ZAION: I Wish You Were Here (2001)

 

Format:4 23-minute OVA episodes on 2 DVDs

 

Rating: PG-13 (AC, GV)

 

Type: Sci-Fi/Romance

 

American Production: A.D.Vision

 

Japanese Production: GONZO

 

Grading

 

Premise:

C

Story:

B

Writing:

B

Character Design:

A

Mecha Design:

C+

Animation:

A-

Artistic Merits:

B

English Dub:

B+

Musical Score:

C

Opener:

n/a

Closer:

C

 

 

Humor Content:

n/a

Action Content:

B

Drama Content:

B

 

 

DVD Presentation:

B

DVD Extras:

B

 

 

OVERALL:

B

 

Synopsis

 †††† A new and bizarre virus, called M34, has arisen and spread around the world, turning those it infects into mindless, ravaging monsters. The secret organization C.U.R.E. is formed under U.N. auspices to combat the virus and the monsters it creates. Chief among its weapons are NOA soldiers, whose blood has been seeded with nanomachines that can generate combat armor for the soldiers and heighten their combat prowess. Backing them up are MOBs (remote-controlled mecha), but even they arenít enough and casualties remain high. C.U.R.E. has one more weapon at its disposal: the UNIT test subjects, who are individuals with advanced psyschokinetic powers. One particular UNIT, the 16-year old half-Chinese, half-Japanese girl Ai, has shown such promise that she can generate an holographic angel of light capable of cleansing those it touches of the M34 infection. Unfortunately her abilities are unreliable, since they seem to be tied to her emotional state, and her caretaker Misao, despite her best efforts, isnít enough to stabilize Ai. Could Aiís growing affected for the disaffected NOA soldier Yuuji be the key to humanityís salvation?

 

The Long View

 †††† In many ways the content of Zaion seems like something borrowed straight out of Bubblegum Crisis 2040, but this story diverges by adding the psychic aspects and presenting a genuine love story as a core element. Though more a sci-fi story than anything, Zaion works because of the appealing qualities of its two central characters (Yuuji and Ai) and the believability of their growing affection for one another. The empathetic Misao and the enthusiastic female NOA soldier Tao provide good support to the main characters, and a scientist named Professor Domeki, who approaches the development of Aiís power with great enthusiasm and gusto, provides a decidedly different and dynamic take on the stereotypical high-tech scientist. The quality of the character design easily matches the quality of the characters themselves; it is arguably the seriesí strongest point. The weakest point of the story is that the viewer is left wanting for further detail and developments by the end; four episodes is too compact a format for the emotive story the writing s trying to set up.

††††† On the artistic front, Zaion uses some interesting tricks with 3D CGI animation. Some of these effects (such as Aiís angel of light) work much better than others (such as computer-animated scenes of MOBs and helicopters moving); in the scenes that fail, the contrast between the CGI effects and the cel backgrounds is too readily noticeable. The underlying soundtrack is unremarkable, and the English vocal performances are pretty good. The Japanese vocals seem like they are a fraction off proper alignment with the mouth flaps, though, which I found to be rather annoying.

††††††††††† The rating assigned is for mature themes and fight scenes that sometimes get bloody and/or quite intense.

††††††††††† While not a stellar series overall, Zaion is worth a look, especially if you favor a bit of serious romance in your sci-fi.

 

DVD Extras

 †††† Both DVDs come with an insert booklet which contains a round table discussion with production personnel and a detailed glossary which includes character and equipment sketches. I highly recommend reading the glossary entries, since they clarify a few things that the series doesnít necessarily make clear. The DVDs themselves include numerous interviews with production personnel and seiyuu, company previews, and design sketches.

 

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Yuuji

Joey Hood

Ai

Krista Kimlicko Jones

Masao 

Katherine Catmul

Professor Domeki

Edwin Neal

Tao 

Kimberly Dilts

Changpeuk

Lowell Bartholomee

Kurosawa

Josh Meyer

Kudou

Martin Blacker

Dr. Gray

Ian Manners

Aono 

Dan Deitz

 

 

 

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