Anime DVD Review: Zaion ~ I Wish You Were Here ~ Complete Collection

Zaion ~ I Wish You Were Here ~ Complete Collection is a single disc release that includes all four episodes of the OVA. There are also some bonus features included on this release.

Zaion ~ I Wish You Were Here ~ Complete Collection
English Publisher: Section 23
Format: DVD
Release Date: February 3, 2009

At the beginning of the series, the viewer learns that there’s a meteorite-introduced virus called M34 that irreversibly alters the molecular structure of the human body; its victims are turned into violent creatures. An organization called the Committee of the Universal Resolution of Ecocastrophe (CURE) is formed, and the organization creates a unit of soldiers whose bodies have been introduced with nanomachines. These soldiers wear Nano Osmolar Armor (NOA) to engage the victims in direct combat.

The mission is taking its toll on the NOA soldiers; when a soldier named Yuuji Tamiya learns that CURE has been working on a secret weapon he becomes rather angry. The new weapon turns out to be a girl named Ai, who is able to create a projected being that can destroy the creatures. When we meet Ai, she reminds me a lot of Rei Ayanami from Neon Genesis Evangelion, because Ai hardly shows any emotion at all throughout the story.

The story sees Yuuji and Ai meeting, and this supposedly leads to a love story; however, Ai’s lack of emotion really makes the love story rather awkward and unconvincing.

Later in the story, Yuuji is quarantined after he comes in contact with one of the creatures but is released after healing from his injuries. However, a blood test later reveals that the virus has evolved and is attacking the nanomachines in his body. When CURE tries to arrest Yuuji, he takes Ai hostage. Ai heals Yuuji with unexplained powers, and they are found by CURE soldiers. Ai surrenders herself to CURE, and then it rather quickly heads toward the climax of the story.

By the time I was finished watching this OVA, I was rather underwhelmed. Not only did the love story feel awkward and forced, there are also a number of actions that happen that are never explained; it feels as if the writer and director just expected the audience to simply accept what was happening without any question. Also, the lack of explanations also helped the make the story feel rather choppy in places.

After watching this, my husband commented that the amount of deus ex machina that appeared in this OVA was ridiculous; you didn’t simply have a “chair of the gods,” you had a “furniture store of the gods.” At the end of the OVA, neither one of us really cared about what was going on anymore.

The animation was also not that great, especially the CG animation. While this OVA was originally produced in 2001, that doesn’t excuse the poor quality of the CG. The CG that appears in this production even looks bad by 2001 standards!

In a nutshell, there seemed to be a decent idea for a story, but the execution was poor. To me, it seemed like it was a story that needed more time to be told in order to truly develop the characters and the story. Perhaps if more effort had been put into that development, I might have enjoyed it more.

However, there was one positive aspect to this OVA: the music. It has a bit of a prog rock feel, and it was rather enjoyable to listen to. Too bad such good music was used for such a poor production.

When it comes to the DVD itself, it included 11 bonus features. The first is a Japanese promotional clip that runs for three-and-a-half minutes. Unfortunately, quite a bit of footage was reused throughout it, which made it feel a bit repetitive.

Next is an interview with director Seiji Mizushima and writer Natsuko Takahashi that runs for 13 minutes. They talk about the story, the animation, the music, and the guy who provided the voice for Yuuji. I had to laugh when they were talking about how great the computer animation looked, and I also was rather incredulous about some of the other claims about the production that they were putting forward. Lord knows they weren’t talking about the same production that I had watched!

This is followed by an interview with Gonzo President Showji Murahama, which lasts for four-and-a-half minutes. He talks about the birth of the production, what area they focused on the most, about releasing the series on the web, and what kind of show it is. Anime wasn’t commonly being streamed on the web back in 2001, so that was a unique angle at that time. After watching this interview, my husband and I both wondered if maybe there wasn’t as much explanation given as there should have been because it was assumed that viewers watching this on the web would search the site for more background information.

Then there’s an interview with SF Setting Director Mitsuyasu Sakai, which is almost four minutes in length. He talks a bit about how he became involved with Zaion.

Next is an interview with 3D Director Yasafumi Soejima, which is a little over four minutes long. He talks about what he did on the production and the various designs.

This is followed by an interview with Yukari Tamura, the voice actress for Ai; her interview is a little over two minutes in length. She talks about her character, the atmosphere while recording, and the advice she received.

Then there’s an interview with Music Director Kenji Kawai, which is four minutes in length. He talks about the music production and the requests of the musicians.

The final interview is with director Seiji Mizushima, which is six-and-a-half minutes in length. The subtitles showed the exact same answers that we saw in the first interview in the bonus features; however, some of those responses were originally made by the writer. My husband and I noticed during this particular interview that Mizushima was obviously reading from something; he was looking more down than he was at the camera, and we could see his eyes moving as if he was reading. This particular interview felt like a waste of time.

There are production sketches that are done as a six-and-a-half minute slideshow. It includes character art, notes, mecha, and locations. There’s also previews of releases that ADV was promoting at the time this DVD was released, as well as the DVD credits.

There was obviously a lot of effort that went into putting the bonus features together for this release. It’s too bad that there wasn’t as much effort put into the actual production!

After watching Zaion ~ I Wish You Were Here ~, I truly cannot recommend this OVA to anyone. At least my husband and I got this DVD for $5 through one of Right Stuf’s Holiday Sales! However, my husband did wonder after watching this if we still had paid too much for it at $5.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Zaion ~ I Wish You Were Here ~ Complete Collection that my husband purchased for me as a gift.

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