Time for another series that got cancelled before it could really get rolling. It has a cool concept and solid action so it’s a shame that it didn’t continue. I wouldn’t say it stands out a ton or anything but it was a quality title and it’s always a shame to see those go down for the count. So lets do a deep dive into the inner workings of Zipman.
The series starts by introducing us to Kaname as he attends his brother Koshiro’s funeral. It’s a somber day for everyone as Koshiro was a well known CEO who really revolutionized the world of robotics. He just had a genius that was extremely rare in any era. Kaname and Koshiro used to compete with each other to see who could make Cheena smile. She’s the main heroine of the series and unfortunately both of them fell for her at the same time so one day she will have to choose. Fortunately, she doesn’t realize that both of them like her.
Well, one day a giant robot attacks the city and Kaname is approached by another robot that claims he is actually the soul of the dead Koshiro. They can fuse in order to fight these monsters but Koshiro warns that it will be dangerous so they shouldn’t do this. Kaname is fine with the danger though and so their big era of battles finally begins. Can they stop this villain organization and ultimately get Koshiro’s body back?
The series certainly starts off quickly enough. We’re introduced to the main characters right away and get a good feel for the setting within the first chapter. This is effectively a normal world. Sure, some robots are starting to be created but nothing super advanced yet. Kaname is your average guy who enjoys anime and manga a lot. He has a very scary face so he has a hard time making friends but Cheena is all he really needs anyway so it doesn’t bother him.
The series got cancelled with 17 chapters so it didn’t last very long. Right now you may wonder how this could turn into a big action series with such a normal backdrop but by the final chapter the whole status quo has changed which would help with a sequel. There are different directions the series could go as well like if it wants to end up being a serious action title with a lot of big fights like My Hero or if it was going to be more of a slice of life comedic title.
Lets jump right into the good parts of the series. The art is solid. It’s not great or anything as it tends to get a little confusing during the fight scenes due to how similar the characters look and their big weapons but it ultimately does the job. The non combat moments are when the art is at its best and this is an easy page turner. Art is the first battle a manga has to win after all so it’s good that this was on point.
Then you have the character cast which is decent. Unfortunately like Candy Flurry the series has a bad habit of not really naming the characters though. The first villain gets a name but none of the others do. Who knows, maybe that’s a trend among titles that end up being cancelled? Without a true name it’s a lot harder to find the villains memorable and that can be an issue. After all, it makes it harder to talk about them since you always have to describe the villain first.
The first main villain is named Cutie Charm. So, how the villains work here is there is a group called Zip Down that has offered people the ability to become their favorite mascots. It’s pretty much a suit with a zipper that you walk into in order to become the character. The series even gives us a few big guest stars this way which will probably be tricky with copy right but their names aren’t used I suppose. Optimus Prime and Godzilla are two of the biggest characters to show up. Unfortunately the series ended before Prime could take a step and Godzilla was taken out in one panel so it was more like a tribute to the fan.
So back to Cutie Charm, the robot is built after the magical girl but piloting the robot is your average guy. He’s fairly insane since he looks up to all of these heroes and yet he’s working for the villains. Kaname has to give him a stern lecture. This villain may not have been great but he was the most memorable villain in part because he was the first one. It’s also a pretty interesting gimmick to have all of the villains be robots that people are piloting. I wonder about the logistics of some of the suits like the big Godzilla one but I suppose I shouldn’t worry too much about that. I guess it’s like a virtual reality simulator.
The weakness to each of the suits is to grab the zipper. If you steal the zipper then you obtain that robot’s special ability and you can attach it to your own mecha. You want to collect all of the zippers to be the absolute strongest around. The next villain was a tough fighter with a giant wrecking ball. She was reasonably tough and gave Kaname a good fight with how she could switch weapons so quickly. There was also more of a puppet master fighter but that guy wasn’t here to get any big wins.
As the chapters went on I think the author didn’t want to spend so much time climbing one tower so the next fight with the flying monster was handled off screen despite that guy’s hype of being a mastermind of sorts. The leader of the mini arc who was a fire robot got a good role. Not only was his fight probably the longest in the series but I always like a good fire move. He’s another insane guy who calls himself a hero but wants to murder everybody. These guys are not doing their favorite mascots proud I can tell you that.
Kaname had good advice for the first villain which was to rewatch the show. That’s probably good advice for all of these villains to be honest since their shows seem great but the so called fans in the suits just aren’t following it. A fun villain towards the end of the series was the guy based on Goku from the old legends. So he had more of a traditional design compared to the DBZ one but had the super strength and speed you would expect. His fight against Kaname was short but it showed the guy’s power as his punches were stronger than 1 million horsepower which is insane.
