“Angel of Death”
Things take a slower turn in ZETMAN, although the show still retains its tendency to cram as much as possible into one episode. It’s almost all action this week though, so the quick pacing wasn’t too glaring an issue as it has been for some past episodes (most notably the premiere and last week’s).
The story skips two years ahead from where it last left off with Jin living his life in solitude, prompted by Mitsugai’s warning that being close to people will only result in their lives being put in danger. It’s a lonely road he walks, but at the same time it also seems to suit him – Jin has never really formed solid relationships, and other than Akemi, there’s no one that could be considered a “constant presence” in his life. While it’s still heartbreaking to see Jin isolate himself, the lack of close-knit ties downplays his sacrifice a little and is somewhat disappointing to see from a viewer’s perspective. The producers should really have fleshed out Konoha, Kouga and Jin’s childhood friendships a little better, since that could have been a great source of empathy. At first, his rejection of Konoha drew a mixed reaction from me because while it was sad to see, at second glance, it’s a little hard to believe she would have so much attachment for someone she has only seen sporadically throughout her life. Conversely, when I considered the fact she and Jin started out as “childhood friends”, it was still puzzling she would have such an understated reaction. That said, understated is much better than over exaggerated dramatics so although I had some misgivings about seeing how Jin’s noble sacrifice panned out, it was still a nice scene to watch. And considering some clever directing choices that were at play (the distance between the two, and that great heroic shot) that moment, it’s a lack of development I can easily forgive.
It doesn’t look like Jin will stay lonely for much longer though, and I’m interested to see what kind of role this spunky new girl Tanaka Hanako (Ise Mariya) will have in his life – romantic, perhaps? Every Superman needs his Lois Lane! Well romantic or not, I hope she gives Jin some color in his life since he duly deserves it. Hanako serves as a good contrast to Jin’s taciturn nature and perhaps she’ll have better luck than Konoha in breaking through the wall of isolation he’s built around himself; Konoha is much too demure to make a dent, and the fact she lives in a completely different world than he does is also an obstacle that’s difficult to overcome. She doesn’t have the same sort of naive ignorance Kouga does, but her timid, subdued nature is going to actively work against her getting closer to Jin… which is too bad since I rather like them together. But Jin needs someone who’s not going to back off just because he tells them to, and Hanako seems a better candidate for his affections at this point.
I’m always content with how ZETMAN continues to portray Jin, because they always ground his actions in selfless desires and manage to craft a conventional hero out of a very unconventional protagonist. Jin’s no typical “ally of justice”; he’s not an enthusiastic teenager out to save the world with his cool weapons while maintaining his double life as a normal high school boy. That’s Kouga’s job, and I’m fascinated by the fact the show seems to mock that viewpoint – Jin keeps growing and growing while Kouga is simply stuck where he is, even though he possesses the enthusiasm and desire for “justice” that all typical heroes have. But not only is his definition of “justice” a little grey, he’s not quite the hero you want to root for because he hasn’t shown an effort to risk something to achieve heroism. With his shiny new gadgetry and the ominous preview next week though, it looks like I’ll have to eat my words, which I don’t mind at all! Come on Kouga, let’s see you become that hero.
P.S.: They actually have a reason for Jin’s endless supply of identical shirts!