I don't know what it is, but I've been reliving my childhood a lot lately. Maybe, as college approaches, I want to remember all the good times I had as kid. I got into anime in the fourth grade via Sailor Moon (didn't everyone?), and once Toonami started airing anime all the time, I got hooked. I don't know exactly when I discovered the wide world of anime outside my TV, but if it wasn't for Cartoon Network bringing it over, I probably wouldn't be such an avid member of the anime fandom.
One show that Toonami aired was Zoids: New Century Zero, or, as the
dubbing company named it, Zoids. I loved watching Zoids after school, it was definitely one of my favorite series. So I picked it up again, torrented the dub, and watched it start to finish. Serious blast from the past.
The plot of the show works rather well, and it's very fun to see the Blitz team pull out one victory after another. The Backdraft group is a little cliche at the beginning with their, "oh ho ho, we're the bad guys and we're going to beat you do-gooders into the ground", but as the series goes on, the members of the back-draft group get a lot more fleshed out and become interesting villains. Still, some remain stale, with little to no explanation of their motivations except "I wanna be powerful, lol".
Sometimes, though, I felt Bit and the Liger were too powerful. I can only remember one instance of the Liger losing, and with twenty five plus battles, you start to get annoyed by the Liger's uber skills. In the beginning episodes, the other characters hardly get any action at all, and powerful warriors like Brad and Leena even start to seem like hindrances to Bit and the Liger. However, as the series goes on, this remedies itself, with Brad getting a tricked out Shadow Fox and Leena blasting away opponents with her Gun Sniper. Jamie even gets a share of the action in his flying Raynos.
To tell the honest truth, I think this series needed to be longer. Brad doesn't get his Shadow Fox until Episode 20 out of 26, and Jamie only gets one or two episodes to totally kick butt as the Wild Eagle, his alter ego. The show gets a lot of fleshing out too late, in my opinion.
But what I've written makes it seem like I didn't enjoy the show. Quite the contrary, Zoids is a great series, despite its slow build-up to the uber awesome. Every character is fun to watch, from the fun-loving Bit to the "shoot first ask questions later" Leena. Brad's misery behavior is very funny, and Jamie shows off more than once that he is the most mature of the team, despite being the youngest. Steve Torros' impulse buying of things that are "big and shiny" is always chuckle-enducing. Harry Champ is also hilarious to watch -- he's desperately in love with Leena, but she refuses his advances (probably due to the fact that he's a total dork).
The writing, I will admit, sometimes dissolves into the classic shonen anime "long stare off into the sky with determined expression" cheese. But some passages of dialogue are very funny. So it's a mixed bag.
The art of this series is actually one of the things that makes it stand out. For 2001, the art is really clean and polished, and the amount of detail is astounding. All the Zoids are animated in full 3D CG, which makes for some pretty stunning battles. Watching the action on this show is hardly a bore -- everything is animated beautifully, and all the Zoids are designed fantastically.
The music is also something that sticks out. In short, it kicks ass. You WILL find yourself bopping up and down to some of the tunes, especially the "uber dramatic action" songs that got me bopping my head. Whoever did the music handled it VERY well. I watched the dub, so I didn't hear the Japanese opening theme/ending theme, but the American ending theme isn't so awful. No singing, just some cool rock music -- a good choice, in my opinion.
As for the dub, I can honestly say that Zoids is probably one of the best dubs I've seen. A few of the lines are little "whut?!" but for the most part, across the board, the acting is good and the voices all fit great. They did a bit of editing (Bit walks in on Leena in the bath -- they disguise it as Leena being mad because Bit took her scheduled time slot) but it really wasn't annoying. I mean, I'm not the sort who goes, "OMFG there shuld b more cursin!!1 lol" so I think whatever edits they did were appropriate and non-obtrusive to the storyline.
Really, I watched around eight episodes of this series in a row. It's that good. Definitely will keep you entertained, and probably get you invested along the way.
I am making these scores based on a standard set by all American Dubbed Anime. I'm talking the abominations that became Bleach and Naruto. The laughable (but cherished) memories of DBZ and Ronin Warriors. All Anime that when aired in America...were utterly ruined by abysmal voice actors and edited scenes all to hell.
