Cartoons Step-by-Step: Danny Phantom Episode 1

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Plot: One month ago, Danny Fenton’s life changed forever when he walked through a ghost portal of his parents’ invention and accidentally activated it while inside. The incident made him half-ghost, allowing him to maintain the look of a regular boy but also gaining ghost abilities and the ability to transform into a more proper ghost form, Danny Phantom. Unfortunately, Danny’s activation of the portal has also made it so that ghosts can sneak into the human world and cause havoc. Danny’s taken it upon himself to stop these ghosts with his powers while trying his best to keep his powers a secret from everyone else but his two best friends, Sam and Tucker.

In the series premiere, Danny’s first opponent is a lunch lady ghost that attacks Casper High after Sam changes the menu to exclude all meat items in lieu of an ‘ultra-recyclo-vegetarian’ menu, much to the lunch lady ghost’s disdain.

Breakdown: Ah, Danny Phantom. Arguably Butch Hartman’s best work. A simple tried and true tale that, to be honest, we’ve heard a thousand times before, but done in such a way that brought a fairly fresh spin on the story with plenty of memorable characters and storylines along the way.

Actually, put another way, it’s like the story of Spider-man but melded with Ghostbusters.

And, really, if you want to dissect this, it is a whole bunch of cliches, some even taken from Fairly Odd Parents. An unpopular kid who has trouble fitting in at school, bullied by the school jock who gets away with nearly everything, also targeted by jackass teachers, is given abilities that make his life even more complicated. The only two people who know about his powers are his two best friends, the tech genius Tucker Foley and the opinionated goth chick, who is obviously set to be a love interest, Sam Manson.

His parents are basically two bumbling idiots who never catch onto Danny’s secret in the least and are always causing trouble for him with their weird behavior in ghost hunting and odd inventions. However, they do help out inadvertently sometimes by inventing things Danny can actually use, even if his parents have no clue how to make them work.

His sister is the one who seems to break tradition here as she seems to fancy herself a psychologist in training who always tries her best to seem adult and mature. She deeply cares about Danny and worries about his well-being growing up in a household with such odd parents.

Our first enemy, the lunch lady ghost, is admittedly not very threatening. In fact, not many of the first season ghosts really were. However, that’s alright here. We’re just being introduced to the world and the characters, so having a somewhat silly ghost who actually can hold her own, even if her attacks are silly, is fine. They’re all mostly meat-based, even if she has some pyrokinetic abilities. Most of her abilities can be eaten or squished, but they can sometimes be overwhelming, especially when Danny doesn’t have a good grip on his abilities quite yet and even has trouble keeping his Danny Phantom form.

It’s interesting that the only reason the Fenton Thermos starts working is seemingly because Danny puts some of his ghostly energy into it, but does that fix it permanently or does he need to keep feeding it that way when he needs it? Because other non-ghost characters use the thermos in the future.

The conflict between Sam and Tucker felt a bit odd in this episode. Usually they reserve episodes where the main character is caught between two fighting best friends for when they’re a bit more established, but here they just jump right in. I won’t say it’s a bad part of the episode, because it does highlight one of the main character traits of Sam in a decent manner, though I don’t think the same can be said of Tucker.

I mean, I’m pretty sure the fact that he loves meat stays true throughout the series, but it’s never really given any actual attention in the future to my recollection. Plus, I find it kinda immature that Sam doesn’t drop the issue when the school starts being attacked because she changed the menu. I know I said the Lunch Lady Ghost isn’t a big threat, but it’s still possible for her to hurt people, especially with her minor pyro powers, and Sam still won’t budge an inch.

Other than that, the only real notes I have is that there aren’t many jokes that work very well in this episode. Either that or they just don’t hold up very well. Jack had a few entertaining lines, but that was about it.

Rating: 7/10 Not starting off very strong, but it does what it needs to do and some more in a pretty entertaining manner.

Next episode: Parental Bonding: Danny asks his crush, Paulina, out to a dance, but has to deal with a dragon ghost in the meantime.

Final Notes: Addressing the theme song, it is indeed the earworm we all know and love. However, I can’t say I’ve ever been crazy about it in regards to quality. The fact that it starts with ‘Yo!’ is already kinda cringey and there’s a serious scent of 4Kids music to the whole thing.

