Zaion: I Wish You Were Here

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Zaion: I Wish You Were Here
Zaion DVD collection cover.jpg
Jacket art of the DVD collection published by ADV Films featuring the two protagonists
あなたがここにいてほしい
(Anata ga koko ni Itehoshii)
Genre Action, Romance, Science fiction
Original video animation
Directed by Seiji Mizushima
Produced by Toshiyuki Yoshikara (executive producer)
Showji Murahama (executive producer)
Atsushi Yamamori
Yasuki Miki
Kazuhiko Ikeguchi
Manabu Ishikawa
Written by Natsuko Takahashi
Music by Kenji Kawai
Studio Gonzo
Licensed by
Released October 4, 2001November 3, 2001
Episodes 4
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Zaion: I Wish You Were Here (あなたがここにいてほしい Anata ga koko ni Itehoshii?) is a four-episode Japanese science fiction original video animation (OVA) released by Gonzo in 2001.[1] The story is set in the near future, when a spaceborne virus threatens Earth by turning humans into violent creatures. Enhanced soldiers fight a losing war against these creatures to ensure the survival of the human race. The series was directed by Seiji Mizushima and written by Natsuko Takahashi. Music for the series was composed by Kenji Kawai.[2] Zaion has been licensed for English-language release in North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

Plot[edit]

The story of Zaion is set in 2004, four years after the American CDC discovers a meteorite-introduced virus that irreversibly alters the molecular structure of the human body and turns its victims into violent creatures. In an effort to eradicate the infestation that has claimed 3 percent of the human population, the World Health Organization of the United Nations establish a secret internal organization, the Committee of the Universal Resolution of Ecocatastrophe (CURE) in 2002 with several international branches, and creates a unit of soldiers whose bodies have been introduced with nanomachines. These soldiers, wearing Nano Osmolar Armor (NOA), engage the victims in direct combat. They also establish units of unmanned, remote mech units known as Multi-purpose Operative Beings (MOB) to assist the NOA. As the missions begin to take a toll on the NOA's ranks, NOA soldier Yuuji Tamiya (田宮 ユウジ Tamiya Yūji?) (voiced by Joe Odagiri in Japanese and Joey Hood in English) becomes angry at learning that CURE has been working on a secret weapon project, known as UNIT, and not employing it. The Japanese Branch's weapon, UNIT-i, is a girl named Ai (アイ?) (voiced by Yukari Tamura in Japanese and Christa Kimlicko Jones in English) who is able to create a projected being that can destroy the creatures. During the next outbreak, victims of the virus fuse together into a larger creature and overwhelm the soldiers. CURE decides to put Ai's ability to the test, and the projected being destroys the creature.

Yuuji is quarantined after coming in contact with one of the creatures but is released when he recovers from his injuries. However, his blood tests later indicate that the virus has evolved and is attacking the nanomachines in his body. CURE orders for Yuuji's arrest, but he escapes and takes Ai hostage. When his condition worsens during the journey, Ai heals him with her powers. The other NOA soldiers catch up to the two and help them escape, but they are soon found by CURE units. Unwilling to see Yuuji and the others hurt, Ai decides to leave with the CURE soldiers. At the NOA facility, the infected soldiers become victims of the virus as the nanomachines are destroyed. Yuuji is forced to fight them and the CURE units sent to kill them at the same time. Ai finds out that Yuuji is in danger and asks that she be taken to the facility. She realizes her feelings for Yuuji and projects them with her powers to eliminate the virus. A larger outbreak occurs elsewhere in the city, and the virus further evolves to mimic the nanomachines' abilities. Yuuji delays the creatures' advance as Ai creates the projected being once again. She uses all her power to purge the infected area of the virus. In an epilogue, both Yuuji and Ai are discharged from CURE and spend time together.

Cast[edit]

Main[edit]

Yuuji Tamiya (田宮ユウジ Tamiya Yūji?)
Voiced by: Joe Odagiri (Japanese), Joey Hood (English)
The male protagonist of the story, Yuuji is the 18-year-old ace of 1st division NOA soldiers in the Japanese branch of CURE. He was originally drafted from the JDSF but is harboring feelings that the NOA are being manipulated and used.
Ai (アイ Ai?)
Voiced by: Yukari Tamura (Japanese), Christa Kimlicko Jones (English)
Half Japanese and half Chinese, Ai is the 16-year-old female protagonist of the story. Incredibly shy and sheltered, Ai was taken by CURE after the outbreak as a test subject in its UNIT projects after showing incredible abilities as a child. She is the main component of Unit-i and is able to manipulate light, which she can use to eradicate the virus.