When i sit back and look at Zoids for what it is, an American Dubbed anime, i am left in awe of it's prowess. The voice acting was actually something i felt little shame for. The plot was fun and amusing, but it incorporated enough twists, revelations and
serious scenes to give it a good blend. A whimsical and light anime, the characters stand out with their sarcastic wit. I had to give it extremely top marks because of the impact it left on me.
Time to review a blast from the past! Zoids Zero was a popular show on Cartoon Network's Toonami block in the early 2000s. The show largely existed to sell awesome toy models, much like Hasbro's Transformers from the 1980s, but it was still a decent show and not just a glorified toy commercial.
The plot is that piloting giant robots and fighting in epic team battles is now the most popular sport on Earth, or whatever the hell planet this takes place on. The main team is called the Blitz team and in the tradition of sports movie cliches goes from a bunch of
complete losers to being the champs in dramatic fashion. The Blitz team is led by Bit Cloud and the mysterious Liger Zero Zoid. The Liger can transform into several other forms with the help of attachable battle armor including the lighning fast Jager, the heavy fire power Panzer, and the well balanced Schneider. This show had a bizzare fetish for German names. The most powerful Zoid in the whole series is a T-rex called the Berzerk Fuhrer (not kidding). Although they did change the name to the Berzerk Fury in the US and German dubs for censorship reasons. The plot heavily resembles other fighting robot sports series like G-Gundam and Robot Jox. Only instead of fighting to control the world, it is simply a sport for entertainment. The plot honestly isn't as important as the EPIC battle scenes and awesome robots. This was a great little shonen action series that is worth checking out for that reason alone.
The characters are honestly pretty bland and generic. Bit Cloud is funny at times, but doesn't really have any character depth or anything that makes him memorable. The other characters are even less developed. This isn't really a series you watch for the great characters though.
Although it looks a tad dated now, the CG was amazing when it first came out. Combining CG with traditional animation was difficult in the late 90s and early 2000s, and often it came out looking like complete horse shit. Zoids is one of the better examples of an anime with heavy CG from this time period.
I wouldn't rush out and buy the soundtrack, but it had some catchy toons and fit the action of the series quite well.
It has been quite a while since I last saw Zoids, so obviously my review is tinted a bit by nostalgia. I did find it quite enjoyable back in the day, and would think that current generation anime fans in their young teens would also probably have some fun with it.
This is a series that really isn't brought up much anymore. This is kind of a shame because it is a LOT better than a lot of current day shit like Rail Wars! I'm not saying that Zoids Zero is a classic in the same vein as Cowboy Bebop or anything, but it was and is a decent little series that deserves a tad more love than it gets.
Zoids: New Century/Zero, the second series of the Zoids saga that's even better than the original!
As typical for a Shounen there isn't much of a story, every episode is basically just another fight scene and, of course, the heroes always win, but this time the story isn't so serious. In Chaotic Century, Zoids were strictly used as weapons of war, but in New Century Zoids are used for sporting competitions where no one dies and even if you lose you can just get back up and try again. There's much less tension and drama in New Century which I really like because I never took
Zoids that seriously, I mean come on when this show was on TV it ran to back with shows like Pokemon.
The character's are also much better is New Century than is Chaotic Century. Bit has a much more carefree attitude than Van did and Leena is a total Tsundere which I just find hilarious. New Century has a lot of funny characters in fact: Leena's dad is just a big kid, Dr. Leyon was such an incompetent villain, and everything Harry says is funny. Of course, don't get the wrong impression, this anime is still packed to the roof with explosions, fight scenes, and cool Sci Fi Mecha stuff so it isn't just a comedy.
New Century does have kind of an over-arching plot like Chaotic Century did, but, kind of like in Chaotic Century, a whole lot of exposition is crammed into last episode and isn't really that important. However, like I said at the beginning, its a Shounen, every episode is basically just another adrenaline fix with a few laughs thrown in for comic relief. A lot of fun to watch, though!
So get this. Here I am, on a ride home from a local Smash Bros tournament with a fellow weeb friend, and I bring up Zoids, the semi-popular show of our childhood. I bring up the idea of rewatching it and he's like, "Nah, I know it's gonna be bad if I look at it now".
To have this mentality toward a show you watched and loved as a child is fully understandable, but it is my humble opinion that no show subverts this stigma better than Zoids New Century/Zero. This review will cover why I firmly believe that.
