Z/X: Ignition Review

This is review number three hundred and sixty three. This anime is part of the Winter 2014 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called Z/X: Ignition. It’s a twelve episode anime about something or other. I don’t really care. This is the last Winter 2014 anime I’ll be watching, and I should’ve just skipped it. Damn it all.

Story

I don’t care. I’m giving this anime a score of one out of ten. There’s your story.

Taking the Pants Off

I have never seen an anime that completely perplexes me. I stand by the belief that no anime should ever deserve a score of 1. When you get down to the technical aspects, a bad show can have one solid moment of animation greatness, great character design and even a decent soundtrack that made the experience not that awful. For me, if I can tolerate a show and finish it then I would give it a score of 2. In my three long years reviewing anime, I have only given one anime a score of 1. It’s a six episode OVA called Copihan, and I just didn’t really connect with the show. I considered it my standard for rating an anime a score of 1. An anime that gets a score of 2 is something I completely hate. It’s awful and it gave me a very bad anime experience that I remember to this day. They don’t get a 1 though, because they still elicit a reaction from the audience. If a show can make you hate its existence then it deserves a score of 2. For the case of Copihan, I felt nothing. The anime experience is something I didn’t care for, and I ended up just wondering why I wasted my time on it. That’s the benchmark for a truly awful anime. If it’s so bad that you can’t hate it, and truly don’t care for it, then it deserves a rare score of 1. I do not give a score of 1 because I always dig deep when it comes to reviewing an anime. The worst anime I’ve seen is probably Zettai Bouei Leviathan, and I still hate its guts. I gave it a 2, because it still gave me a notable anime experience. That’s really the job of an anime: to give you a unique anime experience. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad as long as you take something away from the show. Zettai Bouei Leviathan is something I considered so vile it made me reconsider my life choices. Copihan, on the other hand, really didn’t leave any impression on me. It just existed, and I honestly don’t care for it. I don’t fault the show that much though, because it’s a six episode OVA that ran for five minutes or something. It was designed to fail, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Z/X Ignition though, might be the very first regular airing anime that I feel truly deserve a score of 1.

I tried to defend the anime. It has a story, it has some interesting characters and it has some good fight scenes. I cannot bring myself to truly say it’s good though, because the clichés are insultingly bad, the dialogue is beyond retarded and the show just felt so commercial. The flow of the story is something I continuously mocked as I kept watching, and I just find it amazing how totally stunned the entire experience it. I can’t bring myself to like it, but I also can’t quite hate it. It’s nothing to me, and everything truly felt forced and unnatural. Someone got a checklist of things to make an interesting anime, and he made sure everything on the checklist is on this show. I find this anime perplexing, because I was absolutely bored watching it but I also had a steady frown as it progresses. There were moments where I rolled my eyes at how shoehorned the entire thing is, and I also cringed at some of its truly detestable scenes. When I created this site, I made a vow to always defend an anime. Every anime deserves a fair shake, and I promised to always present what an anime has to offer. I might share my feelings on how much I absolutely loathe Mahouka, but I also make sure the character design and the romance of the side characters are noted as a positive for the show. I might love Mouryou no Hako to death, but I also accept the fact that not everyone can appreciate it. They’re all in my reviews, and I try to be impartial about everything. Z/X Ignition is a show that I honestly can’t defend. When you look at the entire picture, the good parts somehow lends to making the show even worse and I am honestly a bit concerned. No anime deserves a 1, but damn it this show proved how to truly earn one.

This show is about a lot of things. The premise is a bit jumbled up, but it starts with the world being invaded by monsters. They appeared in this big black hole that just popped out of nowhere. There are a lot of black holes that appeared at the same time, and the monsters just caused havoc and destruction the moment they crawled out of the cool. Ok, cool. So it’s about humans fighting invading monsters, it sounds like a fun premise. It doesn’t stop there though, because some of the monsters can be captured by some humans. They never explained who gets a “Card Device”, but some individuals can capture monsters and they now fight the invading monsters as well as other Card Device owners. Ok, so the plot gets a bit bumpy. Monsters want to attack human, but humans can capture monsters to fight other monsters and other humans as well. What?

