Plot: Jin Kanzaki is the product of an experiment where monsters called Players were created to fight each other for sport. One of the scientists working on the project, however, wanted to spare Jin from that fate and live as a human, but the Players soon revolted and escaped from their confines. As Jin grew, he was seen as somewhat of a local hero saving people where he could while trying to weasel out payments from those he saved.
With him was a boy named Kouga who was obsessed with the idea of justice and heroes, however he could never seem to keep up with Jin when it came to helping people, and his friendship with Jin as well as his vigilante activities were frowned upon by his father. Fast forward again to Jin as an adult where he learns of his origins and his destiny as ZET, while Kouga focuses on becoming his hero, Alphas.
Breakdown: I really wanted to like this show way more than I did. I was really impressed by the first episode and liked it pretty much for the next few following episodes, but man I just feel like this show dropped the ball really bad.
First off, the whole series jumps around quite often. We jump from Jin as a baby to Jin as a child to Jin as an adult to Jin further as an adult to three years in the future over the time span of 13 episodes with no indication given that we’ve done so except in the last episode. It makes it feel like it’s skipping a bunch of stuff, especially character and relationship development.
Second, the time skips definitely don’t help the fact that this show makes little sense. Tons of plotlines make little to no sense and it makes it really hard to follow or even care about.
Third, characters are included like we should know them deeply already when they simply aren’t developed enough (or in some characters cases, at all) Several characters pop up out of nowhere, have an attitude and role like the anime expects us to know who these people are or who they are to the actual characters and some of them disappear altogether with no explanation like that Ai girl that I’ll get to later.
Fourth, and maybe worst of all, I ended up liking absolutely no one in the end. Kouga was winning out for me near the end, but lost it quite literally in the last two episodes, though he’s still the only redeemable one, really.
There’s also little things like Jin needs to chew something called activation gum in order to access his powers and he’s somehow built to melt if his Zet level goes down too low in the presence of a Player, which makes no sense to me and seems like a damn stupid design flaw.
Let’s get into the characters. MAJOR SPOILERS AHOY, SO HEAD ON DOWN TO THE TECHNICAL SPECS IF YOU WANT TO BE UNSPOILED.
Jin – Jin is our main protagonist. He’s pretty okay throughout the series, but fluctuates into unlikable and downright lame when he meets Hanako and ends on an immature brat note. I know his goal is to save everyone, but Kouga has a very valid point; you really can’t save everyone and sometimes you need to make tough decisions. Jin refuses to believe this and runs off. As for the Hanako stuff, I’ll save most for her bio, but long story short (just like in the show) Jin basically falls in love with Hanako for no reason and with little to no development and wants to start a family with her even though he was explicitly told that he shouldn’t get close to anybody because Players might attack them. That’s why he left his Auntie and is very cold to his old friends Konoha and Kouga when he sees them.
They initially want him to break up with her to meet the same criteria as before but then turn around and say that since he now has something that he loves and wants to protect he can find the strength within himself to become stronger and achieve red form. How the hell does that make sense? He had people he loved and wanted to protect before and was forced to give them up to protect them. Now this bratty, pushy bitch just pops out of nowhere, they somehow develop a relationship, he even wants to be a family with her for whatever reason, and that’s the big crux for getting stronger? Uh….huh.
Kouga – Kouga was pretty creepy throughout most of the series. He wants to be like his hero, the TV show character Alphas, was cute as a kid, but he got completely obsessed as an adult to the point where he had a custom mech suit made to look exactly like Alphas’ suit to fight evil and bring justice. Oh yeah, did I mention justice? Because Kouga mentions justice so much it’s almost like he replaced his need to breathe with a need to constantly mention justice.
Though Kouga is obviously a brave person who wants to do good, his fascination into the world of being a hero seems to cloud his focus. Here is an example. He refuses to use a superhuman suit because it’s not the right color, has no emblem on the mask and has no cape. His design team has to completely remake it before he decides to use it. A real hero would use the superhuman suit no matter what color or emblems it had on it because a hero’s duty isn’t to be flashy and emulate some superhero he’s been obsessed with. Their duty is to save people and stop bad guys. End of story.
However, his arc was really the only one I was interested in watching. An old guy hears about Alphas and tests Kouga to see if his brand of justice is really just. His first test is keeping Konoha, or as I like to call her, Useless McWhyareyouevenhere, captive with a player at the pool and says that he can either save her or three girls that he had met earlier. He decides to save Konoha and later hears on the news that the three girls were viciously murdered, deeply impacting Kouga and his views on his moral code.