First, a bit of history. Like the rest
of the few people who still remember Zoids, I watched this during Toonami's "golden era" in 2001/02, and it was one of those shows I'd rush home to catch, even more so than classics such as DBZ and Gundam. At the time, I wasn't nearly as invested in Chaotic Century (the 6am timeslot didn't do much to sell me either) as I was Zero, so Zoids more or less disappeared off the face of the earth.
Fast forward to early in my senior year of high school, I'm spaced out at my desk and randomly remember the show, so I decide to marathon it over the course of a week. For about two months over that, I had a resurgence of my Zoids obsession. I finished Chaotic Century, played a few of the games... but that more or less faded when there was, simply put, nothing left to do. Fuzors sucked, Genesis was meh (and never got a dub), so Zoids mostly served as a gateway for me to get back into anime.
Now, a few months ago, I decided to rewatch it yet again. So, how's it hold up?
One major criticism that Zero is constantly hit with (mostly by fans of Chaotic Century) is that it has no plot. While compared to CC, Zero is largely episodic, to say it has none at all would be selling it short. For the uninitiated, Zero revolves around Zoids, a race of biomechanical giant animals (think Gundams, but animals instead of humans) piloted by humans in a competitive sport. Teams of Zoid pilots battle it out under a competitive ruleset to rise up through the ranks and qualify for tournaments. So yeah, the whole show is essentially one big tournament arc.
But it goes so much further than that. While I do consider the story to objectively be Zero's weakest point, it's not nonexistent. So many wildcard factors are thrown in that the Zoids Battle Commission eventually has to step in and intervene. First and foremost we have the Backdraft Group, our main villain faction. These guys essentially go around challenging high-ranking teams to "unsanctioned battles" with either no rules, or rules that favor them. They're the typical criminal organization, stealing Zoids, taking over battles, etc. Honestly, these guys are pretty mediocre as far as villains go. They have their moments, like when Altiel drops his facade and has a very humbling experience as soon as the higher-ranking guys show up, and Stoller is a fantastic character, but I was far more invested in Dr. Layon, a half-serious, half-comic relief villain who specifically antagonizes the Blitz team, all over a misunderstanding regarding a romantic endeavor. This guy steals the show by his second appearance.
Other things show up here and there, but it's fairly formulaic in nature until the last few episodes. Nothing was Fuzors-level of dumb, and thank goodness.
While plot armor is occasionally in effect, battles feel strategic in nature, as a competitive battle should. Every battle the Blitz Team wins is earned through coordination and smart moves. The warriors are always thinking on their feet, and even lose a few times, proving they aren't invincible.
The first thing you'll notice about Zoids is that all the mecha themselves are rendered in cel-shaded CGI. For 2001, this looks very crisp and high-res. Some hate this feature, I personally love it. Models are very accurate to the toys that Zoids were based on. Animations are tight, and they really went all out with the battle scenes.
The characters are drawn in traditional anime style, and I really like what Xebec did here. The first few episodes look somewhat awkward in regards to faces, though. Proportions are really off, especially when the characters turn their heads. Thankfully, this doesn't take long to improve. I have to say, I honestly like how faces are drawn in later episodes. Something I've realized in recent months is my incredible disdain for animation styles that reduce noses to a single black dot that you have to squint to see (read: KyoAni, most overrated studio in existence), and this show definitely forgoes that for more realistically sized eyes, noses, etc.
Even if you hate this show, you have to admit they really put their heart into the OST. Few action anime have songs that get me pumped as much as tracks like "Brad Hunter" and "Strike Laser Claw", and "Twilight of Planet Zi" fits the melancholy moments to a T. The ending, "No Future" is also fantastic. I don't need to say much else here.
I'm definitely a fan of the voice acting, too. Being the one person on MAL who isn't a whiny sub elitist, I think the dubbing here is pretty great. Fans of InuYasha and Ranma 1/2 will recognize Richard Ian Cox as our main protag, Bit Cloud. Other than him, I haven't heard of a lot of the voice cast, other than Samuel Vincent (Double D) as Brad Hunter, and Scot McNeil (a whole lot of characters) as Stigma Stoller. The screaming does sound a bit silly, but it's also greatly toned down from CC.
