Zegapain has a very good sci-fi plot that was not given the attention it deserved, thus sharing the same fate as Shinsekai Yori. It was a side project that was given a smaller budget and a less capable director, while most of the attention was placed on making Code Geass, which had a complete pile of shit for a script, but the colors were pretty and the themes were pandering most casual demographics, so why bother with an experimental title that would be thought provoking, but wouldn’t make as much money?
And indeed, Code Geass was so successful, to the point Studio Sunrise changed its focus from creating dark and cerebral shows, to producing the worst possible cringefests ever since. Because that’s what was selling, not Zegapain, the final title of the dark sci-fi era that began a decade earlier with Neon Genesis.
Since the Big Three were the only thing 90% of the community was watching, and Code Geass was labeled the only good mecha at a time when your average otaku had lost his interest in giant robots and was dancing like an idiot by mimicking the ending of Haruhi Suzumiya, Zegapain was forever left in obscurity, and was known only by the very few who would be were curious enough to try something that wasn’t one of the 5 shows everybody was watching, at a time when the industry was producing 40 of them in every season.
As it usually happens, the titles most end up remembering are the flashiest ones, not the well-written ones, and Zegapain happens to belong in the rare well-written category. It’s not one of those shows they make on the fly, and they don’t expect anyone to care by the next season. It’s not some run of the mill moeshit or romcom, it doesn’t feel like something you are watching playing out in the exact same way as half of everything else. It stands out amongst mecha titles, a genre which got really saturated by the same studio that made it. Thank you Sunrise for making people to get sick and tired of seeing the same bullshit in mecha and jumping ship to moeshit. What an improvement.
And I am not implying Zegapain is good just because it’s different. Aka, it’s not a subversion for the sake of being one. It’s actually doing something with what it subverts. And it stands out because not many others did it as such. I mean, we can easily label this a Matrix clone, since the premise is pretty much the same; people living in a computer simulation and the machines have taken over the real world, which is destroyed. But doesn’t handle the premise as a power fantasy, which is pretty much what every anime about videogames does nowadays. Thank you, Sword Art Online, for making people being trapped in videogames a thing, you f-ing piece of shit. And by the way, SAO came out at the same time as Shinsekai Yori, thus repeating history exactly as it happened with Code Geass and Zegapain. And then you wonder why I became a snob.
My point is, it’s a show that deserves far more attention, because it had a great concept, it explored it, and it didn’t ridicule itself with tasteless fan service or off-putting comedy. We live at a time where people watch mecha only for Rikka’s thights, so you might want to see how captivating something can be, when it’s not made just as an excuse to masturbate.
And yes, there are issues with it, so it’s not like I’m trying to sell you a masterpiece nobody has heard of. It was not a good action show even back when it was airing, and after a decade, the CGI makes it look even worse. The robots don’t have a cool design, the characters look generic and behave in a plain manner, the plot is very slow and kinda repetitive when it comes to having fights with mass produced identical enemy droids. You have to dedicate your time on something that looks dull, with the only promise being good theme exploration and legit character development. Which I understand it’s not what the majority of anime fans want today. They just want a power fantasy where the hero goes to a magical videogame world, kicks the crap out of everyone, and grabs boobs.
And basically, if we go by the typical “Zegapain is like the Matrix with giant robots” it is instantly judged unfairly because it lacks cool karate, bullet-time and fancy acrobatics. There are no bankais or nine-tailed demon foxes, or a main tsundere waifubait that gets constantly sexualized, so the audience can spend most of its comments talking about her than anything else in the damn show. At the same time it’s not about man-machine codependency. Really, the machines do not need people in the show, so there goes that comparison. It is otherwise heavy on existentialism and good sci-fi ideas that are not trashed in favor of sexualizing minors. It just doesn’t look cool, and that is all it took to be unfairly forgotten almost immediately.
So I really don't expect anyone to know what this series is cause no one knows what this series is...But you should, it is one of the best underrated mecha shows available.
Set in a Maihama (Urayasu, Chiba, Japan) our main character, Kyo Sogoru, is the leader of the swim club, and is determined to keep it part of Maihama High.
One day, he stumbles across a young girl preparing to dive into the pool, anxious to think she wants to join his dying swim club, he approaches her and she utters something unintelligible and dives never to resurface.
As the day continues he asks others of the girl atop the diving board, his peers assure him she doesn't exist and with video proof further proving her non-existence, he confides in his neighbor and best friend, Ryoko Kaminagi.
Later that evening he his transported to alternate dimension and forced to pilot a giant, fluorescent colored mech named Zegapain. At first he is hesitant but quickly finds himself incredibly comfortable and familiar with controlling and piloting the mecha.
After his first mission is a success he is returned to his world and his life is changed forever...
Driven into a world reminiscent of his own and he is his stricken with memories of the people he met in the other dimension, he need to piece all this together as well as protect one world to protect the other...
Reviewers will say nothing but great things about this series, basically: "...Matrix in anime form..."
I couldn't agree anymore with this statement, it really hits the mark. With quite a few twists and turns and incredible character development for a short series, it's a rare gem, in an already dominated genre. If you can find it, please watch it and share in the brilliance that is, Zegapain...!!
