- Hades Project Zeorymer (1988-1990: AIC and Artmic) 4/4 eps.
Staff and Background
Zeorymer is based on a 1 volume manga of the same name by Yoshiki Takaya, the guy behind the Guyver franchise. The OAV series was directed by Toshiki Hirano who also directed Angel Heart, Magic Kaito, and the infamously terrible Apocalypse Zero. He also directed another mecha OAV we’ve covered before with Dangaioh, with shares many of the same strengths and weaknesses as Zeorymer.
Story and Characters
We start off with our Shinji-like protagonist, Masato Akitsu, being handed over to the government by his parents who turn out to have been hired to raise him. He is then kept prisoner for a bit until the evil Chinese organisation, I mean I’m just assuming they are supposed to be Chinese given their art design, Hau Dragon who are led by Yuratei. It turns out that a dude named Kihara Masaki had built 8 mecha 15 years ago for Hau Dragon. The most powerful of these was Zeorymer of the Heavens which was meant to be for Yuratei. However, upon completion of Zeorymer it was stolen by Kihara who defected to the government. Our boy Masato was then raised from birth to be the pilot for the Zeorymer, which was genetically locked to him. So, when Hau Dragon attacks 15 years later it is because they have finally rebuilt the other 7 mecha, following Kihara’s sabotage, and because they want Zeorymer back. That is the basic setup and things get a whole lot more complicated than that further down the line. Despite this the plot of each episode tends to be rather simple. It usually involves one or multiple members of the Hau Dragon attacking Masato who then defeats them because the Zeorymer is overpowered as fuck. While each episode’s individual plot might not be the most wonderful in the world the overarching story they tell is quite engaging with lots of twists and turns that very much change how the plot of each episode runs, meaning it never gets stale. This is also helped by the fact that the bad guys are pretty damn cool. On top of their awesome mecha designs, which we will get to later, each of the bad guys has a distinct personality with strengths and weakness that really make them pop. The good guys on the other hand aren’t the greatest but they aren’t terrible. Masato is a particularly bland version of Shinji but he is improved by later events to his character that change him significantly. The other main character is Miku Himura, who is the Zeorymer’s co-pilot and whose personality can be summed up by saying that she is a girl. It is sad that she isn’t well written because she plays an important part in the story, though now I think about it the way she acts does kind of fit with her backstory. I have been mostly praising this show so far but there is a big problem with it: it simply isn’t long enough. Events happen way to fast and character dynamics seem to change on a dime, the short length of the series means these things seem happen far too quickly even if they might be set over a longer period of time in-universe. I think the first two episodes are generally fine but it would probably have been better if the final pair of episodes was split up into four just to give everything time to breathe a bit more and so we could get to know some of the other characters a bit better. It is still a good show but given that extra time it could have been great.
Audio and Visuals
Oh my God this thing is pretty. The art design in general is on point with some pretty cool character designs that kind of look like the love child of Mikimoto and Kawajiri’s designs and very much seem to have been the forerunner of one of the dominant styles in the 1990s. I especially love the designs of the Hau Dragon characters with their little tattoo/face paint details. Then there are the mecha which are dope beyond dope. From what I understand this one of the first mecha since the early days of the Super Robots where they didn’t really bother thinking about toy designs as they expected to make their money off of VHS sales. This really shines through as we got some weird ass designs that are nothing like anything before them, at least as far as I know, and their influence on stuff that came later is clear. This is all made better by the top tier animation that is buttery smooth that makes great use of explosion effects. This is really awesome considering that the mecha are really really really fucking powerful so when the action gets going the destruction is massive and that animation quality really gets to shine. Basically, this so is real pretty people. The audio side of things is great too! Both the dub and the sub are good options, with the dub playing things in a slightly over dramatic manner that really suits this kind of story. In particular I want to shout out my boy Kevin Collins who plays one of the Hau Dragon pilots, he is great in almost everything he does and I wish he’d do more anime. The music does not disappoint as it is filled with epic tracks that suits the equally epic action on screen.
Much like Dangaioh, Zeroymer is a tour de force on the audio-visual front with stunning animation, epic music, great art design, and strong voice acting in both the sub and the dub. The narrative side of things is also pretty dope too with twists and turns that will keep you invested as well as interesting villains that one kind of roots for at times. But it does have that big issue of being too short. Considering the manga only has one volume I suspect this is an issue rooted in the source material but it still doesn’t excuse the show from making the same mistake. It stops this show from being great but it doesn’t stop this show from being good.
Final score: 7C