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    Kotaro Theories 
Kotaro is actually a zombie.
He just hides it with his sunglasses and makeup skills.
  • Except he was in the rain as well as Sakura and he looked normal whereas her makeup was washed off.
    • He had an umbrella, so this is still a possibility.
    • Also, it’s probable that her appearance before the Tomato in the Mirror scene is supposed to represent how she views herself rather than her a actual appearance.
      • Actually Kotaro does later confirm that he applied makeup before she "woke up and ran outside".
  • Jossed: he was seen bathing in Episode 4 and he was still normal looking.
    • Episode 7 establishes that Kotaro has a large quantity of extra-strong waterproof spray that can keep the girls' make-up from washing off, so this is still possible, but raises the obvious question of why he hadn't used it on the girls before now.
  • Episode 11 suggests he might just be immortal.

Kotaro is actually the villain.
And he's using the girls for some sinister project still unknown.
  • Jossed. He wanted to give Sakura the dream she never got.

Policeman A is working under Kotaro's orders
How can he be conveniently patrolling the streets every time the zombie girls try to escape Kotaro's mansion? In the first two episodes, would it simply be a coincidence that he is just there?
  • There's also the fact that while the girls try to escape, Kotaro is briefly shown somewhere else, watching the scene. He directly carries Sakura back to the mansion in the first episode. And in the second episode, a shot of him is seen just as the encounter with the three rappers is finished.

Kotaro is a Time Traveler of some kind.
That is how he was able to recover Yugiri's body in perfect condition despite her being dead since the 19th century.

Kotaro is actually an immortal serial killer
Then he got bored of killing people and just used the corpses of his victims to make an Idol Group.
  • Jossed as of Episode 8. Ai and Junko's deaths were freak accidents, and Lily died of natural causes.

Kotaro is some sort of immortal who's been able to grab the bodies before they get cremated
The bigger question is what he is, what with his insistence on keeping his sunglasses on at all times.

Kotaro is a wizard who has a fetish for zombies, and is trying to make a zombie Idol group harem.
If you look at it closely, they check some of the archetypes in harems:

Kotaro is not a neurotypical
That is to say, Kotaro's serious moments are all as a result of somebody around him engaged in extreme emotional distress... but at any other point, he feels no need to treat their emotions with respect. This implies that while he is aware of the concept of empathy, he does not know how to exercise it regularly, only bringing forth his deeper thinking when absolutely necessary.

Something is wrong with Kotaro's eyes
A lot of times in media, when eyes are concealed by a character even when they have no reason to conceal them when in private, its because there is something significant about the eyes that the show doesn't want the audience to know about yet. Kotaro's eyes have not been seen at all in the series. While you could argue this is so Sakura doesn't recognize him since they knew each other when she was alive, he wears his shades even when he's alone and should have no reason to be wearing them. This includes when bathing and writing music on his own. Even his flashback to when he was "Inui" makes a point to hide his upper face, and once it ends and he takes his glasses off, the shot goes to his back so we don't get to see his face. So why go to such lengths? Well, again, presumably the series wants the audience to find out alongside Franchouchou, so we won't see what he looks like under those shades until they learn. But what is under them? Well...:
  • Scar tissue. A distinctive enough scar could be a dead giveaway to Sakura that he was Inui, and he may not like seeing the scars himself, so he hides them behind the shades.
  • Magical Eye. Kotaro is Ambiguously Human, with comments from the Bartender that he's Older Than He Looks. It's possible to go along with this, his eyes are rather distinct in appearance, possibly having black sclera or something along those lines, but they in turn make him seem inhuman. The fact he didn't cover them as Inui would in turn imply he either didn't always have such eyes, or he was comfortable letting Sakura see them.
  • Dead Eyes. Kotaro could possibly be a zombie himself, either revived by someone or just functionally immortal. Unlike the girls though, his skin hasn't decayed, but instead his eyes have an inhuman feel to them, and seeing them would be a dead giveaway that he isn't human.

Kotaro made a Deal with the Devil for necromancy
Or more specifically Xu Fu. Kotaro's goal was to bring to life the dreams of his crush who died tragically, and outfit Sakura with an idol group that would ensure her success. Ai's death could have been the inspiration for his idea or, along with Lily, purely opportunistic. Xu Fu could required Kotaro to include some people Xu Fu wanted in the group (such as Yugiri who he clearly knows and Tae, assuming the Queen Himiko theory below also turns out to be accurate).

Kotaro acquiring his makeup skills in Hollywood is a subtle clue that his personality is a front
When we see the flashback, Inui is quiet and has none of the hammy tendencies that Kotaro is known for, then a decade later he screams every word. Him saying that he learned how to do makeup like this in Hollywood is an offhanded comment but why Hollywood versus say Tokyo? The stereotype is that Americans are very loud and excitable so it could be speculated that he modeled his Kotaro Tatsumi persona after the people he worked with in America.

Kotaro isn't immortal but was already practicing necromancy before Sakura's death
Bodies are cremated in Japan and if Sakura was Dead On Arrival to the hospital, he probably wouldn't have much time after learning about her death to get her body before it was cremated. If Romero was his dog that tragically died, Kotaro could have begun expirementing with necromancy to bring him back before moving onto people once he got the idea to make a zombie idol group.

Kotaro sold his soul and in season 2 it will be time to collect
If Kotaro is a normal human that must seek power from some higher being, why would said higher being go through the trouble of ressurecting 7 long dead corpses to make a local idol group? The trailer for season 2 shows the bar and the old bar tender again, as well as a glass being smashed in someone's barehand. If the bartender is Xu Fu and he's how Kotaro is able to bring back the dead then the man clearly isn't invested in the group since he can barely remember what the project was, so he probably wanted something in return. If Kotaro's debt is due at some point during season 2 and he fails to pay, that could be the impetus for the glass being shattered- to send a threat or a message.

    Kotaro's Relationship With Sakura 
Kotaro is the brother to one of the girls, possibly Sakura or Ai
  • Or even possibly Tae, which might explain why her legend wasn't explained to the audience early on.
  • He was very close to his sister but when she died, Kotaro vows to make his sister's dream on becoming an idol come true.
  • There are four pairs of shoes at the entrance to Sakura's house in Episode 1: hers, business shoes (dad), women's sandals (mom), and sneakers (brother?).
    • If it is Sakura, it would also explain why he frequently singles her out when criticizing the group— siblings just can't help picking on each other after all.
      • Jossed. Sakura didn't recognize him after she got her memories back.

