Diego Vega returns from his study trip to discover his homeland is under the army's dictatorship. Diego, refusing to watch idly, disguises himself as Zorro to protect the weak and oppressed. Diego is not a coward but he is unable to win the affections of his sweetheart, Lolita, who is attracted to other more noble men. Diego serenades Lolita as Zorro and fights the evils of his homeland, hoping to capture her heart.
Not a single review yet on this anime. I'm not surprised. I know how many people will watch this series regardless of a review, so let me inform you that my intention is really just to rake up and reflect on my childhood days as well as to contribute a little to this anime, (not to mention I was immensely bored as well) but don't underestimate this.
The Legend of Zorro. 'Another ripoff' is what you might think. That's not the case (atleast not completely). This is hardly the type of anime you'd come across, even while searching randomly. Nor is it something you would give
a second look or thought about. I ran into this series years ago when it was airing on the local TV channel (hindi dubbed) and I can honestly say that my ten year old self waited eagerly everyday for a new episode of 'Zorro'.
There is a plot, yes. The series focuses on the prevailing tortures and injustice dealt to the villagers and the townspeople by the army. Then, naturally, our coward of a protagonist (or so it seems) Diego, clenches his fist at this unsightly behavior and behold: the next day a hero emerges on a white horse with a black cloak (guess who) who goes around whipping big 'Zs' on the soldiers' uniforms. And I never got tired of the repeated scenes where Zorro's whipping the Zs on the officers/lieutenants and sometimes, making their pants fall down.
And so, naturally, our hero can't just keep his identity to himself. There's a 'Little Zorro' as well who stays by his side and continuously helps him in his missions and also plays a major role later on. Then more naturally, the hero is incomplete without a heroine, so therein steps the beautiful but egotistic Lolita who shows a deep reluctancy towards Diego but harbors an equally deep admiration for 'Zorro' (cliche much?). However, Zorro's persona as Diego, is shown brilliantly. His hilarious interactions is part of the series' comedy relief.
This is the Blue ray era, so you can forget about ART. But I'll say this: The characters are drawn very well, even if you can immediately figure out the goodie, the baddie, the clever and the idiot.
Sound is something I cannot judge clearly because the OP song comprised of an action instrumental and there was no ED at all. You can imagine a 50s movie where they put in the same gun-shots, screams and effects of merchandise breaking and played them over and over again for different scenes. It's not something highly noticeable though.
There's a wide variety of characters in this one, many of them fillerish as the series is mostly episodic in nature. But there are a few prominent lingering ones, like Lieutenant Gabriel and Gonzalez who always end up embarrassing themselves whenever they face Zorro (and admittedly are the type with more potential towards goodness). There's the much bastard like Raymond, the head commander, Diego's family and some of Bernard's friends.
I believe endings hold great importance to any series. You might predict this one to end in some funny/happy/idiotic note. However, the last few episodes is where the epic twists are born. From a light-hearted and lame action filled array of comedy, the series plunges into deep conflict and takes a somewhat tragic path in case of Zorro. The sudden change in behavior alarmed me. The change which occurred when you realised that the events had taken a turn towards utmost seriousness and now, even you couldn't guarantee whether the problems will be solved like pie as was the case with the previous episodes. But one thing I can guarantee is that the ending won't let you down. The most it can do is double your admiration for our black-cloaked and white suited hero.
I started out this review thinking I'd be able to rough it up in barely a paragraph. Turns out that wasn't the case. It's been years since I last saw Zorro and it still comes back to me fresh as yesterday. It wasn't the best of the actions, but it was still worth it. It was stupid at times but it was still awesome.
Everything about it will seem to put you off, but try getting an 8 year old to sit in front the TV and watch it. You'll be surprised.
Many of us who have seen this series,will remember it as one of the first anime enjoyed as a child.
Like other Zorro series,it focus on the Deigo Vega who tries to protect the people of his hometown from the cruel hands of the Military and also at the same time,hiding his identity.
The series also focuses on the other two main characters which are Lolita-Zoro's love interest and Deigo's adopted brother.
To the point,its art cant be compared to today's anime's as it was produced in 90's. But that doesnt means its animation is poor. The animation is 'MASTERPIECE' of its time.
