Z/X Code reunion – Episode 1

By: Dee October 9, 20190 Comments
Rigel stands before Azumi and holds out her hand.

What’s it about? As a child, Azumi survived the interdimensional war between humanity and the Z/Xes, only to almost succumb to a mysterious illness. Years later, she wakes up in a tank to find a Z/X being named Rigel standing before her. She agrees to become Rigel’s partner to survive. Now they’re off to a special school for humans who have partnered with Z/X, but it seems like earth’s peace with the other dimensions may be short-lived…

You ever watch something and then thirty minutes later realize you’ve forgotten almost everything about it? That’s where I am with Z/X Code reunion right now.

A group of girls in school uniforms stand around. A green-haired girl raises an arm and says "Way long ago, lots of aliens came and attacked, but we're all working together now for a bit, yeah?"
Good thing I took this screenshot to help me remember the premise.

On the plus side, that means it doesn’t do anything exceptionally awful. Sure, there are a few impractically skimpy outfits, a shot of a girl running that lovingly animates her swinging boobs, and the implication of a flat-chested girl being jealous of another girl’s chest size. I ain’t saying Z/X is void of your garden-variety Anime Bullshit.

But the fanservice is sporadic instead of constant, and the camera mostly maintains a matter-of-fact distance and angle; more clinical than leering. It keeps walking right up to the fire alarm, setting a hand on the lever, and then changing its mind and walking away again.

Z/X seems unwilling to commit to much of anything, honestly. Instead, it’s content to hang out in the land of safely calculated “cute girls fighting stuff” tropes, up to and including all the usual signs of yuri shipteasing. The main girl Azumi keeps gazing longingly at her Z/X partner Rigel and thinking about how beautiful she is, but then quickly refers to her as her “friend,” a fact the ending song is quick to reiterate.

Azumi and Rigel cuddle and hold hands while blushing at one another.
By the by, “Partner Z/X” is pronounced “partner zex”—but I’m sure I’m just reading into things.

Maybe Z/X will surprise me and actually do something with all the romantic vibes between the two leads, but this sparkless premiere leaves me doubtful. Everything about this episode feels vaguely manufactured, including the central relationship. It’s the sense of a committee sitting at a writer’s table and going: “Okay, how can we get these nerds to watch our show so we can promote our card game to them?”

I didn’t know Z/X was based on a card game going into the episode, mind you, but it showed its hand pretty much straight away. Between the rapid-fire world-building and the equally rapid-fire introduction of a slew of one-note characters (including Cat Girl, Girl With Sword, and Child With Doll), I left feeling more like I’d just watched a 22-minute commercial than the beginning of a proper story.

A girl holds up her wrist to show off a shiny bracelet. She says "Because you're wearing the same Card Device I am."
Coming soon to an Animate near you!!

Which is a shame, honestly, because there are the bones of something at least reasonably entertaining here. Azumi is a frightened but determined survivor who entered into a partnership with Rigel to save herself from an illness. Rigel seems to be something of a rebel among her people, as she refuses to go inside her Pokeball card device and bluntly tells Azumi that she won’t be helping her fight any of earth’s enemies.

There’s a shady council governing the school the two just started attending, and the school immediately gets attacked even though the worlds are supposedly at peace now. The episode ends with Rigel trying to protect Azumi by summoning a big ol’ space gun—and Azumi getting injured despite her efforts.

Describing it, it sounds fun. This could be fun.

Azumi looks happily out a train window while sitting next to Rigel. She thinks "Me, and this beautiful person I made a pact with."
Also, gay. Like, really, super gay.

But, alas. Just like how Z/X never quite drives me away, it also never quite pulls me in. The uninspired production, awkward infodumps, flat character introductions, and perpetual sense of calculated marketing forever hold it at arm’s length. 

Basically, Z/X is the celery of anime premieres: mostly tasteless, slightly bitter, and leaving me feeling hungrier than I was before. Some people like celery, and power to them. But if someone asks me to point them to a show about heavily subtextually gay girls fighting aliens, I’m much more likely to direct them to Symphogear than this.

About the Author : Dee

Dee has worn many hats at AniFem, including editor-in-chief, contributor liaison, and PR rep. She's mostly retired now, but the staff still lets her hang out and write sometimes. When she isn't facilitating Team Rocket's takeover of the website, she spends her free time devouring novels and comics, watching too much anime, and cheering very loudly for the Kansas Jayhawks. You can read more of her work at The Josei Next Door or hang out with her on Bluesky, Tumblr, or Twitter.

Read more articles from Dee

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