time is a reference to a well-publicized incident in 2013, when AKB48's Minami Minegishi had to practically shave her head in penance for supposedly breaking the love ban.note  It caused a great deal of controversy and exposed much of the dark side of idol culture, which the show tends to play with.
  • Rockers Smash Guitars: In episode 4 of Revenge, Kotaro gives Junko his beloved electric guitar and tells her to smash through her fears and self-doubts. At the end of Franchouchou's first song as Iron Frill's opening act, Junko literally smashes Kotaro's guitar, much to his despair.
  • Rule of Symbolism: When Lily reveals that she's transgender to Sakura, the latter is wearing a skirt that's got light blue, pink, and white stripes, the colors of the Trans Pride Flag.

  • Sequel Episode: Season 2's second episode, "The Saga of an Almost-Broken Radio", not only borrows elements and call-backs to the first half of Season 1's fifth episode, which involves the group working with a real-life Saga celebrity/company that is deeply connected to Saki (Drive-In Tori in the former episode, and White Ryu's radio show in the latter episode); but it's also a follow-up story to the ninth episode, which focused on Saki's backstory. Specifically, Episode 2 of Revenge manages to answer the question that Saki pondered at the end of Episode 9 ("What does it take to be special, anyway?") and reveals that White Ryu's radio show allowed a younger Saki to realise how she could be special when it comes to doing what's right in your heart, which led her to meeting Reiko for the very first time.
  • Sequel Hook: Season 1 ends with Franchouchou firmly establishing themselves as the top idol grop of Saga prefecture, as well as Sakura getting all of her memories back. However, Kotaro also makes a point that they're still nowhere near "saving" Saga. Then The Stinger cuts back to the offices of Sagazine, where Okoba is comparing the shots of "Number 3", "Number 4" and "Number 6", with those of Ai, Junko and Lily, respectively, from when they were alive.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: In Episode 5's second half, Franchouchou enter the Kashima Gatalympics wearing t-shirts advertising themselves to try and raise their profile, but quickly end up Covered in Mud, keeping anybody from reading them. When they wash the mud off, it takes their makeup with it, so they have to take another dive into the mud to keep their appearances under wraps. When Tae wins the final event, Sakura remembers that Tae is wearing two shirts, so she tells her to tear her shirt off. Tae does, only to reveal that her undershirt was one for Drive-in Tori, one of whose commercials they starred in.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: The idols are all scarred, rotting, sunken-eyed corpses, but Kotaro's impeccable cosmetic skill allows them all to pass off as if they never died to begin with. If Saki's reaction is anything to go by, Kotaro is able to make them noticeably more attractive than they were in life.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The helmet and tracksuit outfit the girls wear in the opening is reminiscent of a similar outfit worn by K-Pop group Crayon Pop.
    • The series tagline parodies Love Live! Sunshine's!! taglinenote .
    • The death metal song that the girls perform as "Death Musume" in episode 1 is listed on the show's soundtrack as "Youkoso Saga e" ("Welcome to Saga"), a reference to the Japanese mystery novel Youkoso, Wagaya e ("Welcome to My Home").
    • The acts that are supposed to show up alongside Franchouchou (then known as Death Musume/Greenface) in Episode 2 are an Internal Homage for the studio: Deizu High School Concert Band Club, Trio Dea Po Llon, and Hasetsu Jazz Orchestra (listed from above to below).
    • Some of the episode names are references to pre-existing works having "Dead" on their titles:
    • In Episode 5, the group uses traffic cones to cover their faces, exactly like in Plants vs. Zombies.
    • The couple that makes an appearance when Junko and Sakura end up at the beach is a reference to the lyrics of Nagisa no Balcony, Seiko Matsuda's hit song from 1982.
