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ZETMAN – 13 (END)

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「葬列」 (Souretsu)
“Funeral Procession”

What is justice?

It is the question ZETMAN has been pondering the entire series, and a question that is continuously brought up in the finale. It goes unanswered, but perhaps that was the point – to make the viewers wonder, for them to ask themselves what justice means to them. There are complex layers built around the concept of justice and I like that ZETMAN continues to create more grey areas so that not one person is completely in the wrong. The prime example being Kouga, of course.

Kouga is a difficult character to figure out. He certainly wants to exact justice, but what kind of justice does he want? His definition of the concept is limited strictly to “eradicating evil”, a philosophy that certainly is noble and correct… but is it really that simple? The word “evil” itself begs a proper definition – how do you define something broad? Who do you label as evil? The Players who murder innocent bystanders? Or the people who engineered those beings in the first place? Or is it the man who leads the Players on a crusade against mankind? Or the person whose greatest weapon also brings about destruction and more deaths in its wake? They’re all evil on some level, but it’s also not quite that clear-cut. EVOL is an organization made of Players that strives to maintain harmony – so do you eradicate them simply on the basis that they’re Players, even though they have no ill-will toward humans? What of Mitsugai, who enlists Jin’s help in order to destroy the abominations he created? And finally, what of Jin, who only wishes to save people despite his origins?

On a personal level, Kouga’s definition took a lot of effort to understand; nothing he ever does is technically wrong, but he’s certainly a very narrow-minded individual. Part of it stems from his age – as a teen, what do we know about the world, really? Another contributor to his perspective is probably the way he grew up; he views the world through a very rose-tinted glass – some of the points he makes, while valid, sounds self-righteous coming from him because of the luxurious upbringing Kouga had. He might not have had the most ideal family life, but that doesn’t discredit all the comforts he was provided with. That’s why it’s a little discordant to hear him talk about how cruel the world is, how not everyone can be saved and sacrifices are required from time to time. Does he know the full weight of his words? It’s possible he gleaned that bit from Jirou’s tests, but I never got a sense he learned anything from it – I feel it destroyed whatever idealism he had left and cemented it into an absolute principle instead. All evil must be eliminated, no matter the circumstances.

It certainly was a surprise to see him point the gun at Jin, but I suppose it wasn’t completely unwarranted. Jin, while well-meaning, does pose a threat to the world with his Ring of Exposure. It still breaks my heart nevertheless to see him treated as a villain because Jin is anything but. His desire to save people has always driven him to do good, so it’s unfortunate the very thing that enables him to save people also puts them in danger. Even more impressive is his continued act of heroism from the shadows, despite the fact no one praises him for it – it’s not a stretch to say he’ll even be hunted down if he ever appeared in public again.

And here’s where the similarity struck me; I direct everyone to the ending speech in The Dark Knight because it encapsulates perfectly the ending of ZETMAN. True heroes often don’t see the limelight, because they’re not the kind people need – for their sake they need to play martyr. It isn’t fair that Batman becomes a criminal and the receiver of people’s hatred, but he recognizes it’s what people of Gotham need. They needed a “White Knight”, and that was something he couldn’t become. In this case, the “White Knight” the world needs is Kouga – a human being that performs extraordinary, heroic deeds for the benefit of the people. It’s not fair that the world doesn’t know the whole story, about the “Dark Knight” that keeps them safe from the shadows – but the circumstances are what they are. And it’s this type of noble sacrifice that will forever make Jin the true hero in my eyes.

Full-length images: 6, 10, 15, 17, 18, 21, 27, 28, 30, 37, 41, 43, 45.

Epilogue:

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Final Impressions:

Saying that ZETMAN has been a wild ride would be quite an understatement. Adapting an ongoing manga with chapter counts in the hundreds into a 1-cour adaptation is certainly a difficult task; admittedly there were some spotty portions, but as a whole I would still say the show has been largely enjoyable. It’s definitely not a flawless series and there were parts where some serious suspension of belief was required to let the plot run its course. But beyond that, I still feel ZETMAN offered plenty of things to make up for the rushed pacing and jumpy story – this show offers some of the most complex definitions of heroes and justice I’ve seen in the form of its two heroes: Kouga and Jin. They’re what carried the show for me because I was invested in seeing their growth and how they emerged from each and every conflict. I did care more for Jin than I did for Kouga, but even then I still wanted to see where the show would take his idealism and his enthusiasm for heroism.