Zegapain. It's really hard for me to describe this anime. I will try to make my review by criteria :
The story talk about a group of young poeple, who is battling against "evil" robot. We don't know what are these robots. I can't say much without spoiling. It's, in fact, a cliché mecha story. All of it is very predictable, and all the characters and the death too. It's really sad. The ending is good, but not really awesome in it's utilisation. But why did I put an 8 to the story ? Because of it's philosophy and it's universe. Zegapain, even if it has a really annoying shonen universe (hero caracter always yelling...), it has a beautifull, unique and captivating philosophy about why are we human, want to leave. The question are really interesting and many are originals. Too, there is a good utilisation of the characters, and their evolution are well made. That's the only reason why the story is so good. Not for its passing or its utilisation, but for its ideas.
The caracters are well made, but not really brillant like the idea of the universe of the story. The anime have a strong shonen type, and it's, for me, horrible. There is the principal characther, strong like iron, who can do anything and will never try to give up. The little children friend of the hero who is secretly loving him, the other girl who is too loving the hero who is just yelling, the too strong and badass character and everything like this. BUT. The caracther are well made. Personnaly, I hate shounen type, so it's hard to love these caracthers, but their utilisations are quit intersting. The link between the hero and its childhood friend is very brilliant and well made. All characters have a surprising story, more or less original. But, all is very good. That is why I put a 7. The characters are not bad, they are juste based on cliché and are very shonen.
So, if you want an intersting sci-fi anime that is talking about what is reality and the place of the human in this, this is for you. But, the philosophy is only good if the viewer want to ask himself these questions. The anime wont really try to answer them, and that is a good thing, the show don't want to make yourself think in a way, it is trying to give you idea for that you could creat your own thought on this. And if you like action, well passed, little romance and shounen anime, this is for you. If you don't like shounen, maybe you will find this good, or maybe not. But if you want to watch a mature anime, with mature caracthers and without to many cliché, this is really not for you.
A must see for sci-fi or mecha anime fan.
Sorry for my english, i'm French.
Zegapain... What a great pain it was to watch you. Not because you were bad, but because you could've been so much better. This is a show that if you're going to watch, you probably will enjoy because you're looking for more obscure gems in the rough anyway, but it will be a lukewarm enjoyment just barely in the range of "wow that was really interesting." For all of the praise people give this show, it really is praise derived from how ignored it is rather than how good it actually is in the scale of all other shows.
Zegapain is a philosophical mecha show, but the mecha's are generic, lame, have dated CGI and VERY LAME action sequences. I mean the fight scenes aren't over in a single big blast, but... Blowing up several small enemies in big blasts and then struggling to blow up the last enemy in a big blast sums up 80% of the show's day to day action. It makes it hard to feel tension for the characters' lives during action scenes and it does actively hold it back.
The writing for this show is kind of a mixed bag for me even if it is on the good side. The philosphical parts are executed pretty decently. It shows in how the ideas are presented and whenever the focus is on this aspect the show shines quite brightly. That said, the characterization honestly felt kind of weak throughout the show. I can't quite put my foot on it, but I suspect it has to do with how it allocated it's run time.
You see about 30% of the run time was allocated to school life and character interactions that don't matter in the long run. I definitely see that in retrospect some of it was necessary to setup MC's motivations in the future to make sense, but I just think the way things were presented wasn't as good as it could've been. I think it's actually the direction and pacing.
The show spends run time on showing MC getting beaten up for the 3rd time in a row by his old buds, but it doesn't mean anything to the viewers. Conversely when MC is going through a mid-life crisis, he steels his resolve to save the world like 5~10 minutes later into the episode because the plot needs him to rather than reaching it naturally. This is kind of a recurring factor in latter episodes too. Things happen because it's a convenient plot twist within the next 10~20 minutes, rather than being setup properly. Things like these aren't complete deal breakers when the content is so interesting, but it does detract from the experience; especially when combined with the lackluster action scenes.
Then there's the ending. It wasn't the worst ever, but the way it was handled was enough that I had to dock points unfortunately. Just too many loose ends that are just... Confusing if you think about it for a few seconds. Still, perhaps I'm too harsh, as I've rarely watched a serious anime have a great and complete ending that isn't kind of on fire in some way. The ones that do are basically masterpieces like FMA:Brotherhood.
Some quick score excusing;
Story is an 8 for super interesting ideas and plot. Think Shinsekai Yori, but run time is spent less efficiently.
Animation is 5 because the CGI and designs are lacking. Also gosh the action hurts.
Sound is 5 because the soundtrack really doesn't get you hype or feeling much most of the time. Except for the ED. It's like that was the only good track that the director knew how to use to incite emotion in the audience.
Characters are a 7 they're fleshed out well, but many of them lack meaningful development; and the MC's development is hard to appreciate even if it's technically there.
Anyway this show really showed me once again the good directing can really impact the overall quality of a show. Zegapain had good ideas and an interesting story to tell, but it's held back by it's awkward pacing, strange choice of run time allocation, and just overall less than stellar presentation at times. It gets the job done somewhat, but this show could've been much more to be sure. And of course the action sucked even if it's not the main reason to watch at this point. Still considering how much run time was spent on mecha action sequences, it definitely hurt the show. I say this as someone who prefers good characterization over well choreographed+animated action sequences!
No, seriously. Even something like Bunny Senpai was awful when I read the manga, but was surprisingly a decent watch as an anime entirely because of it's very good direction. The content is exactly the same, but the presentation makes ALL the difference sometimes as much as I don't want to admit it.