I have watched Zegapain a couple of times because I really like the themes that the anime presents. So this #ThrowbackThursday I will be introducing it to you with some side dishes of information about Sunrise, the studio that created the anime.
Zegapain (ゼーガペイン Zeegapein) is a mecha, romance, and science-fantasy anime created by Sunrise. It aired in 2006 for 26 episodes. The anime’s main director is Masami Shimoda, who has helmed such anime series as: Saber Marionette J, Boys Be…, Macross 7 Encore, and more. Sources say that the anime was handled by Studio 9, a sub-division of a production studio that has worked on titles like Infinite Ryvius, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, and others.
Other than the anime, Zegapain also has two novels, two Xbox 360 games (Zegapain XOR and Zegapain NOT), manga adaptations, radio dramas, and material books detailing production processes. Of course, pretty much none of them officially made their way to the West.
Kyo Sogoru is living his high school life as a member of the swim club. One day, he sees a beautiful girl who looks distantly familiar, Shizuno Misaki. Kyo quickly asks Shizuno to be a model for a promo video idea he has in mind to attract more members to the swim club. Shizuno agrees but in exchange, Kyo has to pilot a mecha.
Kyo is confused, but agrees anyway. After arriving in the mecha’s cockpit, Kyo feels oddly acquainted with the robot and is able to pilot without much difficulty. Soon, Kyo realizes that what may seem like an ultra-realistic virtual-reality game turns out to be a matter of life and death for human kind.
Brief info about Sunrise
Most anime fans have probably heard of the name, and most certainly have watched one or two anime made by Sunrise. The production studio was established in 1972 and has churned out many anime series. I personally know of Sunrise as the mecha studio because they are famous for animating many robots or science-fantasy works.
Anime News Network’s YouTube channel has posted a video looking into some of the processes in creating Tiger and Bunny and Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, which you can view here. As a fan of both anime and as someone who is curious about animation processes, I highly recommend watching it.
The video also interviewed Kenji Uchida, the President of Sunrise Inc., regarding the formation of the company. In the interview, Uchida admitted that in the beginning, Sunrise had to take on the challenge of animating robots to set itself apart from the other studios. He also acknowledged that the studio and its work on the Gundam franchise has helped in establishing a successful business model by capitalizing on the countless Gundam merchandizes.
What I thought of the anime
2006 is a time period when some sci-fi or sci-fan anime are still being influenced by Ghost in the Shell, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and The Matrix. Zegapain is no exception. Before anything, I heartily recommend this anime if you had not watched it. Since I want you to give this anime a try, I will try my best to discuss only the themes and avoid too many spoilers. If you choose to follow my recommendation and warning and want to watch it without being ruined, please ignore the rest of this.
There are clear thematic parallels between Zegapain and The Matrix. One: in Zegapain, characters can become aware of the “reality,” the truth in which one is perceived to be living in. Two: there are those who seek to destroy for their own reasons. The Matrix has Agent Smith, while Zegapain has GARDS-ORM. Three: just like the “squiddies” (or Sentinels) in The Matrix, GARDS-ORM has its own swarms of robots. Kyo and his friends will have to battle them and save humanity.
Zegapain also talks about existentialism similar to how GitS speaks about “soul” in fabricated bodies and how The Matrix talks about “being” in a constructed or perceived reality. In a romanticized shounen fashion, Zegapain values an individual’s memories and information. After becoming aware of the current state of the world, Kyo begins to hold his memories of his friends and loved ones as well as their memories of Kyo dearly. Due to what is happening in the world of Zegapain, those memories are some of the means of human connection left.
I like how the anime is able to take a more literal meaning of the making lasting memory trope and uses it as almost like a perishable but very precious item. If this sounds kind of confusing, watch the anime. I am sure you will understand in due time.
Overall, I think the anime deserves more recognition. It is quite a pity that Bandai Namco did not promote it more aggressively in the West. However, I am quite thankful that Crunchyroll has brought some attention to Zegapain with its tenth anniversary news. Maybe we will finally see an official release!
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