Irina and Crow in Zombieland (Saga) ep11: It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn

Here we are, the penultimate episode, and I’m already a little sad. As much as I’m going to miss this surprisingly loveable little show, I think I might miss our after reviewing tradition even more. OK maybe not more, it really is a very sweet show, but just as much!

It’s been great! I hope you’ve felt as creatively free as I have!

Crow (crowsworldofanime.com) and I have been pretty united in out praise of Zombieland Saga so far but this was an odd episode. Let’s see if the trend can stay true to the end. Not that I’m teaching you guys anything but Crow is bold man.

Well, bold-ish

Zombieland Saga Ep 11

this is meta, why is Zombieland showing me watching the show?

Straight off the bat, this episode was a bit of a gamble for Zombieland. Not that it’s unusual to have the before last episode take a tonal turn, it’s actually fairly common. However, this week’s Zombieland wasn’t only uncharacteristically sober, it reframed the main character into something that may not be as likable to the core audience. Effectively throwing out a lot of character clichés and even robbing Sakura of any real redemption arc. Any feelings about the narrative shuffle?

You’ve honed in on exactly the part of the episode that left me feeling uneasy — at least, emotionally jolted. Sakura’s despair and self-reproach are almost too familiar! And at the same time, those apparent failures in her life, and her reaction to them, robbed her of the ability to understand something important: That she really helped those old ladies. That she really had friends who rooted for her. The insight changed how we have to interpret the entire Sakura arc, and it also raises an important psychological “what if…” But let’s leave that for later.

Zombieland Saga Ep 11

sort of…

As soon as the episode started I got excited. Last week’s cliffhanger was one of the best I’ve seen in a while and I couldn’t wait to see how they were going to resolve it with so little time left. I never expected them to play it straight. Although, I’m not sure what I expected at all.

You and me both! The show’s conditioned me to expect subtle irreverence at every turn, but this time, they plowed straight ahead.

Sakura has lost her memories of being a zombie but remembers her life. Which turns out to be frustrating and unsatisfying. Moreover, her traumatic death is just the last straw in what she considers an utter failure of a life. Completely demoralized, Sakura more or less shuts down, and pushes everyone and everything else away.

Zombieland Saga Ep 11

she’s pretty much always like this

The opening scenes, with Sakura freaking out over the zombies, were a nice way to call back to episode 1 and bookend the series though. Even the visuals were parallel.

And, of course, she just had to meet Tae first! And Tae has such a gentle way of saying “Good morning!”

Saki looked so worried about Sakura and it was adorable!

All of their reactions were just heartbreaking!

Zombieland Saga Ep 11

agreed

I must say, that was an impressively down to earth portrayal of depression. It was a bit obvious, although I’m not sure they could have done otherwise considering the time constraints, but it was also unflinching. There was something weirdly admirable about Zombieland’s resolve to not just let Sakura magically snap out of it.

That’s another aspect that left me feeling so unsettled — and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It was too spot on. But given who Sakura is, and given what this show’s presented so far, I can think of only a handful of other shows that could trigger this kind of reaction.

Zombieland Saga Ep 11

this framing is brilliant

Equally laudable, in my opinion, was the grim repercussions on Saki, Junko and Lily who attempted to help.These situations don’t just affect one person, they affect everyone around as well. And they affected them all in different ways. This was far from a flattering depiction of Sakura but sometimes, when you fall far enough, you just don’t have the strength to empathise anymore.

I couldn’t believe how bad I felt for the others as they tried to help her! Especially Saki and poor Lily! For Lily to go from “Before you said you thought that star and my smile were cute!” to sobbing uncontrollably into her pillow drove home a critical point: That until now, these zombie idols have supported each other; and now that one of those pillars of support is crumbling, all of them are in turmoil.

Zombieland Saga Ep 11

and the repetition makes it truly special

Once again, Zombieland Saga is tackling a fairly serious and not at all funny subject openly and resisting the urge to turn it into farce. I really didn’t expect any of this when I started the show!

