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.