Zettai Karen Children is a shounen action-comedy focused on a government organization called BABEL tasked with serving as mediators in hostilities between espers and humans. Among the organization and main focus of the series are a trio of powerful esper 10-year old girls called "The Children" who are chaperoned by Koichi Minamoto. The series explores the developing bond that occurs with Minamoto and The Children, as well as the group and BABEL coming at odds with several enemy organizations who have differing views on the future that espers can bring to humans to the world.
Zettai Karen mixes around comedic and serious moments in exploring its world and characters. The comedy mostly comes in the form of parody and the eccentric quirks of the cast. It makes nods at points to other anime titles and pokes fun of elements to sentai shows with the over-the-top introductions, commands and attack names being called from BABEL and other espers. The series also milks the eccentric quirks of the characters for its humor at many points such as Kaoru's perversion for attractive women, Muscle Okama's stereotypical gay character and Ichiro's lusting for partner Naomi. Many of these comical bits left me feeling rather indifferent or feeling some of the quirks were on the obnoxious side, particularly anything involving perversion of the characters being shown or teased. Still, there was some stuff that got me giddy such as series anti-hero Hyobu Kyosuke trolling Koichi for his personal amusement and an episode that parodies Death Note.
The series also has its serious developments in exploring the hostilities between espers and humans. In spite of his trolling, Kyosuke's character is fleshed out to explore a rather tragic back story that led to his mentality to become a Magneto-like figure in trying to aid espers and prepare for a possible war between his kind and humans. The pasts of the Children are also explored with how they became part of BABEL and their complicated pasts with their family members. The positions of organizations and individuals on esper abilities and how those with such power utilize it are also focused on at points throughout the series. While the series is comedy-driven throughout a good chunk of its first half, it does come to gradually tone down on its humor as hints to a possible dark future for Kaoru and the presence of another enemy organization rear their head in the second half.
Still, the series lacks a proper ending as the mentioned enemy organizations are still at large and things with Kaoru's future are left uncertain. Plus like a good number of action titles of its kind, Zettai Karen Children still dabbles fairly heavily in cliches typical of shounen anime with a number of adult characters behaving childishly for their age, many characters within the series filling certain archetypes and a good amount of black-and-white morality being milked in regards to some of the enemy organizations.
Overall, I suppose my thoughts on Zettai Karen Children are a bit mixed. I liked what it explored with its esper premise when things got serious and some of the humor to it did get me laughing, especially with moments where Hyobu was behaving like a troll. However, a good chunk of the show's humor did not really appeal to me and it still dabbles fairly heavily into the typical cliches and character types that one would find with a shounen title. I guess like the majority of titles aimed at the demographic, the series is best worth checking out if you're fairly new to the cliches offered for action-comedies geared toward younger male fans.
Last updated Monday, March 09 2015. Created Monday, March 09 2015.
After the initial WTF first episode, this series turned out much better than anticipated.
Art, Animation & Character Designs
Artwork and animation wasn't bad. It wasn't anything to gawk at but was good enough to be called average. There was some minor use of CG here and there... which really didn't do anything much to enhance the overall artwork. Character designs were average as well but a lot of the characters looked too similiar... at least their hair styles and some facial appearances. One thing to note, there are a LOT of characters here!
The OP was just too cute for my tastes. It wasn't bad, but just too kiddy! The ED was equally as kiddy. The rest of the soundtrack wasn't even noticeable.
Series and Episode Story
The episode stories is what made this series pretty good. We had some humor, some dramatic moments, some mild ecchi moments (very few), and plenty of action and fight scenes. The plot seemed like it was going somewhere, especially how 3/4 of the way through, we get introduced to a new "faction".... a group out of "Comerica". But here's the big problem with this series, rather at least it was for me. We have nearly 50 episodes of building and building and building of the plot, to the point where the audience is expecting some type of final showdown or dramatic conclusion but...... it doesn't happen. The end pretty much fizzled out and was mildly entertaining but hugely empty-ended.
One thing I do like about this series is the various cameos of various characters from other anime all throughout this series, and I mean a lot! Most notably, cameos from the Combat Butler series... which by the way was a awesome series itself.
Overall, it had a lot going for itself but pretty much ruined it for me in the end. It's not a loss however. It's still worth the watch.
Last updated Thursday, June 10 2010. Created Thursday, June 10 2010.
(All episodes watched):
Here's a show which starts off in a dubious, head scratching manner, but swiftly develops into an unusually clever and funny TV comedy which clearly employed talent that is all too rare in shows of this sort nowadays. Comedy of this quality, delivered in this quantity, is a welcome surprise indeed. If you've been wondering what the people who made Hayate no Gotoku! have been up to lately, I think we have an answer!
As I think back about watching the first episode, I remember no particularly hilarious jokes, but an all-around atmosphere of silliness and pleasing absurdity comes to mind. Perhaps the nearest match I can think of would be Ultimate Girls, except ZKC seems better in every way. A little risque but not sleazy, that is. The plot seems to be going somewhere, which is reassuring since a show with such a premise might rely on pedophilia. It looks like this will be the story of the three "Absolutely Lovely Children" from the time they teamed up with their new "handler" Koichi onwards. Actually, one good joke was the one regarding Koichi's bloody nose. This one definitely ranks above Kanokon or Special A in my opinion. So, I like this show!
