Final Review: ZETMAN

 

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless other noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

ZETMAN is based off an ongoing 2002 manga (with 17 volumes). It premiered during the Spring 2012 anime season and was simulcasted by Viz via Hulu. It is directed by the staff of D. Gray-Man and Saint Seiya The Lost Canvas with script by staff of Vandread and Chrno Crusade and animation by TMS Entertainment, who is also doing this season’s Lupin III series. There were a lot of complaints prior to the series beginning due the to PV showing material up to the 10th volume of the manga. With only 13 episodes, that means around one volume an episode. With that said, let’s see if ZETMAN does really fall into a terrible trap.

Story wise, it’s fairly linear and straightforward for an action supernatural title. Typical good guy bad guy type elements that make it easy to follow at the most fundamental level. Maybe not as simple as Heroman or Tiger & Bunny but even an average viewer can understand the basic premise. Looking more in depth, there is a lot of complicated terminology in this show and with all the time skips and jumping around of the plot throughout the series, it never really took the time to explain much of it and had the viewer take it for granted as the setup of the show. It’s fine to an extent but as the show dives deeper about it, it becomes necessary to explain. The jumpy plot is most obvious with the frequent time skips in the series as we see Jin grow up over time and as he learns about his true self. The other jumpy aspect is how certain episodes in the same timeline don’t really add up at times. The plot does begin to become more continuous in the final “arc” of this series but ends up doing yet another time skip. In summary, ZETMAN’s plot is average at best. Generic at its finest if you must.

Art wise is okay but the biggest issue her is the poor character designs as they grow older. Character appearances age faster than the characters themselves making them look unbelievably old when they shouldn’t be. On the flip side, there’s also the issue of a character not aging fast enough. It’s simply inconsistent and a big drawback of the series in figuring out an already jumpy timeline. Action wise is plain and basic with nothing really special. Dark lighting also really does not help though this may be a broadcasting issue than a production issue. TMS hasn’t done very many good shows in terms of quality but considering they were doing and have done Lupin III works, it’s easy to see that there are a number of areas for improvement.

OP theme is dull and pretty much forgettable and ED theme is subpar as well. Background themes are quite nice but often forgettable. Sound effects are also okay. Seiyuu is pretty average overall too. Not much to say here as the show doesn’t really thrive on the sound aspect compared to it’s animation quality.

Enjoyment? It’s not a show I look forward to on a weekly basis and given all the negative aspects of the show in the beginning, it really didn’t leave much room to please. Presentation was rough all around and there are better action and supernatural shows than this such as Tiger & Bunny, Casshern Sins, and Darker than Black. It does have some positives with being a very seinen and dark themed show. Of course, trying to pass itself as a half horror type show didn’t quite work when you have titles like Gantz or Deadman Wonderland doing this better.

Overall, ZETMAN has a nice dark premise but with its pacing, it’s easily outclassed by many other titles. It’s an okay watch if you have some time to kill but there is really little enjoyment here. I imagine reading the manga might be better despite action scenes obviously not animated. Casshern Sins or Darker than Black is something I would really recommend over this title though or if you were looking for shows of a similar genre.

Story and Character:

  • Premise (0.5/1): Dark seinen theme is cool. Improperly explained premise.
  • Character Personalities (0/1): Not really likable. One set is whiny, other is “too cool for you.”
  • Character Development (1/2): A little bit but with all the skipping around it really was hard to keep track of events.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1/2): Presence is there and there were many recurring characters from the past coming back. Usefulness? I’m not to sure about that. They were more plot devices than anything else.
  • Pacing: (0/1): Absolutely none. At the basic level it got the point across. At a higher level if you want to understand what’s really going on in the show, not even close.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (1/2): Lacking in explanation due to time skipping.
  • Conclusion (0.5/1): Fine way to end in general. Not really a “funeral procession” if you ask me.
  • Total: 4/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (1/2): Average
  • Character Designs (0/2): Terrible. Inconsistent aging.
  • Fluidity (1/2): Average action scenes
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (2/2): No stunning visuals but the basics are there for all this show needs to work with.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (1/2): Okay for TMS. I’ve seen better in their Lupin III works.
  • Total: 5/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (0.5/3): OP is forgettable. ED is sub par
  • Background Music (1.5/2): Some good tunes but mostly forgettable.
  • Sound Effects (1/2): Average
  • Seiyuu (1.5/3): Average
  • Total: 4.5/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (0/2): Nothing really struck me in this series.
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (0/2): Not on my watch.
  • Presentation (1/2): The series tried to create an overarching story but paced it poorly. This is one of those shows that could have used 2 cours to provide a solid back story even with skipping years. At least give the audience some time to digest the material.
  • Re-watchable (0/1): Not really.
  • Recommendation (1/2): Dark seinen is still a very much unexplored field in the anime industry, especially as of late despite being more prevalent in the manga market. Darker than Black and Casshern Sins are better watches.
  • Value (0/1): Long term speaking, probably none.
  • Total: 2/10

Preliminary Score: 5/10

Final Score: 4/10

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