Before I start… justice white? Really, Kouga?
When someone presents an action suit modeled after an anime character, I don’t know if the first thing I’d notice would be that it’s missing a cape, is the wrong color, or that it’s missing a visor – but at least Kouga can be counted on to notice these things! Never mind the fact those things were left out of the prototype due to very good and legitimate reasons – Kouga won’t settle for anything less than an exact replica of his childhood hero. It’s also a testament to what money and technology can do because in the end, it’s not necessarily about what Kouga can achieve on his own but what his money can buy him. He may be able to enforce his brand of justice now, but once you strip everything down, all he is, is just a high school kid trying to play the big leagues.
Perhaps the series of “tests” orchestrated by Jirou will help shape Kouga up to be a better hero. Not having read the manga, I’m not sure what these trials are meant to prove; they don’t feel like a very good measure of justice, and as horrible as the consequences were, I find it hard to blame Kouga for his choices, since it’s almost a no-brainer to choose to save your younger sister over three complete strangers. From the situation at hand, it was the best choice for him to make so it’s hard to hold him at fault. It would make more sense to test Kouga’s morals in a more ambiguous manner… For example, take an orphanage or a school and ask him which one not to set on fire. It’s gritty, it’s real, and it presents a much more complex problem than just asking Kouga whether or not he’d save Konoha – a family member – as opposed to three strangers. I’m not downplaying the loss of their lives, which is terrible, but in the grand scheme of helping Kouga grow, I’m not sure it’s an effective catalyst.
Speaking of catalysts, I’m still undecided on where Hanako stands in terms of Jin and his own character development. Originally I thought Konoha was out of the running to be the “light of Jin’s life” so to speak, and that perhaps Hanako would take on that role instead. As of this episode I’m not sure where she stands nor do I like the sudden downturn her personality seems to have taken. What I admired was her exuberant nature, not this petty, pretend-girlfriend that showed up this week! Her reactions were all over the place and doesn’t quite make any sense – it’s as if the producers skipped over a bunch of material and the result was a choppy development. They’re not dating, so Hanako’s outburst was nonsensical and I nearly had to roll my eyes at the inconsistency of her character.
There wasn’t much of Jin this week as this was a Kouga-centric episode, but as always, I liked what I saw. He and Kouga both present an interesting twist on the argument that “heroes are made, not born”; on the surface Jin would appear to be the hero that was “born” with his powers, but I’m not sure that’s the case. While the supernatural (or at least the highly technological) is at play in ZETMAN, money and power are also two big players that should be taken account when trying to see what it is trying to convey. It flips Kouga and Jin’s roles, since with all the money in the world, power, and technology at his disposal, Kouga is the hero “born” with his powers, while as the anti-hero, Jin is the one growing into one. I admit my perspective doesn’t quite align with the traditional viewpoint, but the show always presents a very interesting and liberal look on justice and heroes, so I think my interpretation is still within grounds of what ZETMAN tries to convey.
Along with its unconventional heroes, the show has surprised me with its ability to subvert expectations before, and it does so once again with ‘EVOL’. It’s an interesting concept that proves there’s more to the issue of Players than meets the eye and I remain intrigued with the show’s ability to present such malleable definitions of protagonists and antagonists.