ZIPANG Vol. 1 – “Future Shock” (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)
September 16, 2008 by Dennis Amith
“A very interesting sci-fi storyline that poses the question of, if one were on a Japanese modern war ship and is somehow transported to the past during World War II, do you help your your countrymen knowing history that Japan lost the war using the latest in technology against the Americans or do you stay far away not to disrupt history.”
DVD TITLE: ZIPANG Vol. 1 “Future Shock”
DURATION: 100 minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Animated, Color, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC, 16:9
RATINGS: Suggested 13 and up, War Scenes, Mature Theme
ORIGINAL AUTHOR: Kawaguchi Kaiji
DIRECTOR/SERIES STRUCTURE: Furuhashi Kazuhiro
SCRIPT: Taked Yuichiro
MAIN CHARACTER DESIGN: Umakoshi Yoshihiko
MECHANICAL DESIGN: Kohara Shohei and Nishinaka YAsuhiro
ART DIRECTOR: Sakamoto Nobuhito
3D DIRECTOR: Baba Naruhiro
COLOR DESIGN: Matsumoto Shinji
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Kawaguchi asayuki
EDITOR: Matsumura Masahiro
SOUND DIRECTOR: Hiramitsu Takuya
MUSIC: Sahashi Toshihiko
ANIMATION STUDIO: STUDIO DEEN
A Ripple in Time Turns the Crucial Tide of WWII.
Scheduled for routine military exercises, Commander Kadomatsu and the crew of Japan’s newest and most modern battlecruiser, the Mirai, are ready to test out the ship’s state-of-the-art Aegis System. Instead, they find themselves transported back to June 4, 1942 – date of the crucial battle of Midway, where the Japanese fleet was dealt a crippling blow. When an overzealous Kadomatsu rescues one of the battle’s victims, Kusaka, from a sinking zero fighter, the Mirai’s fate is sealed.
The crew pledges not to do anything to alter the past further, however, they’re now forced to fight a U.S. submarine in a battle that should never have occurred, thus setting of a chain of events that may forever change the flow of history!
I have to admit that I really didn’t know too much about this anime. After watching “Submarine 707R”, I wanted to watch another anime that dealt with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and another series that features the latest in technology of the military carried out on sea. Especially since the original author of the manga series, Kawaguchi Kaiji was the original author of the classic anime OAV “Silent Service”.
So, what better than to watch the anime series “Zipang”, a series that is based on an ongoing (and award winning) manga series by Kawaguchi Kaiji. The manga was made into a 26-episode TV series in 2004 and was released on DVD by Geneon in 2006.
The storyline is about the latest in Japanese technology, the modern battlecruiser known as the Mirai. The Mirai and the crew of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force is off to Pearl Harbor to meet up with the US for training but during their travel to Japan, they notice a strange occurence with the skies and the Mirai is hit by a bolt of lighting. Next thing you know, the Mirai and its crew are transported back to 1942 during World War II.
The main storyline focuses on three close friends and members of the SDF who are stationed on the Mirai:
Kadomatsu Yosuke – Second in Command of the Mirai and has a sense of duty to protect people. Yosuke’s actions is what changes the course of history when he rescues an Imperial Japanese Navy Commissioned Officer Kusaka Izumi. A man who should of perished in battle.
Kikuchi Masayuki – Gunnery officer and third in command and in the beginning of the anime series, is totally against getting involved in fear that the Mirai and crew could change history.
Oguri Kouhei – Navigation officer and shares the duty of third in command with Kikuchi. Of the three best friends, Oguri is the most outspoken.
Throughout the series, you are introduced to several other characters in the Mirai such as Captain Umezu Saburo and Lt. and Mirai medic, Momoi Sachiko.
In episode 1, “The Mirai Sets Sail”, the series features how the Mirai is transported sixty years into the past and try to understand what happened to them.
In episode 2, “Midway”, fortunately the Mirai has a history buff in its crew who tells them that on that day, June 4, 1942 is the Battle of Midway in which the Americans destroyed the Japanese fleet. Of course, the Mirai, has the power to possibly save the Japanese fleet but under Kikuchi’s logic, the Mirai and its crew should not interfere with history and should find a way to get back home.
In episode 3, “Drifters”, the crew debate to save a Japanese plane that has a survivor. Due to Kadomatsu’s sense of protecting lives, he saves the survivor (Kusaka Izumi) who happens to be an officer of the Imperial Navy. Kikuchi knows by Kadomatsu’s action, history will now be changed.
In episode 4, “Mirai’s Battle”, the Mirai returns to the spot they where they were transported back in time. While they wait to see if anything will happen to them, the Mirai is under attack by an American submarine. Of course, with technology on their side, the Mirai is able to escape from the torpedo’s but one of Kikuchi’s men who is caught up of having to decide if Japan should get their revenge on the Americans, fires a missle on his own against the submarine. Now the Mirai must decide whether or not they should attack the Americans or destroy the missle and knowing the Americans will relay info. about what they learned about the Mirai back to their headquarters.
Overall, the series is in good hands with Furuhashi Kazuhiro as director. Furuhashi has been a director for series like “Urusei Yatsura”, “You’re Under Arrest”, “Getbackers” and more. Character designer Umakoshi Yoshihiko created character designs for anime series such as “Street Fighter”, “Berserk” and “Air Master” and Takeda Yuichiro who wrote the screenplay will be known for his work on the multi-anime series “Banner of the Stars”.
The video is featured in 16:9 and felt the animation looked great. With the waves of the ocean that ship makes, to the skies brilliantly painted to showcase a storm or a sunny day. The animation was very well done and the colors showcasing the darkness inside the Mirai to outdoor missions were well done. Character designs were well done as well.
The audio is in Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 and I watched both the Japanese and English dub versions and both were well done. It would have been cool if the series was digital 5.1 to showcase the sound of the missiles and blasts but all in all, dialogue was clear and had no problems with it.
There wasn’t really any special features except three Geneon trailers and a clean opening and ending theme for the series.
I have to admit that “Zipang” features an interesting concept of time travel and if given the opportunity to have modern technology, would you help your countrymen from a different era or not disrupt history and you can see it among the crew of the Mirai. Loyalty to their country but at the same time, those who don’t know what effect by saving the Imperial Army will do in their timeline.
I will say that I am aware that the series ends with a cliffhanger and because the manga series is still ongoing, it’ll probably be quite sometime before another anime series is created or if it is ever created.
As for the anime, there are a total of seven volumes and vol. 1 can be found pretty inexpensively but finding the other volumes online is hit or miss and some are still being sold for regular price. I hope there will be a complete collection out for “Zipang” with the team up of Geneon and Funimation.
But overall, watching the first volume was quite intriguing and left me wanting more.
+ An experienced staff behind the anime series and created by Kawaguchi Kaiji, creator of “Silent Service”.
+ Very intriguing time travel anime series
+ Interesting perspective on modern technology vs. older technology used in war
+ Well done voice acting
– Hard to find complete online and because the manga series is not yet completed, the anime series ended with a cliffhanger. So, whether or not you want to start a tv series that is not final is up to the viewer.
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