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AKA: Kishin Douji Zenki
Genre: Occult fantasy comedy
Length: Television series, 39 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: VHS and R1 DVD from Anime Works / Media Blasters; formerly released by Software Sculptors
Content Rating: 7+ (mild violence)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Chrno Crusade, Inuyasha, Ranma 1/2, Ushio and Tora
Notes: Based on the manga by Kuroiwa Yoshihiro, serialized in Shonen Jump.
Rating:
 

Zenki

Synopsis

Enno Chiaki is a descendant of the monk Ozuno, who controlled the great beast Zenki and defeated many fell creatures in the purification of Japan. Of course, that was centuries ago, and Zenki is sealed away ... or was, until Chiaki unsealed him again in order to fight evil once more.

Problem is that Zenki has manifested as a bratty little boy, and he won't stop pestering Chiaki. But in his true form, he is able to fend off the forces of evil, as long as he stays under Chiaki's control. Will the forces of evil overwhelm the world once more, or can Chiaki stand Zenki just long enough to defeat evil once and for all?

Review

What a fun, dumb little show.

Think of Zenki as Ushio and Tora Lite ... or perhaps what you get if you turned Bastard!! into Mister!! ... or maybe even as a precursor to Chrno Crusade.

This watered-down, silly version of those other "unwitting hero(ine) controls powerful force with much less powerful form" shows is something that seems perfectly at home on the pages of a Shonen Jump magazine, or on a young boy's television in 90s Japan. It's so obviously tailored for this demographic that it doesn't even bother to avoid the cliches of the genre (such as they are). When you have Kageyama Hironobu singing yet another high-powered shounen song, you know this is going to be as original as the concept of Frosted Flakes.

If anything, the entire plot of this show can be summarized in two words: "braindead" and "predictable". Seeds of Evil are being planted across Japan, and Chiaki and Zenki must stop them. Chibi Zenki gets into mischievous hijinks, then morphs into his powerful form, defeats the Monster of the Day, and goes back into chibi form and snacks on the Seeds of Evil 'cause they're yummy. Like, well, Frosted Flakes.

This is the part of the show where the female audience starts squealing about just how cute chibi Zenki is. Crossover appeal? You bet.

So what about that animation? It's really, really average 90s work, done with low budget, and heavy on garish colors. At least the characters are nice - Chiaki is charming (it's Yokoyama Chisa, practically reprising her Sasami role in Tenchi Muyo) and chibi Zenki is spunky (since he's Kappei Yamaguchi, aka Ranma, aka Inuyasha, aka every other Shonen Jump hero known to mankind). Musically, this is largely forgettable, though the opening theme is suitably overpowered and cliched.

While I wouldn't call this a hit by any means, Zenki is enjoyable, dumb fun that's worth watching and will please quite a few fans. Just be warned that this series has all the intellectual quality of (you guessed it!) Frosted Flakes.

If you really don't feel like turning off your brain to watch a 90s kid series, drop a star, and don't even consider renting this. Otherwise, go on and have some fun with Zenki, but be sure to brush your teeth real good afterwards.Carlos Ross

Recommended Audience: While the occult-ased material may offend super-conservative audiences, the actual content is really no worse than you can find in any kids show. Violence is stylized and non-graphic in nature.



Version(s) Viewed: VHS (Software Sculptors), Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Partial (13/39)
Zenki © 1995 TV Tokyo / Yomiuri Advertising / Kitty Film