I think ultimately, ZETMAN needed more time to flesh out its story; each arc had a wealth of great material and contained a lot of things could have elevated the show from “okay” to “great”. It still has some successful elements, but giving them more room to shine certainly wouldn’t hurt. The beginning and the end still remain the best parts, where the conflicts were firmly grounded to the two leads and their struggle to find the meaning of justice. ZETMAN tended to be a little spotty with its secondary characters, with some being great and some… not so much. So it’s no surprise the plot got a little draggy whenever the focus switched to peripheral participants – next to layered characters like Jin and Kouga, it’s hard to achieve the same level of intensity and complexity that commands their scenes.

At the end though, ZETMAN did keep me coming back every week (and not just because I had to blog it) – and I’m glad I decided to pick this up since I would’ve missed out on something unique and great otherwise. It’s definitely not a show meant to cater to a wide audience, but it’s one that should be given a chance, especially since it continuously challenges the viewers’ perspective with every episode.

Anyway, thanks a lot for sticking with me throughout my coverage everyone! It’s certainly been one hell of a ride!

June 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm
24 comments »
  • June 26, 2012 at 3:30 pmleah

    That is so funny that you bring up “The Dark Knight” ending! That is totally what I thought of when I watched it! I agree with you on every level about Zetman, I liked it but it definitely had some issues in it. I really enjoyed the soundtrack of this series, did anyone else?

    • June 26, 2012 at 3:36 pmJenanime4eva

      I thought the opening song was pretty sweet. Got my head bopping and feet tapping along to it everytime it came on :).

      Yeah, pacing issues and character development yadda blah blah issues aside, Zetman did have some pretty decent action scenes and an awesome soundtrack :D.

      • June 26, 2012 at 9:41 pmBarney

        This hoe sucked……ruined a good series.

    • June 27, 2012 at 6:32 amLeoman18

      I knew that ending reminded me of something and the Dark Knight fits the bill perfectly. I enjoyed the soundtrack was good. I also liked the show but it also left alot of things out in the open that I wanted to know about. Maybe I’ll read the book if I have time to see if they feel in more info. Overall I think it was a good show.

    • June 28, 2012 at 12:38 amBakaMochi

      I haven’t really mentioned the OST, but they’re great – really amps the epicness in some scenes! :D

      And dat OP. So catchy.

  • June 26, 2012 at 3:32 pmStereoman

    I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one who thought of “The Dark Knight” when that final speech came on.

    This show has truly been a roller coaster ride, especially concerning the character development, but still enjoyable.
    Great post Mochi! And awesome work finishing two shows in a day! \o/

    • June 28, 2012 at 12:47 amBakaMochi

      Lol thanks!

      And yeah… I was sitting there for a while going, “This sounds so familiar… oh, BATMAN!” It took literally 3 seconds to find the vid, too lol.

  • June 26, 2012 at 3:34 pmJenanime4eva

    Well what a bumpy ride Zetman the anime has been. We say goodbye to ridiculously fast time skips, chest stabbings galore, a female character with a rare case of the braces, a monosyllabic protagonist and psychotic breaks from a white haired man who parades around in a pimped out suit with a cape purely for aesthetics :P.

    It’s been fun…kinda ;). I’ve enjoyed your thoughts and analysis on this anime Bakamochi :).

    Oh and Jin is totally the Dark Knight XD.

    • June 27, 2012 at 7:50 amChipp12

      I hope that we’ll see more anime with chest stabbings because this show has awakened this fetish for me!

    • June 28, 2012 at 12:44 amBakaMochi

      So many chest stabbings indeed… XP

      Glad to see you enjoyed my coverage :)

  • June 26, 2012 at 3:47 pmYanDaMan

    We got heroes, and we got anti-heroes.

    That is all. Lets not forget how anti-heroes came to be in the first place.

  • June 26, 2012 at 3:55 pmsikvod00

    Great review.

  • June 26, 2012 at 4:20 pmKentaiyoshimi

    The end bit with Kouga had a real TIGER&BUNNY feel to it (in terms of visuals), but the ending was definitely The Dark Knight.

    I’m still baffled why Zetman only got 1 cour, but that makes me want to check out the manga for sure now. For me Akemi-san is the character that stood out the most, despite her limited screen-time.

  • June 26, 2012 at 5:00 pmBlackStealth1989

    Great way to end the series, the annoying chick dies. And Zetman becomes a badass of the night

    • June 26, 2012 at 8:51 pmHimari

      When Kouga killed her I was like, oh no you didn’t!

