The 2nd Dimension

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Viewing Journal: Zipang (complete)

Series Overview
DVD Info

Overall= C-
Story = C-
Video = D+
Audio = C-


Mirai, an improved Kongou-class Aegis guided missile destroyer, is one of the newest and most advanced ships in the entire Japanese Self-Defense Force (SDF). Her crew, also one of the newest, is lead by Capt. Umezu Saburo and Executive Officer Kadomatsu Yosuke. While running scheduled training exercises one day, Mirai encounters a fierce storm that throws their navigation systems into temporary disarray. After a few minutes of recovery, the crew is shocked to discover that they've been transported back in time to June 4, 1942 -- The Battle of Midway, during World War II. Letting history take its course for this battle, they manage to avoid the conflict firsthand and make a vow to remain anonymous, changing history as little as possible. However, when the crew comes across the dying Lt. Commander Kusaka Takumi, XO. Kadomatsu's instincts to save lives takes over, changing the course of history more than he could've imagined. (Source: ANN)

Let me start out by saying the one thing about this show which may be a big factor in determining whether or not you want to even start watching it: There is no ending. Don't let the title of the final DVD volume -- "Return to the Future" -- fool you. The crew of the Mirai never does get back to the future and the events that build up over the course of the show never have any pay-off.

Now I know some of you will come reply with something like, "But Bob, can't you just appreciate the story that the show does give you and stop fretting over what it doesn't?" And my answer to that is "No, I can't." The reason is that the only thing that kept me watching this show at all was to see how the future is ultimately affected by the Mirai and Lt. Takumi. But since the show ends before Takumi's plans come to fruition or the Mirai returns home, we are never able to see how history is ultimately affected. And even the historical events that the Mirai does alter seem minor and thus have less dramatic impact. Of course, those events might have a huge effect later on, but how are we to ever know? There's no ending.

Again you may be saying, "But my good man, what about the characters? Surely such a show is chalk-full of gripping human drama!" And I'd say, yeah, sure there's human drama -- or at least the attempt at it. But the characters are too melodramatic and cliche so the drama is more cheesy than intense. For instance, whenever the Mirai would unleash its arsenal of long-range or heat-seeking weaponry, the soldiers would be so shocked as to chalk it up to magic or being from the devil or some other reaction where I would think, "Oh come on, that's a little much don't you think?" Of course, anime doesn't always have the most realistic characters, but with a show like this that is rooted in history and that includes actual historical figures, it needs more realism and depth to its characters to match it's realistic, historical setting and moral dilemmas. To be fair, there are a few scenes were characters act with more subtlty and genuineness, but a combination of the disappointing historical impact that Mirai had and the cliche or unrealistic reactions of other characters dulled the impact that the good scenes had over the course of the show.

The art and animation for this show are equally unimpressive. I think maybe I was spoiled with Monster, but the character designs here are too simplistic and inexpressive to be dramatic. And the setting used a lot of computer animation that stood out awkwardly against the 2-D animation.

So obviously I wasn't crazy about this show, but I have to give it credit for at least coming up with an interesting concept -- even if it didn't cash in on its potential. And I'm sure history and/or military buffs will enjoy the references, but even they will ultimately be disappointed by the conclusion -- or lack there of.

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