「暴きの輪」 (Abaki no Wa)
“Ring of Exposure”
It’s past the halfway point, and with all the different plot threads hanging about, the second half looks to be as robust and fast-paced as the preceding episodes were. This is not really a bad thing, but while an exciting middle is important, a proper conclusion that does justice to the rest of the series is also important. With so many different directions TMS Animation can take though, a fear of mine is that some of the more complex plot points will receive a half-hearted conclusion.
Take the Amagi family, for example. They are, strangely enough, mysterious entities despite being at the core of the cast. The dynamics between each member is tense – that the audience is able to understand. But most of the deeper intricacies of that remain unexplored, which is a little disappointing to see since it could serve as a reflective look at Konoha and Kouga’s characters and make them more sympathetic . While Konoha isn’t abrasive as her older brother is, she’s still very much flat. A little effort in fleshing out her character would go a long way in endearing her to the viewers.
ZETMAN‘s one critical weakness is neglecting its side characters and secondary plots, and it’s a little more apparent this episode. The show keeps a cohesive main plot – the transition from one phase to the next is sensible and the progression feels logical. There’s not many gaps in logic that I find myself filling in and the new elements constantly being introduced don’t feel too detached from the main conflict. One branch of the plot just keeps bothering me though, and it probably won’t surprise many people that it’s the relationship between Hanako and Jin.
Now, let me make this clear: I don’t dislike Hanako. She’s spunky, and any unevenness is more the fault of the direction writers took with her character rather than Hanako herself. What bugs me is the unnaturalness her and Jin seem to exude. There’s some giant gaps in the progression of their relationship … which wouldn’t be as big of a problem if they tried not to make this an integral part of the plot. If this was a purely peripheral element, the lack of attention given to its development wouldn’t matter as much, but the producers keep coming back to it, like they’re trying to ground Jin’s motivations to Hanako rather his desire to just protect. The scarce development then becomes a bigger issue because if they’re trying to set Hanako and Jin’s relationship up for something bigger, I need a valid reason to feel like it deserves that much attention. With the zig-zag route the producers are going with it though, I’m not sure what that reason is supposed to be. Definitely working on finding that though!
On a more optimistic note, there were some nice action sequences this week, complete with a fountain of blood to accompany each scene Jin thrust his hand through the Players’ heart. There’s something completely raw about using your bare hands to deliver such violence, and I’m sure it’s no coincidence that Kouga is clad completely in white and fights with guns and swords while Jin is all black and red, fighting head-on with fists. It’s an interesting, but subtle detail that really highlights their differences, and seeing the two work together was a real treat. It’s a show of friendship and battle-camaraderie that isn’t blatantly obvious – this is where the childhood friend angle really works. There’s an extra “oomph” to the scene when you realize these are childhood friends fighting together to achieve the justice they dreamt about as kids rather than two strangers that circumstantially happened to work together.
You’ve given me a wild ride for the first half, ZETMAN. Let’s keep it up for the second half!