Monday, July 30, 2012

Anime Review: Zetman

Normally during an anime season I can look at a few shows, seem some superficial, yet oddly specific, similarities between them and declare that the "theme" of the season, like how there were an awful lot of girls piloting ships/mechs last winter (with Bodacious Space Pirates, Last Exile: Fam, Aquarion Evol, Lagrange, and Ozma kinda, and I'm only being half serious/facetious here). The only theme I could cobble together for the past spring season however was "really fast pacing for shows that should've had/really needed more episodes". Kids on the Slope could've used more, Legend of Korra really could've used a few more, and Zetman, while it worked as well could be expected, had the tall order of adapting a 17 volume manga series (which is still on-going in wikipedia is correct) in just thirteen (!!) episodes. I'm not familiar with the source material at all, or even realized there was quite that much when I started following the show, so let's just see if this show works as an anime (since I can't imagine it succeeded as a really good adaptation with those crazy limitations). 

Zetman

Summary: Jin begins the series as a young kid living with his "grandfather", Gorou Kanzaki, actually a former scientist for the Amagi Corporation where he created genetically modified people to fight in matches to earn money. After they began to escape the others saw the damage they had done and created Jin to hunt down those players and Gorou stole him away so he could live a normal life. But that was never meant to be and after several years Jin gets wrapped up in fighting and killing these escaped players and sometimes working alongside of the grandson of the man who created the whole mess, Kouga Amagi   

The Good: The show has a lot of fun playing around with the hero and anti-hero tropes and the most interesting part of the show for me was seeing how those ideas played out. Considering that Kouga started out as the idealistic character, especially compared to how Jin had his destiny forced upon him before he was even born, I was surprised that he was the one who went down the anti-hero route and had some rather villainous moments by the end. And, even though it's very easy to see the series is compressed and moving at a breakneck pace it does in fact work as a stand alone property.

The Bad: I have to admit that I really disliked the ending (I have no idea if it was similar to the manga or on a completely different track by that point), mostly for reasons that involve too many spoilerly details, and I'm also frustrated that in the end it was clear that Jin and Kouga were The Main Characters and, no matter how awesome or sensible they might be, nothing All The Other Characters could do would make a difference in the end. Few of those characters were fully fleshed out, heck the last few episodes created a bit of a plot hole for one important minor character, but that doesn't stop me from feeling frustrated about all of it.  

The Audio: While it didn't have the fun visuals of tsuritama's opening, Zetman's opening was one of my favorites of the season for it's jazzy beat. I have absolutely no idea what the lyrics were (Viz's stream didn't provide subtitles for the OP or the ED) but I still loved it and would love to hear the full version of the song. Other than that though, none of the voice acting really stood out to me and the same for the background music. And, considering my overall feelings on the show, I'm not terribly surprised by that. Nothing was bad, it was just that nothing stuck out.

The Visuals: Like the majority of the music I just didn't see anything super special or memorable about the art. The players were appropriately creepy to look at, the fights looked alright (there were a lot of shows in the spring season with absolutely fantastic fights so that might have made the ones here look worse by comparison), but there just wasn't anything really special about how the show looked overall.


In the end this just wasn't the show for me. It did do some stuff right, Jin turned out to be a more sympathetic protagonist than I would've expected but the show had a lot of problems as well. Viz Media has licensed the show in the US and is streaming it (which, since it's on Hulu, screws over any Canadian viewers who wanted to watch it legally, sorry guys) and have mentioned that it will be part of their new Neon Alley line-up so it'll be getting a dub sometime in the near(ish) future (and, logically, a DVD release later, but this is Viz so that's not exactly guaranteed). In any case, I do wonder if Viz licensed this show because of how well Tiger and Bunny, another superhero show with a different take on the traditional tropes, did last year and if they did I do hope they realized beforehand that these are two very different shows.  

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