Friday, June 8, 2007


(Originally 21 December 2006)

The more I think about Zegapain's ending, the more gratuitous the writing seems. Over the top fights, rather compressed story, introduction of new characters, and most things wrapping up too neatly in the span of an episode. That said, the writing throughout the series was pretty solid. It wasn't as epic in scale as Escaflowne, but it was mind bending in its own right. Escaflowne's ending with the wishes colliding notion was just confusing, though.

It took me a few episodes to get into the story. The Matrix-esque scenes in the second or third episode, with hidden messages and disappearing entities, was a good hook. The series was very marathon-able, even though it raised some head-scratching questions.

Kyo, the main character, screams when he fights, says a few foot in mouth things early on, and is generally forced to act the clueless (and unbelieving) person so that others can explain the series universe to us through him. Thumbs up for having a backbone and being assertive, thumbs down for talking a wee bit too much, and stepping into cocky territory.

I'm not too sure how I'd take being told that the world I live in is virtual, my life is a lie, and the world reboots at the same time every year. But then again, I've seen The Matrix (and now Zegapain), so I think I'd take it pretty well. It's therefore hard for me to sympathize Kyo's confusion, and it feels more contrived than anything.

Ryoko, on the other hand, takes it ridiculously well. I think she's easily the best character of the series, which is a hard thing for me to say given that Chikane's VA played Shizuno, who is automatically made bad-ass by Kawasumi Ayako's golden touch. But Shizuno's story didn't have nearly as much going for her as did Ryoko's.

I'm not crazy about moe, and that's all Ryoko was at first. I figured it was going to be hard to like her, and it was true for the first nine or so episodes. She was cute, but clueless and insecure, and her dialogue was irritatingly shallow. But then she discovers what Kyo discovers, and rather than sit in a corner and whine about what life means or something else, she goes and becomes this insanely great weapons system officer. On a side note, the abbreviation for weapons system officer, WSO, can be pronounced like wizzo. Maybe that's where the term wizard came from?

Forget whatever I saw (or said) nine episodes ago, this is the real Ryoko. She's still adorable and her voice is still moe, but her actions and dialogue are anything but. It's almost as if her awakening is this epiphany that causes her to age five years, and it's freaking awesome. She vaults from bottom of the barrel in character rankings to first place.

The Zegapain gunners and their wizards get the lion's share of characterization, and most of the plot revolves around them so it's only fair. It's just that Ryoko is a stand-out character, given the circumstances of her awakening, her relatively recent arrival, and her immediate skill level.

If you become a Ryoko fan, then the writers will then proceed to beat you down. The twists in the plot are pretty painful for Ryoko boosters, but they make for great watching. The OP and ED animation sequences change up semi-frequently, too, and I watched every single sequence to see if there was something new. Sometimes they'll also run different cuts and lengths of Little Goodbye as well, which is pure ownage for me at this point in time. Usually the ED track isn't introduced early unless it's the last episode, or something huge happens. It's as if every other episode something huge happens, though. I found those introductions generally appropriate, i.e. it wasn't thrown in gratuitously, and it didn't get stale but that might be bias for Little Goodbye on my part.

Music was appropriate, but only Little Goodbye caught my ear.

Animation, didn't suck. Mostly. Sunrise animated Escaflowne and they own the Gundam franchise. There's no way that they could screw up the animation for a giant fighting robot series, right?

Sup, stock footage. Perhaps Zegapain wasn't a Gundam series so its budget was a tad small. The same CG combat scenes were used in several episodes, particularly early on the series. There was at least one scene that was reused, and they just changed the skin of the Zegapain model that was fighting, but the enemies, and the fight choreography, was exactly the same. Well, maybe the sky was a different colour too. I can understand how CG reuse must be extremely tempting, but it's Sunrise. You just don't play with fire when you animate the likes of Gundam. And Escaflowne.

The main argument goes something like, the fights aren't the main focus, it's the story. Clearly emphasis is placed on scenes that are not fighting, except the end with its epic, if over the top, battle. This would make Zegapain akin to Kannazuki no Miko in that respect. If Zegapain were to be licensed, I'd seriously consider getting it and forcing it upon the few who haven't fled from me in terror. Solid writing, Kawasumi Ayako as Shizuno, Kaminagi Ryoko, Little Goodbye, are all compelling reasons to purchase the series.


The OP has grown on me, although there aren't many appropriate occasions to listen to it. In general it's too calm. I have to not be doing anything in order to soak in the ambience.

A note about the OP and ED sequences. Both of them are character-centric, giving away nothing about the story and only hinting at relationships. While not visually appealing for those looking for more action from what should be a mecha series (which it is but only in part), the sequences fit the overall atmosphere well.