Posted on 26 June 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews, Zetman



Anime as a medium has a lot of great points, but its system also has plenty of disadvantages. One of those problems: producing a full fledged anime series is expensive. Now try finding someone who’ll fund the production of a full fledged series for the adaptation of your obscure manga. This problem has been huge, especially after anime started to become more popular and the amount of series produced each season increased. Six years ago the common length of a series was 26 episodes. Today it is half of that. Zetman is another one of these series with a huge manga that had to be stuffed into just 13 episodes. This seemed like a recipe for disaster, but holy crap it definitely tried to make the most of what it had.

Let me get one thing straight though: this series is rushed. Incredibly rushed. But here is the thing: among the incredibly rushed series of only 13 episodes long, it is one of the best. The reason for that is tha the plot, while flimsy at times, never really falls apart: the story has a clear beginning, middle and end and it has a fairly good progression. The ending also doesn’t feel tacked on at the last minute and actually closes off the series properly. Sure, a lot of things had to be cut and rearranged for this, but at lest this series feels complete and not a cop-out.

This series stands out with how much raw passion has been put into it. The character designs look gorgeous when they are put into action due to all of the details that the creators put into the facial expressions of the characters. There is a lot of great animation in this series that attempts to bring the characters to life, and even though it’s clear that this series has a small budget, the creators tried to use their budget as much as possible and make every frame have a strong visual presence. Especially the first episode has some animation that deserves to be checked out, and even though the episodes after that never manage to be as well animated, there still are plenty of interesting visuals throughout the series.

This is a series about Superheroes and it pushes the limits of what it means to be a superhero throughout the series, but this series also has a lot of themes about family. Whether you should watch this series if you’ve read the Zetman manga.. I have no idea. If this isn’t the case though and you’re in for an over the top and expressive series and don’t mind many graphic themes as rape, then call this a recommendation because despite being rushed, Zetman turned out to be a very engaging series.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Should have been 39 episodes, but surprisingly this show doesn’t fall apart, nor leaves with a bad inconclusive ending.
Characters: 8.5/10 – Very expressive characters and this series loves to challenge the beliefs of its cast.
Production-Values: 8.5/10 – Amazing detail on the facial expressions. That’s the point where Zetman really set itself apart in terms of graphics this season.
Setting: 8/10 – Takes the concept of superheroes and does very interesting things with them. It just could have been so much more interesting if it had more episodes.

Suggestions:
Hitsuji no Uta
Mononoke
Shinrei Taneti Yakumo

Posted on with categories: Zetman

That was actually fairly conclusive. There was a definite “life goes on”-theme, but there is no pointless sequel hook, and in a way this kind of ending fits and definitely beats the alternative of trying to solve everything. Players still roam around the world, but there are so many of them that an epic climax isn’t going to fix that easily without some random convenient Deus ex Machina.

Instead, this episode focused on what the series has been about: the plans of the bad guys to corrupt Kouga and Jin. Haitani didn’t really stand a chance, but that’s only because of the build-up done in episode one where Kanzaki educated Jin as a human. Without that the ending would have been completely different. Kouga meanwhile would also have gone completely out of control if it wasn’t for Jin. In a way, these were anti-climaxes, but I like those when pulled off right: this episode still was action-packed and a worthy cliff-hanger, and only at the end it became clear that none of the bad guys had a chance to succeed in these particular circumstances.

Seriously, this could have been much worst. At this point, I have seen so many rushed series end horribly, but Zetman actually avoided that. Of course this series should have been 39 episodes, but for a series that was crammed in way too little time, it was a very good attempt.

I only have two complaints: first of all is that random scene in which the Sweeper came along and said that his master wanted to see him. That’s not exactly a sequel-hook, but again it’s completely pointless and didn’t belong there at all. Second is that in the end, the animation in this episode didn’t try to go back to the quality of episode one. It’s a pity, but even with that taken into account TMS Entertainment really surpassed itself this season.

