July Anime Challenge: Zombie Land Saga

In our anime challenge this month we find out if the undead can rock, our challenge is Zombie Land Saga. Zombie Land Saga is produced by MAPPA, Avex Pictures and Cygames. It aired in Japan between October and December 2018 and was followed by a second season Named Zombie Land Saga Revenge which aired in 2021. An anime film has been announced and a manga adaptation of the anime is currently in print.

In the year 2008, high schooler Sakura Minamoto is abruptly killed by a truck on the morning she plans to submit an idol application. Ten years later, Sakura, along with six “legendary” girls from various eras of Japan’s history, are brought back as zombies by a man named Kotaro Tatsumi, who seeks to revitalize Saga Prefecture by putting together an all-zombie idol group that would become known as Franchouchou. Will they crave fame or brains? It is up to us to find out in this challenge!!

Zombie Land Saga was directed by Munehisa Sakai (One Piece Film Strong World, Sailor Moon Crystal) with Shigeru Murakoshi (Kakegurui) in charge of series composition. Kasumi Fukagawa (Persona 3 the Movie #1 Spring of Birth) was on character design, Kazuo Ogura the art director, Takashi Yanagida the director of photography, and Masahiro Goto was the editor. Yasuharu Takanashi composed the music.

Week 2 July 11 – 17

Episodes 1 – 4

We start off our recommendations with a classic anime, Aggretsuko (known in Japan as Aggressive Retsuko). This musical comedy tells the tale of an anthropomorphic red panda named Retsuko. She works in the accounting department of a Japanese trading firm and is 25 years old. Our single red panda heroine faces pushy superiors and annoying co-workers on a daily basis and rather than taking out her frustrations on them, she lets loose her emotions by going to a karaoke bar every night to sing death metal. But after 5 years of torment… er… working the daily grind, her unhappiness causes her to experience a series of events that may cause her job, causing her to change her relationships with her co-workers and transform her life in unexpected ways.

The anime is based on the character created by ‘Yeti’ for the mascot company Sanrio. It was written and directed by Rarecho at the studio Fanworks and originally ran at TBS Television for 100 episodes between April 2016 – March 2018. It has also recently been pocked up by Netflix. 

Week 3 July 18 – 24

Episodes 5- 8

Our recommendation this week is quite different than usual, as it is a project! On August 8th 2015, at exactly 8:08:08 phenomena appeared on the web. Simultaneously a website and music video were born. The video became an instant hit. This mysterious project is known as nowisee (pronounced as ‘noise’ apparently). It is a project that combines anime and music and takes it to the next level.

On nowisee’s YouTube channel’s About page, they explain the project as such (roughly translated): “nowisee (noise) is a cross-content project with images and stories woven together in the center of the music.” They further said that it is a series of 24 videos that were released every 8th of the month. On their website, they also tease promises of an upcoming novel and a few manga projects to come. The video ‘Vibrate’ that opened on the website on the 8th of August is the first.

There are a few interesting things about nowisee. The number 8 seems to be a recurring element in this project, maybe because the number symbolizes eternity in the ancient numerology (the mystical study of numbers) of many cultures. The project also focuses on the theme of letting the young people of today question the meaning of life. It seems steeped in philosophy and mystery, and the mystery deepens as no artist information was revealed about the project, so nobody really knows who worked on it.

The first video ‘Vibrate’ is stunningly beautiful. It is like a visual piece of art that tries to tell a story while a woman with a siren’s voice sings poetic lyrics that include lines like ‘I want to protect you forever and ‘myriad of candles has lined up quietly.’

Week 4 July 25 – 31

Episodes 9 – 12

Konnichiwa Minna. Because Zombie Land Saga is both a music anime and an anime with a zombie theme, we bring you a zombie anime recommendation: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress.

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is an anime by Wit Studio that premiered in 2016. The anime reunited director Tetsuro Araki and Wit Studio (Attack on Titan), the team responsible for Attack on Titan. The Script was done by Ichiro Okouchi (creator of Code Geass) while Haruhiko Mikimoto (Macross 7) designed the original characters and Hiroyuki Sawano (Attack on Titan) composed the music.

The anime, coined as a ‘steampunk survival action’ series plays off in an alternate world in the industrial age on an island country named Hinomoto. Humans are hiding in fortresses called Stations since reanimated dead with hearts of iron called kabana overrun the outside. People can, however, move from Station to Station thanks to steam-powered trains. Trains and zombies, epic, right?