I know I said last week that AKB0048 Next Stage was my last winter anime review but technically I didn't watch this one during the winter season so it doesn't count. So, back in mid-April I had a friend crash at my place for a few nights for a con and so we ended up watching a lot of random anime (and Doctor Who) and out of everything we tried this was the one I liked the best*. Like a lot of other people, even though it got pretty good first episode takes by a lot of people I was just too worried that I wouldn't get it since I never saw Zetta Karen Children/Psychic Squad, although I laughed pretty hard when screenshots surfaced that showed that the Nostalgia Critic and Angry Video Game Nerd (from That Guy With the Glasses) had cameo'd in an episode (wearing each others' pants and at a theme park, the same one from Natsuyuki Rendezvous I think which if you'll recall was aimed at couples and small children, seriously I think whoever at Manglobe snuck that in was a fan and a shipper). But after I saw the first episode I was pretty hooked, lots of great action and whenever my friend and I had a question about how something worked the main character asked it, finally exposition done right!
Summary: Andy has never really fit in with normal people since he's an esper and never really fit in with espers since his ability is to nullify others. This makes him rather unpopular in the esper prison he's found himself in although he does manage to catch the eye of a new prisoner, Hyoubu Kyosuke, which, since Andy is an American spy sent to infiltrate Kyousuke's organization, was the plan all along and now he has to go along with their plans all the while sneaking around to try and find something special on their cruise ship.
The Good: Yes you can completely enjoy this show without having seen/read the original ZKC, all I knew of it was that there were three super-esper little girls (apparently there was a timeskip to this) who were the main leads and that this show had one of the villains as the main character (and looking at some stuff online it looks like they integrated other aspects from the original so well I didn't even notice it). The rest of it is explained well especially since, as I mentioned earlier, just about any time I had a question Andy was asking it which struck me as really solid writing. The pacing is also really great as well, the show doesn't drag out what the viewer knows is going to happen (certain conflicts happen much sooner than I expected, Kyousuke some backstory at exactly the right time, Andy's character changes right when it should) yet I wouldn't call it predictable, just well planned out. It was a really fun show to watch, got me interested in the original ZKC, and now I'm just the tiniest bit grumpy that there wasn't more because I would have easily watched another 12 episodes of it.
The Bad: One thing that might frustrate some people is that the endgame for the whole ZKC, a war between normals and espers, does not happen here. Yet the show never acts like this is where the story is going, all the characters mention it as if it's still a ways off, and taking into account that it's a spinoff this really shouldn't surprise people, so I think the fact that its climax is smaller shouldn't be a turn-off (the fact that the Americans are the bad guys all along though, well, I think I've mentioned it before but I'm just getting tired of that trope especially since they even show at one point that not all Americans, or at least New Yorkers, are crazy esper haters). There are one or two points where they showed characters from ZKC and didn't really introduce them but considering that I can put two and two together (and hopefully most other anime fans can as well) that wasn't a serious problem either, honestly this is such a solid show that it doesn't really have that many flaws to talk about.
The Audio/Visuals: This show looked pretty good, although I do wish they hadn't used Kyousuke's power-up filler footage every time (honestly it was starting to remind me of a magical girl transformation sequence the way they played it religiously every time). The fights looked good, didn't notice anyone going horribly off character, the voice acting seemed fine (as far as I know they brought back the seiyuu for all the reoccuring characters), not exactly sure why they changed the ED a few times and apparently I completely missed the fact that they used two different versions of the OP but all in all everything looked and sounded fine.
So I'm giving this a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars and I really hope Sentai licenses this soon since I would buy it. Honestly I'm confused why they licensed ZKC in the first place yet I feel like this is the kind of show that would have a larger audience, especially since you can easily spin the back of the box summary to make it less obvious that it's a spinoff and not drive people off that way. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that this show had relatively little input from the original manga author yet from the things I've read he loved it and has even hinted that he might bring back the anime original characters (Any and Yugiri) into the manga's finale which is one of the most positive reactions I've ever seen someone have in regards to their stories, or spinoffs of their stories being adapted. Now if only that had helped this sell better, poor Manglobe, have they ever had a really good selling series?
*For those curious, I showed her K and Gargantia and we tried out an episode of Problem Children are Coming From Another World Aren't They? (which I had heard was better than it sounded and that was in fact true), Love Live (which we tried soley for the possibility of cosplay outfits, not going to lie there, and it was okay but not nearly as entertaining as AKB048), and The Severing Crime Edge (which we both found just too weird to be enjoyable).