    • The title of Episode 8 is "Go Go Neverland SAGA"; it's revealed in Lily's backstory that she never wanted to grow up due to being a trans girl and not wanting to deal with puberty, and since she's now a zombie, she never will. The "Go" part also alludes to her original family name and her relationship with her father.
    • Saki, Reiko, and Maria's biker gang name is "Dorami" while their rival gang's name is "Korosuke", both of which are character names of mangas by Fujiko Fujio.
    • In the English dub for Episode 7, Kotaro's line is changed to contain this reference:
      Heeeeere's Kotaro! Barricades are supposed to keep the zombies out, you little sad sack!
    • In the scenes where the idols are practising their moves, if you squint a bit, the "ZLS" logo on Saki's tracksuit looks suspiciously similar to "765".
    • Light Oozora in Season 2 Episode 5 is a rather blatant one to Light Yagami, looking like a younger version of him, almost as arrogant, and even using his "Just as planned!" line. He's even opposed by L-ily.
  • Shovel Strike: Kotaro knocks the Policeman out cold with a shovel when he comes to rescue a recently revived Sakura.
  • Shown Their Work: Each member of Franchouchou has a singing style that matches the era they came from. This overlaps a bit with Doing It for the Art as opting for historical realism over what's popular today was a risk for the show creators.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: Takeo keeps a shrine in their house with a picture of Lily's deceased mother.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": Used both straight, whenever a zombie moves unnaturally, and comically as a replacement for Wacky Sound Effects that would usually accompany some of the girls' movements, such as in Episode 6 every time the zombies tilt their heads or look sideways.
  • Signs of Disrepair: In episode 4 of Revenge, Ai opens a boxed lunch Sakura made to find the rice is topped with katakana made from nori that spell out "kaba" ("hippo"). Then she finds some more nori stuck to the lid of her lunchbox, and finds the whole message actually spells "ganbare" ("Go for it!"). The official subtitles approximate this with “You suc” and a reveal of “You’ll succeed”.)
  • Slow Clap: Episode 12, started by Kotaro, sustained by the fans.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Learn to overcome your fear of lightning by letting yourself get struck again. If you're a zombie, it'll make you light up and turn your voice into a vocorder, so you really have nothing to worry about.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • After succeeding in their first two shows purely by Kotaro and a few of the girls' improvisation, the girls try to crunch in as much practice as they can for their first proper idol performance in Episode 3. The results are that Lily accidentally trips over herself and Sakura completely forgets her lines in the middle of the song, causing the few people they managed to attract to disperse without a second glance. Although the highly experienced Ai and Junko step in and the rest of the show goes off without a hitch, the concert is largely a failure and only manages to attract a single fan, albeit a very invested one, in the end.
    • In Episode 6, Ai's flashback shows her getting struck by lightning when she points to the sky, which is also Truth in Television, as pointing up in the middle of a lightning storm is considered to be very dangerous.
    • In Episode 8, the girls acknowledge that people will recognize the similarities they have to who they were prior to becoming zombies after meeting with Lily's father, who says that Number 6 bears a resemblance to his daughter. By first season's end, the reporters who were covering the group likewise notice the similarities between Ai, Junko, and Lily's past and present selves. This continues in the second season in which people do comment on the fact Ai resembles herself.
    • Saki died due to her reckless riding, which is mentioned early on and shown in a flashback in Episode 9. Even if you are a badass biker gang captain, riding too fast is dangerous.
    • In Season 2 Episode 1, Kotaro is left in a depressed state and just spends his time drinking somewhere else. The girls have to earn money to pay the huge debt incurred after their failed concert in the Ekimae Real Estate Stadium. But it turns out they can't replicate Kotaro's proper make-up skills, and as a result, they still look very pale and their Creepy Shadowed Undereyes are still visible in public. Without a producer, they also find it hard to resume their idol activites.
