Follow TV Tropes


Manga / Zetman

Go To

"That boy's a demon. He wouldn't die, even if you killed him."
Mitsugai Amagi

Zetman is a manga series created by Masakazu Katsura and was serialized in Young Jump from 2002 to 2014. Though the series was created by the same guy responsible for Video Girl AI and I"s, Zetman is closer to fellow-Seinen series Berserk in its story and art.

The series focuses on two teens, Jin Kanazaki and Kouga Amagi, who combat the demonic 'Players', creatures created, and currently hunted, by the Amagi Corporation. Jin was the last experiment conducted by scientist Gorou Kanzaki, who escaped from the Amagi Corporation when he found out that they intended to exterminate their creations. Though Gorou wished nothing more than for Jin to live out a normal life, he is pulled into combat as a teenager, upon realizing his powers as the eponymous Zetman. Kouga is the intended heir of the Amagi Corporation, and has long dreamed of becoming a superhero due to a childhood love of cartoons and comic books. He eventually does just that using a variety of nifty gadgets, calling himself Alphas after his favorite childhood hero. The two protagonists are often found in opposition to one another due to their conflicting methods and personalities.

The series mainly deals with the spectacularly depressing lives of both characters, and offers up a generally cynical portrayal of the traditional superhero. A lot of attention is also placed on the contrast between Jin and Kouga, who are essentially exact opposites.

An anime adaption has aired as part of the spring 2012 season.

Has nothing to do with Jetman.

The manga provides examples of:

  • Accidental Hero: Kouga's first moment in the spotlight comes as a result of Jin's efforts to save a family in a burning building. Kouga leads the firemen to the family, and therefore gets the credit for the deed.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The adaptation blasted through 60+ chapters in about 5 episodes, leaving out entire arcs.
  • Aloof Ally: Jin's attitude toward Kouga.
  • Badass Normal: Kouga, prior to becoming Alphas.
    • Black Suits A and B also definitely count.
    • Also Inspector Sayama. He may not have the training to deal with Players, but he can definitely hold his own against any humans.
  • Bathtub Bonding: After taking young Jin home with her, Akemi climbs into the bath with him in a scene that's played much more for pathos than fanservice.
  • Berserk Button: Kouga will kill anyone who would dishonor the name of Alphas
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Hayami. He first comes off as one of the few good people among the Amagi executives, but it turns out he'd been plotting to take over the Amagi Corporation for a long time, and had been behind several of the incidents in the series.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the aftermath of Kouga being driven insane by factors outside his control, and killing his mom in the process, guilt stricken, he plans to tell the world what he did. Jin kidnaps him before he can and wipes his memories of the event, and then creates fake evidence that he, Jin, killed Kouga's mother. This drives Kouga to start a vendetta against Players who are now common knowledge to the world. Even though in public he claims that Zet, Jin's Player form, is pure evil, in private he seems to have lingering doubts that Jin really did kill his mom, so he plans to capture and interrogate Jin to learn the truth. Meanwhile, Jin continues to hunt down Players on the down low. The series ends with him killing a Player who while dying realized that his feelings for his wife and stepchildren were genuine.
  • Break the Cutie: Kouga, more or less, but Jin could also count to some extent.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Averted: Kouga tries to convince his sister to go with him on his first mission, but she shoots him down.
  • The Cape: What Kouga aspires to become.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Hell yeah.
  • The Chessmaster: Hayami. He even specifically refers to his minions as "pawns".
  • The Chosen One: Jin was originally designed by Mitsugai Amagi to hunt down and destroy the rogue Players. Later subverted when Jin makes a deliberate choice to hunt down and destroy the Players, despite the opportunity to live as a normal human.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Kouga's Alphas suit, which doubles his strength and eventually enables him to fly.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Not only the anime did some original changes in the story, but it is rushing some events out; the first episode basically adaptated the entire 1st Volume of the manga.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Mitsugai Amagi; though he's technically the ex-CEO of Amagi Corp., he holds most of the real power.
  • Crapsack World
  • Cursed with Awesome: Jin has had preternatural physical abilities since his childhood, and they only get stronger with age. The catch? The powers stem from the fact that he's an artificial human weapon who is incapable of coexisting with Players because the ring in his left hand forces them into their irrational inhuman forms.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Basically everyone as the series goes on, but especially Jin and, later, Kouga.
  • Darker and Edgier: In comparison to the author's prior works. You wouldn't think his previous mangas were mostly romantic comedies.
  • The Determinator: Kouga during his escape from Jirou's underground lair.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Twice!
  • Emergency Transformation: The only way Jin could originally transform was when he while in great danger.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Even when he's not ZET, Jin is abnormally strong, and was a skilled fighter even as a kid.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": So far, the leader of EVOL is only known as "the Boss"
    • He practically personifies the trope in that he poses as an unassuming bartender at the EVOL club.
  • Failure Knight: Kouga's two assistants, who provide most of his nifty gadgets.
  • Fake Memories: Implanted in Jin during the experiments performed on him by Amagi. He eventually begins to wonder if all his memories have been implanted, considering how bizarre they all seem.
  • Fountain of Youth: Subverted with Jirou; he generally appears to be, and actually is, 65, but must take special drugs to keep him from aging toward the point of disintegration.
  • Glasgow Grin: Akemi picked one up when she saved Jin from a Player. It's all but outright stated to be the reason she left her job at the hostess club.
  • Gratuitous Rape: A major criticism of the manga, especially the infamous 'mansion arc'. The anime has toned it down considerably so far.
  • The Grotesque: Jirou's son.
  • Heroic BSoD: Jin, after seeing his 'aunt' Akemi being tortured by the fake ZET. In his case, it makes him fully transform into his ZET form. Kouga also gets one, when Jirou slaughters about 30 high school girls right in front of his eyes, severing his hand in the process.
  • Heroic Wannabe: Double subverted with Kouga.
  • Hero-Worshipper: Kouga looks up to Jin, and considers him to be the sort of hero he wants to be.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Akemi, the kind-hearted hostess club worker who a ten-year-old Jin saves from a gang of rapists. She later proceeds to adopt him after his 'grandfather' Gorou is killed by a Player, and nearly suffers the same fate herself as a result.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Humans are largely responsible for the murderous Players, and currently hunt them down in an attempt to correct their mistake. The fact that most Players are attempting to lead a peaceful life is complicated by the fact that their "awakened" forms are often uncontrollably murderous in nature. The Players were themselves a side project, designed to raise funds by forcing the monsters into gladiatorial combat, with bets being cast by the rich and powerful. When the Players gained self-awareness, they slaughtered their captors and escaped.
  • In Medias Res: The story opens with Kouga standing over Zet!Jin with a gun pointing at his face, demanding Jin tell him where the most painless place to shoot him fatally would be. The story then cuts back to when Jin was a young boy. The story doesn't reach the point it started at until chapter 220, 7 chapters from the ending.
  • It Amused Me: Half of Haitani's reason for doing anything seems to be "for the fun".
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Most of the Players qualify for this; their human forms are capable of rationality, but their monstrous "Reverse" forms desire little more than bloodshed and death. Those Generation 3 Players shown thus far all seem entirely in control when transformed.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jin is often gruff and rude, and can be pretty violent, but at heart he's a Nice Guy.
  • Jet Pack: The Air-Booster addition to the Alphasz suit, which allows Kouga to challenge flying Players.
  • Jumped Off The Slippery Slope: Due to many factors, Kouga has decided that all those who are related to the Evol must die. He even shoots his own mother when she tries to stop him from killing a man in cold blood and almost shot his sister after that for siding with the mom.
  • Justice Will Prevail: The core belief of Kouga, which is worn away as the series goes on.
  • Lord Error-Prone: Kouga.
  • MacGuffin: Jin's necklace.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Haitani.
  • Martial Pacifist: Jin strives for this due to his grandpa's teachings, but his overwhelming desire to kill tends to override it.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Gorou kicks the bucket in the very first episode.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Players generally become animalistic following a transformation. Even Jin develops a strong desire to rip and tear.
  • Old Master: Played straight with Gorou, Jin's 'grandpa', and later subverted with Jirou who tries to make Kouga a better hero by forcing him to participate in increasingly difficult "hero trials".
  • Painful Transformation: Variation: Jin's later voluntary shapeshifts into ZET are painless, but the drug causes intense side effects a few hours later. Also, if he remains in the ZET form too long, his body will slowly dissolve.
  • Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame: There is one in episode 4, as Jin walks away from Konoha.
  • Prophecy Twist: Gorou is tricked into telling Mitsugai Amagi how Jin can fully become ZET, but Gorou tricks Amagi right back by using a process that makes Jin almost entirely human, removing all but .75% of the ZET cells.
  • Punch-Clock Hero: Jin will help basically anyone, for the low price of 10,000 yen. Later on, he switches into more of a...
    • Reluctant Hero: As long as no one he cares about is being directly threatened, Jin basically doesn't give a damn.
  • Romantic False Lead: Played with but ultimately averted. It seemed that Konoha would ultimately be Jin's love interest since she clearly had a crush on him and even met him when he was a child, seemingly setting up a First Girl Wins scenario. Then after the timeskip, we learn Jin is dating Hanako, who is more homely than Konoha (mostly due to her braces). It seems likely that something will happen to her and Jin will ultimately get with Konoha. And then at the end of the story, Konoha gets turned into a giant monster that Jin has to put down, seeming to confirm this trope. Except Jin then has to go on the run after framing himself for killing her and Kouga's mother to save Kouga. And Jin seems pretty loyal to Hanako's memory. And that's where the story ends.
  • Science Hero: Kouga, though he doesn't create the gadgets himself.
  • Secret Project Refugee Family: EVOL
  • Sequel Hook: The last page in the final chapter essentially says "Act 2: Zet" follwing the page before it that spelled the end of the manga.
  • Shadow Archetype: Jin and Kouga are almost perfect contrasts to one another, and Jin's general Anti-Hero attitude stands in direct opposition to Kouga's ideas of heroism.
  • Shapeshifting: Both the voluntary and involuntary varieties.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Most low-level Players get stuck in their Reverse form due to their lack of rationality. The higher level EVOLs can control this.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: From Kouga, to Jirou. "You are... full of shit."
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The series falls very firmly on the Cynical end of the scale.
  • The Starscream: Hayami is trying to take over the Amagi Corporation.
    • Haitani may be this to the Boss of EVOL.
  • Tragic Monster: Hanako
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Kouga, though this begins to slip as the series progresses.
  • Wolf Man: The first Player.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: Jirou keeps his promise to let all of Kouga's "fangirls" go. With lasers. "I set them free from this living hell!"
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: At the end, Jin has Kouga's memory erased and makes himself as Zetman a public villain. All to spare Kouga from the horrifying truth that while he was being mentally controlled by villains, he killed his own mother and would have killed his sister too if not for Jin's intervention. This both saves Kouga's sanity but also saves his public reputation as a hero. However, despite his public proclamations that Zetman is a monstrocity that he will destroy, in private Kouga is unconvinced that Jin truly killed his mother and plans to capture him to learn the truth.