Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 6 Apr 2006 – 28 Sep 2006
Synopsis: The human race is extinct. Due to a deadly virus, mankind is forced to give up their bodies and create a computer data replica of their psyche. The people who managed to upload their memories live their lives in simulated versions of their old world ignorant of the catastrophe that befell them, but every once in a while one of them “awakens.” Sogoru Kyo, a normal high school student undergoes such an experience and must face the real world now under attack by mysterious entities bent on destroying all remnants of man. He must now find the courage to pilot the ultimate weapon, the Zegapain, and save the final memories of his kind.
The concept: Ingenious; it would have made an incredible experience with the right theatrics.
Animation and music: Passable but unimpressive.
Characters: Cookie cutter; tries to evoke the same depth of the Evangelion cast and fails.
Zegapain is known as the anime version of The Matrix that is better than The Matrix, and while I’d strongly contest the latter part of the statement, I must admit there is a good amount truth to the beginning. This is a show entrenched with the notion of what happens when humans become merely a piece of data in an hard drive. Now before you get too excited and float ideas that this may be second coming of Lain, I must kill the thought by saying that this is really just another giant robot show that uses its concept to attract viewers and have them peer into its goods.
The science fiction elements start out quite cliched but they eventually become engaging, meaningful and at times genuinely clever. These ideas are well-integrated and well-utilized with the accompanying drama, and their fresh perspectives actually help revitalize some of the age old tropes. However, the setbacks Zegapain suffer are darn near terminal: they are quite frankly everything outside the science fiction. People complain about Evangelion ripoffs all the time, but there are probably ten Gundam ripoffs for each “re-imagination” of Anno‘s work. Zegapain is a Gundam ripoff… and an Evangelion ripoff.
From the “high school boy thrust into the middle of combat in a giant robot” cliche, to the show’s rendition of White Base, to the show’s soap opera approach to war, Zegapain enters territory that has been thoroughly exhausted, and drama-wise fails to define itself in any meaningful way. Unlike RahXephon which is a good show despite gratuitously imitating Evangelion, there is no mood, no sense of a world and no sympathetic internal character drama. The characters presented are by in large cardboard cut-outs as hollow as their cliched personality suggest since episode 1.
For those who just want the regular giant robot fare, there really isn’t much to scrap up from this angle either. The Zegapains are aesthetically an eyesore and even moreso when they are actually moving. Only the Macross(1,2) franchise has managed to make CGI robots look good, and seeing how unsuccessful virtually everyone else has been with the venture, a part of me wishes they would simply stick with the standard 2D animation. Also, the show places very little emphasis on the fight scenes themselves; it often explores the protagonist’s relationship with his high school friends, and his shell-shocked disbelief that much of it is not “real.”
Zegapain is not truly mediocre series since the science fiction opens the story to some genuinely impacting drama, but the characters, the stories, the overall narrative clings so dearly to tired cliches that it’s hard to call it much else besides average. The Zegapain project did have some fabulous brainstorming ideas, and I feel that it is a shame they had to be presented it in such a forgettable anime.
The Rating: 5
Reviewed by: Shadowmage