Posted by psgels on 30 December 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews


A modern Japanese cruiser that somehow through some strange cosmic reason travels back in time to 1942. Of course, for these sorts of premises it’s easy to simply fall into a “let’s use this chance to show those American pigs how superior we are”-formula, though it’s one that Zipang does pretty well at avoiding these clichés. Instead, it becomes an intense and thought-provoking war-drama.

The interesting thing is that despite this being a series about the Second World War, there’s hardly anyone that’s really portrayed as a bad guy, apart from a number of high Japanese officials who hardly ever get any screen-time. This series isn’t looking to provide excuses for what happened back then, but instead focuses on completely different issues: if you had the power to prevent the loss of thousands of lives, yet this involved a radical change of history in who knows what kind of direction, would you do it? And what do we people who have lived in these times of peace, know about what being in a real war is like?

It’s a surprisingly intense series, and what makes it so interesting is that every single character has a different view on the events that happen through the series. Everyone has different ideals and priorities, which quite often clash with each other. Characters like Kusaka, Yonai and Kikuchi and their ideals are a delight to watch.

As for downsides, this series showed me why Studio Deen’s series hardly ever feature any major use of CG: they’re just not good at it. They were unable to evade it with this series, and the CG-warships look pretty fake. It’s a shame, because the characters look excellent and down to earth, not to mention the terrific soundtrack. Then there’s also that final episode: it’s rushed, doesn’t really solve anything, and simply stops at a point where the manga went further. Sure, I can understand that the series was planned for 26 episodes, and that the manga’s storyline simply doesn’t fit in such a length, but at least some kind of closure would have been preferred.

Overall, Zipang is for those who are looking for series about realistic warfare, which lacks humanoid mecha and instead focuses on traditional military weaponry. In fact, most of the action here is psychological warfare, rather than fast-paced and flashy dogfights. Thumbs up to Kazuhiro Furuhashi, the director of Chevalier, Amatsuki and Rurouni Kenshin Tsuiokuhen.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 9/10

3 Responses

  1. Windspirit says:

    That’s Kaiji Kawaguchi for you.

    PS : The manga is moar than 30 volumes long and still ongoing. If you’re interested.

  2. bridge says:

    The series was fine, I suppose, but as you said leaves you completely cold. Makes it feel like a waste of time, as if a full series just kind of ended during the 2nd act. I also didn’t like that they completely ignored the method by which they went back in time. It feels like a cheap excuse to just get to the actual series. Imagine if Bakurano didn’t have Dung Beetle or if Death Note didn’t have the Shinigami.

    Also, I found the story a bit confusing and hard to follow near the end. Most of the characters aren’t given distinguishing enough features, both visually and characteristically for me to remember their names. I remember being somewhere in the middle of the series, and they kept mentioning someone’s name I didn’t recognize. Turns out it was the main character! ack! Also, the whole thing about the actual guy from the war on the boat was interesting for the most part, but I got completely lost during the politics part he was involved with near the end.

    But I appreciated the maturity that the show treated its topic with. They tried to pepper some action in there, but the action felt a little flat. The stand out part of the series was the stuff that took place on the island, I think in the middle. I missed some of the historical references, but it was still neat.

    Overall a bleh series with some bright spots. Maturity is good, but not at the expense of entertainment. It’s just kind of slow and boring without a whole lot of payoff.

  3. vazhavandan says:

    I would personally rate it as one of the best anime series(would have seen about 50 or so) i have ever seen.I felt like they thought about the characters well, also the main characters are very mature,not emotional wrecks like all other anime series that come out these days.Hats Off

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  • Vincent
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 02:16 AM)
    @Bam Those guys had numbers. Conquistadors, did not.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 02:11 AM)
    @Vincent: Illiterate?! Genghis Khan was illiterate. Muhammad was illiterate. I’m sure they both failed miserably because of it -_-
  • Vincent
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 02:08 AM)
    @Bam Exactly. Conquistadors was the word I said, meaning most conquistadors were illiterate.
  • Vincent
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 02:07 AM)
    @Bam It was a nation wracked by civil war, ruled by a king. You cannot possibly have the same expectations of them as you’d have with modern democracies. Now you’re grabbing at straws.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 02:07 AM)
    @Vincent: there were more than one conquistador. Cortez did very well for himself apparently so who am I to argue his tactics. His ethics is another matter entirely.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 02:06 AM)
    @Vincent: there is always ways to negotiate, now you’re just making up excuses without detail documentation of events to back you up. There is no way to determine the interests and tendencies of all parties with ISIS and that is happening right now, let alone the middle of nowhere in the 16th century.
  • Vincent
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 02:05 AM)
    Also, I cannot stress this enough. The Conquistadors were NOT strategists nor soldiers. They were illiterate sailors and explorers. Francisco Pizzaro himself was illiterate, for f*ks sake.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 02:04 AM)
    So you have a disjointed natives with only numbers and homebase advantage on their side against the small but united Spaniards with tactic, medicine, lack of famine and disease and advanced weapons on the other. You only need to look at history to see how that turned out.
  • Vincent
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 02:04 AM)
    @Bam That isn’t strategy. You don’t seem to know the politics during the time, because the enemy indians sought political influence, not money. The Incas had no way of negotiating.
  • Vincent
    (Saturday, Oct 25. 2014 02:03 AM)
    @Bam The Spaniards who weren’t even soldiers did not know how to fight a bloody war of attrition against a foe that didn’t follow the known laws of warfare. Muskets were virtually ineffective in the long run.

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