Anime Taste Testing: Zombieland Saga, Bakumatsu, Gakuen Basara


Sorry for the delay, folks. But I’m back from my trip now, which means it’s finally time to wade through some of these premieres I missed. I’m all ready to be picky and arbitrary in my anime preferences – let’s do this.

Zombieland Saga
Score: 6/10

I spent most of the first episode of Zombieland Saga in a state of dazed yet slightly impressed disbelief. As usual, I went into things with little to no information about what I might be about to witness, so based on the premise expected something largely along the lines of a Gakkou Gurashi! rip-off. Instead, I got an irreverent comedy that doesn’t even seem to be attempting to make much sense in terms of plot, but is clearly having a ton of fun in its delivery (and boy does Miyano Mamoru in particular give a spirited delivery). Since there are already plenty of derivative anime out there, many of which take themselves far too seriously and/or fail miserably in their attempts to be deep and profound, I’m pretty okay with that.

On the other hand, I think it’s highly probable that Zombieland Saga, while poking fun at the Japanese idol industry and idol anime in general, will turn out to be little more than just another idol show itself, with the same old clichés and same old story patterns. The fact that all these girls are actually zombies (unbeknownst to their musical audience) is funny and weird, sure, and there’s a lot of associated dark, off-the-wall humour to match it. However, that aspect of the show feels more like window dressing than anything else – especially since said zombies are still sentient – so it comes across mostly as an amusing but repetitive gimmick for an otherwise tried-and-true formula. Zombieland Saga has earned enough brownie points from me to get at least another episode or two in, but it’s unlikely I’ll be keeping it on for the long haul.

Bakumatsu
Score: 4/10

I haven’t watched an anime this bland and generic for some time. Everything about it all but put me to sleep, from the uninspired and badly animated action sequences to the dully insipid dialogue and shitty character designs/costume choices. It’s so boring I don’t even have anything truly terrible to say about it – it’s just there; a below average, yet not bad enough to be actually interesting samurai show, where even the self-insert otome game heroine has been removed (quite possibly because even the creators themselves were bored enough that they decided to phone it in by that point). Don’t bother.

Gakuen Basara
Score: 5.5/10

This was actually okay, which means it easily exceeded my expectations. As a long-time Sengoku Basara anime fan, I thought a sequel wholly unnecessary, but was compelled anyway to make sure I wasn’t somehow missing out on anything good. Granted, I’d probably call Gakuen Basara slightly above average rather than actually ‘good’, and still think the idea of putting these characters in a by-the-numbers high school setting basically ruins the entire premise. That said, the premiere was entertaining enough in its own right to keep me mostly interested for the full episode, so I admit I was a little too quick to judge. In a weaker season I might even have kept watching, but I’m fairly sure the jokes will get old pretty early on, if they’re not already. The set-up is mildly entertaining and most of the characters are recognizable enough from Sengoku that the nostalgia paves a lot of the way for the series, but the comedy is repetitive and isn’t really strong enough to stand on its own in any case. I’d recommend this for a bit of harmless fun, but suspect the majority of viewers will get bored after a while and look for something with a bit more originality and zing to it.

Question of the post: Which, if any, of these above shows tickled your fancy? Do you think there are there any better anime comedies than Zombieland Saga or Gakuen Basara out this season?

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9 thoughts on “Anime Taste Testing: Zombieland Saga, Bakumatsu, Gakuen Basara

  1. The only one of these three that I liked (or finished the first episode of) was Zombieland Saga and that one had me laughing out loud because it really had just the kind of idiotic B grade kind of feel I would look for in a movie to watch over a rainy weekend. That said, I’m worried about the longevity of the concept over a season but it was definitely a fun first episode.

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    • Yeah, it’s dumb but it’s fun, and I don’t feel the need to look for anything more with a show like Zombieland Saga (although, like you, I’m not sure I’ll be as amused with the same shtick for 11 more episodes).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think enjoyment of Gakuen Basara is dependent on enjoying either the source games, the anime, or both. I did get rather lost on the stuff they were parodying at times.

    Do you intend to check out SSSS Gridman? I hear it’s generated a lot of interest within Japan, and supposedly the preorders are streaming in nicely too.

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    • Agreed. And since I generally believe that every show (unless it’s a direct sequel with an ongoing and consistent storyline) should be able to stand alone, I tend to view that as a negative, even though I do really like the first two seasons of the Sengoku Basara anime.

      No, probably not. Not that I’ve heard bad things about it or anything, but I think I have enough to be getting on with as is.

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  3. I quite liked Zombieland Saga‘s first episode, but the second episode’s sold me on the show. It’s not really getting better (except that having more characters changes things up a bit). It seems they’re doing different music genre’s, though, and they’re doing it well. (Oh, and I really like the ending, both the song and the scenery pictures with zombie dog.)

    Bakumatsu had me very mildly curious about where the plot is going, but I agree: it’s just dull. I didn’t watch episode 2.

    Gakuen Basara left me bewildered mostly. It wasn’t bad, but I’ve never seen Sengoku Basara, so there’s that. I do recognise one or the other name from history, but that’s that. At least it wasn’t as dull as Bakumatsu.

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    • I don’t really care about the Zombieland Saga ED, but that OP is really good – probably my favourite OP of the season so far actually.

      Sengoku Basara is hilarious and I highly recommend it. I think of Gakuen Basara as the mildly amusing but nowhere near as interesting spin-off, and I expect I’m not the only one.

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  4. Personally I’m finding Zombieland Saga surprisingly enjoyable! It’s ridiculous but at the same time it’s a good laugh, and as you said it doesn’t fall in to the trap of taking itself too seriously. I think it’s had a strong couple of first episodes, I just hope it keeps it up.

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    • Oh yes – while I’m somewhat skeptical of Zombieland Saga being able to keep me this entertained for the whole series run, I’m definitely entertained for the time being. Nothing wrong with some good, dumb fun. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Anime Blog Posts That Caught My Eye This Week: October 19, 2018 | Lesley's Anime and Manga Corner

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