Zetman – Episode 1

Jin Kanzaki is a homeless child living with his grandfather in the slums of Generic Future Metropolis #57832. Meanwhile, a serial killer is on the loose in the city, and his MO seems to be slicing people clean in half in broad daylight, yet with no witnesses. One day, Jin returns home to find his grandfather dead, and ends up being taken in by hostess Akemi. By chance the killer comes across Jin and Akemi, and he stabs the young woman with his freakishly long tongue. He is a Player, a super-human imbued with special powers in order to create the ultimate fighter. Players would be pitted against each other in death matches while rich men would bet on the outcome. One day something went wrong, however, and the players gained free will. They slaughtered the spectators and escaped into the outside world, and now they’re on the loose. The lizard man moves in for the final blow, but a power suddenly takes Jin’s body over and he quickly defeats the Player. He soon finds himself in hospital, and discovers Akemi has survived the attack.

Zetman isn’t very good. It’s not terrible, but it has no especially distinguishing features. These days when it comes to reviewing anime there’s usually something positive you can say – Another has its excellent animation, Fractale has its original concept, etc. – but with Zetman there really is nothing good about it. Mediocrity, thy name is Zetman. The whole style of the show is that tiresome Dark & Edgy™ style that so many terribad 1980s OVAs went for. Not that this is at all surprising, since the pre-release artwork and the plot summary immediately put me in mind of the sort of shit I watch in SCCSAV’s Terribad group. I hear the original manga is very much reminiscent of an American superhero story, and this shows in the anime: forget the modern DC/Marvel movies, though, think more along the lines of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. You know what the New York Times said about The Dark Knight Returns? “The stories are convoluted, difficult to follow and crammed with far too much text.” Once you change the word ‘text’ to ‘story’ that’s a pretty apt description of Zetman episode one.

Tweeters complained that a large number of chapters were adapted for this, and boy can I understand that. The plot summary I wrote above is massively abridged. I cut out whole characters and scenes for the sake of brevity – there was stuff about childhood friends and beating people up and all sorts. As a result events happened at a breakneck pace, blurring into one horrid, brown ‘n’ grey mess (and what’s with that colour scheme anyway, it looks like a bloody Fallout game). The fight scenes, especially the first one between Jin and some muggers, were roughly animated (I guess it’s meant to be ‘stylised’ but it just looks lazy, like that one episode of Gurren Lagann that made 2ch so angry) and utterly incomprehensible. As a package Zetman is just unexciting and unremarkable, with nothing too good or too bad to make it stand out – yet.