“After such an absurd thing as becoming zombies, everyone is unfazed by other things and readily accepts whatever differences each other might have.”
Zombie Land Saga series composition writer Shigeru Murakoshi and producer Nobuhiro Takenaka spoke about the subversive qualities of the anime in a recently published interview with Mipon. The “zombie idol” series was conceived to “upend” the common sense of idol anime while remaining true to the passion of real-life idols.
A character that the two discuss in detail is Lily, who represents one among many atypical idols in the show’s cast. Takenaka said that she was not an easy character to write, mentioning the need to be “careful and considerate” in dealing with gender issues. The team spent a long time thinking about her character and making sure there was “a suitable balance of comedic and serious scenes.” Because of concerns about whether the message would get across to viewers, many of her lines were rewritten during the recording sessions. He said he was particularly fond of the line “I’m not Masao! I’m Lily!”
Murakoshi remarked that Lily’s gender doesn’t matter to the other members of Franchouchou. “Whether it be someone like Tae, or Lily, who was born a boy, none of that matters to the members. Of course, everyone has their unique background and personality, but after such an absurd thing as becoming zombies, everyone is unfazed by other things and readily accepts whatever differences each other might have. They see past everything and don’t make a big deal of it.”
Takenaka also mentioned that in addition to the matter of gender, Lily died at a very young age, and that this was also an issue to address sensitively. “But we wanted to make her a very strong person who stays positive no matter what and lives life to the fullest… Well, zombies ‘living’ is a bit of a stretch, but you know what I mean.”
The two also discussed the challenges of writing Yugiri’s character. The team put off addressing Yugiri’s backstory entirely during the first season because they were having trouble with conveying the “content and mood” of her past. On the other hand, this allowed them to take their time in season 2 and dedicate two episodes to developing her character. The two further mentioned that her speech patterns as a courtesan were tricky to write, with Murakoshi saying that writing her took extra time because her lines would need to be written in standard Japanese before converting them into courtesan speak.
Regarding the character writing in general, the two mentioned that the personalities of the characters were defined well before the script-writing phase, and that they did not change much during the process. The only major exception was Sakura: they decided to change her personality to be “more motivated and energetic” after they interviewed real-life idols for research. Murakoshi said that the decision to give her a flashback scene was made partway through the process, and that she was originally planned to have “a slightly different story arc.”
“It took some time, and there was some trial-and-error at first, but in the end, I think we managed to create a compelling character,” Takenaka said.
The full interview discusses how the project was greenlit, how the voice cast was assembled, and other production details.
Image credit: ©ゾンビランドサガ製作委員会 ©ゾンビランドサガ リベンジ製作委員会