I remember the old M*A*S*H series. Great comedy for its time, but because of the comedic expectations, it had an opportunity to make powerfully dramatic points — as long as they didn’t do it too often. I get that vibe from this show!

You know what, I see it now. I loved M*A*S*H (use to watch reruns with my folks). That cutting sensibility is very much like Zombieland!

Zombieland Saga Ep 11

most of us feel this way

After having hurt the people closest to her (and having them retreat helpless, not knowing what to do), Sakura just aimlessly wanders the night ending up in a park.

Here we see the return of the creepy police officer. He didn’t really have much to do other than once again instill the feeling of déjà vue. But just like everything else this week, the familiar scene played out completely differently. The downtrodden and hurt Sakura was almost pleading to be shot. A sort of balm to her intangible pain. The entire thing was extremely unsettling and yet, oddly pretty.

I remember thinking it was tragically beautiful.

Zombieland Saga Ep 11

this scene was delicae, poignant and solemnly meaningful…

I should have realized it sooner of course. Sakura has always been a bit helpless after all. I should have seen that she was being set up as a damsel in distress. Still, such an unusual distress for anime.

In the end though, Sakura at her worst, brought our Kotarou at his best. Manager made his glorious entrance in the nick of time. Knocking out the cop (that poor guy has to have some long term brain damage by now) and swooping in to save the day.

Maybe that’s why he’s so creepy? One (or ten) too many blows to the head?

Zombieland Saga Ep 11

he’s had a few shocks

Manager has never been that great with words. It’s part of the gag. And although Zombieland played the scene seriously, he still wasn’t exactly inspiring. Sakura was more confused than motivated. This said, there was enough feeling, care and passion behind his words to at least give her something to latch onto!

May favourite line of dialogue was manager exclaiming “It doesn’t matter if you don’t have it, because I do!” The I’m good enough to make you good pep talk is not what we usually hear and I loved it. Would have worked on me! How about you?

It would have been so unexpected that it’d have a good chance at loosening my defenses. And did you catch how the show played with the trope of the voice of reason (the manager, in this case) storming off to let the main character wallow in a miserable soliloquy? Just as Sakura is descending into a self-loathing speech, Koutarou startles her with “Yeah, you thought I was done, huh?” Loved it. This show knows how to teeter right on the edge of melodrama!

Zombieland Saga Ep 11

surprisingly, that might be true

One of the few straight up jokes in this episode, was Yuguri dressing up in full geisha get up, and looking mightily impressive I might add, just to realize Sakura’s already left. I really would have loved to see Yuuri in that outfit longer. Any thoughts?

My first thought was the typical male response. I mean, Good Lord, she looked amazing! But then I had this sudden chill and realized that Yuguri had slapped before, and she could slap again! I was in fear for Sakura’s face!

Zombieland Saga Ep 11

I’m not thinking about anyone else’s face

This episode brought up a fascinating question: Just how profound an impact do our life experiences have on our hopes? In Sakura’s case, she weathered a seriously frustrating series of events. From an operant conditioning perspective alone, I can understand her reaction! But to be running out of the house, all excited to be back on track, and get killed? Jeesh!

But in her case, and apparently in her case alone, her amnesia was a complete blessing.

I still can’t get the image if Lily sobbing into her pillow out of my head. All of them are standing on such thin ice…

Zombieland Saga Ep 11

Saki is all of us

For me it was Saki. Frustrated, lost and a little scared Saki. First time we are seeing hr shaken up. If Saki can’t just make it all better and shrug it off, what are we going to do?

Seeing her check her thumb nail was such a perfect way to show her pain.

