Synopsis: “The story starts off with a face-off between two rival heroes, ZET and ALPHAS, and then traces their origins – Jin Kanzaki, a young man with the ability to transform into a superhuman being known as ZET, and Kouga Amagi, a young man with a strong sense of justice who uses technology to fight as ALPHAS.
The fates of these two men and those around them intertwine as they fight to protect mankind and destroy monstrous abominations known as Players, who ironically are the creations of the Amagi Corporation, the company founded by Kouga’s grandfather, Mitsugai Amagi.”
What they say: “This series stands out with how much raw passion has been put into it.” ~ Star Crossed Anime Blog
What my brother, who doesn’t like anime, says: “It looks okay, but I wouldn’t watch it. It’s not my cup of tea.”
What I say: “Rushed and doesn’t develop the characters well enough, but it is exciting and will leave you on the edge of your seat.”
I’ve only read two chapters of Zetman, but when the anime first came out I was super excited to watch it. The show, at its core, is about two people: Jin, a superhuman Player killing machine, and Kouga, a superhero enthusiast. The two have very different views on what makes a hero a hero and the show constantly pushes them to reflect on their own beliefs as they battle the latest monster, Player, that comes into the picture.
The show is complex and I loved that, but after I finished the series, I was left with mixed feeling. Yes, the psychological aspect is well done, the action is fast-paced and exciting, the contrast between the two main characters is interesting, and the artwork is gorgeous, but show suffers from poor pacing and secondary characters that are one-dimensional.
I know fans of the manga have been complaining about the adaption from the beginning, with many of them saying that too many things were cut out and that it was just going way too fast. At first, I didn’t agree with them. It wasn’t until a few episodes in that I started to feel the same way. It almost felt like the show was adding way too many things into the plot that the writers lost their focus of the main plot. The pacing and plot was just disjointed and very cluttered.
Do I blame the writers for this? Well, on one hand Zetman is an ongoing manga that has almost two hundred chapters, so to fit everything in 13 episodes is kind of hard to do. A lot of things will be left out and the story will have to be changed slightly so that there can be a clean ending.. But on the other hand, it would have been better to focus on a few arcs from the manga so that everything flowed better. This would provide more time to develop the secondary characters more and make the show a lot more enjoyable. Plus, if the season did well, they can make a sequel. Better yet, the show would have done better if it had 25 episodes instead of 13.
So the show suffered from poor pacing and planning, but what about the characters?
Well, when it came to Jin and Kouga, they were excellent. Both were developed and flawed. Jin is the ‘chosen one’ so he tend to follow the typical path of those types of characters. This does make his story a bit predictable, but his cool head and personality just makes him likeable that you don’t really mind.
However, Kouga, is the best character in the series. He’s a character that you either like or dislike and for very good reason. At first he reminded me of Sky High from Tiger and Bunny, because he always talked about justice this, justice that, hero this, hero that. It was annoying and a bit one note. But as his story continues, he’s faced with many questions about his brand of justice. It’s not pretty and many, and I mean many, people die, but it did become one of dynamic plots in the show. I found myself wanting to find out what happens to Kouga more than Jin and I didn’t even like Kouga for the first half of the series. I think that’s saying something.
The contrast of the two characters was also interesting to watch. Kouga has to work hard to be a hero, while Jin is a hero because that’s just how he is. He doesn’t want to be one, but finds himself saving people. This means that their growth and struggles are very different. I found Kouga to be more interesting in this aspect, but both characters are developed quite well.
Sadly, the other characters are not as developed and very one dimensional. For example, the only role Konaha, Kouga’s sister, has is damsel in distress who has a crush on Jin. She does want to know what’s going on, but whines too much for me to really care about her. Plus, as a potential love interest for Jin, she’s lacking quite a bit. The only thing she has going for her is that she’s a childhood friend.
The other love interest, Tanaka, isn’t developed either and feels forced. I wanted to like her, because she has braces and I love braces, but she, like Konaha, really had nothing going for her. The two girls both love Jin and that’s pretty much it. The only difference is that Konaha comes from a rich complex family and is a childhood friend of Jin, while Tanaka has parents that don’t listen to her so she runs away from home. There is a twist, but because the characters are not developed you don’t find yourself caring about it.
The only female character that I liked in this series is Akemi, Jin’s guardian, and sadly, we don’t really see much from either other than in the beginning and end.
I realize that it may seem like I’m ripping on the show, but for the most part I did enjoy my time watching it. I’m just disappointed that something with so much potential, lost its way due to poor pacing, a rushed ending, and one dimensional secondary characters.
Would I recommend this show to others? I think I would just for Kouga’s story as it’s both excellent and horrifying at the same time. But I think if someone were to ask me for a superhero anime, I would just direct them to Tiger and Bunny and then Zetman.