Z/X Code reunion Collection (Cert 15)
2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 303 minutes approx.
If we were to take anime seriously, then Japan has probably stumbled onto something in that instead of vast military power and nuclear weapons, all you actually need to defend the planet is a group of cute schoolgirls with the ability to forge a symbiotic partnership with aliens. Simple.
Once upon a time, huge black orbs serving as gates to another world called Black Points appeared in five different areas of Japan, each one revealing a coloured realm. A third race, the mysterious Z/X, also showed up and a battle commenced, drawing humanity into this dispute. When it was over, the Z/X and the humans forged a truce and the two races began to integrate within Japanese society.
A sickly young girl named Azumi Kagamihira spent most of her childhood in a coma, and when she awoke, she was greeted by a Z/X named Rigel who offers to make a pact with Azumi to make her become stronger. In accordance with the law of the truce, Azumi and Rigel are sent to the newly established Fujimisaki Academy to nurture their partnership and train as a fighting unit along with other girls with the same rare ability to merge with a Z/X.
Z/X Code reunion is another of the Japanese skill of being able to make an anime out of just about any subject or fad. Z/X – which stand for “Zillions of enemy X”, is in fact a collectable card game which in turn later spawned a PlayStation video game and finally a manga and anime. The first season was entitled Z/X Ignition which I don’t believe has had a UK release outside of an airing via Crunchyroll, however there doesn’t appear to be any need to have seen that series to follow this one.
Just a glance through the plot summary and a look at the DVD cover artwork tells you all you need to know about this series, which may or may not be to its advantage. If you hanker for cute girls coming together to be saviours of the universe and have little care for substance then this show is for you; if this sounds like numerous other anime shows and you feel fatigued by another entry into the oeuvre then little reward awaits you.
The card game roots aren’t completely forgotten as the Z/X aren’t usually visible, instead they take on a non-corporeal form inside a “card holder” the girls wear on their wrists. Rigel is the exception, having demanded to remain in a physical form in order to protect Azumi. In fact, Rigel is the only Z/X to have a pure human appearance, as others adhere to quirkier designs such as a cat girl, a Gothic loli doll, a sword, and a talking cat.
Fujimisaki Academy has apparently just been built yet already has a student council and a ranking system of both seniority and skill level which undermines the idea of it being a new concept. Azumi and Rigel are posited as part of the latest intake, meeting up with Ena Soranokawa at their pick up spot to be driven to the academy. Upon their arrival, they witness a fight between quiet loli Matoi Shinonome (with her doll) and Shuri Kijino (with her sword).
Having also bumped into ditzy Yuni Tsukigata and her cat girl Z/X Amrita, the inevitable group of future heroes is hastily formed when the school is attacked by alien forces, and the girls summarily band together and succeed in fending the aliens off. Despite this impressive showing, their lack of team work sees them assigned the lowest rank of E, and must train separately from the other ranks, under the tutelage of strict coach Ira.
Like many anime adaptations based on commercial properties, the story doesn’t begin in earnest until the last few episodes, in which they finally decide to reveal who or what the alien enemy, called Inerma, really are. Up until then, Inerma is just a name and their motive is non-existent other than being presumably evil. The closest thing there is to an antagonist prior to this is the haughtiness of the higher ranked girls, Ira’s drill sergeant approach to training, and the girls’ own insecurities.
Granted, this does being about a plot twist which is nicely executed but the feeling of this being a rushed deus ex machina situation is inescapable, and will only be effective if one does feel connected to the characters. With only one male in the entire show, this might be easy for some with the protagonists being cute girls with tropey personalities to be ticked off the list as soon as they appear.
Whilst the story takes a while to appear, the fan service is quicker off the mark, arriving in episode three after two safe opening episodes. Boob envy naturally arises during the obligatory beach episode, whilst their combat costumes are tight chaps to give panty fans a thrill. And just to complete the fetishising, implications of yuri between girls in the other ranks crop up too.
Passione are a relatively new animation studio, formed in 2011, but do a grand job with the visuals, putting a lot of effort into the artwork and backgrounds whether on earth or in space, whilst not skimping on the production values for the action scenes. It is just a shame the character designs are unremarkably uniform and indistinctive against others in this genre that nothing really sticks in the mind, making this nice to look at but hardly memorable.
And this really sums up Z/X Code reunion in general. It will have its fans I am sure, but the more discerning anime viewer will have seen it all before and maybe done better. I don’t know if the original games are popular in this part of the world, so attraction to this title will be based on either interest in the flimsy plot or the cute girl aesthetic.
Nothing wrong with this show but nothing new either.
Japanese Language 2.0 DTS HD-MA
Disc 2 Only:
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animation
Rating – ** ½
Man In Black