[ Did you want to mention anything about Koutarou’s conversation in the bar? In the comments on the ZLS 11 review on Random Curiosity, https://randomc.net/2018/12/13/zombieland-saga-11/, users Nene and Panino Manino had some really interesting theories…

This was a difficult episode to watch — and to review! Thanks for setting up the frame! ]

Zombieland Saga Ep 11

risk it, it’s worth it

Guys, this little bracketed text is in fact just meant for me. I’m leaving it in. I like seeing behind the curtain stuff on posts so I think you guys might enjoy it too. I also really like that Crow pays attention to his fellow bloggers and readers. He often points out comments or posts I have missed and I am very much richer for it.

You should go read Nene and Panino’s theories.I unfortunately don’t know enough to add anything interesting.

This said, manager’s bar scene was very intriguing. I didn’t originally comment on it in the post proper because I had so many things to get to, I didn’t want to overcrowd it but you know what – clarity has never been my brand.

Zombieland Saga Ep 11

flashback scene without warning or context!

There’s a reason your blog’s so popular! (dawwww)

These are my random takeaways from that scene. The village of Saga itself is responsible for the zombie phenomenon in some way, and Koutarou is not the only one who knows. He also plans to make it public at some point.

Koutarou himself has been around for a while. Since it’s very reasonable to think that he’s also not quite human, he could be hundreds of years old for all we know. This may be one of dozens of attempts to save Saga.

Maybe that’s why Saga’s still there at all?

Zombieland Saga Ep 11

this took a turn

The bartender seemed to have a very close personal relationship with Yuguri. Considering the family theme so far, I’m tempted to say he’s her dad.

Yuguri is a courtesan, which implies a lot of things. Although she is certainly charming and imposing, she has so far avoided being openly seductive or sexual. This could simply be because of the tone of the series but it may also have something to do with her life. Did she leave someone important behind?

I’m still wondering about the scar around her neck!

Zombieland Saga Ep 11

what do you mean just one episode left?

There cannot just be one episode left. We have so very much to explore still!

I’ll second that. It seems like this season has just given us a brief glimpse into a zombie world that’s coexisted with the human world — apparently for hundreds of years! Are there other zombies out and about? It seems they’ve kept themselves private, but I think you’re right when you say Koutarou wants to make it public — why else do something as obvious as an idol group?

And I’m just not ready to say goodbye to Franchouchou!

Zombieland Saga Ep 11

Despite using do many in the post, I actually still have a few screencaps left. I hope you enjoy them. This week was great for caps.

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Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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20 Responses

  1. David Boone (moonhawk81) says:

    OK, this show is definitely going into my TBW list–hopefully, I can get it done before the new year!

  2. Dawnstorm says:

    Yeah, Sakura’s depression was really hard to take, and that they now give context to the opening scene makes it all the more powerful. She snaps out of her blue funk and dies for it – for the exact reason she was in it in the first place. Remembering that must be worse than realising you’re a zombie.

    And, yes, those scenes with everyone going to see her were very difficult to watch. No cop out; the power of friendship takes time (and they’re on a deadline, which actually makes this even harder).

    Interesting theorie on RC. (Thanks for the link.) I wonder if Kotaro is older or younger than the barkeep; he certainly stopped aging earlier, but he might actually be that guy’s sempai?

    Have we ever seen Kotaro without his sunglasses? Was Yuugiri’s throat slit (or was she beheaded – she’s got a rather long scar)?

    The show even knows how to use annoying people correctly (Kotaro and policeman).

    And Tae’s voice acting this episode was awesome; proof that non-speaking roles aren’t exactly the easiest.

    Only one more episode? No, there’s so much left to deal with. So much!

    • Irina says:

      Kotarou did lose his sunglasses for a second I think but I don’t believe we saw his eyes at all.

      Overall, I am really impressed with the progression Zombieland made over a single season.

  3. terranceacrow says:

    I love the screen caps you gathered! Great narration to go along with them, too!

    And sorry for the multiple ping-backs! I add the latest post’s URL to the previous posts on my site. I should probably do a little research into suppressing some of them!

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