Zombie Land Saga Review

Title: Zombie Land Saga
Length: 12 x 24 minute episodes
Genre: Comedy, horror, music
Year of release: 2018

The marketing team of Zombie Land Saga went to great lengths to conceal the identity of the show, giving almost no pre-airing trailers and merely announcing the high satisfaction ratings of private early episode broadcastings. And, I’ve got to respect that: one of Zombie Land Saga’s greatest gags is, simply, what it is. I feel I should respect that to at least some degree, but I will say this to those who haven’t guessed yet: Zombie Land Saga is, inherently, a comedy. While it occasionally steps (questionably) outside of that genre, it is almost certainly a knee-slapping, gut-busting, occasionally high-brow and genre-smart parodical comedy.

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Zombie Land Saga takes the route that sadly few comedies are able to walk: down-the-rabbit hole, “how far can we take this” comedy. The situations within Zombie Land Saga are constantly getting more and more convoluted, and as it gets more and more ridiculous, you find yourself asking “how did we even get here?” as you wipe the laughter-tears from your eyes, realising just how carried away everything got. The comedy comes in all forms, too – word play, confusion, genre-savy meta-critique, parodical cinematography, sharp editing, sarcastic retorts, irony, lampshading, the unsuspecting, even the suspecting, hugely animated facial expressions, slapstick, music, dance, and the surprisingly most charming of all, its great voice actors showing off in the most unlikely ways. Because, really, that is Zombie Land Saga at its best – utter hilarity, bewilderment, and more than anything, unpredictable (even when occasionally, predictable).

It’s with great respect that I can say that its comedy takes a mixture of feel-good and even cathartic dramatic lines to pepper in amongst its hugely diverse cast. Sequences serve more purposes than sheer laughter, as you can find yourself gradually being inspired by its world-class jokes. As the team try and save Saga with a refreshingly grass-roots perspective, it’s easy to find yourself getting behind them, rooting for them in their quest. In a rare move, Zombie Land Saga manages to preserve likability in its characters to furiously serve gag-after-gag, and as they find meaning, the underlying messages of the show are undoubtedly resonant.

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The problem really enters when it becomes a consistency issue – and the controversially poor CGI sequences doesn’t help matters. Buttered-up to the comedy routine, you’d think any act would be able to ride those coat-tails to success, but the character arcs are… middling. Some are rather powerful, and episode 7 and 8 are highlights in the second half of the show, but some of its character’s arcs drag on over multiple episodes and build a pervading atmosphere that, sadly, reduces the fun. Zombie Land Saga is a terrific comedy, I will not refute that, but as a “sit-com”, the “sit-” part just doesn’t feel strong enough, and occasionally, redundant.

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That said, I’ve cried with laughter watching this show. I’ve cried with catharsis as I was pulled into the feeling of the jokes. I utterly loved the cast, and their highly specific nature was something I couldn’t get enough of. But at the all important crunch time, as it tried to ease into some less comedy-focused routines, Zombie Land Saga felt, disappointingly, pedestrian. While it was enough to feel a little souring, the sheer majority of the runtime was spent seeing just how far this little joke could go, and few comedies do that with as much gusto, spunk, reverence and creativity. This little gem is a bit rough, but it’s absolutely a gem.

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