Kotaro was the one in truck that hit Sakura.
Either for two reasons:
  • He rammed her by accident and the reason why he revived her was because he feels guilt for having ended her life. He's trying to fulfill her dream of being an idol as a way to apologize for the accident...
  • Or he deliberately did that to acquire a new member for her undead idol group project.
    • This seems unlikely, as the idol group project didn't begin until ten years after Sakura's death. Unless Kotaro has been working on this for a very long time...
  • Jossed, we see Sakura get hit by the exact same truck again at the end of Episode 10, and the driver is very clearly not Kotaro.
    • Not Jossed, if you look closely at both trucks you'll notice that they have different license plates. And even if it was the same truck, it's been 10 years since Sakura was hit. It's not unreasonable to assume the truck may have gotten a different driver during that time.

Kotaro had a crush on Sakura
Kotaro seems quite knowledgeable of the other idols and women that could have been idols if the concept had existed in their time. He seems relatively young, so he could have been a peer of Sakura. It's not far off to say he could have kept an eye on a potential idol if Sakura had done anything before her accident to start her career. Alternatively he could have found out about her idol aspiration at her memorial. This could also explain his Tsundere-like tendencies towards Sakura, with his feelings of elation at her becoming an idol conflicting with feeling gypped she never got to be one during her life, and why he calls all the other girls legendary while making a point that Sakura isn't.
  • Hinted at during the short flashback in Episode 12.

Kotaro was Sakura's classmate when she was alive.
First, Sakura's profile states that she died ten years ago, at the age of 17. If she hadn't died back then, then today she'd be 27, which seems like a good ballpark for Kotaro's apparent age. However, what really ties this theory together is Yugiri's comment that Kotaro seems to be "especially kind with Sakura". While this may seem odd at first, it makes sense under the consideration that he might've been her Vitriolic Best Friend back at school. His outbursts directed at her are simply the result of him being used to her being slow to the point, or just frustration at remembering what Sakura was really like compared to the idealized memory of her he would've built up in the years following her death. Funnily enough, it would also explain why he chose to put her on the team: "Alright, I've almost got my zombie-idol group completed, I just need one more member. But who? I know! That friend of mine who got run over ten years ago! I remember she wanted to be an idol, so I may as well help her dream come true. I'M SUCH A GENIUS!"
  • All but confirmed in Episode 12.

Kotaro's plan involves low-key playing match-maker for Sakura and Ai.
During the brief flashback hinting at his high-school connection to Sakura, we seem to be shown that he drops an Iron Frill CD in front of Sakura with a forelorn face that Sakura seems to take no notice of; a scene that literally looks like every anime scene ever of a character finding out their love-interest is into someone else. We know that the one person who stayed in Sakura's mind at all after losing every other memory she ever had is Ai Mizuno, the center of that very same Iron Frill who Sakura has plainly stated she finds to have a "dazzling smile". I recklessly suggest that in that scene, "Inui" found out that Sakura had gone head-over-heels for Ai and at some point thereafter began channeling Harima Kenji, opting to sacrifice his feelings for her to make her own feelings toward Ai a possibility (while also like Harima, perpetually donning sunglasses and getting good on bikes/at baseball).
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    General Zombie Theories 
Zombies and other paranormal things are known to be real in-world.
It would only make sense that zombies are known to be real things for people to see the girls and freak out. Otherwise, it would be a lot more likely for the cop, the hotspring lady, etc to all assume that the girls were just in some sort of costume, stage makeup, and props.

One of the things maintaining the girls is the music.
In The Dresden Files, the important thing to keep zombies going is a beat. This simulates the heartbeat. Music that has a beat does this quite well; things like "tune" or "harmony" are not required. Rap provides this just fine.

There are mindless zombies in the Saga prefecture.
Hence, why Kotaro summarizes his zombie idol plan being able "to save Saga". There might be an actual zombie outbreak in the past, with the country successfully barricading the Saga prefecture, because there are still zombies in there. The zombie girls might be the first batch of zombies to regain their humanity and personalities back, and Kotaro is part of a group which aims to restore the zombified citizens of Saga into a more acceptable state.
  • In a short image still from the first episode, the map of Japan has a location colored red, while the rest are green.
  • That location is Saga Prefecture.

The girls actually do eat brains.
Squid brains, to be precise. And the rest of the squid really. It keeps them from lusting after human flesh.

Their zombie-bodies are not their original bodies.
Having been cremated (or just lost to the natural decomposition of time) the girls' bodies no longer exist. Kotaro brought their souls back and put them into bodies he made to look like their original bodies. Either real flesh of some sort was used, or he used prop-flesh.
  • Tae is actually completely a legend and therefore has no specific soul/memories to put into the body. So, she's learning to be human rather than awakening like the rest.
    • This theory got a bit of boost at the very end of Episode 12, where the reporter says he's becoming less and less convinced every day and puts down pre- and post- death pictures of Ai, Junko and Lily.

The makeup is actually the key to awakening the zombies' consciousness.
When Sakura woke up, she had makeup on. The other girls awakened their consciousness later after they had their first performance, in which everyone had their make up on.

