What They Say:
Jin Kanzaki is poor, but he lives a happy life with his grandfather. Together with his friends Kouga and Konoha, he helps out people for a fee. Meanwhile, the police are searching for a vicious serial killer.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based off of the manga by Masakazu Katsura which has sixteen volumes and going so far since it’s debut in 2002, Zetman is the latest book for Katsura to get adapted into an anime and this time by TMS Entertainment. I’ve been a fan of Katsura’s since Video Girl Ai, though more for his particular style when it comes to characters than anything else. So after his work as character designer on Tiger & Bunny last year, I was keen to see what this unlicensed manga was like and surprised that Viz Media hasn’t actually acquired it, though I’m guessing it’s very dark tones in the seinen magazine Weekly Young Jump has kept them from scooping it up. But Katsura isn’t know for the cute and cuddly and that’s one of his draw points.
With Zetman, it’s made clear right from the start that we’re definitely getting the dark and violent, but the violent that has no problem taking place in broad daylight. In fact, we see someone killed by a vicious serial killer while walking down the street, though nobody knows who did it because it’s so quick and brutal. Into this near future-ish world we’re introduced to a young kid named Jin Kanzaki, a pretty down on his luck and poor kid who lives in the slums in a shanty area with an old man he calls his grandfather that teaches him the right way to live. What Jin does is all sorts of odd jobs to help people in order to earn some money here and there. His introduction provides a bit of the light and bright points in the story as we just see a lot of darkness going around. But he’s not just an odd jobs kind of kid, he gets into the thick of things and has no problem fighting. And fighting hard as we see when he takes down a small group of thugs trying to take advantage of a woman in an alley.
When Jin’s grandfather gets caught in an act of violence, it’s the act that spurs him to do more than what he was doing since it affects him so personally. It’s a brief incident but what follows shows us the good side of both of them as we see what it was like to be homeless for them, the dreams that Jin had and the kinds of problems his being homeless has caused with his two friends that come from a wealthy family. Between this and the time that Jin spends afterwards getting cleaned up and helped by the woman he helped goes a long way towards making him a pretty interesting kid coping with a difficult problem and actually having someone that wants to help him through it. Of course, it has to end badly when the two of them come across the killer again, but it’s what’s needed to essentially ignite Jin into what he can become, but it’s convoluted and murky which is pretty fitting as this all feels like something much bigger is going on and we’re not even scratching the surface here..
The opening episode to Zetman is fairly confusing in a way with what it wants to be because it throws several different things at the viewer but doesn’t give us a clear path for it. What we do know is that Jin will become something that can right the wrongs of the world, a dark superhero of sorts that are common in Japanese “superheroics” when you get down to it. What it does here is to put him through the wringer a bit with some loss and pain while hinting at what his potential will be. It does show his personality well and that’s a key part here, to understand that even though he’s poor and living a hard life, he’s got the right things to personality that can make him a good adult with a lot of potential. But the potential for manipulation is strong here and we get hints of the forces that may be aligned against him – or with him. As first episodes go, it’s not bad but it’s not going to hit it out of the park either. It’s a series that I can easily see having some payoff to it but it’s going to take some work. And it’s a series that I do wish had dealt with an older protagonist rather than a young kid.
Streamed By: Viz Media
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.