Zipman!! 004-008 – Manga Review

Synopsis: Zip up and kick robot butt! (Official Shonen Jump Synopsis.)

(Warning: Spoilers to Follow):

Review:

Zipman Chapters 4 through 8 move fast. We push our heroic duo through exposition, and a little foot work, right into the next major confrontation, hammering home that this series prioritizes action above all else. But this rush to chain fights, and deliver cool ideas one after another, actively damages the series going forward. It leaves no room to grow the characters, produce a lovable side cast, or even allow these cool ideas to properly shine. Let’s Jump In!

Starting with Chapter 4 we dive right into exposition delivered curtsy of our defeated villain. It’s straight, to the point, and perhaps gives away a few too many details, removing a good chunk of the mystery present from Chapter 1. It’s not a huge deal, but Zipman is showing its hand far more than it needs to. There’s also a nice touch about being yourself and having a male character want to cosplay/be seen as a female heroine, but we move on so quickly from it that it’s more a passing thought.

And that’s really much of Zipman’s approach to character work. Sure we seem to have hammered home who each of our two heroes are. Kaname is the brawny fighter with a heart of gold, even if he’s a bit awkward, and Koshiro is the brainy calculating hero who’s got innate charm and appeal, but is perhaps a bit bossy. Everyone else though isn’t much of a character. Our love interest, Cheena, is quickly forced into the role of damsel in distress in near successive encounters, giving us no time to see what we saw in a brief flashback: She’s a fighter. Chapter 5 then is another great example of missed opportunity.

Chapter 5 sees Kaname and Koshiro attempt to go to school and continue a normal life, while also trying to find information on this evil organization. However outside of a couple pages for a few jokes, we don’t allow our heroes to interact with too many characters who could become obvious support material. Even Koshiro’s lady helper, seen briefly here and in earlier chapters, doesn’t get a lick of attention. The same can even be said for Ito Magara, the girl Kaname and Koshiro are targeting for information. Other titles might’ve turned Chapter 5 and perhaps 6 into a sob-story for this shy girl, allowing our heroes to learn about her and grow close to her by solving some problem in her life. Here instead it’s all centered on Kaname’s awkward efforts to get close and simply persisting till it works. It’s not that Chapter 5 is bad, nor is 4, but the series continually ignores opportunities to deliver a deeper, more gripping experience in favor of pressing the plot forward.

That’s where we get to Chapters 6 through 8. Our heroes don’t have to wait long before the evil organization strikes again, launching a major attack on the school! They quickly convert the school into a fortress, capture the remaining students and turn Cheena into her second iteration as a damsel in distress.

But Zipman isn’t far behind and Chapters 6 through 8 begin this cycle of our heroes confronting a villain a chapter, defeating them in a ‘surprise’ twist and moving onto the next. Each of these villains offers cool ideas or even call backs to other, famous Japanese properties (I am excited about whenever we’ll see evil Optimus Prime take center stage.) but the series doesn’t really know what to do with these ideas besides introduce them. A good example is Chapter 8, where the latest villain turns a bunch of students into a giant monster, where if our heroes attack then they’ll be harming and perhaps even killing these innocent people. It reminds me a lot of Getter Robo Armageddon, or Devilman, which both featured monsters/villains that shielded themselves with the faces and lives of innocents. I’m sure it’s a call back to that or something similar. But instead of running with the idea, finding new ways to play with it, it feels like the concept is more so introduced as “street cred.” Where our author has included these cool ideas as a way of saying “Hey, I’m a fan too, I know what I’m writing.” But we move on from toying with these cool ideas or callbacks too quickly to show that Zipman has anything new and interesting to do with them.

As it stands Zipman!! is still a fun read. It’s quick, action-packed and has generally dynamic art. But unless we start exploring these cool ideas in a deeper way, or allowing our characters a chance to breathe, or expand the side cast to meaningful additions, I fear Zipman is going to peter out very early.

That’s it for this week! Let me know what your thoughts are on Zipman!

Zipman!! is published weekly in Shonen Jump.

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