Like Fairly Odd Parents and many many cartoons from the 80’s and 90s, the theme song explains the entire plot in expositiony lyrics, which is actually kinda necessary because, as you can tell, the show does not start with an origin story. It was meant to, but apparently they scrapped it when the theme song was finalized. They explore the origin story in an episode that comes much later, however, when they decide to give Danny his own emblem.

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Cartoons Step-By-Step: American Dragon Jake Long S01 Ep01

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Plot Synopsis: The world is filled with mythical beasts who try to live normal lives among humans who aren’t aware of their existence. Each part of the world is protected by a dragon who is tasked with protecting these creatures and maintaining their secrecy. Jake Long, a reckless but determined teenager, is a dragon in training with New York City, and ultimately the United States as his main domain. His grandfather, the previous American Dragon, is getting too old to do the job, and is training Jake to pass on his title and responsibilities to him. However, Jake seems to want all of the fun and action with as little work as possible.

Jake comes from a long line of dragons, but it is purely on his mother’s side. His mother does not possess the ability to transform into a dragon, but his little sister, Haley, does. She, however, is not tasked with protecting the country/city. She merely has to keep her powers a secret. Speaking of which, Jake’s father is completely unaware that he married into a family of dragons, so they have to keep their secret even when they’re in the house.

As Jake is out training with his grandpa and his magical talking gruff bulldog, Fu, they find signs that the Huntsman, a man that leads a group of hunters who target mythological beings, specifically dragons, has been in the area. His target tonight? Unicorns.

Grandpa sends Jake out to fight the Huntsman on his own, and while Jake screws up his first attack, he does succeed in scaring the Unicorns into running away. The Huntsman targets Jake, who is only half transformed at the time, and as he manages to transform entirely, he’s knocked out by the Huntsman’s protege, Huntsgirl. As the Huntsman calls for Huntsgirl to finish Jake off, Grandpa intercedes and rescues him, prompting both Huntsman and Huntsgirl to retreat. Seeing his extreme difficulty in even keeping up his transformation in battle and his previous failures in battle, Grandpa decides to amp up Jake’s training.

After school the next day, Jake is forced to blow off skateboarding with his friends, Trixie and Spud, to go train. Grandpa’s training for the day turns out to be a lot of chores that incorporate certain aspects of Jake’s dragon-ness such as grasping a toilet brush with his dragon tongue to clean the toilet and sweeping with his tail.

After getting fed up with Grandpa’s weird training, Jake decides to skip training for the day and go with his friends to the new skate park. As Grandpa and Fu wait for Jake, the Huntsman and Huntsgirl show up to capture Grandpa. He tries to fend them off, but ends up falling into a trap.

Fu witnesses this and runs off to find Jake. After Fu finds him, he tries to convince him to find help, but Jake insists that he save Grandpa on his own since it was his fault that he was captured in the first place. Jake arrives and starts fighting the two, and he finally sees the benefit in his odd dragon training when Grandpa directs him to fight using actions that he learned in his chores. Jake and a freed Grandpa cause Huntsman and Huntsgirl to retreat yet again and Jake apologizes to Grandpa for blowing off training and putting him in danger. As they return home, Jake promises to take his dragon training more seriously from now on.

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– Dragons can fart fire. I didn’t need to know that.

– Apparently Grandpa sounds like a lion when he uses his dragon breath.

– This isn’t really relevant enough to include in the plot synopsis, but Jake also has a teacher, Mr. Rotwood, who is obsessed with magical creatures and teaches mythology class….Yeah apparently there’s Mythology class in high school now. If anyone has been lucky enough to have mythology class in high school, I hate you.

Getting back to Rotwood, though, he’s basically a less crazy Mr. Crocker (Fairly Oddparents). He believes that these mythological creatures exist, and he’s right, but everyone thinks he’s nuts for having such a strong belief in them. Unlike Crocker, though, I don’t believe he’s ever made out to be a real threat. For the most part, his scenes are relegated to either harassing Jake in class and going on tangents about mythological creatures to eventually trying to out Jake as a dragon.

– Another thing I couldn’t really squeak into the plot synopsis was Rose’s role. Jake has a crush on a girl named Rose, who is seemingly perfect in every way. She is secretly the Huntsgirl, though this secret is not kept a secret from the audience due to the dragon birthmark connection. Jake’s relationship with Rose and the big secret that Jake is the American Dragon while Rose is Huntsgirl is a big overarching part of the series.

– Who exactly screamed when Jake shot off that fireball in the house? Haley? His mom? No matter who it was, burning someone with fire kinda warrants an apology, Jake.

