The Anime Primer

Capsule Descriptions of Anime: Z

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Zegapain   Zipang


Fundamentally, there are mecha anime, and then there are Sunrise mecha anime, and the TV Tokyo/Sunrise mecha anime Zegapain is no exception. Sunrise has a tradition of bringing top rate animation, evocative themes, beautiful girls and complicated plots to its mecha anime, and we have all those and more in this new series.

In the near future, first-year high-school student Kyou Sogoru is trying to start a competitive swim team at his school, but his former teammates from middle school are mad at him and no longer want to swim with him. Never-the-less Kyou continues to go to the school's swimming pool to practice, where one day he sees a stunningly beautiful girl make a perfect dive off of the high board. But the girl disappears after hitting the water, and when Kyou dives in to find her, she suddenly reappears underwater, kisses him, and Kyou then finds himself in what appears to be a very realistic mecha fighting game, with the girl, Shizuno Misaki, sitting behind him, telling him how to control the weapons of the mecha. But the more that Kyou plays the "Zegapain game", the more he realizes that the world that he lives in seems to be less real than the game.

Thus starts a mysterious, touching and bittersweet post-apocalyptic story of love that survives death and life that survives time. Nothing and no one is what they first seem in this story that is equal parts a story of human hopes and dreams, a story of the end of time and beyond, and a story of the power of love. And at the same time this is also a rousing tale of heroic action. Zegapain is an outstanding anime that is definitely "not your father's mecha series".

To a much greater degree than its titular mechas, Zegapain deals heavily with subjects like quantum computing and artificial intelligence. Its treatment of the A.I. is top-notch; the concepts thrown around in Zegapain, such as "entangle", "wet" and "dry" damage, Deutera, and transmission losses, are used accurately according to the real-world concepts they describe, and are incredibly spot-on for a mecha show. One look at the technical consultants for the series, though, and you'll know just how far the creators went to ensure accuracy. (There's an astonishing depth of emotion displayed by the characters, but having an A.I. expert sitting next to you to explain the terminology enriches the experience immensely.)

[Entry by Dave Baranyi and Jorge A Pratt]

Zeiram, the Animation

see Iria

Zeta Gundam

See Gundam


The Mirai, the newest and most powerful Aegis-class frigate in the JDF's 21st-Century fleet, quietly slips anchor from Yokahama Naval Yard and sets off to join the US Navy in joint armed naval practices off of Hawaii. The Mirai's officers and crew are experienced seamen, committed to defense of Japan and to the maintenance of peace in the modern world. Then, halfway to their rendezvous point the crew of the Mirai are jolted by a sudden power surge as the Mirai goes though a strange mid-ocean storm containing auroras. As the crew gets over the inexplicable incident they are faced with an even more unbelievable event - out of nowhere appears a huge ship that is racing directly towards them. The crew of the Mirai reacts with the efficiency of their years of training and they avoid a collision, but as the mystery ships passes nearby in the night the Mirai's crew all stand and look in fear and awe, because the ship cruising by is none other than the largest battleship ever build, the IJN Yamato.

Thus starts the gripping sci-fi drama Zipang, in which a modern 21st Century combat ship of the Japanese Defense Force and its crew are suddenly and unexpectedly thrust into the middle of the largest and most destructive world-wide conflict ever - World War II. The crew of the Mirai quickly realize that they have not seen an illusion, in fact, the next morning they become silent witnesses to the destruction of the Japanese carrier fleet at Midway. But they are not destined to remain static observers, as first they stop and save an IJN Intelligence officer from a sinking floatplane and then they have to avoid the torpedoes of a prowling US submarine.

Just by being there the Mirai and its crew start to immediately change history. Very quickly both sides are looking for the "mystery ship". The Americans are scared of yet another Japanese "super weapon" coming upon them unexpectedly. And the Japanese want to know just what is this ship that has a Japanese crew but seems so foreign. The many details of the early part of WW II in the Pacific are brought into play, particularly the distrust between the Services on both sides and the fatalism of the leadership of the IJN after the debacle at Midway. But the story becomes very human too, due to the comparisons and contrasts made between Yosuke Kadomatsu, the second-in-command of the Mirai and Takumi Kusaka, the young IJN intelligence officer who has been given a second chance at life and a detailed look at a future that may be, but doesn't have to be.

Zipang is a brilliantly conceived and executed tour-de-force that develops a true clash-of-cultures then deals with it intelligently and honestly. Punches are not pulled, nor are there any copouts. This is a story about war and it deals with both the bravery and the horror on many levels. Breathtaking action and serious drama are given equal billing and the viewer is forced to consider what choices he or she would make in similar situations. And while a viewer who has some level of knowledge of the War in the Pacific will find much to enjoy in this series, the humanity of the characters and the questions that are asked make Zipang a compelling story even for those who only have a cursory knowledge of those events some sixty years ago that shaped the world we know today.

[Entry by Dave Baranyi]

ZZ Gundam

See Gundam

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Any images on this page are copyright their respective creators or licencees, and are used under Fair Use (review) provisions of the Copyright Act. All reviews on this page are copyright their respective authors, and are used with permission. The compilation copyright for this page is held by Rob Kelk.

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