Hello there. This is review number thirty seven out of a thousand. This is part of the Spring 2012 lineup. I’m going to review Zetman. A manga made in 1989-1994 but only animated now in 2012. Isn’t that interesting? Can a 90s story appeal to a moe induced f*cked up audience?
Its thirteen episodes long and I did hesitate before picking up the anime mainly because of the art. It looks unappealing to my moe eyes. Anyways, I hope my review persuades you. Let’s read on.
A maniacal celebration
People call them fiends…Players.
Every night, member of high society gathered in a deep underground arena. It was their secret hobby to bet on fights between two players. Players are monsters whose only instinct is to kill. They were never meant to think on their own.
Until that night.
The Players gained wills of their own. They killed every guest. Thirteen players and two humans escaped.
Taking the Pants Off
I never would’ve guessed that I would love Zetman so much. Of all the greatest surprises I had while watching the Spring lineup, watching Zetman had to be the best decision I have made. First of all, I was hesitant to try it because of its visual presentation. Like all the anibloggers out there, I dismissed Zetman as an unappealing anime that caters on mindless action or gore. Now that I have seen it, I’d go out on a limb and say that it’s the best anime of the line up yet.
Zetman started with a pretty powerful episode one. It tells of monsters created to fight each other to death was some sort of entertainment for some elite socialites who even gamble on the carnage. One day, these monsters, known as players, had a mind of their own. They decided to kill humans instead of each other and gain their freedom. They got out and now live normal lives in disguise as humans. We meet our lead, Jin Kanzaki, a young kid who lives with his grandfather in this shanty among homeless people. He has this innocence about him that is very likeable. However, episode one crushed that innocence. He saw the only family he had die on his arms, he was rejected by people because he was poor and he was alone with no one to comfort him. It was such a powerful experience to such an innocent kid. It’s like splashing him with ice water and laughing maniacally afterwards. Episode one did had a nice theme of family and belongingness in the end. It set up all the crucial elements that would develop the plot on the rest of the episodes.
Jin isn’t your normal kid. Since it was a shounen anime, the cliché was there. This kid had super human strength so you know that he’ll soon discover how to use that power for good. I had all the cliché pegged but the anime did a marvelous good of adding its own personal twists. The anime fast forwards to when he was a teenager and then to the present day. Jin realized that in order to be more powerful, he had to train and he did under the tutelage of the person who created the players.
Let’s break the anime down. There are four main plot points in the anime. One, the monsters called Players. They love killing humans but they do have their own rules for their little society. Their group, known as EVOL, wished for the Players to co-exist with humans. However, some of them just want to kill and wreak havoc. If they give in too much, they’ll regress or break their human guise and become monsters permanently. EVOL has “sweepers” dispose of them as they no longer belong to the society once they regress. Yes, not all of them are evil and actually prefer to co-exist with humans.
Some of them just love chaos though. A man named Hayami believes that Jin is just the pawn he needs to give the other monsters a reason to shed their human disguise and embrace their savage nature. He plans to do it using any means necessary.
Plot point number two, Kouga Amagi. He is Jin’s childhood friend and he believes in justice. He believes in justice he learned from watching an anime. (ugh, f*cking disgrace. No worries though, I think he watched Sentai.) He believes in good triumphing over evil and that good will crush evil no matter what. His idea of justice involves killing the bad guys at the cost of sacrificing others. The “one death for an entire country” kind of mindset.
At first I thought that Kouga is just a spoiled rich brat who gets in the way of Jin. He is actually very important to the plot as he shares a different kind of justice than Jin. Jin wants to save as a many people as he can. He doesn’t believe in sacrificing lives. Their ideals would clash countless times in the anime. Kouga is so important to the plot because he is the other shade of good that represents a majority of people in real society. Kouga actually wants to become a hero so badly that he even created a super human suit to combat evil. He aimed to be like Jin who was born with powers he wished he had. It all became interesting when Kouga was tested on his idea of justice.
One of the best moments of the anime was when Kouga was tested by the enemy on his resolve. He kidnaps his sister and asks Kouga who he will save: his imouto or three strangers he has never met. He wanted to become a hero that badly that he was given his own rite of passage, so to speak.
Plot point number three, the Amagi Corporation. Kouga’s grandfather and father are both sick bastards who put their goals and desires over anything else. They had a hand at creating the Players and now the need Jin to eradicate the mistake the made on mankind. The anime did a great job of blurring the lines. Exactly what is good and evil? Is the Players evil for picking on the weak? How about a man who uses his son to sell weapons to the army? Making money isn’t evil, right?