    Individual Zombie Theories 
The girls died via...
We know Sakura died via truck collision, but the others have yet to be explained. So, going off their zombie forms:
  • Saki likely died in some sort of motorcycle crash, explaining her bandages and scars.
    • Sorta-confirmed in Episode 02 where she mentions that she "died while riding".
      • Confirmed outright in Episode 09, which reveals she died in a game of chicken.
  • Ai is heavily bandaged, implying something damaging her skin like a fire or, perhaps, a cosmetic surgery operation gone horribly wrong (she was an idol in life, after all).
    • The truth is worse, in a way. She died on stage while thanking her fans for coming out, doing a hand over head pose that attracted the wrong bolt of lightning.
  • Junko, likewise, has heavily patched skin suggesting a highly traumatic meeting with fire, acid, or other coverings.
    • Alternatively, she was torn apart somehow and had to be stitched together.
    • As it turns out, she died when her plane crashed, which likely would have torn her apart.
  • Yugiri has a stitched-up neck, indicating decapitation and, due to the era she lived in, perhaps execution (likely for being involved with the wrong people during the Meiji Restoration) or assassination. In fact, if she was executed, it might be the reason she's so calm; she already came to terms with her death long ago.
    • There's also one other explanation. The era is also popular for Hara Kiri. In tradition, if you couldn't go through the cutting, you'd have a second person chop your head off to maintain your dignity. Even more peculiar about it is that women tend to just slit their throats instead of disembowel.
    • She is said to be from 1882, which is long after the most violent years of Meiji have passed - it's more likely that she's just murdered by someone with a katana.
    • Saga Jihen states that Yugiri fell in love with a noble man who's family disapproved of their union and had her executed when they tried to run away together, so we know the circumstance of her death but not the method.
  • Lily's exposed heart is not in a natural position, suggesting her body was torqued somehow. Or possibly died via a botched open heart surgery.
    • Turns out that she actually died from a heart attack.
  • Tae... it's very unclear, but it's possible she was mummified, given how her only outward signs of damage are bandages. It would also explain why she's so feral since mummies traditionally have their brains removed.

Each of the girls minus Sakura have tragic backstories
  • Saki:
    • Was born on the streets and she and her friends got oppressed by the high elite.
    • Or possibly she is a rich girl but left because she couldn't bear to be controlled by her parents like a dog.
  • Ai: Wanted to become an idol but her team backstabbed her who even resorted to murder her.
    • Jossed as of Episode 6. She was a successful idol, and died due to a freak accident - being struck by lightning on stage.
  • Junko: Became an idol but when people started to lose interest, her producer murdered her to get money from insurance.
    • Jossed as of Episode 6. She was a successful idol and a rising star until she was killed in a plane crash.
  • Yugiri: Sold into child slavery, became a courtesan and slept with many men but got executed by one of the men's jealous wife who believed Yugiri was bearing her husband's child.
  • Lily: A young actress but her parents overworked her and caused a huge strain in her heart.
    • More or less confirmed, but missing the part where Lily is revealed to be trans.
  • Tae:
    • Kotaro's lover or wife who died before she became a singer.
    • Basically a normal girl who died but became a test subject and be resurrected by Kotaro.

Ai and Junko didn't have a good time as idols in their past lives.
It does seem to be hypocritical and ironic that the only two actual (former) idols of Death Musume, Ai and Junko, wanted no part in this group for a little while. If their deaths are in any way related to their idolhood, or even despite it, the industry is notorious for its hidden dark side and it would make sense for them to want to get away from it, especially since they're forced to be in the group by Kotaro.
  • Jossed with extreme prejudice; Ai died in a freak lightning accident, and Junko died in a plane crash. They both also genuinely loved being idols.

Yugiri is or was a ninja.
To be more precise, she was a courtier/assassin figure, trained to kill and thus saw a number of dead bodies before she died. The reason she's so calm is because none of the girls look that strange to her; the reason she died is because she got caught killing or attempting to kill somebody important and was executed.
  • She is said to be from 1882, which is long after the most violent years of Meiji have passed - although more modern and less dramatic episodes of murders still happen..

Yugiri was involved in the Freedom Party movement in some way in her life.
The Freedom Party movement was a popular movement for human rights and democracy in 1880s Saga, or Hizen as it was called back then; and its members often exchanged assaults and death threats with royalists and its own splinter group, the Correction Party, headed by Soejima Taneomi. Yugiri's life and death is highly likely to be tied to it.

Lily's heart attack was because of hormones
  • Lily's death seems absurd, but sadly enough heart attacks (or to be precise, pulmonary embolisms) are a significant risk in people undergoing feminizing hormone therapy. Which leads to the further fridge horror when one considers Lily might have been too young to start official hormone therapy, suggesting her father pulled some strings in support of her and ended up accidentally triggering her demise.
    • As someone familiar with transgender transitioning this seems incredibly unlikely. First of all, if she were already on hormones that should've prevented the growth of masculine leg and facial hair that gave Lily her dysphoric shock. Second, her father deadnames her and tells her that she's "gotta grow up eventually". If he were going so far as to illegally buy hormones to support her transition he wouldn't be doing either of those things. Her father does seem to be linked to her death, but it was because he didn't notice how much she was overworking herself to get his attention. That accumulated stress was the kindle the dysphoric shock ignited.

Saki and Reiko were in a relationship.
  • We have to have shipping WMGs on this page sometime, and their interactions and reunion are pretty close and caring anyways, so... I'll let the people with actual romantic shipping experience take it from here.
    • A lot of fans already headcanon Reiko as bi due to her hair resembling the bi pride flag. Saki says she doesn't get what normal is supposed to mean, in a time period where being gay is treated as something to be shunned you could interpret Saki's rejection of normal as a rejection of what society expects of a young woman. Settling down with a man who'll put dinner on the table has no appeal to her, tearing up the streets and just being with Reiko does. She even trusts her to watch over her tamogachi.

Ai's flower earrings are why she keeps getting zapped and the reason she has Super Senses.
Despite being otherwise completely incinerated, her eyes and hair managed to remain intact after the bolt that killed her. Lightning tends to pass through objects in a path to the ground so we can assume that the bolt passed through her starting at a point below the eyes (or roughly level with them at best) while torching everything else. The only way I can supplement that observation is with the theory that her earrings are just monsterously conductive while her otherwise identical hair ornaments are not. Episode 10 indicates that she has enhanced eyes and ears compared to all the others. Considering how many super-powers have been endowed to characters in fiction by lightning strikes in the past, I'm now rolling with the idea that the lightning, hitting her at the ear near her eyes and traveling downward, fried the rest of her body but somehow gave her super-powers in the eyes and ears.

Ai is/was on the Atkins Diet.
Idols often have appearance stipulations in their contracts, including weight, and Ai was a professional. Her least favourite food is listed as "carbs" and she died in the late 2000s.

Kotaro made the idol group for Sakura but Ai's death is what inspired him
Subscribing to the idea that Kotaro had a crush on Sakura as classmates and couldn't let her go, learning about her inspiration's tragic death could have given Kotaro the idea to find other legends to fill in the group and give Sakura the best chance at success possible.

