May 312011
 

That Zetman anime ended. It didn’t get quite as insane as I was hoping, but it didn’t pull all of its punches like I was fearing. As a whole, it may not be the pinnacle of super hero anime like, say, Tiger and Bunny, but the ending was a good bit more satisfying.

The second to last episode ended with Zetman’s girlfriend regressing into a Player. I was hoping Zet would be forced into killing her out of some combination of mercy and “the greater good.” There’s no going back, since this regression was permanent, so she’s in a situation she can’t control. At the same time, she’s a giant fucking tentacle monster that turns people into sand with the slightest touch. Zet may want to “save everyone,” but his girlfriend is literally beyond saving through no fault of her own.

It’s a little sadistic of me to say “Yeah, man, I want him to off her!” but I found that choice the most interesting of the possibilities. It would force Zet to compromise his beliefs in a manner similar to what ALPHAS has dealt with the entire series. It’s downright impossible for Zet to save everyone in this situation, and that’s the sort of choice he should have to face to complete his character arc– realizing that you can still remain true to your ideals even if it means making compromises in the direst of situations.

Zet’s denied this choice by ALPHAS, as Zet’s friend deals the killing blow to the “Sand Monster.” With his knowledge, ALPHAS made the most practical decision. This monster was killing people. It was no different from any other regressed Player. When he saw an opening, he struck.

In doing this, ALPHAS knew that his form of justice would be served. He’s embraced the very philosophy he spouted in his first heroic situation: save those that can be guaranteed salvation. The girl inside that Player couldn’t be saved, therefore her safety was not as important as the safety of those who can be saved. In that moment, ALPHAS cements his identity as a hero.

But in completing ALPHAS’ character arc, Zet is denied a potentially awesome resolution. Zet needed to make that choice. Even if he chose his “all life should be saved” philosophy, he needed to make that choice and there needed to be repercussions. By taking that choice away the series was robbed of what could have been a truly great ending: both heroes having to deal with the ramifications of their ideals.

Zet does get a consolation moment. As he’s about ready to become whatever “Charisma” is, he is able to hold in that transformation. He doesn’t become the heartless apex of Player evolution. He’s able to forgive ALPHAS to a certain extent and not kill him out of rage. His ideals win out in that situation, and he has to deal with losing his best friend over a difference in those ideals.

And what makes all of this especially interesting is that both characters are allowed to flourish under their ideals. ALPHAS goes on to become a popular hero, fighting crime while living the Bruce Wayne/Tony Stark lifestyle (Albeit with a good bit more monogamy.). Zet returns to his role as the hero of the downtrodden, fighting from the shadows and never taking or wanting credit. They both bring about change in society in their own way, putting down the remnants of the Player menace and protecting society.

It’s the sort of resolution I like to see in these series where characters of opposing ideologies butt heads. While the series as a whole seems to sympathize more with Zet’s ideals, we have plenty of moments where ALPHAS’ take is presented as valid. Even as she lays dying as a victim of his rage, ALPHAS’ mother gives approval of his tactics, telling us he’s “following his own form of justice.” You have to question how much of that is her true feelings, but considering those are her dying words you have to assume they’re meant to be taken at face value. The series isn’t judging ALPHAS so much as it’s showing his viewpoint as an understandable one that might not be as ideal as Zet’s.

I like that. The series allows us to pass our own judgment on the characters. You can identify with the character of your choice and the series supports your choice. It’s a morality play without moralizing. That’s good stuff.

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