– I find it a little stupid that Grandpa fell for Huntsgirl’s trick. I mean, as a serpentine dragon, surely enemies have tried to force him into tangling himself up before. If he’s such an experienced master, why would he have fallen for something so obvious?

– Huntsman and Huntsgirl know grandpa’s human form and that he’s a dragon. Isn’t that….really bad? I mean, surely the Hunts Clan is knowledgeable enough in dragons to know that the trait is carried through blood. If they know who grandpa is, it’d be incredibly easy to hunt down his family members, Jake included, and capture them. At the very least, Huntsgirl/Rose would know from the start that Jake is Lao Shi’s (Grandpa) grandson.

– While I’m no stranger to transformation sequences, the one for ADJL is a little…cringy? Especially the awkwardly placed 360 shot of CGI Dragon!Jake.

– Grandpa knew the exact move for blocking the magical net. Why didn’t he use it in his fight with the Huntsman? He was tangled up not completely immobile.

– Another dragon fire fart….sigh.

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I did follow American Dragon Jake Long in its entirety when it was on Disney Channel back in the day, but I can’t say I followed it too strongly. While I liked the stories and loved the premise, Jake and Trixie’s mannerisms and the rap got on my nerves on more than one occasion.

As a first episode, this does its job quite well. It explains the world that they live in, the main character’s role and many of his powers just fine. It also does a good job of establishing his family dynamic and the villains. Rose’s dragon birthmark is not the most subtle way of showing that she was Huntsgirl and personally I would’ve preferred that they waited a while before revealing who she was, but it’s not that big of a deal. I suppose it was meant to create some early drama in allowing the audience to know something that the main character doesn’t.

While they also establish Jake’s friends, Trixie and Spud, just fine as well, I really never got into Trixie. I mean, at the very least, she’s not made out as an obvious love interest for the main character like most female best friend characters, but she basically acts exactly like Jake with much fewer instances of responsibility and character development. In essence, she’s annoying most of the time. Her voice is annoying in itself, but giving her gangsta speech just makes it grating.

Spud can be funny on occasion but for the most part he’s also exactly like his friends, just stupid. His slow and dimwitted manner of speech coupled with his gangsta-isms can also get annoying, but he’s the most tolerable of the group in that regard.

I’ve always had a bit of love/hate with Fu dog. On one hand, he can be really funny and he’s arguably the most unique character in the series. On the other hand, he can be really unfunny and annoying. He’s voiced by John DiMaggio, so I guess I have to side with liking him. :X

Jake as a character can seem really one note. He’s a ‘gangsta’ teen who is egotistical and wants to do everything cool without putting up with a lot of work and responsibility. However, when he’s actually serious, he becomes a pretty cool character. He has plenty of flaws, but he always seems willing to accept when he’s wrong and do his best to protect others.

The story of this episode as a whole, however, is very predictable. Absolutely anyone who’s seen The Karate Kid can predict how this episode will go once they see Jake doing those chores. The episode seems to take more time in establishing necessary things about the series than the actual story of the episode….and that’s fine I guess. There is a lot to go through in first episodes, and trying to work all of it into an original pilot is very difficult. Points are still taken for going the predictable route, but still.

Rating: 6.5/10

AVAHS – Randy Cunningham 9th Grade Ninja: Happy Hanukkah, Howard Weinerman!

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Plot: Howard is lamenting over his Hanukkah gifts to Randy at the Game Hole when a robot bursts in and starts destroying the place. Randy suits up as the Ninja and takes it out, but finds that the whole thing was a ruse by his enemy McFist who is taking advantage of a building code loophole for the sake of opening up a shoe store for his wife for Hanukkah. However, as long as there is one working game with someone playing it in the arcade, Randy still has a chance to save the Game Hole. As he goes off to get more games, he leaves Howard in charge of playing the lone game left in the building until he returns, and he’s working off of Randy’s last token. Can Randy return with more games before Howard’s final game over?

Breakdown: Well, this is the last animated Hanukkah special I was able to find, and to be honest it’s not even really a Hanukkah special. It plays out like any other normal episode just with a few mentions of Hanukkah.

……But who the hell cares? Looking for Hanukkah specials introduced me to Randy Cunningham 9th Grade Ninja! This show is awesome! The style and humor just mesh so well, and it reminds me a lot of older shows where they were more comfortable with sarcastic humor and fourth-wall breaking in kids’ shows, like Invader Zim, which is fitting because Jhohan Vasquez, creator of Invader Zim, did quite a bit of artwork for the characters in the series.

