Anime Spotlight: Jinki:Extend

Jinki:Extend is an anime based on two manga series by Tunasima Sirou: Jinki and Jinki:Extend. The anime was produced by Feel, and was directed by Masahiko Murata. The series aired on Japanese television from January 5-March 23, 2005.

ADV Films originally held the North American distribution rights for Jinki:Extend. As of this writing, these rights are now held by FUNimation Entertainment.

The series begins by focusing on Aoba, a girl who lives in Japan with her grandmother; Aoba is also an avid plastic modeler. Aoba’s mother is Shizuka Tsuzaki, and she’s been out her daughter’s life due to leading a division called Angel out in Venezuela.

One day, Aoba is “kidnapped” by a young man named Ryouhei Ogawara, and she is taken to Venezuela by Ryouhei and his father, Genta. It turns out Aoba’s mother had her brought to Venezuela because Aoba apparently has cognate abilities that would allow her to pilot a kind of mecha called Jinki. Shizuka did this under the pretense that Aoba’s abilities would benefit Angel, an organization that is fighting the ancient Jinki that have been popping up in Venezuela; however, it turns out that she intends to turn Aoba into a killing machine that would follow her in destroying the world. However, due to events that take place early on in the series, Aoba doesn’t become the killing machine her mother wanted her to be.

While Aoba is in Venezuela, she meets Rui, a “cool” girl who challenges Aoba in order to become the main pilot of the Moribito, the Jinki that Aoba pilots.

Unexpectedly, there are jumps back in forth in time that really aren’t explained at first, which made some of these episodes rather difficult to watch. It didn’t help that some of the characters who we meet first in the series also show up in the randomly inserted time skips. Eventually, the story completely shifts from what we saw at first to focusing on the time skip, which we learn takes place three years after what we first saw in the series. We also learn that the material in the time skip takes place in Japan instead of in Venezuela.

In the time skip, a new character named Akao Hiiragi is introduced. She is an amnesiac who cannot remember anything from before three years ago, which would be about the time of the events that took place in Venezuela. She ends up becoming a pilot for the Moribito Type-02 Jinki, and the events in this time skip primarily focus on her.

By the end of the series, revelations are made in regards to both Aoba and Akao.

Jinki: Extend was an interesting series right at first, but after the timeline started skipping around, I became really confused about what was going on rather quickly. Unfortunately, my confusion lasted for the majority for the series; I didn’t truly understand how everything came together until the last couple of episodes of the main series. Having this confusion during most of the episodes really hampered my enjoyment of the series overall.

Another thing I picked up on early on was that there were ways that it felt like Jinki:Extend was trying too hard to become another Neon Genesis Evangelion. How, you ask? For starters, both series feature a teenager who is forced to pilot a mecha for a parent’s own motivations, and the parent has been out of the teen’s life doing something rather secretive. The only real difference is that the genders were flipped; instead of Gendo and Shinju Ikari, you have Shizuka and Aoba.It should also be noted that calling the organization “Angel” seems to be trying to add a religious element to the series, and at one point, there’s even scripture that’s quoted; again, this reminds me of the attempts at including religious aspects in Neon Genesis Evangelion. However, since this anime is based on a couple of manga series, these similarities are probably more due to the original manga source material than to the anime itself.

After watching the series, I was left with the impression that the director and the writer seemed to come at this from a perspective that the audience watching the anime would already be familiar with the manga. That’s the only reason I can come up with as to why hardly anything was explained and why it was decided to jump around in time instead of telling it as a linear story. It’s sad when you only understand some of what you saw in the series after reading through some of the content that was included in the bonus features for ADV Film’s release of the Jinki: Extend Complete Collection.

The original television anime had 12 episodes, and a 13th episode was released when Jinki:Extend came out on home video. After watching episode 13, I felt that for the most part, it was a waste. Aoba’s part of the story was the only part that was really important or necessary; everything else essentially felt like filler. While a couple of the characters had potential plot points brought forth, nothing ever came of them in the episode. Honestly, I think the series had a stronger ending with episode 12.

After watching Jinki:Extend, I can say that I’m not going to be in a rush to watch the series again anytime soon. Thank goodness we were able to get the Jinki: Extend Complete Collection for $5 through the Right Stuf Holiday Sale!

I personally would have a hard time recommending Jinki:Extend to anyone, even to fans of mecha anime. It’s ultimately a confusing and frustrating series to watch, with no real payoff at the end.

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