I guess we’re back to the derby, because ZETMAN‘s pacing is one crazy racehorse. There are some monstrous amounts of content shoved into this episode and while it worked out as a whole, I’m still not quite sure where I stand when it comes to deciding how this episode impacts me emotionally.
It’s never taken Jin much to wrench sympathy out of me. His very screen presence screams out “kicked puppy” and his character has always been able to draw some nice, raw emotional beats in every scene he’s in. Jin draws me into the moment and as a viewer, I can’t help but find his plight utterly saddening and his character charismatic and dynamic – he commands my attention and I have to credit Namikawa Daisuke for bringing Jin’s emotions to life. Jin is a difficult character to portray properly, since he’s one step away from falling into Angsty 1D Shounen HeroTM category; there’s only so much a good plot and a tragic backstory can do to make the hero look good. While it’s entirely possible to have a good show with an Angsty 1D Shounen HeroTM, in order to be truly invested I believe the main character himself has to step up to the plate and be someone deserving of the title “hero”. And Jin fits the bill quite well. Putting all the terrible things that have happened to him aside, this episode affirmed that Jin possesses what is arguably the most important quality a “hero” must possess: the ability to put others before himself.
Every hero makes sacrifices – it’s an unwritten requirement. In Jin’s case, he has to sacrifice his desire to be with his Auntie, a woman he clearly considers his mother. It’s heartbreaking to watch him give up his only family, and the feeling is only amplified when he names his conditions to Mitsugai and it turns out to be all for Akemi’s benefit. The moment is proof Jin is a “hero” through and through, and the defining character trait that separates him from Kouga’s selfish desire for heroism. For Jin, heroism is just something that happens as a consequence of his actions and not something he actively pursues. For Kouga however, it’s his end game. It’s why he’ll never draw the same kind of sympathy as Jin does and why he’ll never be as polished a character.
Kouga is a difficult character to understand, as his pursuit of justice seems more like an outlet for him to escape his life. As I mentioned last episode, the Amagi family is a broken one. Therefore it’s only natural for the children to feel oppressed and perhaps end up psychologically broken as well. I suspect this is Kouga’s case; what he wants out of his desire to become a hero is not “justice” but an escape from reality. This would make him a more pitiable character, but that’s precisely it: you feel pity not sympathy. Of course, that’s all just my conjecture, as I’m really trying to find ways to sympathize with and like Kouga here. He is supposed to be Jin’s opposite, but as of this episode, he’s still miles and miles away from even coming close to showing the kind of depth Jin is capable of (and there’s way more to Jin – it’s not difficult to tell). I’m still holding out hope Kouga will show some growth and finally bud into the hero that is deserving of fighting for justice though, and hopefully that moment isn’t too far off.
ZETMAN presents some interesting “heroes” that fight for “justice”, and one character that I never thought would join those ranks was Amagi Mitsugai. Boy was I fixed onto the thought he was an antagonist. But when there’s a filthy rich character with questionable family relationships and a genetically modified monster sequestered in some shady basement laboratory, what is one supposed to think? It’s not a plot twist that came totally out of left field though; shrewd viewers would have been able to see that there was nothing that would outright present Mitsugai as a villain and this new revelation doesn’t alter his character in any way, which is the most important thing. Mitsugai still possesses his grey moral values and his pursuit of justice is still within the boundaries of what he told Kouga last week: justice is an elusive concept. It’s certainly true here since the methods he used to induce Jin’s transformation to ZET is in no way honorable. It was damn effective though, and succeeded in bringing Jin to his side, so Mitsugai is well on his way to achieving his own brand of justice. Nothing is set in stone though, and with the sinister smile he had, there’s still a chance this side of him was all a ruse and he just might be that shady character I thought he was. Whatever the “truth” is though, it’s going to be a fun ride.
And uh… some
serious animation error?
EDIT: The missing mark is not an animation error – an explanation is provided in the spoiler tags, courtesy of walaoa!