WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Zombie Land Saga Revenge Episode 3, "The Acoustic SAGA of Love and Youth," now streaming on Crunchyroll.
As Franchouchou's zombie idols plot their revenge, Ai Mizuno has become the group's main tastemaker and source of quality control. As the more recently deceased of the two previously successful professional singers (Junko Konno being a much older corpse), Ai has her undead pulse on what will be successful. In the opening scenes of Zombie Land Saga Revenge Episode 3, everyone goes to her for advice on all decisions -- even Tae wants her input on which squid to eat. How can Franchouchou possibly succeed without Ai?
Kotaro announces that Franchouchou will be competing against Iron Frill, the group Ai was the leader of before her passing in 2008. To avoid arousing suspicion of Franchouchou Number 3's true identity being the same as the deceased Iron Frill leader, Kotaro forcefully demands Ai sit this performance out. His demands set in action a chain of events that could lead to Ai leaving Franchouchou forever.
Ai's initial response is to launch her own solo career. This goes well for her -- too well for Kotaro's tastes. Soon she's getting business requests from all over Japan, which is absolutely unacceptable for Kotaro's goal to "save Saga" while sticking to partnerships with only Saga businesses. Meanwhile, Junko is filling in for Ai as the group's unofficial leader, and the pressure is getting to her.
Zombie Land Saga Revenge actually offers two of its best musical numbers while Ai is gone and Franchouchou is under this stress. The first is an experimental Stomp-style percussion number the girls improvise. Though this probably isn't the sort of thing they need to beat Iron Frill, it's always enjoyable when the show's music breaks from standard J-Pop. Then there's "50 and Four Things Left Behind," Junko's old hit guitar song she plays on her own to calm herself down. The anime changes to 4:3 aspect ratio and turns into a wistful '80s-style music video for this performance.
Episode 3 then reaches its cliffhanger ending: a member of Iron Frill tracks Ai down and speaks to her, noting how much she looks like their former leader and offering her a position in their group. It's an incredible opportunity for Ai that could nonetheless be disastrous for Franchouchou. Will the pair part ways?
Probably not. Ai deciding to stick with her zombie friends is absolutely the predictable outcome of this type of story. At the same time, however, Zombie Land Saga has often veered away from the predictable, and there's also a desire to see Ai stick it to Kotaro's abusive management. Junko's narration in the Episode 4 preview presents a devil's advocate argument in favor of accepting Ai's departure. Even if things end up going down the anticipated route, expect it to be a tough and dramatic decision.
New episodes of Zombie Land Saga Revenge premiere Thursdays on Crunchyroll.