Anime Rewind: Kaiketsu Zorro

The Anime Interpretation to The Fox

  • Episodes : 52
  • Genre : Adventure, Historical, Shounen
  • Airing Date : April 5, 1996 – April 14, 1997
  • Studios : Ashikaga Production

Contains Spoilers

Kaiketsu Zorro Introduction

Some of you may be familiar with the many incarnations of Zorro, the pulp hero who made his debut nearly 100 years ago in The Curse of Capistrano. Shortly after, he made his on-screen debut through The Mark of Zorro, starring the legendary Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., thanks to the success of the film, Zorro became a long-running multimedia phenomenon, and would also serve as an inspiration to Bob Kane and Bill Finger to create DC’s number two hero, Batman. Throughout the last century, the character would serve the oppressed people of late 18th century Spanish California in his mask, sombrero, cape, and trusted rapier throughout numerous adaptations around the world. Then in 1996, Japan would offer its take on this icon, but with some notable changes that fans may or may not accept.

What We Liked About Kaiketsu Zorro

Kaiketsu Zorro, the anime interpretation to Zorro, may have some obvious changes, but it still offers something that still shares the same premises as its original source material. Don Diego Vega (or Don Diego De La Vega in other adaptations), the true identity of Zorro, is once again portrayed as a rich boy who presents himself as a clumsy playboy so nobody will ever suspect that he’s The Fox. But when he puts on the mask, he’s willing to put his mark on his enemies in a sword fight, just like the Zorro we all know but with a unique twist on it.

Why You Should Watch Kaiketsu Zorro

1. It offers something fresh take on the franchise

The beauty of animation is that it takes the imagination to places that live action never can, and many of us agree that Japanese anime takes this notion best. The audience gets to see a younger Diego, he can make mistakes, and works with a lot of people to accomplish his mission. It also pays homage to other previous incarnations such as Zorro and Son with the inclusion of Bernard as Little Zorro (think of him as Robin). You don’t really have to be familiar with the original franchise in order to enjoy this series, so if you want a gateway to it, maybe Kaiketsu Zorro can serve that purpose.

2. It Has a Great Soundtrack

The soundtrack uses a lot of heavy acoustics and Spanish melody to reflect its setting. So, if you’re looking for something authentic in relation to its time and place, then Kaiketsu Zorro does an excellent job of presenting that. The opening theme song is enough to prove that even non-Spanish language lyrics can mix well with traditional Spanish music. So if you don’t want typical J-Rock or J-Pop in your anime, this can be the soundtrack you’re looking for.

3. Decent Action

Lastly, there is plenty of action to enjoy. You get to see Zorro show off his skills with a rapier and make mincemeat out of the Spanish Army soldiers. The action may not be to the levels of Dragon Ball, but if you want swashbuckling with a dramatic anime twist, Kaiketsu Zorro gets the job done. The action is intense, full of danger, and you can feel Zorro’s training, technique, and lack of fear through the fight scenes.

Why You Should Skip Kaiketsu Zorro

1. It’s Unnecessarily Over the Top

OK, anime in general is guilty of this as a whole as presenting itself as over the top, but there’s a time and place for such qualities, and Kaiketsu Zorro doesn’t require them. While it isn’t as over the top as, lets say, Prince of Tennis (meaning no sword swinging that metaphorically equates to the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs), hyperspace backgrounds, henshin transformations akin to Sailor Moon (without the glitter nudity, of course), and lightning sparks with clashing swords have no place in this anime. Same with Zorro leaving his Z mark. If Hajime no Ippo can realistically present its boxing, then Kaiketsu Zorro can stick to a more reality-based form of action.

2. Changes of Character Designs

A lot of Zorro fans associate Zorro with his dark hair, his mustache, and and that he wears all black. As for the Zorro in this anime, he has blonde hair, blue eyes, and no mustache. As for his costume, he wears a traditional white Spanish shirt with a black vest (still has the cape, mask, and sombrero). For hardcore Zorro fans, you’ll probably disagree with the design in the way Gokuu was presented in Dragon Ball Evolution. In addition, he does not ride a black stallion but a white horse instead. For fans that are purists, this is a rather understandable turn off.

3. Recycled Animation

If there is one thing that older anime is notorious for it is most certainly that of recycling animation, most notably with transformation and action sequences. As stated before, Kaiketsu Zorro gets a henshin sequence, and we get that every damn episode. It is understandable; it’s a way to distinct itself as an anime, but we don’t need it every time (then again, just to save on money from the studio’s perspective). Same with the screen fading to black every time Zorro has to write his Z mark with his rapier.

Final Thoughts

Kaiketsu Zorro became a cult hit in whatever country it was broadcasted in outside of Japan and for good reason. For those that are familiar with the Zorro franchise that want a fresh take, Kaiketsu Zorro does a great job on delivering that. If you’re a purist, it has numerous qualities that you’re likely going to be nit picky about, but it’s still worth a look. At minimum, we strongly recommend this over the Antonio Banderas second Zorro movie, The Legend of Zorro. So if you want classic swashbuckling with an anime twist, Kaiketsu Zorro is the anime for you!

010 Anime Rewind: Kaiketsu Zorro


Author: Justin "ParaParaJMo" Moriarty

Hello, I am originally from the states and have lived in Japan since 2009. Though I watched Robotech and Voltron as a child, I officially became an anime fan in 1994 through Dragon Ball Z during a trip to the Philippines. In addition to anime, I also love tokusatsu, video games, music, and martial arts. よろしくお願いします

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