「操り人形」 (Ayatsuri Ningyou)
Um… I don’t think I’ve ever been as confused about an episode as I am about this one… I’m still not really sure what to make of the events that transpired, and some parts are just so utterly confounding/inconsistent that I almost want to take it out of the equation to simplify things a little because well… things could really use some simplifying here.
It’s a personal policy of mine to only stick to one medium if a manga/LN/etc. is getting an anime adaptation for at least the duration of air time. Therefore I don’t know what the atmosphere is like in the manga; there have been quite a lot of comparisons to it though, and I can see the producers had a tough time adapting such dense material into thirteen short episodes. That’s not really an excuse for the derailment ZETMAN suffered this week, as part of the producers’ job is to pick and choose the material so that an adaptation can stand on its own with coherency.
Up until now I haven’t had any particular problems with this and while blazingly fast, I didn’t feel like my comprehension of the story was hampered by the omitted material. One of my biggest worries for ZETMAN as it neared its end was the resolution of some key plot points: namely EVOL, Jirou and Seiji. The three threads are intertwined quite closely, which is surprising we haven’t seen hide nor hair of the Player organization even after the boss went to Jin to ask for help. I’m finding that the show tends to drop a character and/or plot points and not come back to it until several episodes later though, so perhaps EVOL will still have a chance to squeeze itself into the final two episodes. I just hope their entrance into the main story won’t so jarring or seemingly random.
One of the things I had a hard time reconciling was Hayami’s heel-face-turn; after carefully combing back to the beginning of the series, and taking into account the very recent ones, I suppose it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that he ended up as a bad guy. But there’s just something utterly off about the way the bomb was dropped and I can’t quite explain it – it all felt strangely contrived. Despite this though, the whole ordeal did manage to do some good: Kouga losing it was just spectacular. He really does want to be a hero, even though it’s quite clear he just doesn’t cut it. I feel Jirou was pretty spot-on with his analysis of Kouga and it further reinforces my view that what he seeks isn’t justice, but a pure adrenaline rush. That twisted smile tells it all really; no way is that the expression of someone wanting to save people – killing them is more like it.
It’s interesting though, that of all the Amagis to blame, Jirou seems to place the blame squarely on Seizou. It’s definitely not what I expected, since Mitsugai has been hinted to be the brains behind the operation that resulted in the birth of Players. It certainly doesn’t paint Seizou in a favorable light though and I wonder if his father is just trying to clean up his son’s mess; that would add another layer of complexity to the Amagi dynamics, and bring Seizou a little closer to the center of it all. He’s very much been a peripheral character throughout the show, so nothing’s really been shown about him aside from the fact he’s not a very caring father.
ZETMAN is heading into the great unknowns as it heads into its final two episodes, and I’m really hoping it won’t crash – bringing back the magic of the first few episodes will be perfect, centering the show back onto Jin and his struggle has the reluctant hero.