Posted on 4 December 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews




I’m fan of a lot of different genres, but personally my two favourite genres of anime are science fiction and mystery. Zettai Shounen is a typical example of the latter. Mystery definitely is a tricky genre that’s easy to screw up with, but when done right it can produce some of the most unique series. Zettai Shounen is definitely not for everyone, but at the same time it’s a wonderful example of the mystery genre done right.

First of all though, if you were expecting a fast-paced story, action, or a series that treats its viewers like idiots or people with a short attention span, then go and look somewhere else. A lot of the characters in Zettai Shounen are teenagers, a large theme of this series is adolescence, but at the same time the series treats them with a surprising amount of maturity. Most of the series just consists out of people talking with each other, whether in person or through a phone. These conversations can be short and to the point, but they can also take up half an episode. If you hate series with lots of talking, stay away from this one.

And yet, that’s also the beauty of this series. The thing that makes Zettai Shounen unique is that the mystery is actually fairly simple, yet the conversations that the characters have about it is what makes it deep and complex. Every character in this series has a different way to relate to the mysterious phenomenons that pop up throughout the series and everyone interprets it in a different way.

This is a series by Tomomi Mochizuki, which leads to a wonderfully realistic portrayal and dialogue. The characters all act naturally and far away from stereotypes; there’s nothing overly moe and instead the creators created this wonderful down to earth atmosphere that really draws you in.

This all leads to a truly excellent cast of characters. Aizawa Ayumu is a terrific lead character, unlike just about any other male lead I’ve seen. The relationship he has with his father is especially amazing, but just about half of the cast here in this series sets itself apart and stands as a unique and captivating character. I really loved characters like Miku, Wakkun, Sakakura, Okaka-baba and even the minor side-characters like an old man and his dog with a hat on leave their impression. There is A TON of character development in this series, and the cast gladly makes use of it.

This is a series that’s divided in two halves. The interesting part is that both halves have completely different focuses, and even the lead characters switch (only two regular characters of the first half return as regular characters of the second half). Personally I liked the characters of the first half a little better, but both halves have more than enough to make them worth watching, and the second half especially is where the character development starts shining.

What really sold me over this series however was that it knows exactly how to build up. Instead of wasting time, it’s constantly either trying to develop the characters or flesh out its setting, and it makes everything come together wonderfully during its rare climaxes. Both halves of Zettai Shounen have got some awesome endings that make wonderful use of the build-up that’s been handed to them.

Zettai Shounen is both a very relaxing, and very deep series. It’s skillfully constructed and the dialogue, in what form it may be, is constantly as sharp as a knife. The one thing you shouldn’t do with this series is get impatient, because then you’re missing the entire point of the story, but I really recommend this for any mystery-fan who doesn’t mind quiet stories.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Quiet, yet very sharp. Excellent dialogue, great sense of build-up that it manages to use really well.
Characters: 9/10 – The characters are charming yet flawed, they’re consistently enjoyable to watch and receive a ton of meaningful development throughout the series.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Dreamy soundtrack, undeniable visual style, though the CG can get intrusive at some points.
Setting: 9/10 – Realistic and down to earth, yet deep.

Suggestions:
Ghost Hound
Dennou Coil
– .Hack//Sign

11 Responses

  1. Alec says:

    I was fairly new to the anime world when I watched this. I used to think that the term “zashiki warashi” was a Zettai Shounen ONLY word. I guess it wasnt xD

  2. Firechick says:

    I did watch the first episode of this once, but I never got very far with it. Maybe I’ll put this on my to-watch list. I do love the OP song though.

  3. Solaris says:

    So, are you telling me this is how Bakemonogatari should have been made to be actually good??

  4. Scorcher says:

    Absolutely loved this show…

  5. hashi says:

    One of the hidden gems. It just slipped under the radar when it was on. I happened on it at that time and have loved it ever since. Mochizuki is really a great director/writer. House of Five Leaves proved that again this year. That may be my top show of 2010.

  6. Tomtom says:

    so,
    mystery
    dialogue heavy
    detailed characters/ character development

    I’ll probably check this out sometime soon.

    One question/ request though concerning your short reviews. I notice you usually (intentionally?) mention nothing about the plot of the series in your reviews. ie. What is the series actually about?.
    Sure, I could wikipedia or whatever but imho a brief paragraph in the reviews would be helpful.

    For example if you were to review Shiki, it would be nice to shortly mention the subject (vampires attack) and the setting (isolated village, realism). That way when you’d go on to talk about things like atmosphere, pace, dialogue etc. in the way you usually do, they are much easier for me as the reader to place into context.

    Just some feedback on my part. I love reading your blog so please take it in a positive way.

  7. egress63 says:

    O boy! It’s been over 4 years since I watched this. This is the first place I have ever seen this blogged (nice!). btw, this was, by far, one of the most original shows I have come across. It is a far cry to the usual harem-pseudo-porn anime that we see.

    remembering about this anime kinda makes me sad at the current state of anime industry.