The second mini-test was basically a decision in the heat of the moment. Useless got captured with her friend by a Player and was seriously injured, as was her friend, Tomomi and Jin. Kouga’s helicopter thing could only hold two people at most and he wanted to get Jin on it as well. One of his advisers or whatever they are, Hayami, tells him that that’s illogical. If you were in the middle of the ocean in a storm and had a lifeboat that could only carry two people and there were three people in the water, would you rather pull one out of the water knowing that at least you and that person would be safe or would you try to save them all and almost certainly damn everyone? He chose Tomomi and Useless and left Jin there, even thought he’s ZET, so he just heals anyway, but Kouga didn’t know that so his lesson seems learned.
His final test is actually like a game from Saw. He’s kidnapped and taken to a building where he’s told his sister Konoha might be after she went missing again because she’s also an idiot. He has to reach an old man in order to find out for sure. He reaches a room where a bunch of his teenage girl fans are having a party and he’s given the choice; escort the girls out now and ensure that they’re safe but likely sacrifice Konoha, if she’s there, or abandon them for Konoha and leave them to likely die; so it’s basically a bigger version of the choice from the first test. He decides to go to the restroom to think.
When he comes out, a girl who I swear is Ai from Hell Girl; same haircut, hair color, uniform, everything, stops him and tells him that she has a bad feeling about this place. No one’s cell phones can get a signal and she has an overall bad feeling. She says she’s also found a trap door in the wall and wants him to go with her when he’s again stopped by a girl from the party who wants to bring him back. He tells the Ai girl to go through the tunnel and get help while he tries to save the rest of the girls.
I won’t spoil what happens next because it’s really insane, but let’s just say he makes the wrong choice. The really really wrong choice. The girls and him try to escape through the hall, but are stopped by a mecha looking Player who is standing in front of an elevator.
He’s given another choice; abandon the girls and take the elevator to look for Konoha or fight the mech and try to save the girls. He chooses to fight and again makes the wrong decision.
At this point I really wonder what this guy’s angle was. He’s focusing on saving the group instead of just his sister now. He wants to save as many people as he can instead of focusing on just who is important to him. However, he keeps failing. When he chooses to fight the robot instead of flee on his own, he’s reprimanded for trying to save the girls? It sounds like this guy’s idea of justice is to ignore everyone and go watch TV or something. Saving one over many is bad, saving many over one is bad, trying to save everyone is bad, WHAT DO YOU WANT HIM TO DO!?
Then he tells us Kouga’s problem is lack of objectivity…..
So the lesson of the game really was to do nothing? Seriously, the thing lacking in his sense of justice is
objectivity, which he had en masse before Jin taught him that being a hero is about trying to save everybody, which Jin can do because he’s Jin, but is a pretty unrealistic lesson for everyone else. However, there was no objective answer to these games.
If he left the party to find Konoha, he would be leaving because he wanted to find his sister, which isn’t objective. He stayed, which was wrong. If he chose to leave with the Ai girl instead of staying with the other girls to save them, he’d be abandoning both objectives, which isn’t logical. Also, going with the Ai girl isn’t logical in the first place. Wouldn’t you stay with the girls since the old man told you that he’s giving you the option to free them straight out instead of going through a trap door with one girl who could possibly be a part of the trap when there’s no guarantee that the trap door leads outside? Why would there be a trap door anyway? Especially one so easy to find that a teenage girl found it with no problem.
He stayed with the girls and ended up losing. If he had gone into the elevator to look for Konoha, he’d again be choosing to save his little sister, which isn’t objective. He stayed and fought the robot to ensure that the girls lived, but that also equaled a fail. I will admit that the first and second tests from before the game were fitting for this explanation, but this game was too messed up to be a fitting lesson for this.
Also, because he said that Kouga was all about the excitement of the fights and needed to essentially be dead inside to be a true warrior of justice, he basically said that Kouga needs to be a sociopath to be an effective hero.
Kouga also goes nuts after this to a point where, I won’t say why, but I really wonder why he wasn’t arrested and thrown in jail. I mean, given the flatout psychotic nature of these tests, I can’t really blame him for going nuts, but I can blame the show for being so sloppy that it essentially ruined his character.
Konoha – Useless over here is Kouga’s sister and there’s little to say about her besides she has had a crush on Jin since they were kids, Jin’s never even shown an inkling at returning her feelings, she gets kidnapped a lot and she’s useless. She is a plot device with skin. That’s about it.
Her moment of idiocy before Kouga’s game was that she was attacked by Jin clones in her house and was upset about it. So, she left the safety of her safe house and ran off for no reason because no one will tell her what’s going on. Because running away would resolve that.