But of course it’s already been ended/canceled by Disney because of that dumb 100 episode rule (technically it has 50 episodes, but since the episodes are broken into two segments, they count as two, so 50=100) I am definitely going to Cartoon Step-By-Step this, though.

As an episode, this is pretty darn funny with some great action and memorable moments. The characters immediately grow on you, with one exception being Howard. I’m not sure how he is through the series, but here he just complains a lot and diminishes what Randy did because he thinks he’s doing all the work by playing a game.

In regards to the Hanukkah aspect, they do a little more than just mention it. Howard complains how Hanukkah sucks because the gifts are lame and pale in comparison to Christmas (because that never gets old) and McFist is doing all of this as a Hanukkah gift for his wife. Though McFist is an odd Jewish name….

The biggest connection to Hanukkah is pointed out by Randy who explains that Howard kinda replicated the story of Hanukkah by getting through eight levels of the game. Howard was playing a game called Fight Knight, and he made it through eight levels or knights on one token, like how the oil burned for eight nights in the story. Kinda neat, but a fairly loose connection.

Being fair, there is a line in the beginning where they basically admit that they have no interest in making a ‘special holiday episode’ through Howard.

All in all, I really liked this episode and look forward to checking out the rest of the series, but I’m not going to kid myself into saying this is really any semblance of a Hanukkah special.

Happy Hanukkah everyone!

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Zorro Generation Z

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Plot: Diego Dela Vega, grandson of the original Zorro, has taken it upon himself to become the new Zorro when his father suddenly gets kidnapped by his political rival.

Breakdown: It’s Batman Beyond with Spanish accents.

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….What? I’m not lying. It is. The art and animation’s crappier, the tone’s lighter and the gadgets are silly, but it is basically just a big Batman Beyond rip off. And I did my homework; it’s not the reverse because Batman Beyond was made in 1999 and this was made in 2006. And just to rile up comic fans, Zorro Generation Z was made by Rick Ungar, a former Marvel Studios executive.

Back to the Batman Beyond comparisons, some kid inherits a superhero moniker because the original one is too old to do the job (or in this case is dead) where he wears black and red with a bullet-proof cape, utilizes a bunch of gadgets and has someone back at the underground base, complete with a glass case shrine of the old superhero outfits, who gives him advice and technical support. The kid in question is snarky, always makes jokes and the opening plot line involves a threat against his father.

If you want to make a stronger Batman comparison, Diego is the son of a wealthy man who owns ‘Dela Vega Industries’ and basically owns most of the town. He’s also essentially perfect in that he’s smart, incredibly acrobatic and skilled in martial arts and even has time to be a motorcycle racer.

Pushing that out of my mind, though, this first episode still fails on several levels. The very first scene that we see of older Diego, after the flashback of him as a very excitable child, is him getting the message that his father has been kidnapped and rushing off to save him. We get no time to connect with him as a character before this. All we see him doing is racing dirt bikes.

He and his mute tech genius friend, Bernado, out-fox, if you’ll forgive the pun, a bunch of goons. Goons, who, by the way, are some of the dumbest bad guy goons I’ve ever seen.

‘Hey, maybe we should look slightly to our left to see if there are any kids climbing out of a manhole that is literally five feet away.’

‘Nah!’

‘Hey, where did those kids go? Oh my god, you mean they were behind that wall that they just hid behind 30 seconds ago this whole time? Wow!’

They stumble upon the batcav—Errr….the uhh….Zorro cave? Which really is a better lit batcave with all the bells and whistles. And then Diego just says ‘Heh, guess I’m Zorro now!’ He claims that the reason for needing a new Zorro is not just for his dad’s sake, but apparently the entire town is suffering under the political grip of the bad guy, even though I have neither seen nor heard evidence of that.

The whole conflict of this plot is really difficult to get into considering the person we’re worrying about, Diego’s father, has been nothing but a douche the entire episode. Yes, he shows concern for his son, but he tells his father, the original Zorro, to not tell his young son fairy tales, IE stories about Zorro, because he wants this six year old boy to be more interested in the real world.

And when he comes face to face with the new Zorro, of course not recognizing his own son, he still mocks him, calls him a psycho with fancy toys, and acts like a jackass even though Zorro risked his neck to save him. Why the hell should I care about this guy?

