Mirai, an improved Kongou-class Aegis guided missile destroyer, is one of the newest and most advanced ships in the entire Japanese Self-Defense Force (SDF). Her crew, also one of the newest, is lead by Capt. Umezu Saburo and Executive Officer Kadomatsu Yosuke. While running scheduled training exercises one day, Mirai encounters a fierce storm that throws their navigation systems into temporary disarray. After a few minutes of recovery, the crew is shocked to discover that they’ve been transported back in time to June 4, 1942 — The Battle of Midway, during World War II. Letting history take its course for this battle, they manage to avoid the conflict firsthand and make a vow to remain annonymous, changing history as little as possible. However, when the crew comes across the dying Lt. Commander Kusaka Takumi, XO. Kadomatsu’s instincts to save lives takes over, changing the course of history more than he could’ve imagined.
Zipang is one of those anime series that grabs your attention firmly by the throat and refuses to let go, even for a second. Set in World War II, you would expect a non-stop action-packed thrill-fest, but instead Zipang produces a solid, character-driven story with just enough twists and drama to keep you on the edge of you seat at the end of every show. The storyline that weaves its way throughout the series is that of this crew, displaced in time, trying to do as little as possible to change time itself, in the middle of a war zone where their very superiority makes them an essential target for all parties involved.
The movie pays close attention to wartime details and you get the feeling that everything right down to the nuts and bolts on the ships are the result of an intensive research study. That said, the animation is absolutely gorgeous, with the ships, aircraft and vehicles reproduced with an extremely sharp level of detail. The use of unobtrusive CG also adds to the whole experience, making Zipang very easy on the eye indeed.
The sound effects and musical backdrop of sublime, blending in with the visuals so seamlessly and powerfully that they provide the perfect backdrop for the unfolding action. The voice actors as well are more than competent and there is really almost nothing a person can complain about.
And while I say that this is more of a military drama than a slugfest, make no mistake there is still plenty of action scenes for those more interested in action over substance. Extremely realistic dogfights and naval battles abound, with even some land conflict thrown in for good measure too.
In any event, Zipang is a strongly written anime that any one with even the slightest interest in World War II history or the military in general – will thoroughly enjoy.