Hanako – Hey look everyone, Karim from Jyu-oh-sei was reincarnated! I hate this character. Annoying beyond reason. She’s one of those characters that pops up and we’re supposed to connect with her despite knowing nothing about her and having no character development.
Hanako ran into Jin’s house to hide from Players one day. When she went to retrieve her bag, she got captured by the same Players (Well, duh). Jin rescues her and she basically demands that she stay in his house because she doesn’t want to go back out there and doesn’t want to be alone despite the fact that the Players were killed. So essentially she’s like a squatter who, when told to leave, basically says, “Screw off, I’m staying here, make me food.”
She gets very possessive of Jin very fast, especially when Konoha’s concerned. For instance, Jin sees Konoha in the street one day and acts very cold to her because he is the night. Hanako gets very bratty after this like they’re actually an item and he just cheated on her right in front of her. He also gets a call when Konoha goes missing to look for her and the instant her name is brought up she flinches. “Oh no! That girl he talked with in the street for two minutes and was nothing but cold to her! She’s such a threat to our non-existent relationship!”
Jin falls in love with her in somehow and someway that we never see because screw relationship development on top of character development.
Also, it’s blatantly obvious throughout the entire show that, major spoilerooooo…………………………….she’s a Player. The instant she gets one of her unexplained ‘regular migraines’ it’s like a red flag. Character traits like that are red flags unless they come with an explanation from the get go. However, there was one aspect of her big reveal that was actually somewhat clever, but I won’t spoil it.
Heitani – He’s the main baddie in the series. He’s the leader of the evil EVOLS (Yeah, they named themselves EVOLs, even the ‘good ones’…) and he’s fairly uninteresting. He’s one of those baddies who wants the main character to come over the dark side. His Player form is the best one, though, even if that’s not saying much.
Auntie – I loved Auntie. Basically she was saved by Jin when he was a kid. When the scientist that saved him died, she took him in. Their relationship was cute and I loved watching it, but it was glazed over and he never even sees her again after the third episode.
Throwaway/Phantom characters – These characters are ones who either popped up from nowhere and disappeared as soon as they came or were regulars who never got any development.
Ai Girl– Randomly appeared during Kouga’s game, but we’re never told if she was a part of the game. If she was, where is she? If she wasn’t, where is she? Did she escape?
Black haired girl at party – There’s a black haired girl at the party in the game who seems to harbor some sort of dislike of Kouga for no reason. He was made famous because he took full credit for saving a family from a fire when Jin did most of the work. Only his closest family know that, so that can’t be the reason. She says she’s at the party because her friend is a fan of his and wants his autograph…why wasn’t she invited then?
After that, a death happens and she slaps Kouga for it and calls him a murderer despite clearly having nothing to do with it and the person who was about to die indicating that someone else is pulling the strings.
When the mecha Player thing attacks, she pulls a 180 and instantly takes a shine to him, defending him against the rest of the girls who are now, inexplicably, calling him a murderer too.
Kouga’s tech team – Kouga has a team of three tech experts who have been helping him with his dream of being Alphas for years. They’re the ones who designed the Alphas suit and remotely help him and monitor him. I don’t even think these guys get names despite the fact that they’re in nearly every episode and they certainly get no discernible personalities.
Mayu – A pink-haired girl who is the sole survivor of the game, Mayu is saved by Kouga, they have about, eh, one minute of screen time together and she’s reduced to a prop. We learn nothing about her, at all….in the least…Besides her name and the fact that she has pink hair, nothing. We later cut to three years in the future where she’s either engaged or married to Kouga……Well, gee, okay. I’m sure we’ll care seeing as how we know nothing about you and have known you all of a total of four minutes.
Bartender – There’s a bartender who’s supposed the leader of the Players, above Heitani, but wants the Players to live in peace or something. Despite his status, he’s never given a name I don’t think and he never does a damn thing.
The Sweeper – The Sweeper appears about three times in the series and we’re never told who he is besides a Player killer (Isn’t that supposed to be what a Hunter, Jin, was for?) We never see his face, learn his purpose, what he is, where he came from and besides killing a couple Players once, he does nothing.
The ending was just flat out disappointing and it makes it look like this series was a 13 episode trailer for a series than it was an actual series in itself.
Heitani outs all of the Players and they rampage across Japan killing hundreds or even thousands of people. He draws Jin out who wants to put a stop to his plans. Okay, before I continue, let me explain something. Jin has three Zet forms, White, Red and Complete. For all of ten episodes, I thought that Red was the final form, but I guess he’s like a Saiyan or Frieza because they tacked on another near the end for good measure.