This anime is based off a collectible card game, so I think the approach is like a Yugi Oh type deal where humans can fight with the “powers of the card” or something like that. Wait though, why didn’t they just do a straight up card game anime? Why did they decide to do a monster invasion story based off a collectible card game? As it turns out, there was a manga and a PS3 game released about this collectible card game. Anyways, I can’t quite get a pulse on the manga, but the PS3 game pretty much has the same setup with a post-apocalyptic world overrun by monsters. So this is a video game adaptation? Nope. Ok, what the hell? If there’s already an original source you can adapt, then why didn’t you just do that? From what I can gather, the show is set in the same time as the game and the main character of the game is actually related to the main character of the anime. This is like some weird meta sh*t that I don’t truly understand. If does beg the question though, if the anime isn’t made to promote the collectible card game and the card battle system with its complicated rules, and it also doesn’t promote the video game then what exactly is this anime’s purpose? The creators were so confident about their skills that they opted to do an original screenplay based off a collectible card game? This just spells disaster, and I know from experience since Zettai Bouei Leviathan is also an original screenplay based off a product.

I’m overthinking this though. Anyways, the premise is about monsters invading the world and humans capturing some of them so they can fight the invading monsters. Fine, let’s just accept it as such. The premise isn’t fully established yet though. In Japan, there are five black holes that appeared and each hole represents a certain monster kingdom. There’s a blue, red, yellow, green and white kingdom established on the invaded Japanese land. These monsters aren’t just the typical beasts that attack anything that moves. It turns out that some of them are actually pretty human, and these human-like monsters are the one establishing a nation in Japan. The white kingdom monsters are all angels and I think the blue kingdoms are all techno monsters. It just represents the card types in the game, so it’s no big deal. But wait, these human-like monsters are organized creatures so why did they attack the entire world? So they’re in a parallel world and they’re attacking the Earth, but what for? Instead of just focusing on a human versus monster story, the show decided to categorize the monsters and have them fight against each other as well. Why did they attack in a black hole though? Can’t they just be organized and attack in a military like fashion focusing on the kingdoms fighting on an entirely new landscape? Wait, humans can also capture these human-like monsters so how exactly does that work? If a human controls them, do they give up their loyalty to their own kingdoms? Wait, if human-like monsters can be captured by the card devices, does that mean humans can also be captured by human-like monsters? I don’t understand. The anime never bother explain it properly.

I guess a suspension of disbelief is needed here. The anime has proven though that it can’t properly handle its premise, so how can I really expect it to handle the rest of the story? There are early signs that this anime is already a clusterf*ck, and it also hasn’t really established what it wants to be exactly. The overblown story made it clear that it’s not a Yugi Oh anime, where the entire show focuses on the card game and the way people battle with it. I think the show is trying to a Fate/Stay Nigh kind of story, where a monster and a human work together then they fight other duos. This doesn’t make sense though, because there are a lot of monsters in the game and the overblown story has proven that it’s not just chosen individuals trying to kill each other. So it’s kind-like a Yugi Oh anime with a lot of card monsters, but a human only has one monster to control so it’s like Fate/Stay Night but it’s also not. This is a big problem, because I don’t really know where the show is headed to. Is it going to stick with the monsters vs. human story, or is it going to be more about chosen individuals fighting each other with the entire monster invasion serving as a backdrop? This is your f*cking premise, the main idea of your show, and Z/X Ignition can’t seem to decide on what it wants to be. I honestly think that it doesn’t really have a premise, but it does have a story to stick to so I guess it’ll be alright. The first episode focused on a guy trying to invade the main character’s town with an entire army at his disposal. The first half of the anime, episode two to six, pretty much served as a flashback on the first episode. The epic confrontation on the first episode is retraced focusing on the various characters that serve a role in the story.

