Zombieland Saga – 03 – More than Guts

The group’s next mission is neither death metal nor hip-hop, but your standard spontaneous “guerilla” idol performance in a public place. They only have one night to prepare. Lily suggests they make their group more official by naming a leader (Saki) and a permanent name (Franchouchou, inspired by Tae sneezing marker ink).

Practice is… a bit shaky, as one would expect of a group fielding five amateurs. Matters are made worst by the fact the other two members who are pro idols—Junko and Ai—are contributing nothing but sullen looks and pessimism. Sakura tries to rally the five, but Yuugiri steals her thunder, and ends up more effectively galvanizing the girls (minus the idols, that is).

The day of the performance arrives, everyone is in their human makeup…and Junko and Ai stay in the car. The remaining five have to make do…and they get a crowd to gather. But when Lily trips just like she did in practice and Sakura suddenly forgets the lyrics, that crowd becomes disinterested and starts to disperse fast. Franchouchou needs cavalry, and they get it in Junko and Ai, who do what they do best.

The animation of the actual performance is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s very colorful and stylish, smooth and precise. But the 3D CGI models of the girls are different enough from their 2D counterparts to be conspicuous and distracting, and their motions are so precise they look less like people and more like robots. Execution issues aside, the group ends up putting a smile on the face of the last spectator, a little girl who is soon dragged off by her jaded mom. They were able to reach one person, so there’s no reason to believe they can’t reach more if they get better.

And they will get better, if the change in attitudes of both Junko and Ai are any indication. Junko had never performed in a group and was weary of doing so, but once she got into the spirit of things she had a lot more fun than she imagined. Similarly, Ai could tell from their performance that the others were sincere in their desire to get better and become more legitimate, so she’s now more willing to lend her not inconsiderable talents to that effort.

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Zombieland Saga – 02 – Headless Hip-Hop

A show in which Sakura was solely responsible for babysitting six brainless zombies while a manic Miyano Mamoru yelled at her would probably get old fast (though one should never underestimate Miyano’s ability to entertain with his flexible voice). So it’s good to see all of the young women, save Yamada Tae, “awaken”, since it means they now have personalities. And not all of them are fine simply going along with Tatsumi’s plan for them.

In fact, the two famous idols Konno Junko and Mizuno Ai head for the exit almost immediately, wanting not part of the Saga revitalizaiton plan (also, Tae bites and the zombie dog is scary). But like Sakura, they learn that as soon as a living human sees them, they freak out.

In the case of the local policeman, he shoots wildly at the girls, while the three rappers who were cruising for chicks wig out when they see them in the light. Tatsumi is right: if they’re going to live something like normal lives, they have to hide what they truly are. There’s no place in the world for zombies.

While the idols tried to passively avoid their duties, and Yuugiri and Lily are mostly neutral, biker boss Nikaidou Saki is more actively against the whole enterprise, and doesn’t like how readily Sakura takes Tatsumi’s commands while practicing.

Saki thinks that as zombies they should try to take over the country (even though there are a lot of ways to kill them humans are very familiar with). She, like most of the others, think it’s ludicrous to believe they’ll be able to function as an idol group, and don’t much care about the fate of Saga.

That attitude changes somewhat when Tatsumi works his Hollywood makeup magic, returning all of the young women to their “living” looks, much to their surprise and delight. For the next gig he’s also changed the name of their group to “Green Face.” Once again, they take the stage with very little in the way of a plan.

Sakura starts out, but Tae derails things and ends up losing her head, which the crowd takes to be some kind of magic trick. When Sakura and Saki start fighting over whether Tae’s head should be put back on her shoulders, they erupt into a lively rap battle, with Tatsumi providing the beatboxing, Yuugiri strumming her shamisen, and Lily getting the crowd involved.

It’s another instance of making something fun and entertaining out of nothing, and yet again legitimizes Tatsumi’s grand plans as less cockamamie as originally believed. But the two idols still seem awfully hesitant to involve themselves, while Yae and her biting pose a constant threat to their audience. On the plus side, they seem to have gained a couple of groupies!

Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke – 12 (Fin)

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Saotome plans to change the future in which espers revolt by using a hypnotized Yuugiri to assassinate New York’s new pro-esper mayor, starting riots and causing anti-esper sentiment to spread. Hyoubu penetrate’s Saotome’s elaborate lattice of illusions to get through to Yuugiri and break her hypnosis. His use of Unlimited causes his power to go out of control, but Andy and Yuugiri won’t abandon him: Andy uses his eye to stop the power overload. Hyoubu tracks down Saotome and erases his memories. Andy sets off on his own, but is made an honorary member of PANDRA.

If this is the end, it isn’t such a bad one.

Whoa, there, Hyoubu: we’ll be the judge of that! The finale ends in New York City, pretty much the last place you want ESP bombs like Yuugiri or Hyoubu going off, unless it’s your intent to cause mayhem. Saotome has clung to life just as Hyoubu has so that he can change the future he saw. He thought the survival of humanity required the subjugation of espers. Not surprisingly, his ethos loses out, thanks to Hyoubu’s persistence and Andy’s magic eye. Everyone else sits this out, with only token scenes of farewell, but the focus on Hyoubu, Saotomne, Andy and Yuugiri was as good a place as any to end things.

