Zetman

Title: Zetman
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: TMS Entertainment
Format: 13 episodes
Date: 2 Apr 2012 – 25 Jun 2012

Synopsis: Players are monstrous creatures manufactured by the Amagi Corporation to fight each other to death to entertain socialites. One day, the Players gain free will and rebel against their human masters, killing everyone that stands in their way. To eliminate the Players, a project to create a perfect being with superhuman abilities known as ZET was initiated, and the result is an infant named Kanzaki Jin. However, scientist Kanzaki Gorou wants him to live as a normal human being and thus escaped with him. As Jin grows up in the slums of Tokyo with Gorou, he meets and befriends Kouga, a boy with a strong sense of justice who is the heir to Amagi Corporation.

The Highlights
Narrative: Messy; time-warping galore and plot is overly condensed.
Focus: Feels more like a prelude to the intended original story.
Subplots: Too many on its plate, of which several are left eventually unresolved.
What the show could use less of: Kouga’s obsession of the word “seigi”.

Zetman is a title that involves Western-style superheroes, a theme that has not have a particularly rosy relationship with the anime medium. Tiger & Bunny is the only worthy title in recent memory that the marriage between the medium and theme has to show. And sadly, this series isn’t doing the situation any favor either, as it is yet another addition to a lineup of letdowns. It’s an example of a story with a novel plot that is hampered down by hamfisted execution, preventing itself from becoming what could be a potentially absorbing action-drama series.

Zetman isn’t a downright terrible series. The setup is actually quite interesting: it’s a tale of two best friends who share a common noble cause of protecting mankind from evil-doers, yet become enemies in the end due to complicated circumstances. The core of the story is about how their friendship is put to the ultimate test when they stand on opposite sides of upholding justice. However, the series explores how everything came to be instead. The entire 12 episodes looks more like one big Episode 0, and the closing scene of the final episode indicates where the main story actually begins. The storyline becomes out-of-focus as a result, and I was eventually left wanting to know more of what happens between the two from then on rather than what happened in the past.

Another major issue is that the narrative is all over the place. It relies on time-leaps for several episodes. These aren’t ordinary time-leaps that span days to weeks: they span at least several years. In one episode, Jin is a kid who beats up baddies at a service charge; in the next, he is an adult who makes a life-changing decision and becomes a guinea pig for a secret experiment. Each episode connects incoherently to each other, and before the audience can settle down and understand one current event, it jarringly fast-forwards to the next. This is perhaps the result of condensing an original story that spans many years, but the series chooses to explore one part of it and skim on the rest.

It isn’t easy to pinpoint the root of Zetman‘s flaws. Many people who have read the manga would blame it on the one-cour format, saying how it would never fit the story’s scale. I can see where the sentiments come from as, on top of the abovementioned flaws, the story also leaves a number of subplots with loose ends. Perhaps a second season is warranted, but there is no denying to how this series has suffered from poor directing and storywriting. If there is indeed a continuation, I don’t want to see it suffer the same fate.

The Rating: 5
5/10

Reviewed by: AC

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