Ok, it doesn’t have a premise but the story sounds pretty solid. I really want this show to work out, despite my gut telling it’ll be a gigantic disaster. I honestly want to be wrong, and I want to show to prove to me that my gut can’t be trusted. Unfortunately, the story isn’t that good as well. There are two main reasons. First of all, just like the premise, the story itself is cluttered and it lacks focus. It jumps from one plot point to another without any clear direction on what it’s trying to achieve. Secondly, it possesses that Original Screenplay trait that makes a lot of show fail, the ever endearing Short Sighted Storytelling. Let’s go at it one by one. The second episode focused on our main character, Asuka Tennouji, meeting a mysterious person that hands him a Card Device. He uses it to capture an angel trying to save it from a duo that plans to kill her. It turns out that the angel is really strong, and she is now forced to live with Asuka since she is now captured. This angel just experienced a life and death situation, so how does the story progress? Asuka takes care of her and the rest of the episode focuses on the angel taking a bath in a bath house. There is now a hi-jinx story where Asuka and the angel act out the “boy living together with a girl” cliché complete with the angel absolutely hating her living situation. The entire scene is cute fluff and this is just weird. Keep in mind, she almost died but the show thought it’s necessary to not focus on why she is attacked or who attacked her. Instead, the anime thought giving her cute scenes with Asuka is more important. This is odd, because the world is being attacked by monsters crawling out of a black hole. Why in the flying hell are we focusing time on fan service and fluff when there are more serious things to talk about?

The anime is really odd like this. It doesn’t stick to a general tone, and it also jumps from one character backstory to another. One moment we are introduced to the duo that wants to kill the angel, and then it jumps from the story of a girl who has a crush on Asuka trying to get him to notice her. The story of the duo is pretty weird as well, because there are scenes of the monster trying to get a peek of his master’s naked body. The serious story can’t seem to get a good footing because the random fluff ruins the characters entirely. How can we seriously follow the exploits of an angel killer when we just saw her objectified to serve no actual purpose? It’s actually fine though, because the show is contained between these characters. A duo of angel killers, Asuka and his angel, and the people in his personal life just encompasses the entire story. The anime isn’t satisfied with that though. It introduces more characters like a Blue Kingdom allied pair appearing for no reason, and they got their own story to tell. There is a sick girl and a Blue kingdom monster has her medicine so she has to do their bidding. What exactly does the Blue Kingdom want? It’s never explained, but a girl blackmailed by a shady group still has fluff moments to share as well. There’s a puzzling scene where she had a seizure but then the next moment has her acting very cute eating curry.  The anime is stupid like this. It can’t decide on one story to tell, and it also can’t stick to one general tone. It wants to be both serious and cute, but that’s a very odd pairing. They cancel out each other, and that’s exactly what happens in this anime. Nothing is truly accomplished, because everything is just cancelled out.

So let’s just do a quick recap. The anime is about monsters fighting humans, but it’s focused more on people with card devices and their personal story. They all have their own plot points begging for a proper exposition episode, but they give that up for just simple moments of acting cute for the audience. That’s not the worst part. The most insulting thing about this anime is that it’s trying to force a Harem around Asuka. Absolutely the stupidest thing the anime has ever done is forcing the girls to just surround Asuka for no reason. So their tale of revenge and blackmail, they would give them all up for scenes like these:

And this happened in the fourth episode, literally just after this flashback is presented:

zx12

As I said, this anime is really odd. It refuses to acknowledge a premise, the story erratically jumps from one character to another, and it insults its audience by forcing the characters to create a harem around the only male character in the story. It just isn’t right. But all of this is just fine, because it’s a prelude to the encounter in the first episode. Remember? The characters presented in the first half all contribute to the big scene in the first episode. It still has one story it’s trying to focus on, but it also decided to not focus on it. Around the fifth episode, the characters had a random battle building up to one of the characters hating everyone with Card Devices. The story now follows her emo guilt trip, and it’s at the same time the invasion in the first episode happens. The big scene that the first half is building up to is suddenly downplayed to focus on another event that just came out of nowhere. This is textbook Short Sighted Storytelling at its finest. With no overall story, anything can happen here. For example, the characters faced off with the invading army in the first episode, but they all became allies with the army in the next episode. The show hinted a big confrontation in the first episode, but it somehow fizzled and the characters just joined forces. Apparently they have a common enemy to defeat, and the invasion is just a plot device for that enemy to come out of nowhere. That’s fine. The second half is where things really took a turn for the worse though, and I really just had a big frown watching the entire thing.

So the characters travelled in a big group looking for their common enemy, but they decided to eat some crepes instead.

This led to one of the characters chasing a stranger that resembles her mother, and it ends with the other characters looking for instead. The angel killer then splits from the group though, because she prefers to work alone. This is all fine except she spent the entire episode working with other people, so what exactly was achieved here?

The common enemy story is dropped though, because the characters from the blue kingdom suddenly fight agents from the blue kingdom from out of nowhere. The invasion of the main character’s town is also dropped around this point, and a shoe horned battle between the blue people happens for no apparent reason. It was an obligatory fight scene, and nothing more. It does have this classic moment that really made me cringe.

