Hades Project Zeorymer Vol. #1 (of 2) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2001
Release Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2001



What They Say
The Hakkeshu - a team of eight giant robots with fantastic powers built to allow the forces of Hau Dragon achieve their quest for world domination. Zeorymer of the heavens, the most powerful of these robots, is stolen along with the frozen embryo of its genetically engineered pilot.

Fifteen years later, it is finally time for Zeorymer to awaken. As powerful forces gather to battle for the fate of the world, a teenager is swept into the heart of the action.

Project 1
Teeneager Masato Akitsu's world is turned upside-down when he discovers his entire life has been orchestrated for him, and that he was only born to pilot the mighty warrior Zeorymer. As he struggles to accept the situation, Hau Dragon's Lanstar robot is brought to bear on him. Can Masato learn to pilot a machine he's never seen before he is killed by an enemy he can barely understand?

Project 2
As Masato learns more about his true origins, he begins to question who he actually is: a real person or simply a component of Zeorymer. But when he comes face to face with twin warriors Si Aen and Si Tau, the hostile personality triggered by his earlier battle with Lanstar resurfaces stronger than ever. Who is Masato: the confused teenager, the pilot of Zeorymer, or...something much more sinister?

The Review!
Hades Project Zeorymer has been quite a little cult title for a long time. It's not a popular title, but for those who've followed it and fallen in love with it, they've seen pieces of it used throughout a lot of popular anime since it originally came out in 1988.

Audio:
For our primary review session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. This was also our only option, as this show has never been dubbed. With its age, there's not a lot to really say about the audio here other than its serviceable. Dialogue is clean, we didn't hear any crackling or other age related problems. The show does a decent job of filling the front soundstage with no real noticeable directionality.

Video:
I was a bit surprised at how nice parts of this disc really looked. Some of the face close-ups reminded me heavily of the clean animation found in Gasaraki's character designs, and it showed up well here. There's a bit of rainbowing scattered throughout, mostly in the tightly drawn areas such as noses and occasional bruises and the like. The show is fairly dark overall, so there was a small amount of background breakup and color banding. A number of the backgrounds looked really sweet here though, with the colors showing off nicely. There's a fair amount of small nicks and scratches throughout the episodes though. The overly large subtitles, which are burned into the video, sometimes get a bit fuzzy around the edges, but that may just be how they were done when this print was first struck.

Packaging:
The front cover has the main image that was used for the VHS and laserdisc release, with the trio of main characters standing out with the Zeorymer in the background. The front cover has a few points knocked off for the tacky "Preview trailers" across the bottom of it. The back cover has a few shots of the animation and a lengthy summary of the two episodes. There's no reverse side to the cover (as early NuTech releases listed a reverse side, but nothing was there) and it's not mentioned here thankfully.

Menus:
There's a fairly nice animated menu sequence here, with the dark imagery of the biohazard doors opening up and monitors shifting down into view that let you make your selections. The drawback to them is that when the cycle ends, it doesn't sit on a static menu but loops back to the beginning again. So you need to be a fair bit quick with the menus, but there's also precious little to do here as there's no audio setup or extras.

Extras:
Repeat after me, there are no extras.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This disc contains the first two OVA's of the four OVA series. Being a late 80's OVA, it's got itself some serious style, but also a brief run, so it has to tell a lot of information fast, to get things up to speed.

We're introduced to our "hero" of the show, Masato Akitsu, as he's being chased down dark dank alleys by several large men. He's quickly captured, and taken to a holding cell somewhere. He begs for release, promising to do anything. His captor, always wearing sunglasses, brings his parents into view and gives them a briefcase full of money.

Masato learns that he was adopted, and that his parents knew it would last only so long. It's a cruel way to learn it, and Masato is turned upside down with the information. His mother, who never utters a word, is visibly shaken by this, but his father is certain what they've done. They take their money and move on with their lives, leaving Masato in his jailors hands. Hands that want the teen to be a fair bit wild, to a point where he'll be willing to kill.

On the other side of the coin, we're introduced to the Princess of the Hau Bang group, an immense group whose used their Tekkoryu corporation to expand their plans to become lords of the underworld. The princess has a group of men and women under her whose sole purpose in life is to pilot their gene-coded mecha. There's eight total, but one was stolen years ago, the one that's arguably the most powerful, the Zeorymer.

The Hau Bang have decided that now is the time to bring their plans to fruition, to make their mark on the world. The first order of business is to eliminate the Zeorymer so that there can be no threat to their power. Each of the pilots vies for the job, but it's given to the Princess' lover. He makes his way off to find the Zeorymer, which ties in with Masato learning of his own background.

Masato learns that he, and the woman at the complex he finds himself in now, were genetically bred to be the the two pilots of the powerful Zeorymer. The organization that's done this isn't really disclosed, and it's hard to tell what their goals are, and whether they're actually government men or not. But it matters little when Masato is thrust into the Zeorymer with Miku, and the Hau Bang's Lanstar mecha arrives to pummel it.

There are a couple of reasons why I adore this show, just from these two episodes alone;

The designs of the mecha and the bad guys is very much Chinese oriented, which brings some interesting style to the show, similar to the appeal of Outlaw Star. The mecha themselves are very reminiscent of what we've seen in Gasaraki, with their more ancient look as opposed to the whole Gundam/Eva style of mecha.

The bad guys, while simple, are also fairly complex for the couple of episodes we're introduced to them. Their plans are straightforward and no nonsense; conquer the world to become its masters. Achieve by any means necessary. There's some interesting looks to the enemy and their motivations, which can be hard to do when you only have two episodes to start with.

Masato himself. There's definitely more to be learned, but the young man thrust into the fight with no knowledge is always interesting. The first thing many people will think is Evangelion with Shinji all over, but those expecting a Shinji are going to be in for a surprise. As Masato goes through the two battles here, he takes on an almost different personality...

He enjoys doing this. The power at his fingertips, the control he has, the feel of it all. Masato goes out there and kicks some serious ass and takes no prisoners. This alone is a simple joy after so many years of whiny brats complaining about their great power/great responsibility gig.

While I'm definitely disappointed that the entire four episode OVA series wasn't done on one disc, and I'm very disappointed that the disc contains hard subtitles, it's exceptionally hard for me to pass up such a great show. There's plenty of reason for people to avoid it when you add in the price for such an old show, but for those looking to try something a slight bit different in the mecha genre, this is something that's definitely worth checking out.

Features
Japanese Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: C+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: NuTech Digital, Inc.
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Hades Project Zeorymer