Synonyms: Katsura Masakazu Tanpenshuu, Woman in the Man: Otoko no Naka no Onna, Shin-no-Shin: Ai to Nikushimi no Time Slip, Shin-no-Shin: A Time Skip of Love and Hate, Shadow Lady - Oneshot, Katsura Masakazu Short Story Collection
Since the one-shots in this collection are distinct from one another and written over the course of 6 years, I will review each one separately.
Considerably different than the subsequent adaptation, here the protagonist is 23 year-old games programmer Kurono. He possesses a strong sense of justice instilled in him by his mother, who was killed in a hit-and-run when he was a teen. One day, an electrical storm causes the game he programs, "Zetman" to come to life, shades of author Masakuza Katsura's previous hit Video Girl Ai. Thus, Kurono becomes the titular superhero, and must "level up" by
stopping various criminals.
As with the later series, the tale is an examination of what constitutes crime, heroism, and the nature of justice itself. The one-shot was well-drawn, with slick transitions, and solid pacing, but proceeding in a predictable direction. However, there is a neat twist near the end, adding ambiguity and depth to what could have been a trite, simple theme. The design of Zetman is also different, as he has horns, a devil's tail, and angel wings.
Overall, this is a good, solid work, if nothing remarkable. Still, it's a fine starting point for what would become an excellent, long-running series. 7/10
WOMAN IN THE MAN-
A silly work that shows off Kastura's love of ecchi involving nubile young girls as well as being heavily inspired by the gender-swapping of Ranma 1/2. While preparing to fight a karate rival, a wimpy guy and a brave girl switch bodies. The humor is as poor as in other ecchi series, and the climactic fight is very lazily done, with bad animation and action lines to symbolize strikes as opposed to clearly drawing them. The ending is anticlimactic and there weren't any real ideas here. This is crap. 3/10
A timid, unathletic girl called Aimi, with the help of her grandmother's magical artifact, becomes the bold, sexy, acrobatic Shadow Lady, flying around the city late at night. In the process, she crosses paths with Bright Honda, a boy she likes at school who is also an amateur crimefighter.
The work absolutely screams 90's shounen, from the art style to the secret identity (complete with transformation sequence) to the moral about courage and believing in oneself. It's executed well enough, with a couple nice fantasy touches, genuine effort put into the action scenes, and a climax that features a call-back to the beginning of the one-shot. There is even a bit of humor to the ending. It's generic and unexceptional, but done competently, with care, unlike "Woman in the Man". 6/10
Amusingly, this is an instance where merit was rewarded. The wretched "Woman in the Man" never got adopted as a full series. The okay "Shadow Lady" got a series in Shounen Jump but was unceremoniously cancelled after just 24 chapters. Meanwhile, "Zetman", the best of the bunch, went on to be a monster hit, publishing until 2014 with strong sales and getting an anime adaptation.
Sometimes there is indeed justice in this world, whether administered by Zetman or not.