*character powers up*

Enemy: What is this power? Is this the power of someone that has something to protect?

And the scene makes no sense, because she wasn’t protecting someone. The enemy isn’t attacking her human partner, but the enemy just said it because she has to. The most incomprehensible thing here is that her human partner has an incurable disease that the blue kingdom exploits. They manufacture a medicine the girl needs and they use it to control her. From out of nowhere, one of the characters gives her an herbal medicine and she’s suddenly all better. What? The Blue Kingdom is an advanced race and the medicine they use is something only they can make, but an herbal medicine is apparently enough to cure her. Oh gawd, WHAT?

The show then heads to its big finale. The common enemy appears and it’s revealed that one of the characters is held hostage by it. They plan to free her, but the enemy then took another character hostage. The hostage is now free while another character takes her place, and the main mastermind is revealed to be the random enemy they fought in a previous episode. She then reveals that her true plan is to capture the other girl, and the hostage is just a pawn. Then, for no reason, the enemy does this:

So the monster vs. human story, the epic confrontation in the first episode, the obligatory fight scene before the finale, the various backstories littered in the anime eventually didn’t matter because the final battle concerns other things. As I said, the story’s main plan is to have a throw away character become the final boss, kidnap a character, release her to kidnap another character and then end the show with another shoe horned battle focusing on Asuka doing something special, despite the fact that he had no clear role after the third episode. It’s a very odd move, indeed.

It also has my favorite moment in the show.

*enemy destroys a mountain*

The strategist character, the smartest one in the group: What is she doing?

And I just feel defeated afterwards.

The characters are all worthless. The anime tries to make them relevant by giving them a backstory and motivations, but it doesn’t really connect to the overall story. It doesn’t connect, because there is no gawd damn overall story. I am insulted by Asuka though, because the show treats him like this very nice guy that helps other people who causes girls to fall for him, but he does it in such a boring fashion. I remember that he went out of his way to help the angel, the angel killer and the blue people because he is a good guy. When the big army invaded his town though, he believed that he should finish his shift first in the café he is working at before saving his town. I truly don’t understand, and he’s supposed to be this odd character that is endearing because he does what’s right. Asuka doesn’t really do anything in the show though, and it gets annoying how he’s treated as a very important character in the story when he doesn’t really do anything special.

As for the girls, they have their tale of revenge and blackmail but the show also want them to be cute. Even though the characters have personally witnessed monsters killing their loved one, there is always time for a shopping montage or a scene to bake a cake.  WHAT? They’re cute, but the show also constantly feature fan service involving these characters. It’s insulting because the anime expects us to care that a girl is naked when she doesn’t really contribute anything to the show. Does it think anime fans are so one dimensional that a girl in a tight suit can cover up the fact that she’s bland and boring? I expect more from my anime, thank you very much. I don’t really condemn the cute and sexy approach, since even Fate/Stay Night can deliver that from time to time. The problem is the lack of story and purpose for these characters. Why introduce their stories of revenge and tragedy when you’re not going to do anything with them? There is actually potential here, but clearly the show doesn’t care.

I wanted to hate this anime, but I really can’t. It comes to a point where it’s not really worth it. It tries to be clever by doing too much, but it mostly relies on cliché to carry the story. It’s unbelievably retarded, and I honestly can’t bring myself to hate it. I think it’s because I know the people behind this doesn’t care, so I don’t care for it as well. Some bad shows are attributed to stubborn studios handicapping an animation team, and the result is bad. Some bad shows are attributed to directors doing too much only to have it all blow up in their face. Some bad shows are mishandled and rushed adaptation so perfectly fine original sources and I still feel a semblance of care was given in these bad shows despite their sad circumstances. For Z/X Ignition, it felt like nobody care so I really can’t be bothered to care as well. This is an incredible waste of time, and I cannot believe it actually exists. This anime is brought to us by Telecom Animation Film, and they’re actually a subsidiary of TMS Entertainment. It spells trouble when a pretty subpar studio hands off an anime to their baby company. Do you really expect great things from TMS Entertainment’s baby company? TMS Entertainment doesn’t really do a lot of presentable anime, so I feel like Z/X Ignition is just doomed since the beginning. This is directed by Yuuji Yamaguchi, and he’s a pretty decent director. He notably directed Fate/Stay Night and Toukan Gettan. It’s weird, because Z/X Ignition actually feels like a contrived combination of these two shows. Aside from doing episodic directing, I think this is the first recent work this director did. It’s pretty sad how his career led him to doing an anime produced by a subsidiary studio. Nice job, sir. He has a nice career track blooming in the early 2000s, and I think he can do more when given the opportunity. He has talent, and I sure hope he can bounce back after doing this incomprehensible stain of an anime.