Junko's patches are only skin deep
At least from the neck upwards. Junko has two different patches on her face as well as several along her neck. If we assume that the standard green patches are Junko's original body and each of the other three colors was another person then in universe, she should have an asymetrical face and thus not hold up well to comparisons of photos when she was alive, at least not in comparison to Ai and Lily. While that can be written off as Kotaro finding someone who bore a striking resemblance, having someone else's throat means having their voice box instead of her own so these patches have to be limited to skin at least on the top part of her.
  • To add to this, it seems that the zombies who are bandaged (Ai, Sakura, Tae, though not so much Saki) fall a part much more easily where as Yugiri and Junko are only shown with stitches and yet have not had this problem. Just pulling on her was enough to make Ai's arms pop off where as Junko stayed together after being hit by a freaking car, suggesting that she is better put together than you'd expect.

Junko was far and out the most famous of the bunch
The editor recognizes Junko who had been dead for 30 years before he recognized Ai and Lily who died in the last decade. Junko is already considered the best singer, in universe, and during her life, her weak dancing would be a nonissue so there was no reason why she wouldn't be a rising star. Her tragic death would have made headlines for months and kept her in the public conscious long after her death. Unlike Ai, Junko didn't have a group to go on without her and keep making music so the focus would have been left entirely on her.

Saga Jihen will be featured in season 2
The song's a bop and they went through the trouble of making a music video for it, plus we're overdue for a Yugiri focused episode.

Junko came from a poor family
Junko is apparently interested in fishing and has a sound knowledge of carpentry which are some pretty unexpected Hidden Depths for a pop star. If she came from a poor family before striking it big, she could have been raised with a "do it yourself" attitude and picked up these skills from experience.

Junko has gained skills and traits from the other people used to rebuild her body
There is already a belief with enough traction to warrant studies that people who receive organ transplants are likely to develop new interests in things their donor liked, such as suddenly wanting to learn how to paint. All of Junko's listed hobbies, which includes fishing, are things that focus on peace and calm so her liking to fish doesn't actually sound that wild. Her knowing how to not just repair a door but reinforce it so well that it could hold up in a zombie apocalyse doesn't make as much sense.

Junko has some kind of connection to Ookaba the reporter
It feels very intentional by the writers that he recognized Junko right away even though she's been dead for 35 years while it took him much longer to connect the dots to Ai and Lily who both died within the decade. His age hasn't been stated but he looks to be late forties-mid fifties which would make him close to age with Junko, chronologically. It's subtle but when he has the pictures of Junko, Ai, and Lily from their original lives, Ai and Lily's photos look freshly produced whereas Junko's has some wear to it, suggesting that he's had it for a long time. Also worth noting is the fact that Franchouchou has been Locked Out of the Loop in regards to what he's been doing. Possible theories:
  • Ookaba was a fan of Junko the same way Sakura was a fan of Ai. He clearly likes idols enough to make them the basis of his career and if his favorite idol died when she was about to go on tour in his prefecture, that could have stayed with him.
  • Ookaba knew Junko personally and had some kind of relationship with her. I have three main reasons for this theory. The first and weakest one is that Junko is a legal fully-out-of-high-school adult, that doesn't prove much but the writers could reveal that Junko was in a serious relationship once upon a time and it wouldn't be creepy. The second is that the flashback in episode six shows Junko in a car with a man about her age. A few fans have speculated this to be Ookaba, the hair color and skin tone aren't too far off. Though what makes this detail more compelling for me is the decision to include a character in that spot at all, they could have easily cropped the shot to focus on Junko and saved themselves the trouble but they chose to put a character there. The third point is the fact that for all Junko talks about doing things old school, not once does she deride Yugiri despite the idol industry's infamous chasity clause. Junko letting Yugiri do things her way without comment is surprisingly open minded of her but could suggest that she had good reason not to be bothered. If Junko was in a secret relationship then she would have had even more of reason to want boundaries with fans and taking opposition with Yugiri would have made her hypocritical.

Lily inherited a heart condition from her mother
Lily doesn't say when her mother died but it's implied that Lily never knew her. She inherited her looks from her mother, who's to say that her mother didn't have a heart condition that led to her death as well?

Yugiri was executed for espionage
Yugiri lived in a turbulant, warring time and some of her dialogue suggested that she was "playing both sides" so to speak. While she could have just been impartial to sides, money's money after all, Yugiri would have been in a prime position to get information out of important people and relay it to her allies. Whether she did or not, if someone suspected her of giving away information, it could have been lights out.

Yugiri was raised in a Geisha House
She mentioned she had training to be a geisha so it would make sense if that was what she initially wanted to be only to find out that she liked being an ouiran more.

    Sakura Theories 
Sakura is unknowingly a Monster Lord.
She awakened to sentience before the others with no shown catalyst. Despite Kotaro saying that they just required stimulation it's her stimulation that awakened them. He told her their aspects and this personified them to her thus her power animated their minds. This is why she doesn't have a legend because her contribution is different.

Sakura is The Heart
Kotaro says the other girls are legendary in their own ways, yet specifically denies Sakura being special. Even in life she was an ordinary high school student. Yet she is the catalyst for waking the other girls up, and has started to bring the group together. She was picked to be the leader for a reason.
  • Confirmed to an extent in Episode 12, in which Yugiri notes that without Sakura, the group would have torn itself apart long before the Arpino concert.

The reason Sakura lost her memories is due to head trauma
She was killed by being hit by a truck, and her zombie form shows a huge scar on her forehead.

Sakura actually recalls her past life when she relives her death.
The two instances thus far of her getting flashbacks are the time she was headbanging hard enough to dislocate her spine and the time she was literally flung through the air, both similar to the events that happened during the truck collision. She might be very upset to figure this one out.
  • She got another flashback of Ai by just watching her dance in Episode 6, so this one appears to be Jossed.
    • Possibly confirmed in Episode 10: getting hit by a truck a second time, in an almost identical manner, causes her to finally regain her memories.

