The Leading Ladies of Zombieland Saga [OWLS Mar. 2019 Blog Tour]

Wassup, friends of OWLS?

…you can tell I don’t listen to much rap now, don’t you.

I…may have deliberately left out one crucial word from this image. Once you read the post, you’ll know why… (Background image source: Zombieland Saga OP)

Silly attempt at rap aside, the name’s Aria of this here Spellbook.

> Yeah, yeah. I came here because I heard you had owls.

(Gah! I thought I got rid of that 4th-wall-breaking voice after the last post!)

No actual owls here. This is a tour post for the Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect, who promote acceptance of individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability. This month’s theme is “feminine”:

In honour of Women’s History Month, the OWLS bloggers will explore the concepts of femininity and feminism. We each have our own definition of these two terms and we will explore our definitions using “feminine” characters from various pop culture fandoms. We will discuss how these characters are “feminine” or show signs of a feminist agenda. We will also share our personal stories about the amazing women that supported us in our lives as well as sharing experiences involving women’s rights, oppression within the patriarchy, and/or issues of growing up as a woman or having a feminine persona.

> Aw, that’s nothing to do with owls.

You’re right about that, because we’re talking Zombieland Saga.

> W-Wuh? Zombieland Saga?! You’ve got my attention!

Now that that’s settled…say what you will about where Zombieland Saga peaked in both popularity and hilarity, but commentary on idols (female ones in particular) involves discussing what they can and can’t show to their audience…which tends to be bent according to gender norms. Zombieland Saga allows me to discuss this in more dimensions than a typical idol show would allow.

To be honest, I almost discussed bishonen and femininity, but…I sort of feel like doing so would be at least a half-betrayal of the theme (plus my best examples were already covered, better than I could ever do, here).

First up, Saki and Sakura, as Zombies 1 and 2, are two sides of the same coin – the depressed everygirl who doesn’t dare overstep her limits and the gang boss who doesn’t think before she leaps…literally. Those two character types don’t seem to have much in common, but they’re Franchouchou’s leaders, for better or for worse. One of feminism’s driving movements is about finding leading ladies you can really get behind, which Zombieland Saga has in spades, while their zombie sides hint at the sorts of personas women have to hide when participating in the idol industry.

Furthermore, Junko and Ai, in their focus episodes, introduce the idea that idols used to be more aligned with their namesake but eventually became “girl-next-door” types. The 30-year gap means women’s rights had made massive leaps by the time Ai was heading Iron Frill. The best thing about Zombieland Saga – or maybe just Koutarou – is his workaround that allows both parties to be comfortable with the ideas from their era.

In addition, Lily embodies the idea anyone, not just a woman or a man, can become an idol. “Idol” is a concept beyond gender, with the female side being more popular due to the same multidemographic appeal that makes shonen work, but it can sometimes be split down gender lines due to fans’ preferences in friendship or romance. It has been noted Love Live! is popular with queer people due to this fact, for instance – because characters like Lily address ths divide and bring everyone together in the process.

There’s also Yuugiri, Tae and the aforementioned Koutarou. Even if I can’t say anything much about them due to there being so little information, it’s interesting to note they seem to be particularly open about accepting anyone and everyone (another core tenet of feminism). This is particularly notable with Yuugiri, who was born into an era where a lot of the modern ideas – ones that shape the other Franchouchou members – wouldn’t fly, although Koutarou is also commendable for assembling Franchouchou knowing that the members had their quirks…

…and Tae? She’s commendable simply because she is the Legendary Tae Yamada.

‘Nuff said.

So, I…think that’s everything I wanted to say. Check out Takuto and Matt’s work for more OWLS-

> -that’s still not the kind of owls I want, y’know.

Enough of your whinin’, 4th-wall-breaker. Since you were patient enough to get to the bottom of this post, take this Google link.

…hopefully there won’t be any 4th-wall-breaking in my next OWLS blog post. To be honest, I might skip April (because Japan awaits!) but I’ll definitely be here in May.

So, to cap things off: who’s your favourite leading lady of Zombieland Saga and why? I couldn’t really choose when the anime was airing, but in retrospect, I think I liked Saki best…(Regardless of whether you agree with me or not, please stay civil in the comments section though!)

7 thoughts on “The Leading Ladies of Zombieland Saga [OWLS Mar. 2019 Blog Tour]

Add yours

  1. “who’s your favourite leading lady of Zombieland Saga and why?”

    You might as well ask me which of my children is my favorite!

    In all seriousness, I can’t think of an ensemble show like this where I liked all of the characters so much.

    If I had to choose one, it would be based on a single moment, when all of the strengths and contradictions of the character combined in a single expression. Do you remember just after Sakura had regained her memory and fell into despair? It was night. She was standing on platform overlooking the city. Koutarou was trying to convince her to give performance one more shot, and she wasn’t having any of it.

    After pretending to leave, he does one of his Koutarou-branded tirades in her face, and she dug in. Her utterly determined expression against his unrelenting support was amazing to see.

    Zombieland Saga was first and foremost Sakura’s story. That moment embodied the best and worst she had to offer, and I thought it was magnificent!

    Liked by 1 person

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