To its credit, this series doesn’t go longer than the twelve promised episodes, and manages to bring everything to a satisfying close. Hyoubu is ready to finally give in to the grim reaper, but his family stops him. He lives on to realize a future of equal rights for espers. One could say the doomsday Saotome warned is still in the cards, but screw that old man; his alternative future that curbs the freedom of an entire people wasn’t a future worth saving. Maybe a revolt has to happen if equality is ever going to be a reality.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • The BABEL chaps arrive right at the nick of time to save Andy from getting arrested. Good timing, right? 
  • If the Children want to be treated more like adults, maybe they should stop sleeping in the same bed, eh?
  • We were surprised Kaoru didn’t really do anything here, but maybe they’ll make a spin-off show about the older her. Maybe! 

Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke – 11

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Hyoubu and Andy locate Walsh, and make him show them the location of Yugiri. He leads them to the bowels of a USEI installation, but it’s a trap. Saotome tells them they have to “administer” espers in order to prevent Ihachigo’s prophecy of catastrophe led by Akashi Kaoru in the future. Hyoubu and Andy are able to escape as PANDRA members show up to help, but when they travel to New York, where they find a reprogramed Yugiri who defeats them one by one.

This week, Hyoubu reunites with PANDRA, Andy chooses a side, they learn that Saotome’s still alive (somehow), and the USEI’s plan for espers, manage to escape a maximum security military installation, and did we mention a pro-esper mayor is elected in New York? Yeah, that last one is kinda out of left field; apparently meant to be a hint that the foretold destruction of mankind will occur there. The idea is, that if given equal rights, espers will cause the apocalypse. Unfortunately, Hyoubu and Andy’s escape is downright ludicrous.

There’s a scene during their escape when all of their opponents helpfully stop firing for a very long time…for no reason. The mini-security drones are laughably inept, and the human commandos have abysmal aim.  Combined with the routine twist of Yuugiri being re-programmed by USEI to attack espers and the convenient reappearance of PANDRA’s sub in the knick of time, this episode is a bit of a mess: more concerned with packing in as much plot and action as possible without regard to pace and plausibility. When the baddies are this stupid, it neutralizes the peril. Though we do like how Kaoru is prophesied to be the harbinger of doom.


Rating: 5 (Average)

Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke – 09

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The USEI launches a massive, multi-pronged attack, using UAVs to distract Hyoubu. Assault teams armed with ESP-nullifying ECM devices board the ship, but Patty stops them from getting to the children. The director, Andy’s boss, boards the Catastrophe and captures Yuugiri. Andy tries to stop him, and is shot, but the bullet is stopped by his necklace. Hyoubu manages to hold off the USEI barrage long enough for Magi, Yoh, and Momiji and Patty to transport the children to safety. Andy manages to jump off the Catastrophe as it explodes and sinks.

After two episodes that essentially spin off the spinoff by going back to Hyoubu’s tender youth, this week the present returns with unyielding force, and PANDRA is dealt a serious blow. Andy betrays his new family by de-cloaking the ship, opening it up to bombardment. Naturally, when he sees the USEI boarding the ship and hunting down espers, he objects (because he has a moral compass), but it’s out of his hands now; he served his role as puppet, and has to either watch the consequences unfold, or rebel. Watching the Catastrophe go down and the evacuees escaping by the skin of their teeth wraps up a shocking series of events.

It’s amazing how swiftly things go so very very badly for PANDRA. But most shocking is that even with his Unlimited power, Hyoubu can’t put a dent in the onslaught before him. It doesn’t help that he’s close to death, and has an attack right in the middle of battle. Now relieved of their floating haven, with their leader reeling and perhaps their most powerful child in enemy hands, tough times are ahead for PANDRA. It makes us wonder if their plight will lead to them allying with BABEL, who you can’t really call their nemesis at this point. It’s normal humans like Andy’s evil bigot boss who are the nemeses.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke – 05

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PANDRA is in Tokyo, repairing the ship and stocking up on supplies. While keeping an eye on Yuugiri in Asakusa Andy discovers Minamoto and Tsubomi are watching him. They know he’s an American spy. They want to arrest PANDRA en masse, and want his help in exchange for keeping his secret. The meeting is interrupted when Yuugiri comes afoul of policemen after helping a lost boy with her ESP. Andy arrives before things get out of hand. Meanwhile, on his birthday, Hyoubu sneaks into BABEL to perform medical scans, and learns that he’s “running out of time.”

A mass murderer and an esper savior…which is the true Hyoubu?

Can’t he be both? Hyoubu is a legitimate savior of espers, and they love him for it. When Momiji tells Andy the harrowing tale of how Hyoubu saved her from a certain, cruel death, you can’t help but sympathize with him and PANDRA. But normals despise espers, he despises them right back in kind, and isn’t going to lose any sleep if some normals have to die to save espers, or in service of revenge for their mistreatment. A “No Espers” sign, an ESP detector at fun park, and the normals’ reaction to Yuugiri serves as a stark reminders that distrust and resultant oppression of espers is rampant.

If an esper cannot be used as a tool or weapon for their own purposes, they are simply hunted down. Hyoubu is doing his part to create a world where espers don’t have to fear anything, but it’s obvious that his time is limited. BABEL is breathing down PANDRA’s neck, Andy’s cover is in danger of being blown (even if Hyoubu knows, it’s possible the others don’t), and his medical scans aren’t encouraging. Before returning to the ship for a surprise party that further illustrates his “children’s” devotion and esteem for him, the Major checks in on Kaoru, whom we’re reasonably confident he wants to replace him one day. That day may have to come sooner than he’d like.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)