    • Also, Kotaro breaking out of his funk to support Franchouchou by shouting "Encore!" only results in him pissing off the unimpressed audience and starting a brawl. Even as the girls find their confidence and pull off their song perfectly, the concert was largely a failure.
  • Stealth Pun: In episode 5 of Revenge, Lily (who goes by the stage name Number 6, or rokugo) does a rakugo performance for her act in Japanese Got Talent.
  • The Stinger: Season 1 ends with a brief, but important, conversation at the Sagazine Editorial Department:
    Photographer: Okoba-san! How'd you like the pictures from the other day? Huh? What you got there?
    Okoba: (Staring at two sets of photos of Ai, Junko, and Lily, one from their previous lives, and the other of their current appearances.) I'm less sure by the minute... What the hell's going on here?
  • Sudden Video-Game Moment: In Episode 3 of Revenge, Kotaro debriefs Franchouchou about Iron Frill's arrival while carrying a a water-gun rifle and acting like a soldier. Then it cuts to a P.O.V. Cam where he starts shooting at the girls in a manner reminiscent of a First-Person Shooter, complete with cross-hair on the screen and right-handed weapon view.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Kotaro wears his all the time, including on a rainy night, and even in the bathtub. The season 1 finale teases with a possible answer why.
  • Take That!: Aside from being an Affectionate Parody, Zombie Land Saga takes a jab at the common tropes and interpretations regarding the idol industry:
    • In any entertainment industry, it is common to hear of dancers, singers and idols being overworked hard to the point of collapsing, which comes as a result of a lack of sleep. Well, Franchouchou doesn't need to worry about that, since they're already zombies. Kotaru even states that he can overwork them to death since they're already literally dead. Lily's backstory hits this further since she died due to overworking.
    • In relation to the above, Kotaro represents abusive producers and managers, but such abuse here is only limited to physical examples and is mostly Played for Laughs such as shouting at his idols' faces, beating them with a baseball or a baguette, and even expressing some Brutal Honesty in his team. Thankfully, since this is only Played for Laughs, Kotaru's actual serious side shows that he really cares about his idol team, and can be there when they need mental and emotional support.
    • The Foil of Ai's and Junko's respective motivations reflects the debates about whether the idols should be someone whom the fans can relate and interact with versus someone whom the fans perceive as the ideal, perfect and pure individual for entertainment.
    • There can be transgender women in the entertainment industry, contrary to the belief that idols should be "pure" cisgender girls. And this show demonstrates a realistic approach that benefits all sides affected - it's fine to accept someone and respect them for who they are, or move on and not make a huge fuss out of it. Although the others were surprised at first when Lily revealed herself to be trans, her overall relationship with the group still remained strong, and even Kotaro knew it from the start but did not make any ruckus out of it.
    • Expanding on the perception of having the idols "pure", there are beliefs that idols must not have boyfriends, nor engage in any sexual activities. Well, Yugiri is an oiran - a High-Class Call Girl knowledgeable about the arts of her time, who can also be paid to entertain men. Episode 4 even has a Double Entendre that implies Yugiri has indeed had sex with her guests as a part of her job. As one could say, the oiran were technically the "idols" of their time. This also serves as a "take that!" to how the perception of entertainers has changed between time periods. Season 2 Episode 2 expands on this a bit when the girls discuss if Saki has a crush on Ryu. Junko as an old school idol thinks idols can't have lovers but the others think it's fine. Junko comes off as naive as Ai explains that even idols from Junko's time obviously had lovers, they just hid it.
