As you know I’ve liked this show from the very beginning, and always felt the sense that we were only skimming the surface of how great it could be. It was like a buffet were every dish looked absolutely delicious, but you were only allowed to take one bite before being pushed on to the next station. It’s not as if those bites weren’t tasty, but it always left you wanting more. For the first time in the series, I think, this was an episode where the viewers were allowed to savor the dish for a while.
What strikes me about Zetman is just how many different agendas we have out there. On the personal side we have the obvious love triangle between Jin, Konoha and Hanako – which heated up this week and is about to get even more plot-centric, it looks like. Jin is the obvious MC, then you’ve got Kouga with his pie-eyed schoolboy POV, Mitsugai, Seizou, Hayami, Haitani, Jirou, the bartender at EVOL (I don’t even know his name) – there’s just no end of different angles here, a seemingly endless string of parties pursuing their own interests. It’s quite miraculous that the anime manages to keep it all straight as well as it does, even if that effort is only a partial success.
The one thing most of these parties have in common is that their agenda involves using Jin for their own purposes, including (regrettably) Kouga. I don’t put Kouga on a moral level with most of them, though, because his primary fault isn’t selfishness but ignorance – his cluelessness about the world around him makes him self-absorbed, but that doesn’t make him evil. Kouga’s desire to help people seems genuine (if partially ego-driven) and his fanboy adoration of Jin is endearing if a little sad – that it reaches the point of (much to Jin’s horror) carrying what’s effectively a Zet trading card around with him is proof that he takes it too far, though it does give us the origin of the series name. Kouga desperately wants a part of what Jin has because he senses that everything that happens to Jin is real, while everything in his life is always make-believe on some level – yet he ignores the pain and suffering that Jin has had to (and will have to) endure. It’s a sort of classic noblesse oblige (thank you, E7: AO) mixed with rich man’s envy à la “Undercover Boss”. Sadly for him, I feel quite certain Kouga is going to be suffering plenty of real pain and heartache before all is said and done, probably thanks to Jirou.
Within the Amagi Corporation alone there’s so much scheming and secrecy it’s hard to keep up. We haven’t seen much of Kouga’s father Seizou but I get the sense he’s more evil that Mitsugai. Hayami supposedly works for him, but seems to have an agenda all his own as regards Kouga. As the future head of Amagi Corp. Kouga is a sort of prize that everyone wants under their thumb. One of Mitsugai’s ugliest secrets was the fact that he was keeping Kanazaki alive as a severed head (if I read things right I think Mitsugai is telling the truth when he says he had nothing to do with Kanazaki’s murder) and this is finally revealed to Jin this week. There’s a lot of sad irony in this – Kanazaki wanted more than anything for Jin to remain human, and Jin has allowed himself to be maneuvered into becoming a Zet – the very reason Mitsugai allows him to “speak” with Kanzaki. Jin does exactly what he should – pulls the plug (literally) and allows Kanazaki to rest at last, but not before Kanzaki asks Jin about the red pendant in Konoha’s possession, presumably a key to his becoming fully Zet, (though I’m not convinced – could it be connected to NET?) and – poignantly – if he’s been eating well. I can only assume this fiasco will make Jin even more suspicious of Mitsugai and his motives.
Since Haitani is spying on everything that happens at Amagi, he now knows who has the red stone – and that’s clearly the next big drama in the story. Yet another new variable appears – what looks like a sort of slate-gray terminator mech, headed for Konoha’s mansion to presumably steal the pendant (which illustrates Checkov’s rule that anytime a gun is introduced in a story, it must eventually be used). Poor Konoha – she sees only snippets of what’s happening between Jin and Hanako and assumes the worst, and it now appears Jin may even be falling for Hanako a bit (“Shall we try the family thing?”) I still don’t quite know whether this is romantic on his part but after everything that’s happened I’m surprised he’d allow someone to get that close to him no matter how insistent she is. And Konoha again gets nothing but heartbreak – no acknowledgement from Jim beyond the bare minimum, a belief that she’s lost him to another, and about to be caught up in the power play for Jin and terrorized yet again.