Saturday, February 25, 2012

You Should Be Watching: Zegapain

I'm stealing the catchphrase from Funimation as a pre-title for series that I recommend watching.
Synopsis from MyAnimeList:
"Kyo, an avid swimmer tries his best to keep the high school swimming club going, which is pretty hard when he's the only member. Facing the prospect of the club being closed by the student council, he tries to enlist beautiful Misaki to act in a promo video, shot by his good friend Ryoko, in a bid to start a recruitment drive. She agrees but only if he pilots a mecha under the wing of Celebrum, a resistance organisation fighting to destroy Deutera Areas formed on Earth by the aliens Gards-orm. He agrees but finds it all strangely familiar as if he's done it before..."
At first glance, Zegapain looks like any other mecha show along the lines of Super Robot Wars, Kurogane no Linebarrel, Dancouga or Power Rangers. One of the more shallow aspects of the show is when the Zega machines fight against the infinitely spawning identical enemies. The mecha fighting aspect of the series is really repetitive and they even reuse the same action scenes as if they are not important also. Do not let that fool you. At its core, Zegapain does not resemble ANY of the aforementioned titles. Actually, it is closer in resemblance to Soukyuu no Fafner if that rings any bells (unlikely as that series may be even more obscure).
However, if you come for the robots you stay for the characters and the drama, and the core of this series is in the dramatic setting. If I want to explain the despairing post-apocalyptic setting, then I will definitely trample through some pretty big spoilers. I will not go into it much and try to keep things as vague as possible. As for some (not really required) prerequisite knowledge, watching the series may be easier if you understand quantum physics, entanglement phenomenon and light phase properties.
That said, this series actually progresses really quite slowly. Just by watching the first 2 or 3 episodes most people may have dropped it already because of the repetitive robot actions. The main character Sogoru Kyo may be interesting to watch his reactions to being thrown into a incomprehensibly complex situation. The femme fatale Misaki Shizuno may be mysterious and alluring. Each episode slowly builds the Zegapain world that is much more melancholic than the fun high school aspects may lead you to believe. The big picture (fully established somewhere around episode 14 of 26) paints an imaginative world that draws you into continue to watch the next episode.

This series is one of those anime gems that very few fully enjoy. I have to say the ending and finale is one of the best in anime. The path may be slightly awkward however, as (even when I am re-watching this series now) some of Sogoru's actions make me cringe in awkwardness. Also, the OP and ED songs are great soundtracks that fit the mood very well; they are both still on my most current Itunes' playlist. As a complete series, I wholeheartedly recommend this anime to be added to anyone's Plan to Watch list.

As a reward for those that read all the way through this roughly written recommendation, here's some slightly spoiler-ish hints:
Pay less attention to the femme fatale, Misaki Shizuno...
...and focus more on the cute childhood friend, Kaminagi Ryoko. =)

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