    • June 30, 2012 at 10:09 pmomeganx

      The annoying chick dies? NO she survived– ohhhh you’re talking about the OTHER annoying chick.

  • June 26, 2012 at 6:47 pmHutch Hutchenson

    I am thee terror that flaps in thee night!

    • June 26, 2012 at 9:07 pmAni_BEE

      I laugh every time I hear that line.

  • June 26, 2012 at 8:49 pmHimari

    I definitely remember reading a few years ago that Masakazu Katsura was directly influenced by Batman for the manga, so it makes sense that this had a dark knight ending. I have to admit I liked this series in spite of the flaws you mention and the weird pacing of fitting everything into a 13-ep show. I’m glad the first ep was so good because I stayed with this thing thru some eps that were not all that.

    Overall, really liked the art which felt retro and expressive, and the way the faces were all kinds of contorted when the characters fought their psychological battles. Great action too, especially ep 12.

    It seems like this would be a good prelude to another season, maybe something that runs parallel (like FMA Brotherhood relative to FMA) rather than picking up where this ends. Also I could see them doing an OVA with sick art, kind of like Blood-C. Except Blood-C sucked.

    • June 27, 2012 at 7:44 amLeoman18

      I agree that this prelude to a sequel or ova because alot was left unexplained. Like what did the bartender guy/boss wanted to talk and like j4c06 said more info about the Sweeper would have been nice. Also the fact that Haitani is still alive (when he is felling after the “fatal” wound he didn’t disappear like the other instead he disappeared into the pavement)and that he still watches Jin (it appears to be him in the shadows during the Epilogue watching Jin fighting the two players). Haitani is also back in his human form which shows that he lied about the force change being permanent. If this show does come back as a sequel or ova it wouldn’t surprise me if the Hanako we saw Kouga kill in this ending was actually one of Haitani’s clones meant to mess with Jin’s mind. We already saw his attempt at cloning Jin earlier which he could have worked the kinks out of the cloning process. Who knows what this mastermind could be up to. Also I would love to see Jin and Kouga have an all out awesome battle.

      Also going back to thinking about Jin as being the Dark Knight, wouldn’t that make Haitani this show’s Joker. :D

  • June 27, 2012 at 12:29 amj4c06

    What happened to the bartender guy? And the Sweepeer? They were kind of redundant…

  • June 27, 2012 at 6:20 amMontu-sama

    The final speech I actually watched again once I finished watching the episode. I didn’t think the Dark Knight right away but you see this type of speech across different films. To me it created a nice finish for the entire series while creating something much greater. As the manga is a continuing work I might want to start reading the manga for the full story.

    Final speech = awesome end to a decent series.

  • June 27, 2012 at 7:25 amAngryKoala

    Pacing’s ridiculous and a lot of things are skipped.

    If you managed to enjoy this, then read the manga. It’s way better.

  • July 1, 2012 at 7:50 amFlytaggart

    After hearing that the manga is a really good one this show is a big disappointment since it makes almost nothing right.

    I honestly didnt like any of the characters. The only one I liked was Youko because she walked her own way despite her s****y husband saying no. But that was only until she tried to save him in ep 12, after this it was over. Her diying did only worsen it.
    Kouga is a real scumbag who I really wanted to see jailed at the end and honestly I dont know why he hasnt gotten in jail after openly killing his father and mother which was seen live all over tv.
    Jin, well to me he is no character he is a little chess piece and nothing else. Sure he was intended to be this way but trying to make him look different and failing doing that really was a joke.
    The rest of the cast was forgettable, especially Kougas sister who did nothing than cry and scream the whole show.

    Animationwise I cant say that Ive seen a lot of worse stuff. The characters often looked deformed, sometimes even so much that you have to ask yourself how they can even live with a body- and a headshape like that. Not to mention that the quality of the actionscenes was horrible.

    Plotwise it was a disaster. It went timewise anywhere, no explanations, lots of stupid stuff happening and mostly completely without any sense. Just trying to get into the plot makes the head hurt so bad is it.

    I actually flew over the manga a bit and luckily it seems that the anime was completely different. For example in the manga Kouga looks like hes twelve while everything happened and not eighteen like in the anime. And even the timeline is completely different and the whole story about Hanako seems to be anime original too. Good for the people reading it because, honestly, if the anime was faithful I couldnt possibly understand how it could be a hit.

    3/10 from me and defenitely one of the worst shows I ever watched.