Little note before I begin: I actually wrote (and finished) this review about eight months ago, but for some reason I never actually published it. Who knew. Nice that I figured that out eventually.
When I first learned that Z/X: Ignition was based off of a collectible card game, I was pretty turned off. I did enjoy Yu-Gi-Oh! when I was younger, but that was then and this is now. Reading the premise, it didn’t sound particularly exciting or revolutionary. But eventually I decided what the heck, I’ll give it a shot.
Good news: the plot has nothing whatsoever to do with a card game. Bad news: that doesn’t mean the plot is any good.
See, Z/X: Ignition tries to do way too much in too short a time. The creators obviously intended to avoid having a series with undeveloped characters and a bland storyline. However, I believe this is a perfect example of “too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing.” Though in this case, not even all of those “good things” are actually good.
Premise: five Black Points appear in Japan, effectively dividing the country into five different zones. Each Black Point connects to another “world” (designated by color) and from the Black Points come denizens of those worlds. These enemies are called Z/X, which is apparently short for “Zillions of Enemy X” (which is a really dumb name in my opinion, but I’ll let it slide). The Z/X indiscriminately attack people for seemingly no reason, and eventually humans develop a machine called a Card Device (Pokeball) that allows them to capture and tame Z/X to then use to fight against other Z/X.
The first thing I noticed was a lack of a real plot. Yeah, these Z/X things show up and their worlds start playing some big conquest game, but that’s not an objective. What the anime does instead is introduce the viewers to a cast of individuals and their own stories one at a time, then eventually link them all together. Which is kinda cool in its own way, but the overall execution was a little messy.
The protagonist is an “ally of justice” archetype who gets a Card Device because fate and immediately saves the life of a White World Z/X named Fierte. He then goes about his business meeting and charming each member of the rather extensive female cast one by one, typically by befriending them after helping them solve their problems.
One team consists of a young girl being secretly poisoned by nano-machines (for some greater reason we’re not privy to) and her robot-esque partner who comes from the logic and technology-focused Blue World. Another is a girl seeking revenge for her murdered family and her violence-loving Black World Z/X. There’s also a former Japan Self Defense Force chick and her samurai buddy, and a little girl with her mecha-dinosaur, but we don’t really care about them.
This cast randomly partners (somewhat) with a group bent on world conquest after said group attacks them, fights against corrupt individuals from each world, and ultimately work towards some greater purpose…that the viewer isn’t told about. The climax of the series is a confrontation between the heroes and some semi-heroine chick – who partners with an evil Z/X – in a blatantly obvious “hatred is the real enemy” metaphor (no really, the thing’s name is basically “hate”).
When the maelstrom of insignificant plot points and conflicts finally clears, we’re left with an unsatisfying and very inconclusive conclusion.
So yeah, the characters develop, I guess. But the show just tried. So. Hard. It knew we didn’t really care about Aina, so it gave her flashback dreams of her parents being killed in an attempt to invoke sympathy. It had Rigel betray the manipulative leaders of the Blue World and fight for her beliefs even at the cost of sacrificing Azumi, but then pulled the “magic medicine” card to fix all the problems out of nowhere and with no precedent anyway. The show quite literally used power of friendship (indeed those words exactly) as a source for unexplained extra power and deus-ex-machina wins.
It wasn’t that good.
The visuals were okay. Character designs didn’t impress me much, but they looked fine enough. The animation was surprisingly quite decent (with some CG), but unfortunately despite being an action anime with pretty decent battles, the episodes mostly focused on the characters giving overdramatic speeches about how sad their lives were, so we didn’t get as much of that animation as I’d hoped.
Sound way similarly okay. The OP and ED themes didn’t impress me at all. The seiyuu were decent, and there weren’t any specific problems that I noticed. OST was mediocre. Sound effects were good; it’s kinda hard to go wrong with sound effects.
Take a gander if you want, but ultimately it was nothing special. Even amidst the never-ending storm of mediocrity, you could do better than this. Final MAL rating is a 4/10.