In terms of plot, it
has 19 or 20th century backrground with sense of patriotism and other themes with swordplay and a great sense of humour.
The plot gets interesting as strory unfolds and after some times, episodes become continuation to each other.
With a classicical music theme and swordsplay and a touch of comedy,it is a must especially for those who loves protagonist with secret identity or historical series with classic story and action.
Henshin sequence... Shot on a blond guy's face with blue eyes. Black jacket on, pimp boots next. A lightning streak tears off the sky to illuminate the unknown face... It sports a stern, unswerving determination. He is not here to joke around... Belts, gloves, masks and hat follows in a thunderbolts galore. Flipping his cape, swinging his foil, He's here!
Who? A cosplaying Shirota Yuu?? No, the cunning fox of Spanish California, the one and only Zorro!!
Does this outstanding way in announces a great adaptation? I want to answer yes and no. Let's elaborate more on exposition, beforehand. Some inexact points, you can notice in this
very webpage, need to be corrected. Kaiketsu Zorro is mainly a co-production between three countries: Toho Animation (Japan) / Mondo TV (Italy) / Royal Pictures Company (Switzerland). It's from a time when animation still was held in way good esteem outside of Japan's bounds. Nowadays, Mondo TV produces nothing and Royal Pictures Company limited went bankrupt in 2008 after 23 years of existence. While it benefited of international recognition, coming with substantial budget, this show isn't exactly of the calibre of a World Masterpiece Theater production. I'll explain you why with the following points...
..| Story |.. 4/10
The most critically flawed aspect. It's due to the lack of cohesion in direction. Indeed, storyline tend to loaf with filler episodes of relatively uninteresting workmanship (the ones where sergeant Gonzales/Garcia fall in love, this cheesetacular one where Zorro fences a shark...) to pick up suddenly the pace, as in the last arc where conclusion is rushed through regardless of its potential. It's like Toho or some other unindentified third party took over, upon realizing imminence of deadline, aware that this production is in need to show teeth to end at least half decently. Secondary intrigues often are disposed of, regardless of continuity. Thus, you can see Bernardo tie new friendships which aren't taken into account for the remainder of series.
Format is at fault: independent episodes often gun down a franchise, if there's not a strong director to back them all under one flag. It's difficult to tell who was at the commands. Sometimes, it seems like the Japanese had a blast, making one tribute to Kaiju-eiga (if Toho isn't behind it, I don't know who is!!)... While in other instances, quite conventional angles transects these wild fits of fantasy as in an attempt to stick back with Johnston McCulley's spirit. In conclusion, due to how anime was produced, it's perpetually seated between two chairs. Does it want to be comedic with Boke/Tsukkomi routine? Does it want to be badass looking? Does it want to be oneiric? Plotline definitely lacks a common thread, so it falls short as one influence short circuits another.
..| Art |.. 8/10
Takaya Hirotoshi's chara-design is rock solid. It's impossible to confuse one protagonist with another. For instance, Commandant Ramon has that subtle, handsome and yet silently ominous expression about him. Lieutenant Gabriel really looks like a smug douchebag with his top student air, while Don Alexandro has a austere and yet venerable look. The vast array of design is one top quality this series have.
Art Direction is uneven. at times, sceneries are downright amazing!
They have that Ghibli-like touch, as for the episode 19 with that mechanically redesigning house, The south India company headquarters or the docks full of Spanish gallions. A certain contrast strikes in when action pans over the dull town. Once again, At the reins of background art, two persons... Miyamae Mitsuharu, a veteran on this position, signs hands out best part. I doubt more about Giuliana Bertozzi's talent. She's certainly decent but her touch doesn't exactly show overall.
..| Animation |.. 6/10
Whereas episode animation is fluid most of the time, quality critically slacks down at times, to the point of being shoddy. One example: the son of an assaulted landlord is chased as he's suspected in an assassination attempt. Upon escaping residence, the immediate soldier after him dashes... Like a drunkard. At one frames, he even inexplicably ends up in an axis way too outcentered of his course, on the right side. There happens to be a certain amount of continuity errors as well, when you focus attention on objects characters hold or background elements... I don't think key-animation is at fault. Only perhaps a couple of scatterbrained animators. Now, I know animation is dated, but there was noteworthy failures here and there explaining my low grade, as for the dance competition Lolita took on for her friend: staff was really off, expressing the sensuality of that performance above everything else...