This is the point where I think New Century wins over Chaotic Century... and a lot of other action anime, if I'm being blunt.
To explain why, let me get something out of the way: I don't like kid heroes. As an adult, I just don't enjoy them and I certainly don't identify them. Let's be honest here, it's a played out concept. I recently started watching Hunter x Hunter, and it's barely taken me 5 episodes to realize how much I identify with Leorio rather than the rest of the main cast.
What's my point, you ask? Simple: the majority of Zero's main cast are... what? Fully self-sufficent adults who act like adults?! An unheard-of concept, I know, but it makes the show so much more believable. Our MC, Bit, starts off as a simple junk dealer who wants to build Zoids. We know his career and mindset, which helps set the stage when he sneaks into Blitz Team's hangar and has to explain himself.
A lot of people don't like Leena Toros. "She's annoying". Personally as someone who usually despises tsunderes, she's one of the few I actually enjoy. She's a very believable character for the most part, and has a unique design to boot.
Brad Hunter rounds out the trio as a laid-back mercenary who repeatedly claims not to be an "official" Blitz Team member. Outside of battle, he rarely raises his voice and frankly, gives no fucks unless money is involved. He's one of those types who cares a lot about his team's safety, despite not projecting this outwardly often.
The dynamic between these characters as well as Steve, Jamie, and the other recurring cast is where this show shines through. Those who pay close attention to the conversations and interactions they have outside of battle will notice how "real" it all feels. The lines almost feel improvised at some points. I'm very impressed at this show's ability to realistically present a group of 4 people who have to work as a team despite not exactly the best of friends. Early on, you'll pick up on how often they insult each other or pull childish pranks, and how that happens less and less as the series goes on. When giant mecha cats, wolves, and dinos aren't blowing each other up, character development is happening left and right.
I could easily sum up my enjoyment in one sentence: I wish this show was longer.
CC got 67 episodes, Genesis got over 50, Zero was relegated to the standard 26. Can't say I'm a fan of this decision, but at least the show didn't leave a lot of loose ends open, not that I can think of anyway.
This is a show I wholeheartedly enjoyed both as a 9 year old child, and a 23 year old adult. Yeah, it has the typical shonen tropes of characters screaming the names of their attacks and such, but that's the only childish element at work here.
Zoids: New Century/Zero is perhaps one of the most criminally underrated and forgotten anime to air. I never hear it mentioned in the slightest outside of actual Zoids communities or comments on videos. What happened? Everyone remembers Dragon Ball, Gundam, Sailor Moon, and the rest of Toonami's old lineup, but not this hidden gem? To be fair, Zoids hasn't been remotely relevant in the US since like, 2004, but this is one franchise in need of a revival.
Behind the guise of "just another kids show" is a wonderful cast of three-dimensional characters, great comedy, and of course, action packed CGI mecha battles.
If you want giant fighting robots, look no further. If you want plot and character development, your out of luck. I've seen many mecha shows, and by far the animation quality of this series is something to behold. With dramatic fights every episode, this series has no short supply of action. However, the plot is very lackluster at best, it makes for an excellent series to just pick up a random episode and start watching.
So, if you're thinking about Zoids New Century Zero hopefully this will help you decide. I have only watched Century Zero all the way through, and only the first few episodes of the original. You do not need to watch the others to understand this one. The story is easy to follow. But the thing is, is that it's more for people who want to watch cool battles between giant robot animals controlled by skilled pilots. The dialogue is fairly good, but it gets a bit silly and/or dry at times. But that isn't the purpose of this show. This show is meant to showcase
how awesome the Zoids are. It revolves around team battles, and it's kind of like a buffed up version of Pokemon. If you want a version of this that focuses more on character storylines, I suggest watching the original.
But with that being said, I actually really like the main character plot-line with Bit Cloud. I can tell you that you are most likely going to like him best, which is good since he's the main character. You might find the other characters charming in their own ways, or you might not. But that's not why you should watch this show.
If you're going to watch it, it's for the awesome action scenes. And if the idea of giant, piloted, pokemon-like machines with customized weapons battling each other (usually on teams) sounds cool to you, you're probably going to enjoy watching New Century Zero. And I don't want to give anything away, but the main Zoid in this show is pretty epic.