Supporting[edit]

Professor Domeki (百目鬼先生 Domeki-sensei?)
Voiced by: Daisuke Gouri (Japanese), Edwin Neal (English)
The primary scientist in charge of the Japanese Branch's UNIT development team. He is messy, absently minded, and completely singularly focused on working on UNIT-i.
Hajime Kudou (工藤甫 Kudō Hajime?)
Voiced by: Tesshô Genda (Japanese), Martin Blacker (English)
Commander of the NOA for the Japanese CURE Branch. A former developer of nanomachine technology for CURE, he's quiet but harbors some resentment for the NOA being treated poorly.
Changpuek (チャンプア Chanpua?)
Voiced by: Hiroaki Hirata (Japanese), Lowell Bartholomee (English)
A 27-year-old member of Yuuji's unit and a former Muay Thai kickboxing champion drafted from the Thailand military. He's easy going and extremely passionate towards the goal of CURE.
Naoki Kurosawa (黒澤直樹 Kurosawa Naoki?)
Voiced by: Jin Hirao (Japanese), Josh Meyer (English)
The consistently calm and collected 28-year-old captain of Yuuji's unit. Also drafted from the JDSF, he bears a large scar on the side of his forehead.
Hiroyuki Kaneshiro (金城ひろゆき Kaneshiro Hiroyuki?)
Voiced by: Katsuyuki Konishi (Japanese), Carsey Walker (English)
A 23-year-old member of Yuuji's unit who was a former JDSF and CURE scientist transferred to the NOA. Originally from Okinawa, he is clear-headed, smart, and polite to a fault.
Misao Mitsuishi (光石操 Mitsuishi Misao?)
Voiced by: Kotono Mitsuishi (Japanese), Katherine Catmull (English)
A CURE researcher who works for Prof. Domeki as Ai's caretaker. She's very kind with a warm heart and tries to help Ai as much as she can.
Mitsuo Satake (在武みつお Satake Mitsuo?)
Voiced by: Nobuo Tobita (Japanese), Robin Faires (English)
Deputy Commander of the Japanese NOA units and Commander Kudou's right-hand man. Looks upon the NOA more as numbers than people and has a tendency to speak loud and before he thinks.
Tao (タオ Tao?)
Voiced by: Romi Park (Japanese), Kimberly Dilts (English)
The only female in Yuuji's unit as well as the youngest at 18. Head strong and confident, she was drafted from the Chinese military.

Media[edit]

The first episode of Zaion was published on the Internet on October 4, 2001. It was one of the few instances of a new series being introduced on the Internet before it was broadcast on television. The first two episodes aired later that day on the Kids Station television network. The network also aired the final episodes of the series on November 3, 2001.[3] The ending theme song for the series is "Lunatic Trance: Shizuka naru Zekkyō" (Lunatic Trance~静かなる絶叫~?), which was released as a maxi single on November 21, 2001.[4] The song was later included in Gonzo's compilation release of music from its anime works in 2006.[5] The series did not have an opening theme.

Each episode of Zaion was released monthly on DVD by Japanese distributor Media Factory. The first episode was released on February 22, 2002,[6] and the final episode was released on May 31, 2002.[7] ADV Films licensed the series for the English language and released the episodes in pairs in 2003.[8][9] It then repackaged the series into one set, released on February 3, 2009.[10] Madman Entertainment licensed Zaion for distribution in Australia and New Zealand and released its boxed set on July 26, 2006.[11]

No. Episode title Original air date
1 "Encounter"   October 4, 2001
2 "Farewell"   October 4, 2001
3 "Notice"   November 3, 2001
4 "Presence"   November 3, 2001

Reception[edit]

Remote controlled robots, drawn with 3D computer animation, defend against victims of the epidemic. Gonzo has been criticized for the low quality rendering of 3D graphics.