Also, who was that smooth voice that suddenly popped up as a narrator?
Rating: *+ (Great)

Posted on 19 June 2012 with categories: Zetman

Okay. And here this episode comes and does something very interesting with Jin. After first challenging Kouga’s sense to be a hero, this episode was all about challenging Jin’s resolve to protect others. On top of being completely action-packed that really put the detail in the facial expressions in this series to good use, I really liked the part in which Jin was forced to choose to die, or get his powers back with the risk of turning evil. The thing was that Haitani could have easily been bluffing and there were a lot of ways to interpret his words, yet just dying and leaving everything to the psychotic Kouga also wouldn’t have helped anyone.

The result was very interesting for his girlfriend, who turns out to have been a player, set up by Haitani as a psychological warfare. Kouga meanwhile completely lost it by shooting both his father and mother, although he missed the vital organs of his mother apparently (makes sense, as he wasn’t aiming for her).

Zetman is rushed. But for a rushed series that is based on a much larger manga, it really has done a great job here. In fact, what I really hope for is that the creators just close off the story next week and treat the anime as a standalone series, rather than something incomplete, like what happened to shows as Deadman Wonderland or Kamisama Dolls.
Rating: **+ (Excellent+)

Posted on 13 June 2012 with categories: Zetman

This was a huge episode for Kouga here. The previous episode already built this up, but this really is where the hole subplot with the white-haired guy comes together. While it’s hard to see what parts of his story were real and which one were a bluff, there nevertheless was a grain of truth to his words when Kouga noticed that he got ecstatic from fighting.

I am not sure how this scene worked in the manga, but here in the anime Kouga turned into this archetypical hero who actually gets bogged down by his own naivety and is forced into situations in which he screws up horribly and fails to save people’s lives. I like that a lot here.

This episode also had these scenes in which the animation got really good again, which really has my hopes up that the creators did save some great animators for next week, the series finale. The creators actually wrote it so that they can actually wrap up this story if they want to. But then again, there have been plenty of anime that also looked like they could wrap everything up in their final episode, only to go into a completely different direction with unnecessary sequel hooks.

My one concern: this episode really stood out. It was excellent psychological warfare that has been built up for quite a while now. Jin on the other hand doesn’t have that: he’s just a strong guy who fights stuff. The finale will definitely be action-packed, but what about the rest?
Rating: **+ (Excellent+)

Posted on 6 June 2012 with categories: Zetman

For me, this was the best episode for Kouga so far. It finally build further upon that first test that that he was given by one of the villains, and it really carried that up to eleven with a great mind-game for him to tackle. I really like how he let himself all this get to him, alongside all of the ways in which he was tempted and confused here.

Jin meanwhile accepted some romance in his life. I like these changes, yet at the same time I feel like something still needs to happen to his character; it’s still a bit too simple, and the version of him that I like best is his young version in the first episode.

And yeah, this episode hit the “epic”-switch. It’s something you see in every series and his dog if even the least bit of action is involved: something quick triggers the potential end of the world. In this case it’s the absence of those white-hooded guys, leading every player to figure that they might as well kill all humans while they have the chance.

There are a few things that happened in this episode that will be really hard to explain, though. With this, I don’t mean Kouga letting himself get kidnapped so easily: it does fall in line with how he has been built up as this naive hero, especially since he probably figured that if he didn’t play along with the rules Konoha would end up dead. However, what does puzzle me is how one player can take control over every single broadcasting network. And what about that girl who got crushed by that bed? Why was she so happy to get herself killed?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 29 May 2012 with categories: Zetman

Okay Zetman: if you’re planning to end next month, you’d better make it an awesome one. The past two episodes understandably switched a gear back in order to focus on some character development, and after this you need to pick the right chapters to both give this closure and an action-packed finale.

I really noticed that with series as Kamisama Dolls and No.6 past summer: these series may have been excellent in their start and middle, but their unsatisfying conclusions unfortunately hurt a lot, and lowered my opinion of them significantly. Zetman isn’t the big disaster in terms of pacing this season; that award goes to Medaka Box, but it would be such a shame if this show ended with a lukewarm feeling.

The one standout point in this episode was the fight at the Amagi mansion. That was short but sweet, and there was a very interesting death along the way: someone actually got careless and didn’t run away fast enough. The players actually didn’t charge into the strongest opponents, but tried to attack everyone at random. One criticism here is that it’s again the old ugly guy who died on a whim, even though the girls in this show have been attacked again and again while coming out alive.
Rating: *+ (Great)

Posted on 23 May 2012 with categories: Zetman

After the hectic first episodes, I’m pretty surprised how slow the pacing in this episode was: it really took its time to show the aftermath of the previous episodes without feeling rushed, and the payoff at the end where Kanzaki’s story was resolved was short but very effective. There was some very good interplay between Jin and the rest of the cast here. Most rushed series don’t take the time for episodes like this, and when they do the result usually is a lot messier.

