Zaion ~I Wish You Were Here~
In the near future, all of mankind (or at least most of Japan) is under siege by a horrible alien virus that causes hideous mutations in those it infects. People who contract the disease, known only as "M34", rapidly devolve into sub-human monsters that kill everything around them. To counter this rampant threat, a special team of nanotechnology-augmented super soldiers is created to fight the mutant abominations. The nano machines in their bodies can be controlled at will to cover their skins in a form of high tech armor, and at the same time neutralize the virus inside their systems making them the only force capable of fighting the diseased victims of M34 other than a contingent of clunky remote controlled robots.
Enter Yuuji, a young fighter in the ranks of NOA, who is having second thoughts about his job. (These are people he's tearing apart daily after all). He meets a mysterious young girl named Ai one night while brooding and they quickly become friends. Later he discovers that she is part of a project to develop a new weapon to fight M34, using her psychic powers amplified by a special device.
Caught between his duties as a soldier of NOA and his newfound affection for Ai, Yuuji is forced to make hard choices that might not only affect his destiny, but that of humanity as well.
If you've just finished reading the synopsis, you might be thinking to yourself: "Wow! This sounds like a really great show!"
Sorry. It's not.
I delayed writing this review for almost two months because, frankly, I hate giving anime bad marks and I was searching for some way I might redeem this title. In the end, I was forced to give up any hope of salvaging this dog and simply consign myself to the grim truth: Studio GONZO actually made something that sucks.
Now, to be fair, in the past I have been forgiving of other atrocious titles because they had something redeeming about them (Ninja Resurrection and Adventures of Kotetsu for instance), but with Zaion: Wish You Were Here, I simply can't get past how disappointing a show like this was coming from GONZO. Let's start by listing some of this title's missteps:
Attempted to fit a complex storyline including character development into four episodes ... FAILED
Used spiffy CG to make realistic and exciting mecha ... FAILED
Created empathy with the main hero ... FAILED
Had a strong and interesting supporting cast ... FAILED
Attempted to rip off Power Rangers as a last resort ... FAILED FAILED FAILED
Il Palazzo would cry. To begin with, the main character, Yuuji, is so irritating and unlikable that after the first episode I was actually rooting for the mutants to kill him. Then there is the stereotypical and boring Ai, who could have been a really strong character if she only had a personality. Then there is the prerequisite multi-national team of badass dudes who can change into super-dudes upon command (read: "cheap Power Ranger rip-offs"), and yes they have the single female member, and yes, her nano-armor is pink. Bleh. If the cast was any more cliched it'd be a comedy, but unfortunately it's not.
Second, the plot. What. The. Hell. I mean really, how stupid do they think average joe citizen is? The world is literally turning into puddles of alien goo all around them, but the oblivious cow-like citizens of Japan cheerfully chat away on their cell phones and go about their business as if nothing is the matter. If they were trying for some sort of grand social statement here, they succeeded instead in making the vast majority of Japan simply look stupid. For a good example of social satire, check out Neo Ranga.
Finally, the animation was *way* subpar for Gonzo. If this was a Studio Pierrot release, I might be willing to forgive, but these are the same folks who created Hellsing, Full Metal Panic, Last Exile, and Gate Keepers. There is simply no excuse. The backgrounds were flat and lacked detail, the character designs were either flat-faced and ugly, or ripped off from other sources (if the female NOA member isn't Chun Li's twin sister I'll eat my Rastafarian hat), and the mecha ... dear god, the mecha. The CG composition was incredibly bad; the computer animated robots and CG angel thing looked so out of place against the more traditionally animated backgrounds and characters that it was jarring to watch. Every time one of them waddled its clunky butt across the screen, I winced. I mean, really, what on Earth were they thinking?
Poorly conceived and even more poorly executed, Zaion ~I Wish You Were Here~ is something GONZO should have left in a dark vault ... deep underground ... surrounded by an army of feral native warriors with orders never to let anyone approach and unlock the evil within.
I Wish You Were Here? Hardly.
Please GONZO! Say it ain't so! — Jason Bustard
Recommended Audience: Probably aimed at teens and up, but aside from bloodless battles with poorly drawn mutants, there's not much that would offend younger viewers, although honestly, they would probably rather watch Power Rangers ...
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (4/4)
Zaion ~I Wish You Were Here~ © 2001 GONZO / project-i
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