Questions without answers and only consequences.
When faced with a question or problem without a “right” solution, with each decision carrying a consequential wrong, what answer should one arrive at? How does one determine in such a situation, what is “right” and what is “wrong”?
Zetman tells the tale of man-made creatures called “players” which embody a threat to human existence and mans attempts to correct their mistakes through the creation of a being called “Zet”. It is a story told from two perspectives; from a boy, Kouga Amagi, looking to become a super human to uphold his perceptions of “justice” and another, Jin Kanzaki, who is trying to escape the “beast” he was intended to be in favour of becoming the human he desires to be.
Zetman was a hard manga for me to read, well the first few volumes, not because it was nonsensical or boring because it is the exact opposite, but because the early parts of Zetman were dyed so thick in tragedy, my emotions and tears shuddered in anxiety at the thought of wondering which character I had come to love would be the next to lose their life. It was cruel, the struggles and torment the two main characters had to face and the total conflict with their expanding perspective of the world against the reality of their own ignorance and inabilities. Those early volumes exposing the characters to situations beyond their comprehension scarred them and mentally traumatized them. But certain developments in later volumes concerning those earlier incidents brought about different sort of tears.
The story of Zetman is one of the most impressive aspects about the manga, among being incredibly exciting and deep, it discards any attempt to use an existing formula to create its existence and instead forms its own formula which it continually evolves along with its story. The story is too complicated to take in one go but since it is so smoothly integrated into the different parts of the story across the manga, you gradually learn what exactly is happening and what exactly happened to cause such a situation. The depth and comprehensiveness of the story’s structure also makes it almost impossible to guess what will happen next. You are continually left at the edge of your seat wondering what may happen and what you do not want to happen…
As I noted earlier the story is played out through the perspectives of two characters, Jin Kanzaki and Kouga Amagi. Jin Kanzaki is introduced first and once you are exposed to the purity of his being and how selfless he is, you will find yourself in love with his character and wanting quite intensely for him to find happiness. Kouga Amagi on the other hand doesn’t strike the same cord, his obsession with “justice” initially comes off as slightly egotistic and self-serving, but once that “justice” is strained and put under the spotlight, you become interested in how Kouga will walk the path of a “superhero”. When faced with conflicting meanings of justice, which “justice” will Kouga choose? Ultimately both of these characters reflect off of each other and drive each other through their differing points of view.
Another character which I find myself incredibly attached to is Akemi Kawakami. The kindness, love and understanding she showed Jin in the start of the manga was so powerful and piercing, my emotional heart melted and I can’t help but be brought to tears whenever she appears in a panel (I am incredibly attached to her character). I am so glad Jin and her were able to meet, she saved him and he saved her and even though they aren’t related by blood, the mother/son relationship they have is something so magical and moving.
Turning to the artwork now, it goes without saying that Zetman boast some of the most detailed and impressive artwork you will find in a manga. It is up there with the likes of Berserk. Straight from the first page, Zetman voices the power and uniqueness of its art style and artwork, it engrosses you and excites you. You finds yourself at times unable to turn the page in conflict of wanting to submerge yourself further into the story and wanting to appreciate the artwork before you. The backgrounds, they are truly something to marvel at, the detail they convey and image they build are so characterised you become even more engrossed in the story, the world around it and the characters within it. The “player” designs only further add to this; the twisted nature and detailed abnormality of their look screams horror and unnatural which consequently, in an unusual way, captivates and intrigues you. When all these elements come together on a page, it becomes hard not to be left in awe at the work that has been put into creating each chapter.
Zetman, in my opinion, is an extremely good read, it has a great story which by itself should be enough reason to pick up this title, but when you add the incredibly detailed artwork and the fleshed-out characters you become closely attached to, it becomes a manga that any seinen manga fan should definitely read or at least consider reading.
Thanks for reading.
Enjoyment level: 10/10