Sakura doesn't need to eat brains because she already has one.
(taps head)

Sakura did not die because of the crash: she killed herself
At the beginning Sakura was hit by a truck, and we assumed that she died and lost her memory from impact. However during Episode 4 when she was in the hotspring, closer inspection review that she had her left wrist bandaged. In this series, the girls are bandaged depended on their cause of death (Junko got ripped into a million pieces so she was stitched her whole body, Ai got burned so she was bandaged). Sakura was hit by a truck to the right and landed on the right, meaning her left arm was not damaged, yet she was bandaged. The only kind of fatal injury on that part of the arm is wrist cutting.

The theory goes as follow: Sakura got hit by a truck and wake up to see that she has a massive scar on her head, meaning that she can never become an idol (a jab at the Idol industry's brutal image standard). The scar gives her massive emotional depression, so she decides to commit suicide. One of the most common way to commit suicide in Japan: sit in the bathtub, fill it with water, cut your wrist. Sakura is right armed, so she has to cut her left wrist, explaining the bandage. And this explains why she is found in a bathtub in OP even when there is no bathtub: it because she commits suicide. This can also explain why was the old journalist surprised. He did not recognize Junko, Lily, or Ai. If he recognized them, he would have known them right away since both are in his era (he would be fifty at best, which meant that when Junko was famous he would be around), and there are plenty of images floating around on the internet (especially with Ai who died in such shocking, famous fashion) so he would recognize them immediately. He could not have known Yugiri as, famous as she was, she was about more than 150 years away from his era and image would be few, if not none. But he recognized Sakura, perhaps because he was doing an article on her death. But since she was just a schoolgirl forced into suicide, she was not that famous. Therefore he could have some recollections of her, but could not pinpoint immediately (since it has been 10 years, and god knows how many Japanese schoolgirls killed themselves in those ten years).

  • A splendid theory with a lot to support it, but there's a hole in it with your reasoning on the journalist. Assuming you're right that he recognized Sakura (meaning the focus on Junko at that moment was misdirection), his story could still have simply been about Sakura's first date with truck-kun rather than a suicide. It would be more likely to stick in his head enough to vaguely recall since that would have been a more unique story, especially if there was some other matter of significance about the incident - say, something involving truck-kun's driver?
    • Fully Jossed by Episode 11. The truck outright killed her.

Sakura's bad luck was actually caused by her overenthusiasm and overwork
  • Sakura's problems in life are not purely bad luck, but an inevitable consequence of her overenthusiasm:
    • She's overenthusiastic and overworking herself before the big concert, which led to her getting out of sync with her teammates.
    • She practiced very late every night for the play, this lead to insufficient rest, so got sick because of a depressed immune system.
    • She trained very hard for the relay, and in the end, her body broke down (pulled muscle).
    • In selflessly helping all those old ladies, she panicked about time and was mentally fried by the time she got to the test.
  • It's almost like they are trying to offer a lesson: "Try Hard, but not so hard you burn yourself out through overwork."

Sakura didn't actually die straight away
She died just outside her front door and the shoes by the door indicate that at least her father was home. Even if the truck driver ran, her dad undoubtedly would have heard the crash and called an ambulance. Sakura could have potentially have been taken to the hospital and put on life support for a period of time. As a zombie she has a massive scar on her head but the accident was free of blood. If she had fallen into a coma, the doctors could have performed trepanation on her in the hopes of alleviating pressure, thus explaining the sudden scar.
  • Unlikely that she went on life support as her date of death is listed as April 7th, the first day of school in Japan.

The headbanging and flying off the merrygoround is what caused Sakura's head to pop off so easily
She doesn't have a problem with loosing her head before episode 4 when she bumps her chin on a rock. The previous episodes have her landing head first in the dirt, headbanging so hard her neck should be broken, and getting hit by a truck. That amount of strenuous activity could have weakened her neck and paved way for easy removal.

Sakura's forehead scar was Kotaro's doing.
Sakura had no open wounds from her accident so the scar being there makes no sense. However, since there was no open wounds, that means that Sakura likely would have had a lot of internal bleeding and built up pressure due to brain swelling when she died. The nature of zombies could require them to be in certain conditions to be able to be resurrected, like why Junko is all stitched up and Tae is held together with bandages. Kotaro (or someone else) could have had to do something to address Sakura's internal injuries and whether it was medical inexpirence or her bad luck persisting in death, it could have gone wrong just enough to leave her with a sizable scar.

    Tae Theories 
Tae's awakening will be the finale's punchline.
There will be a scene in the last episode, after the group gets famous, where they'll be performing onstage and suddenly Tae freaks out wondering where she is and who all these other girls are.
  • Unless a second season's been announced, this one's been Jossed.

Tae is the first zombie
While this might be a stretch, Tae being referred to as "Zombie 0" may imply that she may be the Patient Zero, or the first "victim" of zombification.
  • And as Kotaro does a Hand Wave regarding how they became zombies in the first place, he simply mentions that "it's just like the movies". This means that there has to be a victim in order for zombies to exist.

Tae is Kotaro's mother.
Tae is far older than the other girls, so she probably has a role in the plot which a teenager could not realistically fill. She died when Kotaro was about 10 years old and his grief drove him to research a method for reviving the dead. She had an unfulfilled dream of being a singer, which is what led him to this plan.

Tae is Kotaro's lover.
This goes along with the above WMG about Kotaro being Sakura's brother. Sakura and Tae are the only zombies to (at least as far as we know, in Tae's case) never have any kind of notoriety or experience, begging the question of why Kotaro would choose them for his revitalization project. Simple: he was personally involved with both.

Tae (whom he was either already dating at the time of Sakura's death or met sometime later) similarly had ambitions of being some sort of star, but given her age at death, she was probably aiming for something other than an idol, like a model or actress. Since this drive reminded him of his late classmate, he became involved in show business to do what he could to help her career take off. After her death (likely within the past year), Kotaro's grief at having lost his sister or old crush and his girlfriend (or even wife - she did die at 29) motivated him to learn how to reanimate corpses and give them the chance to have in death what they were denied in life.

