iSugio

World Conquest Zvezda Plot – Review

by Miguel Douglas

@isugoi

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There are some real gems of originality in World Conquest Zvezda Plot, but most of them get lost in the torrent of clichés that plague far too much of today’s anime. While there are some entertaining, funny, and interesting moments throughout the first season, the standardized line-up of primary characters and their relationships has been seen countless times before, and offers nothing new to any seasoned viewer of the genre. However, this isn’t to say there aren’t some encouraging and positive aspects to the show.

One optimistic note to the show’s credit is the unpredictable, underlying plot and story. Written by Type-Moon scribe Meteor Hoshizora, as well as the series’ director Tensai Okamura, World Conquest Zvezda Plot actually takes an interesting view of World Conquest, and offers some surprisingly philosophical insights to how a culture views itself, how it can become complacent through apathy, controlled by fear, and what it must do to redeem itself.

Unfortunately, the well thought out and compelling storyline is told through the usual formula of protagonists audiences have been subjected to for the past two decades.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before… A young Japanese man is unexpectedly pulled into a world of scantily clad, supernaturally empowered, pre-and-very-recently-post-pubescent women to take on a megalomaniacal tyrant. Sound familiar? Wait, there’s more! The young Japanese man is perpetually embarrassed and imperiled to the misguided, and often misinterpreted, affections of the scantily clad women. He’s also clumsy, good-natured, and completely without guile or special ability. Every time he tries to help he bungles it in spectacular fashion, succeeding in only making things worse. All to the ire and condemnation of his companions who are all experts in their vocation.

I suppose if the formula works, there’s no need to change it. But, when the same man who brought us Blue Exorcist is helming the series, it’s difficult not to feel as if World Conquest Zvezda Plot was him just going through the motions.

The series opens on our typical, middle-school-aged protagonist, Asuta Jimon, walking the streets after running away from home. He has run away for personal, family related issues that are hinted at in a call to his father. He is hungry, alone, and with no idea as to what he will do next. When the Martial Law Curfew sounds, Asuta is trapped out on the streets. Enter Kate Hoshimiya, a little girl on a bike with training wheels; so hungry she collapses in front of Asuta. Our hero, being the gallant, chivalrous hero deep down inside, offers Kate one of his two last buns. She takes both, and declares him now a part of her secret organization, Zvezda. The aim of her group is, of course, to conquer the world.

Soon after Kate and Asuta come together we are introduced to the rest of Kate’s organization:

Itsuka Shikabane, or Lady Plamya when she’s all juiced up for a fight and in costume, is the vanguard. She fights while wearing an eye-patch and a sword complete with bedazzled handle. As with most anime when there is a small girl, one of the supporting female cast is overly-enamored with her. Lady Plamya fills this role to the detriment of her character as it makes so sense.

Natalia “Natasha” Vasyichenko – AKA Professor Um – handles all things related to science and technology. She’s soft spoken and usually wears nothing more than the smallest of black underwear and bra with a white lab coat. Her character seems to serve no other purpose than to have a creamy-skin, waif-like girl to satiate the need of fourteen-year-old boys everywhere.

Goro Shikabane, the huge and scary-looking General Pepel, is a former pastry chef who has an almost insatiable sweet tooth. He’s even seen scarfing down a gateau while in the midst of battle.

Roboko is a robot, rescued by Kate at some point in their past, and is sustained by eating simple udo.

Rounding out this motley crew of World Conquesters is Yasubee “Yasu” Morozumi, who refers to himself as Odin. Throughout the series he proves to be almost equally as inept as Asuta Jimon, and everyone – including himself – from the start, questions his loyalty.

Zvezda spends most of the first season fighting White Light, a group that has been contracted by the Japanese government to ferret out and get rid of the possible threat of Zvezda. Little does Asuta know, but his classmate – whom he’s had a crush on for years – Renge Komadori – is actually White Robin, one of White Light’s second lieutenants, and member of their justice squad.

Along with White Robin are White Egret and White Falcon; all are committed to bringing down Zvezda at any and all costs.

While the relationships between the characters are often predictable, the storyline is anything but. There is quite a bit of emphasis put on various Japanese philosophies and practices, and how their everyday routines can lead them to a life of contentment with whatever is presented to them. By using the idea of World Conquest, World Conquest Zvezda Plot asks some important questions about individuality, group mentality, and what it takes for people to come together to unite in a common goal when it is not the easy, but rather the right, thing to do.

Whether the payoff of the story is overly counter-balanced by the cut-and-paste protagonists and antagonists is difficult to determine without watching subsequent seasons. When a second season debuts, I will certainly watch to see if they improve upon the foundation they’ve created, and allow their characters to evolve and change with their now-altering world.

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Author: Miguel Douglas

As an avid viewer of both Japanese animation and cinema for more than a decade now, Miguel is primarily concerned with establishing a critical look into both mediums as legitimate forms of artistic, cultural, and societal understanding. Never one to simply look at a film or series based solely on superficiality, Miguel has dedicated himself towards bringing awareness to Asian entertainment and its various facets.

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