Zetman Series Collection (DVD) Review

After watching the trailers for Zetman, and perusing some of the art from the manga source material by Masakazu Katsura, I was seriously excited to check out a series that looked to be a throw back to titles like Guyver, Devilman and Casshern. Not only did the characters look suitably moody and monstrous (except for the angelic Alphas), but the overall theme seemed to be inline with these legendary series. Unfortunately what we get is a pale intimation which suffers from serious pacing issues and a serious lack of substance. 

Rich-kid Kouga and street-rat Jin are best of friends and partners in crime, well, the prevention of crime. Accompanied by Kouga's tag-along little sister, Konoha, they scour the streets, purging the city of n'er-do-wells. Fate draws them apart until the cross paths again as fully fledged fighting machines, the monstrous Zet and scientifically enhanced Alphas. The pair combine forces to do what they do best - bash stuff.

This series sometimes comes across as a combination of Guyver and Tiger and Bunny. While this may seem like a good thing, it's not exactly the match that you'd think it would be. Granted, there are tonnes of battles and angry, morphing bad guys as well as a smattering of angst between the two main protagonists but it all counts for nought when neither of the characters are particularly likable. Frankly, I didn't care in the slightest whether any of the characters were successful in their grand missions or ultimately bit the big one. With no real connection to characters the stakes, whether high or low, may as well be non-existent. While Kouga at least shows a little personality, Jin is so cold and devoid of personality that it is all but impossible to connect with him. You can only push the angst angle so far.

The animation supplied by old hands, TMS Entertainment, is generally quite solid. Fight scenes are explosive and dynamic while the urban backdrop is unobtrusive and pretty well polished. The characters too are distinctive in both art style and design. Certain elements, such as the heavy lined top lip and defined noses seemed reminiscent of Yoshiki Takaya's Guyver but never to the point of seeming to be any more than innocent homage. The character design while distinctive, was a little reminiscent of designs found in Guyver, Go Nagai's Devilman and even various tokusatsu series.

The story starts off promisingly enough with characters who appear to be rather likable in their younger forms, only to grow up into far less palatable young people. Writer Atsuhiro Tomioka seems to have gone to great effort to introduce the bulk of Masakazu Katsura's story into the first few episodes, promising a grand pay-off that never truly eventuates. Some of the most intriguing and seemingly important characters are left unexplained and unfulfilled in the whirlwind final episodes which try to tie up all loose ends with little success.

Perhaps it's my own fault for going into the series with rose-coloured glasses from my halcyon days on but Zetman never really seems to address any of the underlying stories that are constantly hinted at instead settling for being a derivative good guy vs bad guy slug fest. It's not awful, but it's certainly not great either.

- Ryan
Zetman Series Collection is available on DVD now from Madman


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