Zaion (I Wish You Were Here) Volume 2: Devastation Review
The "M34" outbreak continues to worsen and the NOA find themselves under increasing pressure as the virus begins to show signs of evolution. The virus now has the ability to adapt itself into nanotechnology and defend against it. The attacks of the NOA soldiers become considerably weaker and as they fight on, thoughts of love race around Yuuji and Ai's head. Yuuji's distractions may well compromise his position in the squad but can he and Ai escape this mess and live happily?
Zaion picks up right where the last volume left off and the most important question is "does it get any better?" No, I'm afraid it doesn't. Volume 1 disappointed greatly in terms of characterization so in theory this volume should have made up for that, but alas it wastes time and prefers to focus on action set pieces rather than develop what little potential it initially had.
If Volume 1 failed in making us care about the characters then Volume 2 makes us want to reach out and tear up the paper they were drawn on. The entire series has been a wasted opportunity as far as characters go. Are we really to feel sympathetic toward Yuuji and Ai's plight? It's impossible to because they spend more time moping around and it's depressing but in a bad way. It's not a good step to make your lead characters walk around like planks, especially Ai - at least Yuuji gets out there and kicks some ass from time to time. Considering that Ai is essential to the series it is laughable that such a heroine is expected to generate some kind of emotional core to its centre, because she is one of the most boring characters that I've seen in an anime series for a long time.
Zaion's military setting remains as stale as a cereal box (probably Albran and possibly including its contents) that some child has tried to eat thinking it was food and forgot what bread looked like. This isn't the only location that offers little in the way of interesting visuals. When we're not over there we're in hospitals and it is bleak, the series looks about as lively as a spider with no legs that went on to be mistaken for a raisin by a small child who ate a cereal box for breakfast. It's true to reality in many ways but it only brings the series down further.
In fairness the action still plays out quite well but the overall style of animation gives it a lesser impact, not to mention the computer generated explosions that feel out of place. By the time we get to episode three and four the sheer disregard for several characters is stupidly evident. No longer is this the same kind of team that started off episode one, having been tossed in the background and left alone until it's time for them to be hastily killed off. It is like the creators just gave up by this point though they'll insist otherwise, but the lack of episodes forces them to make decisions that don’t bode well for the series.
I'm left with nothing else to say. Volume 2 has managed to outdo the first in terms of sheer dullness. Volume 2 contains these final episodes:
Episode 3: "Notice"
In a break from fighting, Yuuji and his friends go home to rest up. Soon each soldier begins to exhibit strange symptoms and the conclusion is that they have been infected by the virus, except Yuuji who is fine. The "M34" continues to rapidly evolve until a new threat breaks out.
Episode 4: "Presence"
Yuuji once again recovers from injury; meanwhile the outbreak grows more dangerous. Yuuji begins to relay his feelings for Ai in his brain over and over and soon he races to save her from the rubbish baddie. It all will end here....hooray.
ADV release the second volume in pretty much the same way they released the first. Again it comes with a book featuring production notes and interviews. Interestingly, according to the comments this series should have had bigger plans, so something evidently went wrong.
Non-Anamorphic 1.85:1. The transfer is exactly the same as on the first volume - a little too bright but very sharp with good colour, though it has a deliberate muted palette.
Same as before. Clear and crisp dialogue and sound effects.
Interview with SF Setting Director Mitsuyasu Sakai
This runs for just under four minutes as Mitsuyasu discusses coming up with a plausible and consistent setting.
Interview with 3D Director Yasufumi Soejima
A four minute piece with Yasufumi explaining the computer generated designs and the integration within the series.
Interview with Voice Actress Yukari Tamura (Ai)
This interview runs for just over two minutes. The young Yukari explains her difficulties in voicing Ai, with little direction as to how her character should sound.
Interview with Music Director Kenji Kawai
In this four minute interview, Kenji discusses how he decided upon using progressive rock and implementing the right sound into the series.
Interview with Director Seiji Mizushima
This six and a half minute interview has Seiji talking about everything he enjoys about the series before giving a lazy excuse about how the show ended up with many gaps to fill. Due to it being such a short series he suggests that if the viewer stops to think about what goes on in these gaps then they can derive their own conclusions. I derived my own conclusion and I think Seiji is indeed correct in that respect.
A three minute set of sketches that play out to a selected piece of music.
Trailers for: Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Directors' Cut, Final Fantasy: Unlimited, King of Bandit Jing and Rune Soldier
Zaion has been a huge disappointment from start to finish, getting worse as it progresses. It's only a blessing that the series has ended here, I cannot recall a time where I have been so excited about seeing a show only to be horribly let down in the end. A waste of ink. No wait, they colour these things on computers now don't they?