Naturally, his lover and sister were the first ones on his list. However, he didn't get the process correct right away. His first attempt was on Tae (Zombie 0), who has taken longer than anyone else to regain her personality from life, if it's even on the table for her. Attempt #2 was on Sakura (Zombie 1), who got her personality back, but not her memories. Kotaro was probably working extra hard to reawaken both of them before any of the others, hence why Sakura wakes up first (and she woke up with makeup on - probably so that he could break her zombie status to her slowly). After getting it a bit wrong twice, his next subject was the expendable delinquent Saki (Zombie 2), and it goes off without a hitch. Now that he's gotten it down pat, he reanimated Ai (Zombie 3), the idol that his sister looked up to more than any other, then Junko (Zombie 4), who helped invent the concept of idols, then Yugiri (Zombie 5) and Lily (Zombie 6) to round out the team.

  • Episode 12 suggests that his crush is actually Sakura, not Tae, so this seems to have been Jossed.
    • Though, he still could've met and fallen for Tae somewhere between the ten years after Sakura's death.

Tae knew Sakura before the latter's (and then her own) death.
Tae will be revealed to have been a friend/relative of Sakura's, who was still alive when Sakura died and knew about her death. Her first reaction when/if she awakens will be dramatic shock/horror that the girl she had known to be dead is actually "alive", before she's clued in to their situation. This will also be an opportunity to fill in some of the details of Sakura's pre-zombie life.

Tae's considered "Legendary" because she's the only actual Saga resident.
In the context of everything else, she's rather insignificant. However, her mysterious lack of backstory and her eccentricities draw many people to the idol group, which gives her an edge in the "Saving Saga" plan— now all that mystery has a source far different from the other zombies, and makes her a sort of "hometown hero" in turn. Can be an Actor Allusion as well, since her voice actress Kotono Mitsuishi also claims Saga as her home.
  • Jossed: Sakura, Saki, and Lily are all from Saga.

Tae Legendary status is just a Leaning on the Fourth Wall joke
Tae's legendary status is solely a big joke because she was voiced by the legendary Kotono Mitsuishi.

Tae is Kotaro's sister and the inventor of the zombie process.
This is why she's zombie 0, because she was killed just after inventing the process and she's the first he tried it on. This is why Kotaro's so vague on how it works, because he really doesn't know anything beyond what he's found in her notes on how to revive people. It's also why he won't say what she's legendary for. But since she always loved idol singers, he made an idol group to provide the stimulus to awaken her. Saving Saga was just a handy excuse.

Tae will be a last-episode Knight of Cerebus.
Just as the first episode started as a straight zombie horror before the surprise genre shift, the last episode will do the same in reverse: once Tae finally awakens completely in the last episode she will not be happy about her circumstances and spend the rest of the episode trying to murder Kotaro for bringing her back as a zombie.
  • Unless there's a second season, this one's been Jossed, as Tae still hasn't awakened yet.

Tae is a criminal
Her pajamas are the classic black and white prison jumpsuits which could be a clue.

Tae's first coherent words will be to encourage Sakura.
Because it would be super cute and heartwarming, darn it!

Tae's biting isn't just because of her zombie traits
Take note that the only people she has actually bitten so far are those that she actually knows. and most of them are zombies themselves (Sakura and Junko come to mind). Her biting is just her way of showing that she likes them.

Tae is Queen Himiko of Yamatai.
OK, this doesn't start with me. I am just translating someone else's theory.
  • Yamada Tae. Yamatai. See anything?
  • Then there's the fact that she was deliberately left out of a backstory. Would this not indicate something... different... with her?
  • Every zombie should be connected to Saga Prefecture. There are multiple theory where Yamatai is located, and one of them is Yoshinogari Historical Site, Saga. (Though my personal theory outside of anime is Yame, Fukuoka.)
  • It would tie into the theory of the bartender being Xu Fu: Xu zombified himself (or became immortal by any other means) and fell in love with the Queen, 400 years after his birth. Xu then offered zombification to the Queen around 200. The Queen accepts, but the process turns Tae to what she is today. Xu prevented people from seeing the Queen directly, ruling in her stead, until 248 when he decides that there is no way to hide anymore. Announcing that the Queen is dead, he ran away with Tae, and has been searching for ways to restore Tae's mind ever since. He offers the zombification technology to Kotaro with the condition that Tae be let into the group, and this is why she is there.

Tae had been in hiding with little resources and was killed after being found
The girls shambling around in the first episode after the eyecatch foreshadowes each of their deathes, Tae herself keeps sliding on and off screen, completely hidden when not taking up center shot. Could it be possible that Tae had to go into hiding for one reason or another (hidden chrisitan, runaway criminal, queen resisting a coup, ect). Tae is ravenous and devours whatever food she sees so if she is in hiding, her situation could have been so dire that she ran out of food and was unable to leave her refuge to get more. If unawkaened zombies relive their final moments and Tae is waking up slowly then maybe Tae spent the first few days still thinking she was in her old life. Tae often spends her time chasing around a screaming Junko, what if Tae's death was because her enemies found her and she tried to fight them off instead of running? Whenever Junko screams and runs it could put Tae back in the headspace of "I need to defend myself" hence her behavior.

    Tae's Mental State 
Tae isn't actually mindless.
She was a huge fan of zombie films in life, and is just playing up the mindless angle for her own amusement.
  • She is able to spot a dried squid snack in the middle of a crowd. While this act may just be her instincts kicking up, at least, she can still think about her Trademark Favorite Food.

Alternatively, Tae isn't human.
She's some prehistoric hominid that is in fact fully functional, but operating on the instincts that a prehistoric hominid would use (i.e. animalistic ones).

Tae is waking up... but veeeeeery slowly.
Tae's actions in the third episode are not completely explainable as 'mindless zombie mimicking others.' It's not clear if there is any intent behind her actions or if she's just starting to realize the world exists, but something is starting to flicker in there.
  • Possibly confirmed in Episode 7: while backstage, she mimics Saki much more closely than in previous episodes, to the point that other characters remark on it, and even tries to copy her speech.
  • More evidence as episodes go by that she's more able to understand speech, attempts lying (thus knowing she has something to hide) and after Sakura's problems in Episode 11, is crying in a Corner of Woe.

