Zipman Manga

“Zipman” was not a series on my radar when “Weekly Shonen Jump” serialized it last December.

Written and illustrated by Yusaku Shibata, “Zipman” is a robot/action manga where the protagonist Kaname dons a robot mech-suit, becomes the titular hero Zipman and does battle with evil mech pilots — each with their own hero-based aesthetics.

The concept is unique enough. Each enemy’s design is bombastic, some of them based off of fictional TV-heroes within the “Zipman” universe. The result is a lot of hammy combat between extremely powerful robot suits with seemingly unlimited power.

You might be thinking that this sounds ridiculous, that it’s something that can’t be taken seriously ... and I’d agree with you. “Zipman” is meant to be a lighthearted, combat heavy series and it achieves that in style.

Throughout the nine chapters that have been released, there weren’t any noticeable artistic issues or lapses in quality. The enemy mech designs were unique, the main characters were drawn memorably and there were plenty of dynamic movements.

While the story is a little campy by nature, I’ve never had any problems with it. Normally I would, but the series is clearly targeted at a younger demographic and seeks to differentiate itself from the magazine's forerunners by being far lighter in tone. I can’t fault a series based on its target audience, and the truth is I actually enjoyed reading “Zipman” far more than I did reading “Mashle: Magic and Muscles” or “Guardian of the Witch.”

There’s only one thing that I can confidently bring up as a valid criticism for “Zipman,” and that’s its insanely fast pace in the recently released chapters. I don’t know that it’s necessarily bad that the pacing is as fast as possible, as its making every chapter combat heavy to burn through the current arc, but its definitely not good to be rushing through the story at a break-neck pace.

What’s happening is that the rate at which the battles are progressing is causing Zipman to feel overpowered and furthermore makes the enemies feel like complete chumps. In other words, there aren’t any stakes.

The best-case scenario is that the story arcs transition smoothly and things continue on with fun battles, but the worst-case scenario is that the fast pacing is a sign that Shibata is being pressured to write the story to a quick conclusion.

I hope that isn’t the case, because I like “Zipman.” And this may be a hot take, but out of all the series I’m caught up with in “Weekly Shonen Jump,” “Zipman” is something like my fifth favorite, and that’s only because it’s so much shorter than my top three.

I’d recommend giving this series a try if you have any interest in mech manga/anime. It differentiates itself from most mech series that I’ve seen — Aldnoah Zero, Neon Genesis Evangelion or Code Geass — simply by trying to be fun and comical rather than serious and plot-focused.

7.5/10 stars

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