Episode two leaves me with an attitude of encouragement about this show. The tour of the bizarre but not altogether implausible BABEL institute was fun and interesting. We are introduced to the procedure by which the ZK Children are dispatched on missions, which makes some sense. It was nice to see Kouichi reason out what was going wrong with one and solve it--he's not just a loser to be kicked around by the girls. Whereas some early reviewers felt this show was cheap and sleazy, it's seeming unusually well thought-out to me. Again, I'm getting the impression that this is a pretty good show that hasn't gotten the attention it deserves.
When I asked myself what was making me laugh during episode four, the answer I came up with was unpredictable weirdness. I don't know what the characters are going to say or do next, but I can be confident that it will be pretty strange (and funny, too). The way characters say something nonsensical during the station breaks reminds me of Hayate no Gotoku; it wasn't just a coincidence, either, since Hayate and other fellow characters actually appear briefly in episodes 9, 18, and others. Also nice is the way the characters have a dash of common sense, which is all too rare in anime comedies nowadays. ZKC is one of the Spring comedies which I most like, and which I try not to watch more than one of each day, so that I won't run out of them before the next week's shows become available.
"This is pretty good!" I unwittingly said to myself during episode nine--the most honest and sincere form of flattery I can give. ZKC is definitely significantly funnier than the bulk of anime comedy, perhaps because it dares to be a little risque in an adult manner. Instead of seemingly setting it's sights on the lowest common denominator as a target audience, this show employs some genuine wit rather than just jaw-dropping fanservice. Episode nine, by the way, involved Koichi being hypnotized to see the girls as voluptuous young women instead of the ten-year-olds that they really are.
I don't exactly see why Major Hyobu (the guy with a psychic hamster) is supposed to be so dangerous; I'd rather spend more time with the Kouichi and the children. But that's because they are so much fun (I especially liked the SD faces in this episode). The episode as a whole would have made a lot more sense if it had been a submarine, not a fishing boat, which had sunk with survivors trapped inside.
Episode 13 reminded me of why I love this show. I paused it to read a subtitle, then glanced at the frame itself and was startled by it's quality. There was both a beautiful sunset in the background, and a hilarious facial expression on Kaoru's face. So much extra effort that I often miss goes into this show, which is startling considering just how many episodes (52) there are supposed to be. The two-parter story in episodes 16-17 wrapped up nicely and left a message of Japanese-American friendship (even if those Americans are a little crazy) that we seldom see. Episode 18, about Kaoru's jealousy when her companions go on dates, was great fun; the jokes flew fast and furiously. One of the things I like about this show is that I don't get the same patronising, set-for-the-lowest-denominator feel that I do from so many simplistic comedies. Whereas the impression that the first episode of ZKC left me with was largely a WTF one, I now consider this an exceptionally good comedy, and one of my handful of currently running favorites.
Episode 27 was exhilarating as it proved that ZKC really would go beyond the usual 26 episodes. A new OP sequence hints at new characters and plot twists to be expected. I didn't like the new OP and ED songs as much as the older ones, though. With no less than 52 episodes to work with, it's clear why the Major Hyobu plotline has taken so long to develop. Miyamoto recently experienced a disturbing revelation of the future, a prophecy which he must prevent from comming true; this will clearly play a large part in the third and fourth seasons. There were some definite subtle differences between the way this episode "felt" compared to earlier ones. At one point I was wondering if I had missed something, as Kaoru seemed to be flaunting her supernatural powers in school, where she's supposed to keep them secret. I also noticed some neat camera angles during the action scene. The series as a whole seems to be getting more serious and less comic; I would be a good deal more uncomfortable with this than I am if I had not developed a strong sense of confidence in this show.
..and then again some episodes are still largely nonsensical, such as the ones involving being trapped in the vault of a bank or defending cultural landmarks from vandalization by a modern "artist" esper. Though some episodes seem repetitive and I wish for some sort of serious change, all-in-all a large cast of eccentric chatacters has been carefully assembled and their antics are always good for a laugh.
Episode 40, the first one of the final season, involved a recreational skiing trip by Babel personnel. It was pure comedy, with no long term plot (except maybe the revelation that Miyamoto once had a pink-haired girlfriend, who seems to appear in the OP sequence)--and it was hilarious. The jokes about the "drill" cracked me up, even though I'm not certain I really "got" them (I think those were charicatures of the three principal female VAs).
Episode 46 is a Death Note parody, in which a mystical notebook which grants wishes which are written in it appears. All sorts of jokes based on that series appear within this one.
After all the 51 episodes of buildup to the conclusion (I thought there was supposed to be 52) the question on everyone's mind must have been whether Miyamoto would have no choice but to shoot Kaoru, as had been foretold by an unusual psychic. But I was dismayed to realize that we were not to really get a full answer--apparently the manga must still be underway and the anime people didn't want to fabricate their own conclusion. That's probably preferable, but it's still frustrating to have to go searching elsewhere for your answers.
How do I describe this show? It verges on making you roll your eyes in dismay but doesn't cross the line. Instead, there's an insane, campy spirit to the show. Bizarre antics come flying out of left field. Not everyone will like it; the laughs-per-minute rate could have been a little higher. Being as long as it is, I don't know if I'll ever get around to rewatching it, but it was great fun the first time around.
My favorite line: "Psychic domestic violence!" --Kaoru
Last updated Saturday, May 16 2009. Created Monday, April 14 2008.
Is this supposed to be a kids show? The first episode has them facing off against a beefy gay-pervert esper - who shoots a paralyzing ray from the groin and has a serious fetish problem with gold statues ...
Last updated Wednesday, April 09 2008. Created Wednesday, April 09 2008.
|Japanese Series Web Site