Japanese Title: Zegapain
Fafner of the Blue Sky
Watched in: Japanese & English
Length: 26 episodes
- A premise worth watching for.
- Just about everything else.
Look at any poster, video or screenshot of Zegapain. It looks like trash. It requires effort to make characters this generic and to have mecha designs this ugly. This doesn’t happen by accident. The dialogue is just as you imagine accompanying that art. So why would a reader recommend I review Zegapain, likening it to RahXephon in the process? I was even more confused after the first episode – one of anime’s worst starts.
It opens on protagonist Kyo having to kiss a guy disguised as a girl for a student film by his friend Ryoko. He refuses, notices a buxom babe on the high dive outside, strips to his Speedos, and charges off to meet her. (Does he always wear swimmers instead of underwear?) His enthusiasm comes from finding a new recruit to his dying swim club. Next thing he knows, he’s part of a conference call with the military. The girl, Misaki, puts his hand on her boob, pulls him into her chest, and they teleport aboard a mech. (Right…) She tells him to treat the battle like a VR game. I laughed when the mech warns of incoming enemies, but Misaki praises Kyo for spotting them so quickly – girl, he didn’t do anything! He fights perfectly without training. Though there is more to his story, it’s still a cataclysmically stupid idea to bring him to the front line. A better writer would sell the situation.
Before first episode’s end, it is evident that the characters have no depth – I imagine the brainstorm session took five minutes. Only a couple have goals and motivations. The battle tech is a bunch of ‘stuff’ doing ‘things’ cobbled together without thought of how this works or how it came to be.
Needless to say, but Zegapain seems like a bottom-dwelling anime at this point.
However, after a few more battles of floaty CG and meaningless action, Kyo finds a glitch on the battlefield. A message tells him not to believe his world. And that’s where things start to get interesting. We have a Matrix situation here, except he can’t be sure of which world is reality. If his high school is virtual, then who are all these people? And how did the outside world turn to ruin? More and more mysteries unfold as the plot develops, resulting in an intriguing storyline. I’m as astonished as you are.
Of course, it doesn’t erase the fact that the script seems randomly generated or that the characters are surface deep, but this one strength is enough for me to enjoy Zegapain to the end.
Kyo is still a bad protagonist. He’s far too accepting of everything for the convenience of the writer’s laziness. He teleports suddenly from school to the battleship thanks to a gizmo in his forehead, is about to ask where the gizmo came from and how he got it, when he says, “Ah, whatever, it got me here after all.” Even more reason to question it, you idiot! And what is the obsession with returning to this swim club subplot every episode? It doesn’t matter! Hell, why swimming? It isn’t realistic that a swim club in the heat of Japan’s summer would struggle for members. It’s for Misaki in the swimsuit, isn’t it?
Several episodes that lean more slice of life are a waste of time as well and the antagonists are as weak as the heroes. Despite all these faults, something about the reality versus virtual reality plot gets me. It just gets me.
Zegapain is a hidden gem— well, gem is a bit much. More like a peculiar stone on the riverbank with an unusual texture that a few will find interesting.
Art – Very Low
Zegapain approaches Hand Shakers level of CG with its mechs. Furthermore, why make them CG if you aren’t going to take advantage of the easier animation tools? What was the point? The regular art has zero creativity and even randomly drops in quality on occasion.
The voice actors do the best they can with this bad script. I think the music came royalty free.
Story – Medium
A teen has to distinguish between reality and the virtual world amidst an alien occupation and high school troubles. The characters and action may have no merit, but the plots works well.
Overall Quality – Medium
Recommendation: Give it a chance. Zegapain is most engaging if you can enjoy a good story in the face of weak characters and ugly art.
Awards: (hover over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)