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Zetman (1994)
by Zoro on December 5th, 2011, 7:50pm

Rating - 7.6 / 10.0

User rating of this review - 5 out of 5
Story/Plot - 4 out of 5
Characters - 3.7 out of 5
Drawing Style - 3.9 out of 5
Enjoyment - 3.6 out of 5
Overall - 3.8 out of 5

Click here for series information

Plot/Story
Kurono Jin is a self righteous video-game programer for a software company. The weak and complex Jin lives with his girlfriend while working non-stop on what he thinks is his greatest project, Zetman. Jin is a big believer of righteous justice, and thinks it's because of humans that evil exists. If humans are the ones at fault, it's up to a superhero to stop all the evil in the world.

One night, after Jin finished lecturing his girlfriend about the laws of justice he passes out from a strange light caused by computer, and he becomes the hero this world was looking for. Crime fighting helps Jin level up and discover the true nature of 'his' justice, just like his video game. But as the old saying goes: "Absolute power corrupts, absolutely."

A great prelude to the Zetman we know and love today. Although, a little censored in terms of content in comparison to it's faithful serial version, this One-shot from Masakazu Katsura hits a lot of great themes in all the right places.

With Alan Moore's tragic hero comic 'Watchmen' released eight years prior to Masakazu's Zetman One-shot, we know which audience the author tries to target. And although published through Shueisha's Weekly Jump magazine, Masakazu was relentless in telling us the story of a corrupted hero with a demanding thirst for justice. Reading eight years later, Masakazu's serial version of Zetman, we know exactly how fearless, and how deep the author wanted to go in producing this story. So, the idea of serializing it through Shueisha's Weekly Young Jump magazine was obviously the better choice.

Masakazu's perception into the human psyche should be admired after paying close attention to his plot techniques referenced with his main theme of justice. It makes sense to us that the type of super human you would become reflects a persons true nature and personality, in Jin's case he takes the appearance of a devil with angelic wings, illustrating his good vs. evil ratios which are then interpreted during his experiences with hostage situations.

The journey through Jin's evolution into Zetman is castaway through the story's timeline, but Masakazu makes no mistake in illuminating his psychological development over Jin's physical development.

Zetman is the story of how good and evil are two sides of the same coin. We see just how strenuous it would be if one were so inclined to exercise their beliefs for justice. It's no Batman, but it's intriguing and moderately paced.

Characters
Important roles are usually hidden between the pages of great novels. We don't have much, but what we do have are two shoulder angels for Zetman's alternative mind sets. Figuratively speaking, we have the good shoulder angel (Shirai Sachiko, Jin's girlfriend) and we have the bad shoulder angel (AI-Super 'Ais-chan', Jin's level coordinator). Shirai does everything in her power to help Jin remember that justice does not mean violence, it is another way to stand up for the weak and sentence the evil. Ais-chan is the other girl in Jin's life, telling him to go out there, kick butt and gain levels to face the evil boss.

Jin is an honest and earnest, self righteous peace maker. He seems to have split natures inside of him, and although he conforms to a normal life, he would rather be righting wrongs and cleaning the streets at night.

Masakazu's use in characters is very clever. He allows us to concentrate on Jin while he struggles in his mind to decide what true justice really is. Although, this dials the volume down on other characters a whole lot, leaving us with only one perspective and a singular styled narrative. But to create a character like Zetman, who is literally two different characters in the same body, we need absolute concentration.

Drawing Style
An early adaptation of Masakazu's style, this was before he wrote his famous I"s series, and after he finished his Video Girl Ai series. Masakazu still earns points for matching delicate figures into a horrible hero tale, and creating an attractive lead character that shifts into the even more detailed Zetman.

Backgrounds may be slim pickings from the looks of it, but nothing overshadows Zetman when he scopes the city streets, taking care of the bad guys.

Enjoyment
Detailed to an extent, it's hard for us to believe the logic behind Jin's transformation into Zetman, and even more so how his computer screen delivered an A.I program into the real word. Some readers could've expected the "It's all in his head" approach, but Masakazu makes it a little more believable by not concentrating on making everything logical (he explains the logic for Zetman in his later series).

The chilly vibe you receive is on par with another seinen, most notably Hiroya Oku's 'Gantz'. The gore and bloody violence is taken to softly for Zetman's one-shot, but the author most definitely doesn't like to censor his stories, especially when contribute so much the plot.

This One-shot isn't due any humour or romance, but if you're curious to see the depth of a superhero, read a little Zetman and you won't be disappointed.

Overall
I major landmark in Masakazu's career. I true hero story and the corruption of a human's definition of justice. If you wanted to go all the way with this story, I suggest you stop reading this review and pick up Masakazu's first volume of his 2002 serial version. The difference in art and plot are miles apart, leaving this prelude in the dust.
 
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well written by bookawkee! on December 19th, 2012, 5:30am Rating: 5

clear and concise. good review. makes me even more upset that there isnt a translated scan available.
 
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