Tae was a religious figure before she died.
Tae's outfit is a simple black dress tied with a white rope. It kind of makes her look like a nun. It's possible that Tae was a Buddhist Nun. What makes her legendary is that she was a nun who partook in sokushinbutsu and managed to leave behind a perfect mummy. The reason why she's still mindless despite being Zombie 0 is that her consciousness is in a state of Nirvana and hasn't been dragged back yet.
  • Or, on a darker note, Tae may have been a Christian convert in the late 16th/early 17th centuries, a period of Christian persecutions and executions—making her by far the oldest of the group. If so, her mind may simply have decayed too much over the centuries or, if you want to parallel the notion above, maybe God doesn't care to relinquish the soul of a martyr.

Tae is not acting like a zombie, that is her natural state. She is somewhat feral because Tae is the result of a child found after they had gone missing and had been living in the wild for some time. Since this is Japan, the people who found her deified her as a child beloved by the gods hence her religious style garments.
  • Alternatively, she wandered out of the forest and into a town one day where she attacked some people, got arrested and thrown in jail where she died. Hence the prison uniform she always sleeps in. Her being raised by wolves also explains why she acts more like a dog than a zombie and children who don't learn to speak before puberty have a very hard time learning language.

Tae's state is related to how she died
Out of all of the zombies so far whose causes of death are known, all of them died very suddenly, and with the possible exception of Lily were all reasonably healthy and would have lived if things had gone a little differently. We can also assume they all died pretty quickly. Maybe part of the reason Tae is the way she is is because her death was a bit slower and lead to her being brain dead before she was dead-dead. Which doesn't necessarily mean that she'll never get better, but she may need further treatment or time to "heal" in order to awaken.

Tae's mind was switched with Romero's.
All of her feral behavior makes sense if you look at it from the standpoint that she's literally an animal in a woman's body. And Romero is pretty well behaved for a dog. However, the reveal of this particular thing won't happen until the very end of the show, as a punchline.

Tae acts like a dog because she doesn't realize Romero isn't human.
That is to say, she recognizes she is a zombie, and she tries to act like a zombie by following the actions of the zombies around her. She hasn't quite grasped that, as a zombie dog, Romero does not have the same set of behaviors as a zombie human, so she mimics him as well.

Tae is a failed experiment or prototype.
Which is where the Zombie 0 prefix comes from. The reason she was drafted was to perfect the reanimation process and was never meant to be part of the idol group.
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    Other 
Franchouchou will have to face a rival group
Its not unusual for an idol anime to have a rival group.
  • Oooh! What if it's the latest incarnation of Irol Frill, Ai's original group? They got a lot of attention during Saga Rock, and they were given a cameo during the finale. Perhaps we will get a miniarc in Season Two where Ai and Iron Frill's leader have a face off - the Legend verses The Replacement! It'll be to Idol Battle of the Decade!

At some point, a male idol group will debut
Whether they're alive or dead...
  • If they keep with the horror theme, the boys will be based on other common nasties to the genre. They'll likely be some kind of ghost.

A former friend of the zombies will show up at one of their performances.
Lily? Dead seven years. Sakura and Ai? Ten. Saki? Twenty-one. Even Junko is sort of within the parameters of maybe having living friends who could recognize them. Tae maybe, Yugiri unlikely... the point is, at some point somebody is going to come along and say: Wait, I thought you died! And plot shall ensue.
  • Confirmed, although we don't know if it's a friend or not. A mystery man recognized Junko in Episode 5.
  • The end of Episode 6 seems to be heading in this direction, with the group booked to play at Saga Rock, where Ai's old group Iron Frill will be performing. It seems very likely that Ai will run into either Iron Frill themselves, or a fan of the group, and will be recognised.
    • While this may still happen later on, the above two examples were seemingly Jossed in Episode 7. The mystery man watched Franchouchou perform live but didn't seem to identify who Junko was, and while Ai did watch Iron Frill's performance, neither they nor any of their fans recognised her either (though they're clearly not the same Iron Frill; the members from Ai's era all appear to have graduated, as idol groups do).
    • In Episode 8 Lily's father does show up at one of the group's photo shoots and is definitely intrigued by how similar one of the members looks to his late daughter, but he doesn't seem to connect the dots (or at least, won't say so out loud) and Lily can't reveal her true identity to him. Fortunately, they're still able to get some closure in the end even if they can't truly reconnect again.
    • In Episode 9, Saki inserts herself into some trouble involving the daughter of her old best friend. Upon seeing one another again, Saki repeats the same last words she gave Reiko the night she died, prompting Reiko to recognize her. Saki has to pretend she has no idea who Reiko is referring to in order to protect her secret.
    • The stinger for Episode 12 confirms that the newsies actually did recognize Ai, Junko, and Lily, comparing them to photos of their previous living identities. What this means is as of yet unclear.

The old bartender is actually a Historical Figure who became immortal
In Episode 11, a bartender casually talks to Kotaro regarding Yugiri, and his Zombie Land Saga Project. It could be possible that he has connections to Kotaro and might be the person who revived the girls. And for someone who is implied to know Yugiri on a personal level, he might have lived on the earliest centuries.
  • He chews on squid, much like the zombie girls, especially Tae. Could it be that the bartender is a zombie himself?
    • His eyes are covered in shadows. If one notes the Fridge Brilliance in the first episode where Sakura has her eyes covered in shadows too just before The Reveal that she was a zombie (in front of Policeman A).
  • There was a Chinese court sorcerer named Xu Fu who was tasked by Qin Shi Huang to look for the elixir of life, that grants immortality. And Xu Fu was once said to have visited Japan in his travels.
    • There are also subtle hints via the name of the bar "The New Jofuku" ("Jofuku" is how "Xu Fu" spells in Japanese), and pictures of Xu Fu statue and Xu Fu Long Life Center that are located in Saga hanging in there.
  • The closest real life person with his appearance might be Taneomi Soejima in his younger years. He was a Meiji statesman from Saga when it was still the part of Hizen province, which lines up with him calling the Zombie Land Saga Project as Hizen's Highway Dream Project and knowing Yugiri when she was alive.

The old bartender was the necromancer.
If the bartender really was a historical figure with supernatural powers it would explain how he got the bodies in a country that cremates them. And it also explains why Kotaro didn't explain the revival process: How can you explain something that you have no knowledge of and asked someone else to do?

The OP canonically happened
It's a music video that the undead idols filmed at some point.