Especially when it really seems like Diego doesn’t. He’s smiling and making cute little quips throughout the entire episode, never really showing an iota of caring that his father is currently being held captive, set to be killed, by a very powerful political rival.

Wanna know how little he cares? He takes a nap in the Zorro cave while his friend Bernado does all the work in making him new gadgets and stuff in what seems like a really small time frame. And as Bernado tries to wake him up, he acts like a little kid telling him not to wake him up and making excuses not to go to school.

Speaking of Bernado, this kid is ungodly amazing with tech stuff. He can do basically anything unrealistic-hacker-tech-genius-y in seconds, and he is really the main driving force behind this dynamic.

Oh and did I mention Zorro’s lightsaber boh staff? Yeah, that’s totally a thing. It makes the lightsaber noises and everything. I seriously believe they designed a laser sword for Zorro, like his predecessors used real swords, but it was so close to a lightsaber that they changed it at the last second to a boh staff that somehow cuts things to avoid possible copyright infringement.

Anyway, as you’d expect, Zorro comes in to save the day, bad guy acts evil, goons easily get knocked out, bad guy has one more trick up his sleeve and Diego’s dad is restrained when she appears.

Though she’s not given a superhero name in this episode, her name is the Scarlet Whip and she is very obviously the bad guy’s daughter, Maria, because quite literally no other females have been seen during the entirety of the episode, and they’re not even trying to hide her identity. Hell, she doesn’t even wear a mask, just a visor where you can clearly see her eyes. And of course since the bad guy is just as stupid as Diego’s dad, he also doesn’t recognize his own flesh and blood. Her weapons of choice are two laser whips, because girls always get whips for some reason, and of course the laser color is frickin’ pink….Which….kinda makes her name make no sense….scarlet is a red color, writers.

She sneaks into the room where Diego, his father and the bad guy have trapped themselves and comes to help Diego. To be continued.

I really don’t think this plot warrants a two-parter but whatever.

This show just doesn’t look appealing to me at all. Diego is too perfect and seemingly uncaring about the people he’s trying to protect. He doesn’t even have finesse like Zorro’s meant to have; he’s just forcing it. The story really seems lifted right from Batman Beyond, albeit made sillier, such as with the gadgets, mostly for the bad guys, being just doofy.

For instance, because I guess this is some time in the future and to avoid showing real guns, the bad guys have to use laser guns and the guns are designed to look like either remote controls or small hand vacuums. The only character who peaks my interest is Bernado, but I doubt he’ll ever get much focus, and all of his rightfully earned glory will all go to Diego. Maria’s not even interesting; she’s a rebellious daughter of an asshole and doesn’t outwardly care about her father at all.

The art is very craggy with few details, and the colors are too saturated. I also find it weird that so many extras have blue hair when I assume it’s meant to be black. The animation is not the worst I’ve seen but it is still pretty damn bad. In the first scene, young Diego rides on his rocking horse and the animation is horrid. It’s like he’s having a seizure. There are many missing frames and a complete misuse of fades. Later on, as Diego and Bernado walk into the Zorro cave, their basic walk cycle animation looks screwed up. They look twitchy and like someone is constantly pulling on their clothes. Not to mention I really believe they recycled the same walk cycle twice in that long shot.

I like the bright red Z transitions, but they happen after every single scene and I can see it getting very old very fast.

The theme song is catchy, but the singing is a bit too high pitched for me most of the time.

The voice acting is blech. No one seems to emote, the bad guys are really hamming it up, and everyone either seems to have an on-off accent like Diego, a super thick ‘Speedy Gonzalez’ voice, an actually believable Spanish accent or none at all.

So it’s really no surprise that I give this show a–

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There’s just nothing for me here. I’d much rather watch Batman Beyond or really anything Batman. Even negating the similarities to Batman, there are much better superhero shows out there.

To clear the air, I’m not biased because I’m a Zorro fan. I’ve really never watched anything Zorro before. I know the plot, and I’ve seen a few episodes of the black and white series when it aired way back on the late night block of the Disney Vault or whatever that was called, but I haven’t had much exposure to it. If you’re a fan and you want a more modern or even futuristic take on the series, this might be more of your cup of tea, but I can’t even imagine Zorro fans would like it that much.

Recommended Audience: Very minor and goofy violence. Nothing outside of that. E for everyone!

Zetman Review

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Rating: 5/10

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+