Jin is a strange kid with an angel mark on his hand. He lives a poor but peaceful life with his grandfather, along with the other destitute and abandoned vagabonds near the river. One day, his peaceful life changes when a strange monster named "player" appears, chopping off heads and killing everyone who appears in front of it.
Zetman is a Seinen, Sci-fi, Action, Drama that traces the lives of two rival heroes; developing and enacting their own form of judgment in a DC Comics fashion. Still it is a major problem, since you’re mostly unaware of what Zetman is about until much later on.
Describing the story for Zetman is quite the arduous task, because not only is it hard to make any sense out of the 1st couple chapters but nothing is clearly explained until much later. The beginning basically sets the scene for this manga, which has something to do with monsters known as ‘players’ and it introduces a kid who’s somewhat involved in all this. Then we jump to another kid who’s grown up idolizing a cartoon superhero, which soon influences his future aspiration. None of the numerous plots floating about really makes sense at this point and it takes a long time before the real story surfaces. Till then all the reader can do is follow the lives of two boys (Jin Kanzaki & Kouga Amagi) who share a sense of justice but live completely different lives. It’s quite odd that this manga suddenly splits into two separate stories but then again it’s also captivating the way it shows the different hardships our characters face, which lead them into sharing a similar goal.
Sure there are two main characters that share the same strong sense of justice but they’re both incredibly different. Jin Kanzaki is a “down to earth” kind of guy, who is both blessed and burdened of being a superhuman known as “Zet”; whereas Kouga Amagi is a sheltered rich boy, who’s always dreamed of being a hero of justice. There are other characters that bring a good change of pace to this really grim story; be it family, friends or love interests nonetheless quite a few of the characters have unappealing personalities.
However what certainly isn’t unappealing is the artwork, as this manga does an amazing job in portraying the gritty reality of this unreal world. Even though everything from the backdrop to the characters look rather sketchy, there’s a great deal of detail put into all of it, including the towering skyscrapers and the technical devices. To sum it up, the art is near perfect, with everything having an interesting Western comic book style. I just had some minor qualms with the gruesome action scenes, not for the level of gore but because it can be difficult to tell what kind of blow was landed.
Overall Zetman is a great piece for those heroic/action story lovers, with a particular question that seems to surface a lot “what is your idea of justice?” Sadly it doesn’t even give the reader a clear idea of what the story is entirely about early on but part of the experience is from finding out yourself. As you read on you’ll begin to tell that the mangaka really makes an effort to construct a logical storyline. Sure the cover picture and the undeniable theme of justice may get you thinking of your classic Western comic book but that’s what makes this Japanese manga so special. read more
But what is impressive about Zetman is the way it chooses two characters, completely different from each other, puts them side by side and lets us see how their ideas of justice are similar and different. They have the same goals, but what is most precious to them, what they decide to sacrifice to achieve their
goals are very different.
Jin is a superhuman known as Zet. From a young age, he has discovered the hardships of life as he loses many people who are very precious to him. Through these incidents, he becomes sort of a cold person who likes to pretend he doesn’t care about anything but inside doesn’t want to lose anyone anymore. To do this, he tries to keep distance from the people he cares about. He believes that the people closest to him are most important and that saving someone’s life is always right, even if the person doesn’t want to be saved. He didn’t want to become a hero but because of Zet, he realizes that he must or the people close to him will always be in danger.
Kouga on the other hand is a rich and quite spoiled boy who dreams of becoming a superhero. His friends have built him a suit that gives him more or less superhuman abilities. He doesn’t actually question what justice is to him until he encounters Jin and an incident that shows him the horrors of life. He is still a bit unclear of what justice and idolizes Jin for being so clear of his ideas of justice.
The two characters are quite the opposites, but when they interact the question of “What is Justice?” constantly pops up. As the characters struggle to find what they believe is justice, we also find ourselves wondering with them.
Zetman’s entertainment doesn’t all just come from themes and characters though. The action is quite nerve breaking. The romance subplot is also quite strong and enjoyable. It is interesting to read about the tension between their lives as people and their lives as superheroes. They try to understand what being a superhero means but also have to cope and protect with the ones they love. Of coures, the originality of this isn't there, but its still fun.
Oh. And The Art Is Amazing.
It’s quite an amazing feeling seeing all the details put into it. The characters, the background and the action scenes are all just drawn so well.
Sadly, the pacing of the manga is rather very hard to follow as the beginning explains very little about the setting. The direction of the plot for a while is almost impossible to follow especially "the Kouga arc". I admit I’ve actually dropped this manga a few times. Still, if you keep with it, and when everything connects, simple enjoyment will overwhelm you. read more
I just finished reading the available chapters of Zetman and I just have to say WOW!!! What a trip! From what I've read in the superhero genre this is something extraordinary, from the artwork, to the characters, the world, and above everything else; the story. What makes Zetman stand out from the lot is the incredible well written story. For good and bad, there appears to be a long tradition of improvisation in the art of manga-storytelling. You create the characters, set a premise, and then just going where the story takes you, one arc at the time. Even if there technically is arcs in Zetman, the story is so tightly woven that everything is connected and everything overlaps, there's nothing the typical crescendo -> resolution movement, and you really need to read it from the start. Even after 200 chapters you see flashbacks to the first chapters. The effort put into the story is just incredible, and I've get come across any major "loose threads" that defiles the logic of the story.
Another thing that is really impressive about Zetman is the world that Zetman is zet into (fufufu). I can be really picky about suspending my disbelief, and I can also be really tired of long written out explanations on the (imaginary) world's logic, that many adventure/scifi mangas are burdened with. In Zetman I did not come across anything like this, the world and it's logic works really well. One interesting aspect is the neo-materialism that the story have, there is nothing supernatural here, everything is defined within the boundaries of science, and not even souls separated from the body exists (as it is written out anyway). This is not a big point within the story, it just happens to be there.
It's actually quite refreshing that this manga does not rely on existentialistic themes and philosophy and instead focuses on actual storytelling. Sure, you'll get your share of neo-materialistic (almost nihilistic) ethics, especially the question on what "justice" really is and who is worth saving, but it's not the main focus as some seinen mangas have it.
The art, just stunning. Just amazing. I can not help to feel sorry for all the poor assistants who had to work day and night to trace those crazy backgrounds, like seriously, that is one insane effort put down in those details, I'd run out of superlatives if I were to describe it with words. Read the manga already.
What amazes me about the characters is how realistic they are. They are portrayed with warmth and a sensitivity to the human psyche, in this manga things matter, and people just doesnt move on after life changing traumatic events as if nothing ever happened. Even the villains have their reasons, and even the silly appearance of the non-human cast have a great and actually credible backstory.
So hey, what's more to say? The scanlation group Evil Genius have through their work with Zetman, Berserk and others given a huge gift to the English speaking part of the world. Now I wish someone would license it in English so we can give something back to the mangaka himself (and his loyal team of assistants!(whom all have autism and are hung up on drawing huge constructions of trashed concrete)). read more
I have to give this manga a 10! Everything about it is stunning. From the story line to the artwork it is a must read. The emotions and events that happen in the manga keep you on the edge of your seat wanting more. Ok enough talking please go and read it you won't be disappointed!^_~