    • Out of Universe example. After some fans tried to claim that Lily being trans was the translators pushing an agenda, the creators responded by incorporating the trans pride flag into the background of various promotional art.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: There's a number of problems with Kotaro's project, including the fact that none of the girls asked to be brought back as zombies, nor do they necessarily get on with each other. At least at first.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • During a flashback in Episode 8, a living Lily declares that she will never grow up and will always look the same. She dies right after that and comes back as a zombie years later, so what she said is very true.
    • Episode 7 has Ai terrified of dying (again) from lightning. The buildup to the climax features her performing during a lightning storm, triumphantly pointing at the sky.
    • In Episode 10: Ai warns Sakura to beware of traffic. Guess what happens?
    • Happens briefly in Season 2 Episode 1. Just when Sakura reminded the other girls to be careful and not break any of Kotaro's belongings, she trips over his guitar, snapping the strings.
  • That Poor Cat: In Episode 5, a screeching cat can be heard when Tae is chasing after Cocco-kun in her second attempt to eat him.
  • Thematic Theme Tune: The opening song, Adabana (All-Style, No-Substance) Necromancy, is an inspirational anthem for zombies, urging the girls to keep fighting for their dreams despite the fact that they're dead.
  • There Was a Door:
    • When a depressed Junko barricades herself in a distant room of the mansion, Kotaro kicks the barricade down with such force that it even breaks the door. Fortunately, Junko knows how to fix the door back in place when told to do so.
    • Later on Tae tries the same thing, only to fail because Junko reinforced the door when she fixed it. She then opts for the window above the door instead.
  • The Thing That Goes "Doink": Episode 10, around 15:30, shows a shishi-odoshi as Yugiri invokes a more historic feel while talking to Kotaro.
  • Those Two Guys: The two headbangers who show up at every concert, featuring the standard two Geek Physiques.
  • Time Skip:
    • The series jumps ahead ten years from 2008 to 2018 after Sakura's death.
    • Season 2 reveals a 1 month gap between the events surrounding the Arpino concert from Season 1 and the EFS incident. Likewise, its first episode already begins with the girls participating in part-time jobs to work off the debt from the latter incident.
  • Title Drop: "Zombie Land Saga" is the name of Kotaro's project to save Saga, one of Japan's 47 prefectures, using an all-zombie idol group.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Sakura realizes she has become a zombie when she looks at herself in a street mirror after Policeman A freaks out at the sight of her. Getting shot through the chest and surviving only hammers it home.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: The zombies seem to enjoy dried squid. In Episode 2, Tae attacks a man in the audience to take his squid.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Saki's Tamagotchi serves as one for Reiko, her former comrade in Dorami, even as she now lives as an ordinary housewife and mother.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Played for Laughs in Episode 4, where Franchouchou's potential sponsor is so terrified after seeing the girls out of their makeup that she forgets everything that happened that day, including their sponsorship deal, to Kotaro's frustration.
  • Truth in Television:
    • Ai's death was caused by a lightning storm. This happened because she was pointing into the sky, something that's very dangerous to do.
    • While Junko was pouting in her room, she ended up growing mushrooms on her head. Corpses produce mycelium, a vegetative part of a fungus that grows mushrooms.
    • The Japanese work ethic is notorious for its extreme focus on productivity, even if at the expense of the individual, leading to cases of karoshi, or work-related death, to which Lily succumbed (compounded with the discovery of an unwanted sign of male puberty).