  8. Immelman says:

    I didn’t like this one very much. All you said were true, but the slow pacing is really really slow. Among the 200 series I watched, I think it was the slowest. Fortunately, characters do grow, that’s what kept me awake. I think House of five leaves is at least thrice faster than this one.
    I also agree that the first half was better than the second one, and the main reasons are that the mystery is better (maybe because of the setting is a village in the middle of nowhere) and because the lead character is also better.

  9. Mappy says:

    I adore this series, though it was something like three years after it aired when I first watched it, because, like others, this one flew under the radar for me at the time. I’ve watched it twice, since, and picked up things I missed the first time through. This is a show that can be a goldmine for those who are determined enough to endure its frustrating slowness and the po-faced, emotionally-blunted inscrutability of the characters.

  10. Fuse01 says:

    This is the first time I have seen this blogged in about 5 years. It was only by accident that I stumbled on Matthew’s Anime Blog and read about it. I enjoyed the series but as Immelman says it is the slowest anime I have ever seen in my 13 years of fandom. This is really a unique series. You rarely see anything like this.

  11. john boby says:

    this is a good anime i have watched a lot of animes like naruto and death note

    (Aizawa Ayumu is a young boy, who is sent to a small town called Tana to live with his father for a while. Even though he doesn’t want to go, he agrees to do so when his mother offers him a mountain bike. Ayumu used to live in Tana before, and now his memories of the time are shrouded in mystery – apparently something happened when he was a child. Enter Miku, a young girl who knows more than she tells, weird glowing lights floating around, reflections of UFOish objects in the eyes of cats and dogs, a nosy female announcer, a forest with a mysterious past, and a weird boy called Wakkun, who wears the clothes Ayumu used to when he was a child, and you get the world of Zettai Shonen, where mysteries remain mysteries amidst a slow, normal, everyday life.)
    I like your Blog I have visted your Blog first time but your blogs is too good from othere website its vary good keep posting …. good job.

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  • Emma
    (Saturday, Aug 23. 2014 10:28 AM)
    @Aidan: My current ranking of the visual novels I’ve played goes like this:
    1. Swan song 2. Saya no uta 3. Sharin no kuni 4. Kara no shoujo 5. G senjou maou 6. Fate/stay night.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Aug 23. 2014 10:26 AM)
    @Aidan:And though not a big thing, I really liked the soundtrack to this and felt it went a long way.
    The investigation and notebook parts were a nice touch. I also thought the bits where the game put you in the head of the killer were very effective.
    So yeah another good recommendation from you, you know your stuff in any case.
    Issues then, any time it stopped being serious, didn’t like the h-scene I got, Tojiko is kind of annoying.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Aug 23. 2014 10:26 AM)
    @Aidan:Of the characters I was most interested in the adults , mostly Reiji and Natsume.
    The plot/mystery itself was engaging, well paced and thought provoking, its good to read a story that gets me using my head. In addition to being moody and immersive the game also lingers on and stays with me after playing which is a good sign of its impact. I also was quite fond of the depressing and macabre nature of the game
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Aug 23. 2014 10:25 AM)
    @Aidan:Yo’ Mr A, I had a go of Kara no shoujo and completed my first playthrough of it, felt I’d tell you how I got on.
    I wound up getting Orihimes ending, I focused largely on her, Yukari and Toko. However I have taken a look at playthroughs/walkthroughs of other endings/lead up to those endings including the true end.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Aug 23. 2014 10:23 AM)
    @Asuka:In any case I consider myself forewarned about Dubai.
  • Asuka111
    (Saturday, Aug 23. 2014 10:20 AM)
    @Emma It feels like all a sham, really. And the heat… 40° celsius outside at 12 AM. And I still see people working. This is eye opening for me as well, as I had previously never been to the UAE.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Aug 23. 2014 10:15 AM)
    @Asuka:Admittedly my knowledge of Dubai is slim, I feel like you’ve taught me something. But from the sound of it I agree, it seems like a genuine sorry state of affairs.
  • Asuka111
    (Saturday, Aug 23. 2014 10:04 AM)
    But the UAE is an exception, because no matter which person in the service industry you talk to, the story is identical. They’re here on a temporary work permit (usually 2-5 years), and work 12+ hours per day, 6-7 days per week. They’re literally bused to work, work all day, bused back to their “compound,” sleep, and start the cycle all over again.
  • Asuka111
    (Saturday, Aug 23. 2014 10:03 AM)
    @Emma But here’s what’s depressing about the UAE — it’s the first place I’ve honestly felt sorry for the people serving me, be it in a restaurant, hotel, taxi, or elsewhere. I’ve seen poverty, but I’ve never felt “sorry” for the average person there. That’s simply because I don’t think there’s a connection between wealth and happiness. You see families in India living in poverty that are happy because they value what’s important in life (health, family, etc.),
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Aug 23. 2014 09:58 AM)
    I have heard that rich Irish people tend to fancy trips to Dubai and thats a thing but I know no more than that.

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