The Amagi’s had a lot to do with some of the things that went wrong in the anime. They own a huge company with a lot of power so it isn’t really that surprising. They also have a hand at the exciting climax in the anime.
Lastly, the most interesting plot point is Jin himself. Jin is also a Player though he was brought up as a human. Think of Saya from Blood plus. His grandfather wanted a normal life for him. He teaches him of all the good things about being human. He didn’t choose to be a monster but fate was cruel on him. He didn’t have a choice in a lot of the things he was up against. Normal heroes would rise up and become doers of justice ala Batman. I actually thought the anime was headed that way. It didn’t. He was forced to be a hero. The damn Amagis placed this burden of his shoulder and even telling him not to be close to people because Player might hurt them. He travels a lonely road to heroism. But will his love for humans be replaced by him embracing what he truly is?
All four points are paced pretty nicely and it came to a point where all of them come together. I love this anime so much because the plot was so nicely developed. It never became boring. There was always something of interest every time you watch.
The anime is heavy on the action. Some of the monsters are pretty cool and cruel. The anime had blood but only to make the fight scenes interesting. Actually, the anime had a lot of deaths. Both from humans and monsters. I personally love some of the human deaths like the first one where the guy was talking about how cool it’ll be to witness a death in public then he got cut in half. There are no organs though. I was hoping for guts too but even the monsters had none. It was disappointing because most of them are cut in half. Some of the fight scenes are alright. They aren’t really great. Some of Kouga’s fight is exciting because he was all flashy. Jin doesn’t really rise up to the occasion and he often does one kill blows. It was all part of the important plot though.
One unexpected element though, and something I couldn’t believe the anime does so greatly, is drama. There are a lot of sad moments in the anime coming from almost anybody. Jin’s path to heroism is riddled with sacrifices and heart wrenching goodbyes. I cried at some of the sad moments too. I often tear up when, despite his constant pushing, people still care for him and it justifies all the sacrifices he made so far. Perhaps the best twist in the anime will send some tears running.
I got to give some praise to the villains too. I was so caught up at the moment because the villains where so evil. Yes, they were huge pricks I couldn’t wait to see die in front of my eyes but their death was downplayed a bit because of how pathetic our heroes are. At some of the great scenes, the villains have the heroes at the palm of their hands. It was so great. They were all cunning and magnificent A-holes. The only thing disappoint about them was their death.
I love this anime so much that I urge all of you to try it. Forget the visuals for a bit and enjoy the story it had to offer. Zetman is certainly an interesting anime from the Spring lineup. It’s a collection full of great anime that sadly outshines Zetman. If you can enjoy a couple exchanging spit then you’ll enjoy Zetman, damn it.
Sight and Sound
Okay, here’s the tricky part. The anime is very western. The characters don’t look like the conventional characters we’ve grown to love. I’d say that the anime reminds me of Gantz. Its presentation is a bit dark and there is no moe in sight. I’d point out the manga was made in 1989 so maybe they tried to stay true to the original manuscript.
I do love the body proportions. Zetman’s body is pretty awesome and even normal Jin is bad ass. The monsters are all very menacing. The design on the monsters is a really great and I personally love the last one that showed up along with Hayami on the later parts of the anime.
The animation, despite being unconventional, is still amazing. The fight scenes are a bit fast though. I had a hard time distinguishing who was hurt on some scenes. Majority of the scenes though are really great. It was short but satisfying.
I love the background music. The anime used a pretty impressive piano arrangement on some of the sad scenes. The last time an anime made me cry because of the music was Twin Spica back in ’05. I guess I was just too wrapped up on the moment. The anime set up the mood though so don’t blame me. There was even some orchestra music on some of the awesome scenes like when Jin first transformed. The background music really livens up the anime. It made the experience much better.
The opening song was “dots and lines” by You Hitoto feat. Mummy-D. It’s an upbeat song representing the high paced action of the anime. Opposite to that is the ending song. “Tomeru” by You Hitoto, which represents the sad parts of the anime. Both are very powerful songs that fit the anime pretty nicely.
7/10 “A different story about being a hero but still tells of its sacrifice and pain.”
I love this anime and the story did it for me. It was paced pretty nicely. A sad, exciting and awesome journey about bring a hero and following your own idea of justice. I highly recommend it.