I know enough about Zetman to know that the anime is veering off the manga storyline, or at least compressing it to an extreme degree. The thing is, though, that this adaptation doesn’t have the feel of filler to it. The pacing is certainly fast – though it felt less so this week to me – but it still has the aura of canon material. Writer Tomioka Atsuhiro’s vast reserves of experience are surely proving crucial here, as adapting a titanic manga like this one into a one-cour anime is an incredibly difficult task. Once again, I’m happy in this instance not to have any baggage with Zetman, and to be able to appreciate the anime on its own terms.
I couldn’t help but think of Renly Baratheon a little when watching Kouga. There’s a lot of commonality between the characters, which isn’t surprising as they’re both representatives of a classic archetype. Good-looking children of privilege, smart (but not too smart), charming and idealistic – to a point – Kouga (like Renly) has played at war, but never waged it. His sister clearly sees that there’s more than a little element of pure egotism in what Kouga does, though he’s at least smart enough to realize that himself in his more honest moments. Kouga isn’t stupid – he knows Jin has done far more for society’s victims than he has, and he knows that even if his goals and Jin’s overlap, their methods never will. I’m still torn on where Kouga will go – I could see a full dark-side turn here, or a continued role as a morally ambiguous white knight. Either one would be consistent with the Alan Moore school of comics that Katsura-sensei is paying homage to here.
Complicating that even further is the fact that Kouga’s own Grandfather has recruited (and created) Jin as the last hope to undo the damage he did by turning the players loose on the world. Kouga certainly wouldn’t be happy that his own flesh and blood has more faith in Jin than in himself, should he find out. And we still don’t know what Mitsugai needed “staggering amounts of cash” for so badly that he created the monstrosities and gave them their own fight club to obtain it. I’m still not sure exactly what’s happening here – is Kanazaki’s consciousness somehow still alive, hooked up to one of Amagi’s computers and trying to outsmart him and get Jin to follow a human path? I do know that I don’t trust Mitsugai one little bit. That story about creating ZET as a hunter to try and track down what he’d set loose may or may not be true, bur I don’t for a second believe he’s capable of selfless motives. Maybe his selfish motives overlap with doing something good from time to time, but that’s as far as I think his philanthropy goes.
Things did crystalize some here with Amagi’s explanations, which I assume are at least partially true. It casts the story as fundamentally an inner war with Jin, as to whether he’ll follow the path of humanity or that of the ZET – with Mitsugai pulling in one direction and perhaps Kanazki the other. Mitsugai has lured him into becoming his dog for now, so the challenge will be for Jin to maintain his humanity in the face of his new role. I was certainly pleased to see that Akemi was all right, and it’s amazing considering how rapid the pacing has been (and how much was cut out) that the relationship between she and Jin is as poignant and believable as it is. Mitusgai frightened Jin into staying away from Akemi, but his conditions for accepting the old man’s proposal all involved helping her. I wonder if now that Jin has officially joined Amagi if we’re looking at more of a monster-of-the-week format, with Jin doing battle – as ZET – with the escaped players. I kind of hope not, and given that there are only 9 eps left to construct whatever sort of arc Tomioka has in mind, I don’t think the anime could pursue that angle for very long in any case.