Indeed, these aren't unredeemable mistakes, but it's definitely sub-par with many other TV productions.
..| Sound |.. 6/10
Fair. Music delivers overall a convincing chilvarous impression. Latino like guitars alternates with trumpets to stand for dynamic moments where Diego cease to be slacker to take on Zorro's persona. I like Zorro's theme, even if it weirdly channels City Hunter's spirit. The part coming after intro would perfectly fit with Ryo Saeba righting wrongs with magnum. The mystery theme, when Diego and Bernardo devise about situation, is one of the very best. I have also in mind the action theme, where a heartful electric guitar kicks in to insist on emergency aspect. Rest of the soundtrack is rather ambient. It lounges around mostly when nothing much happen. In a way, it makes good echo to the dull looking town, when nothing is troubled by some greedy capitalist or the army.
I watched this anime with french dubs mostly. You can only picture how cheesy they are if you live by my place. That jeweller... He has an accent from the south which makes me burst in laughter everytime I hear it. Here, he is, the bandit from Carcassonne, ready to make California bows down on its knees! It's also very difficult to keep a straight face when that lady look to defend her father, who happens to paint faux-masterpieces. Well, think about fish seller in the market of Bagnolet for her voice. It immediately defuses dramatism of situation despite soldiers brutality. I yet wonder what was with dub team's running joke around the sergeant and his comb (?). All in all, I enjoyed myself a load! Nevertheless, for a more serious approach, it's better opting for the subbed version instead.
..| Character |.. 5/10
Yes, the rate is low. On with positive aspects to finish with the less pleasant ones...
I appreciate the evil mastermind of Ramon. The ruthless commander, main antagonist of the show, pulls the strings and manage to retain composure, even in dire straits. His equivalent in benevolent form, Diego/Zorro's portrayal is well drawn, as well. It's enjoyable to see that goofball changes attitude all of a sudden to take care of problems backstage like a true selfless badass. It's only a pity Lolita's suspicion about his double identity is so underplayed. Roots of the evil is Bernardo: either you will love him or hate him... To be fair, a mute adult's pantomime is too hard to translate into animation. So, I can see how storyboard came for a perfectly "normal" child approach here. Funny character on whom young spectators would love to identify as, and whatnot. The fact he becomes little Zorro needlessly inflates importance of his character, though. Moreover, it brings into disrepute dramatic build up of episodes. It's really not easy to take it a face value when you see him barge in with his equally masked bulldog (!!). Is it a detached joke as to about why supporting cast come to be so dumb to not recognize Zorro and his team despite body of hints? This could have been a funny take on on the original spirit of the series, if Lolita and others wouldn't look so unsurprised upon learning the truth. On other note, this makes the villains pass as too incompetent to be of real menace. That's a pity.
In conclusion, Characterization is the mirror reflect of plotline. A certain cohesion lacks in their portrayal, due to anarchic direction.
..| Enjoyment |.. 7/10
This series is a bundle of enjoyment, regardless of my critical insight. In spirit, it's rather respectful to the works of Johnston McCulley if you choose to ignore the many eyebrow raising elements. It's a light-hearted title, which would certainly be of help to decompress between a violent steampunk/gun and a dark action/cyberpunk addition. Just enjoy the ride on Viento's back at heart's content, as it's the only known Zorro anime will you ever get
..| Content indications / Buzzwords |..
Ketchup meter: Some characters die, but overall violence is mostly toned down.
Ecchi meter: 0
Fishing scene(s): 2 of them! Yay!
+ The only Zorro adaptation
+ Badass main character who reminds Kenshin
+ Nice art direction
+ Excellent character-design
Kaiketsu Zorro is a series that I think most people will either love or hate. If you watched it when you were a child or you like children's series in general, you will probably find it entertaining. If you're expecting a faithful Zorro adaptation or a mature story, you'll most likely be disappointed.
