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Z-MIND (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

July 13, 2008 by  



“An anime OAV series that tries to combine the grooviness of classic 70s mecha and shojo anime series in a modern mecha storyline. A definite homage to those series and a very fun, family anime series with lots of mecha action and humor.”

DVD INFORMATION:

DVD TITLE: Z-MIND (aka Shishunki Bishojo Gattai Robo Z-MIND)

DURATION: 150 minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Dual Language, English Subtitles

CATALOG #: 1570, SSN 1-58354-645-6

COMPANY: Bandai Entertainment

RATING: 13 and up

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

STAFF INFORMATION:

CREATED BY: Yatate Hajime

DIRECTOR: Matsumura Yasuhiro

SERIES SUPERVISOR, SCREENPLAY: Gobu Fuyunori

CHARACTER DESIGNER: Hamaru Kamo

MECHANICAL DESIGNER: Aoki Kenta

ART DESIGN: Aoki Tomiyuki

ANIMATION DIRECTOR: Watanabe Kazuo

ART DIRECTOR: Suzuki Kazuhiko

EDITOR: Funami Yasue

SOUnD DIRECTOR: Shimizu Katsunori

MUSIC PRODUCER: Inoue Shunji (AYERS)

MUSIC: Nobuta Kazu

PLANNED BY SUNRISE

A PRODUCTION OF SUNRISE BANDAI VISUAL

It’s the 1970’s and Ayame, Renge, Sumire and Satsuki are doing their best to grow up amidst roller skating, disco dancing and life in Asakusa, Japan.

But as if that weren’t hard enough, the Earth comes under attack by an alien force. In the grand tradition of Giant Robot anime, the mysterious giant robot Z-Mind (and it’s component robots Z-1, Z-2 and Z-3) is all that stands between Earth and total devastation. And the pilots? Of course, they’re the three older sisters.

Untrained and uncertain, the three sisters will have to make it up as they go along, but they soon find themselves making battle plans and shouting attack slogans like the most seasoned anime pilots. But will it be enough? Z-formation!

When I first read about “Z-MIND”, I thought it was pretty cool to hear an anime OAV series that paid somewhat of a homeage to classic mecha and shojo series.

The 1998 OAV series was the first OAV “moe” series by SUNRISE. Moe which is a Japanese slang for a fetish or love for characters in video games, anime or manga.

And the series is created by Yatate Hajime (note: Not a real person but a pseudonym for the collective contributions of the Sunrise animation staff).  Basically involved with the majority of the Gundam anime and manga with “original concept” but known by many for creating major anime titles such as “Cowboy Bebop”, “The Big O”, “Witch Hunter Robin” and “The Vision of Escaflowne”.  Definitely a big name attached to this series.

The screenplay is by Fuyunori Gobu, known for his work wtih “Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory”, “Armored Trooper Votoms”, “Choudenji Machine Voltes V” and other mecha series.

And with Yatate’s vision of creating something different from his previous major mecha anime series, “Z-MIND” definitely shows its difference from current mecha anime series as the main characters are a family of young girls.

The main story of “Z-MIND” is about your average family in Tokyo. A hardworking husband and his wife who take care of their four daughters and a son.

Everything seems to be going fine until eldest daughter, Ayame is kidnapped and next thing you know, she is piloting a large mecha robot known as the Z-MIND and taking on these monsters.

With the Earth being threatened again by the monsters, employees led by the government and Jim Pekinpah tries to enlist Ayame and her sisters to pilot the Z-MIND and its robot parts because it only will respond to their family DNA.

What is the secret behind Ayame and her family? And why is that their DNA can only interact with the Z-MIND? And who is this guy in a red trenchcoat that happens to show up when Ayame is in trouble? And who is the pink fire lady that shows up when the Z-MIND is in trouble?

All in all, “Z-MIND” is a fun anime series and it pays homage (or parodies) classic anime series. The first half of the series plays out like a family anime series with parents trying to protect their kids and of course, not get along with their kids.

The character designs feels a bit retro and with the daughters spouting language like “groovy” and “far-out”, definitely a homage to series from the 70’s. And of course, when the girls get into their “Z-MIND” clothing, definitely a shojo homage to series like “Sailor Moon” with the semi-nude to clothing transformations.

But I really enjoyed the humor of the show and how the family interacted well with each other in the first four episodes but the final two episodes becomes somewhat more serious and focuses more on the mecha battles and the challenges of facing more difficult enemies.

VIDEO:

The OAV series was released in 1998 and released in the US on DVD in 2001.  But for those mainly exposed to digitally animated OAV’s, of course, this anime may seem a bit old school.  But I guess with the storyline taking place in the 70’s, the age kind of helps it.  All in all, nothing bad.  It’s a colorful anime and I didn’t really see anything that stood out video-wise.

AUDIO:

I watched both in Japanese and English.  Both are regular 2.0 Dolby Digital and both are acted very well.  I will have to say one thing that urks me about the English dub and that is the character of Koji.  Why they gave him a foreigner English accent for the English Dub, I have no idea.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Special features are primarily the textless opening, cover art gallery (which I’m guessing is the art for the VHS or LD release, total of six cover art) and the trailers.  The back of the cover says there is a textless ending but it seems that was dropped or forgotten in the final print of the DVD.  There is also a reversible cover.

All in all, this was an entertaining anime series.  For me, coming into it so late, I was very curious to see how the anime paid homage to 70’s mecha series and all in all, it was fun.

I really liked the dysfunctional family dynamic with the whole family always fighting and then helping each other out.  Definitely some comic relief there.

I didn’t get into the mecha battles all that much because the series focused so much on the characters in the first half, I guess I wanted to see more of that in the second half but there was a quick switch from character development to all out mecha battle.  And I can understand why, especially the pacing of the first episodes of learning about the characters and then having them battle the evil monsters to end the storyline.

If anything, I’m glad the creators added an epilogue right after the credits, to give the series some closure.  But in a way, I wished there was more of “Z-MIND” but all in all, it was a very fun series and with a total of all six-episodes, for its price these days, it’s a steal.

All in all, a groovy anime series that definitely is unique for paying homage to mecha/shojo classics and for it’s price, an entertaining series worth owning.

+ An anime OAV series paying homage to 70’s anime series

+ An anime with a lot of humor and fun characters.

+ A full complete DVD that can be purchased for a low price these days.

– What happened to the textless ending stated on the back cover?






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