Sight and Sound

I think the design themselves were taken from the card game, but it is credited to Junko Watanabe. I think he designed the characters, and it’s a pretty decent design. It doesn’t stand out, but it does work fine for a pretty subpar anime like this one. He doesn’t really put enough details on his characters, and they just look bland next to the card game monsters standing next to them. The card monsters are nicely designed with an over embellish outfit that captures their game origin. I personally like Rigel’s design because it just looks the most appealing proportion-wise. The anime insults us a bit though by displaying highly detailed fan service scenes during certain portions of the anime, and it’s annoying considering the animation is absolutely atrocious. So the detailed fan service just looks bad knowing the studio is intentionally cramming it in for the sake of it. Telecom’s animation quality is pretty sad though, and the characters are affected by this. The boring colors, the faded looks and the oddly placed CGI really ruin the appeal of the character design. You’re often distracted by the dull colors and the awkward animation that the design is the last thing you’ll notice. I hate Asuka’s design, because it’s the blandest out of all of them. It doesn’t fit his character and they waste too much time trying to give him range as a character when he shouldn’t have existed in the first place.

Animation is pretty horrible. There are some nicely detailed fight scenes, but they still look bad. Frame rate is low and impact scenes look dull. The pacing is awkward and the characters don’t really look good when they fight each other. The animation is a bit fast and unsteady, so the fight scenes aren’t that impressive to look at. The studio is a pretty miserable one, because it can’t properly establish a scene. The director still tries for complicated angles that the animation can’t present, and it just adds to the awkwardness of it all. The facial expressions are dull, and some movements just aren’t pretty to look at. I don’t expect much from a subsidiary company, but the boring animation does kill any excitement and interest I have for the story. I tried to invest in the story, but the animation looks so bad that I just can’t get into it. The visuals are so bad that even the fan service isn’t really that great to look at. When boobs bore you, then you should really rate the anime a 1 because it just failed across the board at that point.

The anime’s OP is “EX:FUTURIZE” by Yoko Hikasa. As always, a bad anime has a good soundtrack. This is a pretty good opening song, as it has the proper energy to set the stage for the episodes. A good OP should really get you pumped for the anime, and this song is sadly misused here because the show sucks. Yoko has a great voice though, and I love the fast paced chorus that really gives you a great mood going into the show. The lyrics is about never giving up and fighting for it all. It’s a pretty standard OP, and I also love Yoko nailing the English lines nicely. Some songs force English in their lyrics and it’s a bit hard to listen to. This song is different though, because it does add charm to overall presentation. The OP sequence is like a weird Adobe After Effect video presenting the characters. It has fast animation and it’s a bit choppy giving you exactly what to expect in this anime. The anime’s ED is “Monochrome Overdrive” Yurika Endou. It’s another good song, and I love Yurika’s voice. It’s unique, and a bit amateurish, but it works for the song. Her voice actually overpowers the rhythm a bit, and it’s pretty unique for the song. The song is about love withstanding any trial, and it’s a lot more than that. Apparently, it relates to a religion or something, so that’s interesting. The ED sequence features stills of the characters doing random stuff before the monsters invaded Earth or something. It’s honestly as bad as the actual show putting importance on a bland main character and hinting at something the actual anime doesn’t even bother to mention. It’s just bad.

Overall Score

1/10 “Incomprehensible and boring, this anime just doesn’t work.”

The animation is bad, the story is directionless, the characters are horribly bland and the fan service is just “meh”. This show just doesn’t deserve a score higher than one. I stand by this even if people disagree. I’m putting my foot down, damn it. If you want to hate anime, then try this show. Actually, I dare you to finish this anime because I’m pretty sure you can’t. This is a waste of time. Do not watch this.

 

 

Thoughts~

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s