Ayame is like any other teenage girl. Until a secret organization tries to recruit her, aliens attack her home town, a mysterious guy throws her into the cockpit for a giant robot cockpit known as Z-Mind, and she becomes the last hope for humanity ... along with her sisters; all of whom can strangly control the Z-mind sub parts with no training.
What is this, some kind of giant robot show from the 70s? Kind of, yes.
It's rare for me to find a title this obscure that I actually enjoyed. I only watched it after realizing I'd never seen an anime title starting with "Z" (not joking). The few opinions I dug up on Z-Mind confirm that anime fans do not get satire. I guess that's not surprising considering anime is often dumb even when it's serious, so it's hard to tell when a title is stupid on purpose. I find it really hard to believe anyone could take this show seriously, but most seem to think it is. A common take on Z-Mind is that it's "retro", which is true but really missing the big picture.
Z-Mind: The Battling Days of the Shitamachi Virgins (now THAT is a title) doesn't really have a plot. Instead it's a patchwork of cliche giant robot show premises. Which is why everything about the story is absolutely absurd. That is also why this isn't retro, because even retro titles flow in a natural order. Like many of those shows, Z-Mind will have a buildup, but will cut to the next part without explaining how bridging such plot gaps is possible. This can be fairly comical if you get what it's doing.
The animation is very good, especialy with a robot transformation sequence so extravegant I don't doubt at least a few mecha otaku had an orgasm watching it - backed by some serious rock music too. In fact, this show has a surprisngly good soundtrack: Cheesy when it needed to be, exotic in 'mysterious points', and rocking when it was suposed to. Z-Mind has a dub which doesn't sound quite right, however as everything in Z-Mind is a little off, it fits perfectly.
It's important to keep in mind the differences between "retro", "parody", and "satire". Retro just means it's done in an old style. Parody is blatant and exaggerated. The humor in satire is SUBTLE. In anime terms "subtle comedy" is practically an oxymoron. That's not what anime comedy is about. Anime studios rarely do well with satire either, so it's territory generally left untouched. Every few years it's tried again, and it's typically not well received. In the case of Z-Mind it's unfortunate because I thought it was brilliant in its stupidity. Not in a "so bad it's good way"; it's is dumb on purpose, but done with a strait face.
While I liked Z-Mind, it seems like I'm about the only one getting the joke here. It's not because I'm smart, artistic, or cultured (hell just look at my website for proof I'm not), it's because a LOT of things have to come together in the audience. It's aimed at people who like giant robot shows, and especially those who appreciate the old ones. Aside from occasional off the wall dialogs, the comedy is not the in your face antics you watch anime for. Even I have to admit the show gets a little tired by 6 episodes. It probably should have been around 4. Taking all that in to consideration, I wouldn't recommend Z-Mind but instead I give this review to you as food for thought. If you think you fall into that audience, and want to watch a show that is very obscure, I'd really consider giving it a shot.
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