The guy may have been bluffing though but he did block Kaname’s strongest attack with his foot which is no easy feat. Finally you have the leader of the villains, the Chair Man. We don’t know a whole lot about his motivations or desires except that he wants everyone to have their own suit. I suppose he wants to rule the world or something but it’s clear that the series wasn’t ready to do a whole lot with him. It just kind of happened and he ended up being a big player because of how the series ended abruptly. His fight was even super short so it’s hard to say that he was much of a threat.
Of course the main 3 characters are the big ones here. First up, Kaname’s solid. His whole competition with Koshiro about trying to make Cheena smile definitely could have been worse. He doesn’t take Koshiro’s death particularly well but that makes sense since they were so close. Kaname’s your classic hero who is always ready for a fight and likes to just jump into the fray. Making him a big anime fan as well as a nice touch. He’s certainly a character you’ve seen before but the execution is done well.
Then you have his brother Koshiro who is a lot less likable. My main issue with him is that he’s always calling Kaname a “Devil Gorilla” which is supposed to be endearing I suppose but it’s a bit much. He’s constantly insulting Kaname and telling him that he just isn’t ready for this. It’s not what you’d expect considering this was their big reunion. Koshiro acts like Kaname is just a nuisance throughout the whole series until the final chapter where he finally loosens up. Throw in the fact that he gets mind controlled at one point and it’s a rough look for him.
As for Cheena, she’s a very active kind of heroine and I can see her contributing a lot if the series went on longer. Cheena was also quick to try and do some detective work of her own in order to clear Koshiro’s legacy and even kept at it when Kaname bailed. She may be a bit oblivious regarding the main two characters but that’s probably for the best so the series doesn’t get too dramatic too quickly.
That wraps up the character roster and so you have some good dynamics there. We don’t get a whole lot of school life beyond 2 chapters or so but you can see this working really well. The light tone works well for the series and if the author was going to go through with more character references for the villain group that would be a lot of fun without a doubt. The series stayed away from crude humor, fanservice, or any real negatives either. It’s just a solid and safe series.
So what could it have done to avoid being cancelled. Well, as mentioned the villain group definitely should have actually named each member. There’s no reason in this day and age for there to be a villain where I don’t know who he is. Have them announce it or just use a text box out of universe so we can see who this is. It makes the characters more memorable without a doubt.
Next up, Koshiro shouldn’t be nearly as mean as he is. The guy is just a big bundle of negativity in every scene that he is in. From how the characters describe Koshiro it seems like he was a nice guy so why the switch? Perhaps dying changed him but it’s way too sudden since we didn’t get to know the guy before he died. Giving him a better relationship with Kaname would have been a good idea and would lead to a better dynamic as well.
I think those two changes would really go a long way here. There are a lot of small things you can always change of course but those are the leading examples. I suppose a final option is you could also show some of the real world reactions to the giant robot events. Keep in mind that this is a completely normal world so when a giant robot shows up suddenly and starts breaking buildings I would expect some pretty big reactions. Kaname just goes to school like normal the next day and you’re wondering how nothing has changed. By the end of the series half of the school building has been obliterated and nobody seems to care. Part of the issue here are the sudden time jumps.
A big thing in the series is how Cheena doesn’t know about their secret identities as Zipman but then they tell her off screen so we miss the initial reaction completely. Likewise with the time skip at the end where robot suits are common place and everyone uses them now. Those are really big things to just skip all of a sudden and I think that was the wrong move. Time skips are cool and all but you don’t want to use them to skip big events like this. It should be used to skip past boring moments you don’t want to see.
I’m also not sure what the point was of using the term Jackman for a few chapters before the main characters inevitably changed their name to Zipman later on. I would have made the show called Zipman from the start and it would have been perfect. It’s a harmless little thing but I just didn’t see the purpose of it. In terms of humor the series is more low key but it has some moments like when a random construction worker decided to attack the giant robot. Yeah that’s going to work really well…..
I think one of the best things you can say for Zipman is that it’s a peaceful series. That may not be what you’re looking for in an action title but what I mean to say is that it’s very easy to just read it chapter by chapter. You’ll be engaged in what is going on and the clear art/fun script just makes it a page turner. It’s not great or anything but you won’t have any issues blasting through the series. Whether it was 17 chapters or 100, if it kept this atmosphere up you would always be able to count on it as a consistent title.
Overall, Zipman!! is a solid title. It’s certainly a series that ended just as things were getting good. The dynamic of having the brothers actually team up to fight villains sounds a lot better than the whole piloting system. After all since Koshiro was sentient, how does the piloting even work? If both of them try to move will they just short circuit? It makes a lot more sense to have them just be totally separate. Right now My Hero Academia’s got the whole superhero angle covered but maybe this one will make a comeback some day when MHA is completed. You never know I suppose.