And apparently this episode also included parts that are only a year old in the original manga. Well, with this it’s confirmed then: the creators have no intention of making a second season: these 13 episodes are all we’re going to get, and they’re just trying to put the right content into them, rather than just animating this series up to one point and just stopping. Whether or not this approach works will depend on whether they actually plan to make it end…

The following paragraph has very vague spoilers about some of Atsuhiro Tomioka ‘s adaptations because this brings me to him again. Taking a look at his adaptations (that I watched anyway): Disgaea was full of filler but ended well, Nishi no Yoki Majo also had a solid ending, albeit really rushed, Samurai Seven had a great ending, Trinity Blood’s ending was crap and a complete rush-job that left way too many holes open and Zombie Loan ended before it even got started. Yes, this guy has done the entire spectrum of endings. He always liked to take a lot of liberties, much more than most other writers. Sometimes this is good, at others this is bad. Let’s hope that Zetman will remain among the good side of the spectrum.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 17 May 2012 with categories: Zetman

The conclusion of this arc is fairly straight-forward. After all of the tension created in the previous episodes, this episode is all dedicated to a big fight against the remaining Player Brothers,in order to balance things out. The main point that this episode tried to make was probably restoring the bond between Jin and Kouga, andpushing Zetman’s factors to a new level, to the point where his Zet factors don’t drop.

The fight was up to Zetman’s standards, though not the best of the series. After all of the rush in the early episodes, I’m pretty surprised how straight-forward and fairly slow-paced this episode was. It’s interesting how this show is the most interesting when it’s building up.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 9 May 2012 with categories: Zetman

Holy crap, this episode was intense. This show actually got even better with this episode. I don’t care how butchered the last episode was with the three murdered high school girls. This episode made some awesome use of it by continuing that path of sacrifices and toying with how hard it is to save everyone. There was a lot of stuff going on at the same time here, combined with some awesome action scenes.

And yeah, I just can’t help but praise the visuals of this\ series. This animation is just so incredibly expressive. This is an effect that you can’t get no matter how big of a budget you have, how well it plays together with the music and the storytelling. Really, TMS Entertainment has shown some wonderful stuff this season.

There are only two really bad decisions that they made. By far the worst was the decision for this series to only have 13 episodes this show really deserves more. The problem probably is that they couldn’t get enough sponsors to really get to 26 episodes, hoping for good DVD sales. Now this was a very big production error that unfortunately happens way too often. The second big mistake was hiring Atsuhiro Tomioka to compile the scripts. This wasn’t all bad: like with his other series, he really managed to add that something extra and succeeded in making this a standalone series. But someone needed to oversee the content that he cut away to do it because he really tends to do that. Then again though, I haven’t read the manga, but having the restriction of only 13 episodes to work with, I can also very much understand to skip certain parts in order to get further into the manga at the end.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 1 May 2012 with categories: Zetman

I disagree that the faces in Zetman are ugly. In fact, I find them very refreshing, and I love this show for how much emotion it has managed to put into its drawings. What I am hoping for the most right now however, is the kind of animation that we saw in the first episode of this series. It’s clear that it blew a lot of budget on that, but even there you can see that people really spent thought into trying to make the visuals in this series as expressive as possible. Granted though: this was the episode that had that effect the least so far.

One annoyance about this episode was how incredibly clingy Tanaka ended up being. She knew him for like, one day or something? The interplay between her and Jin at least was nice… until the love triangle appeared. Apart from that the girls in this episode were only good for being kidnapped. That’s the problem with keeping Konoha in the dark about everything that’s going on: if you don’t provide her with a good reason, she’s going to try and look for someone she obviously cares about. Just try to tell her the truth and she’s far more likely to at least be on the lookout.

In the meantime, I really liked Kouga and that old guy who started playing that moral dilemma with him, contrasting with his random outburst on what a hero should look like.
Rating: *+ (Great)

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