What is the "Revenge" in Zombie Land Saga Revenge
The "Revenge" is either:
  • apparently connected to the cliffhanger ending in the original ZLS.
  • apparently connected to Yugiri and Tae's mysterious pasts.
    • Perhaps it will reveal how the two died.
  • the answer to everything that bugs the ZLSdom

Seasons 2 will touch about Yugiri's past and present issues.
  • With Franchouchou's recent song Saga Jihen which is Yugiri's song, the lyrics are about Forbidden Love, but it doesn't elaborate much of what happened exactly. It is probable that she had a lover who was a noble, but his family decided to execute her due to the idea of running away together. Her past will come to haunt her once again when she might encounter a guy who resemblances to her former lover (Perhaps is a descendant of his) which Yugiri will have to let it go and move on.

Franchuuchuu has a host of in-universe memes about them
  • Let's be real, it's more than likely that part of the draw to the group is how outlandish their exploits are. In fact, when one factors in the heavily publicized incidents of the Saga Rock Lightning Strike and the Arpino Stage Collapse, and the group's unflinching resolve to finish the show despite the chaos around them, one wonders if Franchuuchuu has become a source of Memes across Japan of the same variety as Ultra Instinct Shaggy, or even the pinnacle of Memetic Badassery, Chuck Norris. With Revenge coming out soon-ish, this troper is looking forward to this WMG gaining a list of examples.

Yugiri was murdered
  • In Episode 8, when the group's discussing the possibility of them being kidnapped after the incident with Lilly's father, Yugiri laments that being in an occupation in which you show yourself to the public is as dangerous as it's always been. It's possible that she knows from experience, especially if she died as a result of a crazed admirer kidnapping and murdering her.

An episode in season 2 will be about the Karatsu Kunchi festival
It just sounds neat

Season 2 will introduce some kind of antagonist
Season 1 was interesting because all of the conflict was about the girls coming to terms with their new undead lives. With the exception of Yugiri and Tae, who have had neither backstory revealed nor personal conflict, each of them have overcome what was holding them back. The writers could answer more questions about their backstories but doing something like centering another episode about one of their families will just feel like a redo of Neverland Saga. It feels more apt to introduce some kind of Outside-Context Problem, such as the reporter trying to learn more about them, not so much a villain as an obstacle.

If Franchouchou's secret is discovered, the Metalheads will stick by them
They've been fans of the girls since their first performance, love how brutal they can be, and seem like overall nice people (they realized Ai was scared of the lightning and looked geniunely concerned for her). The two of them seem like they are in it for the long haul so it doesn't feel like they would get scared off by zombies. If anything, they would probably think Franchouchou is even more epic because how metal is that?

Iron Frill is losing fame
Iron Frill has lasted a decade, that's ancient by idol standards. When Ai was with them, they were packing stadiums after a year, now they're performing at music concerts in an obsecure prefecture.

The show will end by...
  • After achieving success and saving Saga, Franchouchou will return to the grave with peace and teary smiles
  • Open ended, the girls achieve their dreams and the audience will know that they will continue to go on after the credits roll
  • Kotaro somehow manages to fully revive them and they become human again

Zombieland Saga is a disguised The Magnificent Seven Samurai plot in an idol setting
  • Franchouchou is a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits that fits the general line up (Lily being The Young Guy, Tae being The Funny Guy, ect) also there's seven of them.
  • They recieve a Call to Adventure in the form of Kotaro who rounds them up on the mission to save Saga (from obscurity).
  • The people of Saga are generally unable or unwilling to do this themselves because if they wanted to boost tourism, they probably didn't need to raise the literal dead.
  • Franchouchou successfully pulls off their first concert at Saga Rock and start reaching out to more people such as the old folks and the bikers to unite them.
That's as far as we've gotten in the plot but the future hallmarks of any good samurai movie are already set up
  • The big reveal that they're zombies is just waiting to be unfurled and causes them to disband
  • After realizing that there's still fans that care about them or that they can continue being idols to humanize themselves to people, Franchouchou returns
  • Maybe season 2 will introduce some kind of rival or outside threat they have to deal with?
  • Big concert where the fans they thought had abandoned them come back in bigger support then ever and it's a stellar show.
  • Saga is saved because Franchouchou becomes a widely successful hit that hopefully avoids the But Now I Must Go ending most of these movies have.

    • Their But Now I Must Go ending could be in the form of since Saga is popular enough to not need a local idol group anymore, Franchouchou is now free to tour the rest of Japan

Season 2 will make an Ascended Meme about the in-universe meme about Franchouchou being indestructible
It's already been mentioned on the meme page that it's very likely that Franchouchou has garnered a good number of fans due to being seen as being a Memetic Badass group. Their first major performance had them going on after their stage got struck by lightning and their show at the Arpino had the roof come down on top of them but they got up like it was nothing. Now that the group's starting to get more well known, season 2 could have fans bringing up how crazy it is that they can shrug off disasters like it's nothing, much to the zombie's nervous laughter.

A tsunami devastes the prefecture and Franchouchou will do a benefit concert to help the victims
The trailer for season 2 shows a town that has been destroyed by something and then a massive wave in another frame. The poster for season 2 has the girls at a large stadium. Here's my cold shot for the plot of season 2- after the success at the Arpino, Franchouchou is continuing to do shows around Saga and build up their prescence. They set their sights on a new venue they want to play at within the first couple of episodes. About half way through the season, a devastating tsunami will ravenge part of the prefecture. Either there will be an episode about Franchouchou hunkering down in a mostly Bottle Episode because they're on the fringes of the disaster or they will be forced to evacuate the area without letting anyone see them without proper makeup on. Because of the disaster, the show will be canceled but after maybe an episode of sadness and other character drama, they come up with the idea of doing a concert with all the profits going towards helping victims and people who have been displaced. This will result in a massive audience turn out and strongly endear them to the people of Saga (in addition to literally saving it). The love they recieve from the fans will make up for some earlier in the season finacial troubles because venues and promoters start begging Franchouchou to play for them. The girls will be happy that they saved Saga but Kotaro will say something like "You didn't save Saga, Saga was devastated and you got it back to where it was before." Or something like that to tell the zombis and the audience that there's more stories and songs to come.
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