Heitani takes out a stake from Jin’s chest and reveals that it’s the red stone (Never explained adequately. It’s like a pseudo Macguffin). Putting it back in Jin’s body will make him complete and likely turn him evil….Okay, 1) If it instantly makes him complete when he puts the stake in his body, why wasn’t he complete before? It came from his body. I don’t get it. 2) Heitani did nothing to the stake besides touch it. Does touching it when you’re evil instantly make it evil? Is it the Shikon Jewel or something? 3) He’s willing to put it back in his body even though Heitani is telling him that he’ll become an evil soldier of the Players if he puts it back in his body, but he wants to put it back to gain the power to transform and save everyone. Well, that’s just dumb. If you did become evil you’d kill everyone not save everyone….
They make Jin transforming into his complete form a big friggin’ deal, but it looks hardly any different than his red form; it’s just slightly more black if it’s different at all. Oooooohhhhh. I may rag on Mangamon for essentially being a golden Flamedramon, but at least I can definitely tell those two apart. He actually turns into a much different and kick ass looking version later but only for literally a second and for no real reason. Why!?
Jin and Kouga now stand before each other as enemies. Kouga doesn’t see Jin as a hero anymore since he wasn’t willing to kill Hanako’s Player form to ensure that everyone else would be safe. In addition, the ring of exposure on his hand instantly causes Players to regress to their monster forms, which puts everyone in danger with other Players on the loose.
It doesn’t make much sense, when you think about it. Jin wanted to try to save Hanako later. The ring of exposure actually helps since many Players disguise themselves as humans all the time to kill humans. Regressing them does make them more powerful, but if they were going to kill anyway, what’s the point?
Jin basically has less respect for Kouga now because his new method of justice (I want to play a sound clip of The Crimson Chin saying “Did somebody say JUSTICE!? Whenever the word is said in this series.) is wrong and he sees Kouga as not even human anymore.
That’s more understandable, because Kouga, despite having logic to his actions………….He seems to lack remorse for some of the deaths he’s caused for some reason. Kouga went wacko in the last few episodes and it basically killed his character for me.
Kouga tries to kill Jin, but Jin turns into a cool form, with a black visor, cool wings and a tail, and changes back 15 seconds later. Because screw the cool form, keep the lame one. And he runs off.
Cut to three years in the future when Kouga is still fighting Players as Alphas (How many of those things are there? I wouldn’t think there’d be that many. Can they reproduce somehow?) and is seen as a hero to the city despite no one knowing who he is. Gee, I dunno. Bruce Wayne, do you know who Batman is? I can’t figure it out.
He’s apparently become the new CEO of his dad’s company and is married/engaged to Mayu as I said….he also still has Alphas toys and a framed picture of Alphas on his desk because 1) That’d NEVER tip anyone off that you’re Alphas and 2) since you now are Alphas, that’s even more creepy. Konoha’s still boring, but now has longer hair. Jin hasn’t been seen since he left, but still fights Players on his own and the epilogue makes it seem like a series about Jin in this time will follow, but nope. No plans for a sequel. Just this. Thanks.
Do you want to know the reason why the show’s called Zetman but the main character’s called ZET? Well, you see, in that TV show that Kouga was so obsessed over, there’s another character besides Alphas that is basically like the Batman to Kouga’s Superman. Whereas Alphas is all about truth and justice etc. the other character is more dark and focuses more on staying in the shadows and instilling fear in his enemies. Thus, Kouga says that his hero name should be Zetman. Because it’s a known fact that adding “man” to the end of any word instantly makes a superhero. Lookit, Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Antman, Iron Man, Iceman, etc.
END OF SPOILERS
Art: The art and animation are great. The art’s somewhat ugly at times due to the style, at least in my opinion. It’s different from your usual fare. I will say that the designs of the Players are really lacking. Barring Heitani’s, they’re beyond generic.
Music: The OP is great, but not really fitting for this show. This show’s pretty dark and the OP is like a dance club song. The ED is also good, but I didn’t like it as much as the OP. The BG music is great, but there’s this one score that sounds an AWFUL lot like Also Sprach Zarathustra. Don’t know if that was intentional.
Bottomline: Good beginning, but it’s rushed, jumps around, makes little to no sense, has characters popping up with no explanation or development, and the ending is unsatisfying. It’s not terrible, I enjoyed it at many parts, but as a whole, it’s just an average, somewhat infuriating show. Shame. It had a lot of potential.
Additional Information and Notes:
Zetman was directed by Osamu Nabeshima, written by Atsuhiro Tomioka and produced by TMS Entertainment. It is currently licensed in English by Viz Media.
Recommended Audience: Some nudity, off-screen sex, quite a bit of blood, a couple very nasty gore scenes, mmm, 13+