  • Undeathly Pallor: The zombies all have pale blueish-green skin and sunken red eyes when out of makeup.
  • Unknown Rival: Franchouchou considers Iron Frill to be their biggest competition, but where Franchouchou is a small time Idol group barely popular in even their home prefecture, Iron Frill is the most successful Idol group in Japan and even has international fame, so it's safe to say our girls haven't been even a blip on Iron Frill's radar (at least as a group). It's not until episode 4 of Revenge that Shiori, the current Iron Frill center, acknowledges them and the rivalry stops being so one sided.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Zig-Zagged. Bystanders freak out when they see the zombies in their true forms, but when they're in makeup, their unnatural features such as broken bones and detachable body parts suddenly come across as much less bizarre.
    • For instance, one old man in Episode 2 kindly offers Tae some dried squid while he's being bitten by her decapitated head.
    • At the very start of Season 2, the zombie girls had to apply make-up, and blend into society for a while in order to work part-time jobs. Ai's co-workers are worried that she looks pale, but nobody is aware that the girls are actually zombies.
      Junko: Surprisingly, no one knows what we are.
  • The Unseen: Sakura's death in Episode 1 is framed in a way that the driver of the truck she gets hit by is never shown. When she gets hit by one later in the series, the driver is present, but it's never made clear if it's the same one from the start or a different one.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: In episode 1 of Revenge, Yugiri tries to comfort a drunken and morose Kotaro as he pukes his guts out over a low wall.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episode 10 ends with Sakura getting hit by a second truck all over again after she'd finally hit her stride just one week before Franchouchou's big show at Arpino. This ends up jogging her memories of when she was alive, but also causes her to forget everything she'd gone through as a zombie.
    • Episode 11 carries things further by revealing that before losing her memories, Sakura was suffering from crippling depression as a result of countless failures and bad luck at everything she ever tried hard at, from landing the lead role in a play to securing the high school of her choice; her cheerful attitude in the first episode was her rebound after she'd been inspired by the story of Ai's rise to fame. The realization that her new lease on life only wound up getting her killed on the street and the loss of her memories of finally finding accomplishment causes her to cross the Despair Event Horizon.
  • Wham Line:
    • In Episode 8, after Lily finishes the story of her falling out with her father and subsequent death, which has been punctuated with Lily's father repeatedly calling her "Masao" (definitely a masculine name in Japanese):
      Sakura: Who's this Masao guy you were talking about?
      Lily: It's what my name used to be.
    • In Episode 10, three little words take a scene from "funny and heartwarming" to "dark times ahead":
      Sakura: Where am I?
  • Wham Shot:
    • This is pretty much spoiled as of now, but the first episode did contain an important shot to those who were new to the show on day one: Sakura Minamoto staring into the mirror on the streets, revealing her rotten zombie looks, realizing that she is now undead. Complete with dramatic zoom-in and lightning.
    • A minor one, but in S1's Episode 12 before the concert, we see a flashback of Kotaro in high school as a girl picks up an idol CD from him; she thanks him with a bright smile, which clearly affects him. This girl was Sakura Minamoto, re-contextualizing the purpose behind the Zombie Land Saga plan, as it does the way he regards Sakura, bluster or no.
    • Another minor one shows up in the very end of Episode 5, where Okoba (who runs the Sagazine company) starts to consider spying on Franchouchou due to the fact that he might've known Junko from the past.
    • In Episode 6 of Revenge, when Sakura accidentally pulled off Tae's head, Franchouchou were able to keep it a secret from Maria, managing to keep their true nature hidden. But after the credits roll, it turns out that Shinta Okoba managed to take a photo of the incident and realized that the girls must be zombies.
  • A Wizard Did It: It hasn't been made clear how Kotaro was able to resurrect Sakura and the other girls as zombies. He simply tells Sakura that they came back the same way zombies come to life in the movies, and that this is the only explanation you need.
  • Working Title: In-Universe, the initial name of Kotaro's zombie idol group, Death Musume, is tagged with a parenthetical "Name Pending" at the end of it. In Episode 2, Kotaro changes it to Green Face, and the girls later permanently change it to Franchouchou in Episode 3.
  • You're Insane!: Kotaro tries to assure Sakura that she has things handled in the first episode. Sakura isn't having it at all. Understandable, given that her co-stars are all mindless zombies at the time.
    Sakura: Tae-chan might bite someone!
    Kotaro: (gently) A little biting never hurt anyone.
    Sakura: (deadpan) Are you stupid?



Video Example(s):


Zombieland Saga [Sakura's Discovery]

Edited clips from Zombieland Saga, Ep 1. Sakura wakes up in a spooky mansion with no idea how she got there. As she explores she suddenly runs in a myriad of zombie girls and suddenly finds herself in a horror movie situation. After escaping the manor, she flees out into the streets. But, in running into a local cop, she makes a shocking discovery.

How well does it match the trope?

4.8 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / AndThenJohnWasAZombie

Media sources:

Main / AndThenJohnWasAZombie