Critical reception of Zaion: I Wish You Were Here was mixed. "On the surface, it may appear to be merely another sci-fi mecha action show", Patrick King of Anime Fringe wrote. However, Zaion introduced apocalyptic themes similar those found in Michael Crichton's novel Andromeda Strain and the film 28 Days Later. According to King, the real story of Zaion occurs when Yuuji and Ai develop their relationship, and "we begin to think less of the nanomachine technology and viral invasion of the planet and focus more upon the potential love between these two lonely people, trapped in a labyrinth devoid of an exit".[12] The series was produced with high audio and visual qualities and was designed with "plausible technical details". King also praised the fitting soundtrack, which was composed by Kenji Kawai and incorporated the sounds of progressive rock.[13] On the contrary, Jason Bustard of THEM Anime rated the series one out of five stars and accused Gonzo of attempting to "rip off Power Rangers as a last resort". He also pointed out the seemingly oblivious general population of the world in Zaion that are not at all concerned about the invasion. "If they were trying for some sort of grand social statement here, they succeeded instead in making the vast majority of Japan simply look stupid", Bustard charged.[14]

Zac Bertschy of Anime News Network also rated Zaion below average. Although he criticized the series as a "woefully undercooked and dull bit of science fiction claptrap", he also admitted that it "wouldn't be quite so miserable if the design wasn't as poorly handled as it is". Gonzo, which was known for incorporating experimental animation into its productions, mismanaged the show's 3D computer animation and produced a result that "could have been rendered many years ago in some ancient MS-DOS modeling program". Despite his criticisms, Bertschy called the soundtrack "a truck stop of pleasure on the highway of pain" and praised the professional English-language dub released by ADV Films.[15] Mania.com's Chris Beveridge noted that character development between Yuuji and Ai was not consistent. "Yuuji comes across as little more than a blank sheet for the most part with just the scribble of 'angst' on him", Beveridge observed. Overall, Gonzo's experimentation with computer animation "look highly fake and out of place".[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "AX 2002: GONZO Panel". Anime News Network. July 7, 2002. Retrieved August 11, 2009. 
  2. ^ "i -wish you were here-" (in Japanese). Gonzo. Retrieved August 11, 2009. 
  3. ^ "GONZOの秋の新作アニメ「i -wish you were here-」、TV放送より早くネットで公開" [Gonzo's new fall anime "i-wish you were here-" published online ahead of TV broadcast] (in Japanese). RBB Today. October 3, 2001. Retrieved May 27, 2010. 
  4. ^ "i-wish you were here-主題歌". Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved July 16, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Reunion: Gonzo Compilation 1998–2005". Oricon. Retrieved July 16, 2010. 
  6. ^ "i-wish you were here~あなたがここにいてほしい~ Epi.1 (DVD)" [I Wish You Were Here Episode 1 DVD] (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved August 11, 2009. 
  7. ^ "i-wish you were here~あなたがここにいてほしい~ Epi.4 (DVD)" [I Wish You Were Here Episode 4 DVD] (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved August 11, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Zaion - Epidemic (Vol. 1)". Amazon.com. Retrieved August 11, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Zaion - Devastation (Vol. 2)". Amazon.com. Retrieved August 11, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Zaion: I Wish You Were Here - Complete Collection". Amazon.com. Retrieved August 11, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Zaion: I Wish You Were Here". Madman Entertainment. Retrieved August 11, 2009. 
  12. ^ King, Patrick (November 2003). "Zaion: I Wish You Were Here - "Trapped in a maze with no exit."". Anime Fringe 4 (11): 3. Retrieved August 11, 2009. 
  13. ^ King, Patrick (January 2004). "Zaion: I Wish You Were Here Vol. 2: Devastation". Anime Fringe 5 (1): 11. Retrieved August 21, 2009. 
  14. ^ Bustard, Jason. "Zaion ~I Wish You Were Here~". THEM Anime. Retrieved August 11, 2009. 
  15. ^ Bertschy, Zac (January 23, 2004). "i wish you were here DVD 1". Anime News Network. Retrieved August 21, 2009. 
  16. ^ Beveridge, Chris (April 2, 2009). "Zaion: I Wish You Were Here Complete Collection". Mania.com. Retrieved August 21, 2009. 

External links[edit]