Regular readers will notice that I have reviewed a number of romantic series before and actually liked them fairly well. In fact, I’m starting to think that romance might be the genre of anime to best submerse me into whatever world is being portrayed in any given show. Zaion, unfortunately, fails on almost any account with which to compare it.
The context surrounding the romance in Zaion is that of a futuristic society where a virus turns humans into vicious monsters. Our main characters are out to kill these monsters when they appear. This gives the show an Evangelion-esque feel as humans get in their suits and battle large monsters.
In the midst of all of that is Ai, a quiet girl who is, essentially, a research project who has the ability to defeat the monsters without the sacrifice of human lives. Yet her own humanity makes her less than controllable to the scientists in charge of her. Even so, her humanity is no longer seen by those in charge, except by the woman who works closest to her. Tamiya is one of the monster battlers. He is not too fond of his job, a feeling that intensifies when he is injured in combat. It is in the lab’s atrium that he meets Ai and his life is changed.
There are so many problems with the series it would be cruel to go over them all. But in lieu of any real positives, I do what I have to do. Zaion lacks any real character development. Tamiya is rather flat and uninteresting through the series. We don’t know anything about his past, or what makes him who he is. His decisions seem to come out of nowhere without any real guiding factor. Ai is a sympathetic character, but only because of her circumstances and not because the series goes into who she is. All of the characters are viewed as if from the other side of glass: impersonal and boring. As such the relational sparks between Tamiya and Ai only exist because the creator demanded they exist: there is no real chemistry between the two to cause the relationship to be at all believable.
The plot, beyond the relational possibilities, is paper-thin. There really isn’t anything more than what was described in the (short) second paragraph. The plot could have been expanded upon and become something vaguely satisfying, but as is the makers must have viewed the plot as nothing more than a vehicle to drive the relationship, since there is no real resolution to it. It is obvious that it is just a context for the relationship and nothing more. Yet, even with a conclusion, the plot would still need a fairly major overhaul to bring the anime up to a worthwhile level. What is there works as a bare outline, but you’re not supposed to just throw bare outlines onto the page as-is. They need to be fleshed out in their own right, which Zaion lacks completely.
Zaion: I Wish You Were Here is a blessedly short series. At only four episodes it feels like an OAV (original animation video, aka an anime series that went straight to DVD instead of showing on television), however it is labeled as a television series on ANN, so whatever. Four half-hour episodes, albeit short by most series standards, is really way too long. Then again, if you make the mistake (like me) of actually seeing this, then I guess you get what you deserve.
Title: Zaion: I Wish You Were Here
US Distributor: ADV
Number of Episodes: 4
Availability: Readily available both used and new… both prices ridiculously low.
Links: ANN Encyclopedia