First things first, the creators of this anime have taken some liberties with the characters and premise. The basics are the same - Diego de la Vega returns home to Spanish California because his father is worried about the state of things and the corruption of the army. Diego realises that he can't
fight the injustice openly, so he dons a mask and becomes an outlaw in order to stop the army from terrorizing the people. You will find a lot of the iconic Zorro elements in the series, such as a bumbling sergeant, a beautiful love interest who adores Zorro and sees Diego as a weakling, corrupt army officers and bandits and so on.
So, what's different? First of all, Zorro gets a young sidekick who also wears a mask and a cape and provides a lot of the comic relief for the series. Almost every main character is blond for some reason. Zorro's horse is white instead of black. Diego has no moustache, and when he dresses up as Zorro, it's mostly in white with a black cape. The legendary image of Zorro in all black cannot be found anywhere in the series. If these changes don't bother you, you might enjoy the wacky adventures and humour that the series provides.
The main cast consists of characters you'd expect to see in any version of Zorro, but they're a little different from usual. Most versions portray Diego's cover as a cultured intellectual who talks about philosophy and believes conflicts can be resolved through talking. Here, Diego is simply a loser. He spends his days napping in the sun and getting scolded and laughed at by all the other characters. This provides lots of funny scenes, but it can also be annoying. When he becomes Zorro, he's dashing and handsome and defeats his opponents in the blink of an eye, never forgetting to lecture them about justice.
Zorro's sidekick is a young boy servant called Bernard who works for the de la Vegas. In most versions, he's deaf/mute and an adult, but here he's a normal kid, maybe so that the target audience has someone to identify with. There's really nothing special to say about him, except that if you think the idea of a little kid tagging along on Zorro's adventures together with a bulldog is annoying (the bulldog also gets a mask!), you may want to consider if you want to watch this. However, toward the end of the series Bernard gets to have a few serious scenes that really make him stand out as a character.
The role of the love interest is played by Lolita, Diego's childhood friend who is openly disappointed by his laziness and cowardice. She's very opinionated and usually the first and only one among the citizens to object to the army's actions. Despite this, she has to be rescued on a regular basis because she keeps getting kidnapped and harassed in the streets whenever she goes out. Her constant nagging at Diego also gets tiring after a while, but there are enough scenes showing her good-hearted nature to make up for it.
A lot of the comic relief comes from the incompetent but good-hearted sergeant who goes by the name Garcia or Gonzales, depending on which language you're watching the series in. He's more or less the same as in any other version, except that he gets to play the hero and be cool towards the end of the series.
Finally, the villains. The main antagonist of the series is Commander Raymond who plots to overthrow the General-Governor and rule California himself. He's entirely ruthless and the only character in the series who never gets involved in the crazy nonsense that often engulfs the other characters. He mostly operates in the background and always manages to look good even when his plots fail, but those few times he decides to gets his hands dirty, he's a truly threatening figure.
Most of Raymond's schemes are carried out by his right hand man, Lieutenant Gabriel. He's arrogant and without mercy, but he becomes more and more difficult to take seriously as the series progresses because he's the butt of so many jokes. Eventually, he more or less forms a comedy duo with Garcia. However, the last few episodes get him back on track. Episode 44 is also interesting since it revolves around him and shows just how rotten he is inside.
The series is very episodic and there isn't much of a story arc. A few side characters show up in several episodes, but other than that every episode is as if none of the previous events in the series had happened. The only significant event is the introduction of the corrupt British businessman Kapital as he shares the role of the main antagonist with Raymond for a while. However, episodes 47-52 pick up the plot, cut down on the humour and have continuity, which makes them among the best in the series.
The animation varies greatly. Some episodes look horrible, but others are amazing and have such a Ghibli-style character design that I have to wonder just who animated them. Examples of such episodes are 31 and 51. Fighting scenes get recycled all through the series, but I guess that's nothing strange.
The opening and ending themes are great, but the music in the actual series is mostly forgettable and even boring.
If you don't mind that the series takes lots of liberties with the source material, you might enjoy it. It's light-hearted adventure with comedy sprinkled all over it, and with a few exceptions (such as episode 34 and the very last episodes) it never gets particularly deep or mature. But it's very good at what it wants to be, so I don't think it would be fair to blame it for not being something it never tries to.