Anime Monday - Zoids: New Century Zero

So it’s been two weeks since I made my last blog post. Things have been pretty hectic at both home and work, and it’s been kinda hard for me to keep up with things. A lot of gaming related news has come out over these two weeks, and, while I do want to get around to talking about them at some point, it’s just a bit too much for me to cover at the moment. Putting that aside though, I didn’t want to fully go back on what I promised to do with this blog, so once again here we are with another Anime Monday! This week I’m going to be talking about an anime that is pretty special to me, and one I’m sure many others grew up watching as well. It’s Zoids: New Century Zero.

How I Discovered Zoids:

Like many other kids in the early 2000s, Toonami was my go to after school programming block. It’s where I got to watch great series like Dragon Ball Z everyday, it’s how I got into Gundam, and it’s really the main reason I even like anime to this day. Back then I didn’t really understand what anime was though, but I could tell that it was something special. It wasn’t like all the other “cartoons” I watched where everything was episodic. Instead these were shows with actual development, with each new episode progressing the story towards a definitive ending. They were complete, and each episode was a small part of a much grander journey. Even shows that didn’t have endings/would continue on in the future, still had major story arcs that had conclusions. Each part of Dragon Ball Z for example was it’s own epic adventure, and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. So it’s really no wonder that I, and many others, tuned in to Toonami each and every day. And that’s exactly how I discovered Zoids.

I still remember the first time I saw Zoids: New Century Zero. It was the episode where they went up against “Harry Champ, a man destined to be king.” Honestly my first impressions of the series was “look at this Power Rangers rip off with their wannabe White Ranger Tiger Zord,” but for some reason it still interested me. I mean I thought the same thing about Gundam as well and ended up loving it, so why not give Zoids a chance as well? So I did. And yeah, I am so glad I did.

Before I knew it, Zoids had become my new favorite series. I watched it every day after school, and I remember even trying to build “Zoids” out of legos. I didn’t know about the model kits back then, so I made due with what I had, and somehow I completely missed the fact that it had some game releases as well. Of course, I didn’t have the internet back then to look these sorta things up, and the kids I would talk to at school really weren’t much of a help. They watched the show too, but they were in the same boat as me. We only knew what we saw on TV, and just hoped there was more out there... Without ever realizing there was... But that’s besides the point. The bottom line is, I loved the series, and I made sure to never miss an episode... At least, until things changed — but that too is a story for another time.

The Story of Zoids: New Century Zero:

Zoids is an interesting series. It’s a show that’s based on a model kit line, and because of that it’s not actually just one series. There are multiple Zoids shows, and each one is a series all it’s own. New Century Zero is actually the “third” Zoids series, but it was the first one to actually be shown in the US. While the original Zoids, and it’s follow up series, focused on war, New Century Zero takes a competitive approach to the whole thing, and focuses on teams fighting each other instead. It’s this team combat that really had me hooked from the get go, and I quickly found myself rooting for the different characters. But, once again, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The story of New Century Zero is set place in a world that’s unlike our own. In this world giant mechanical beats known as “Zoids” rule, and humans pilot them in (typically) 3v3 battles known as “Zoids Battles.” Each Zoid is typically based on a different animal, and although they are machines, they do have an AI that acts as their brains. In a way, a Zoid is like a living creature, and although humans do pilot them, it’s more of a partnership between the Zoid and the pilot. A Zoid can reject it’s pilot, and refuse to fight in a Zoids Battle if it wishes, and that’s exactly where our story begins.

The Blitz team is a newer team that hopes to become one of the best. They have some skilled pilots under their belt, as well as some nice Zoids, but they just can’t seem to catch a break. Their “lead” Zoid the Liger Zero refuses to let anyone pilot it, and that ultimately leads to a lot of issues. That is until the rookie pilot Bit Cloud enters the picture.

Bit actually has no interest in becoming a Zoids pilot — instead he only cares about Zoids parts, and being able to make money of off them. After causing an accident that broke the Blitz Team’s lead pilot’s arm, Bit find himself being brought in by them to take responsibility for his actions. This is what eventually leads Bit to come face to face with the Liger Zero, and is how they discover that the Liger has actually accepted Bit as a pilot. After a series of events, Bit does eventually get into the pilot seat, and before long he is accepted as a part of the Blitz Team as their new pilot.

After Bit joins the team, each episode of New Century Zero focuses on the struggles the team must overcome if they want to make it to the top. The team has no money, their gear is outdated, and they aren’t as experienced as other teams out there battling. To make things even worse, a shady group called the Back Draft Group is constantly making illegal deals and causing trouble, and it doesn’t take long for the Blitz Team themselves to start running into them. Although each episode is mostly episodic, there’s a natural progression to the show that allows us to see this team continue to improve. It’s not easy for them however, and the show does take quite a few unexpected turns along the way. While many episodes do follow the same formula of new teams and characters being brought in each episode for Bit and his friends to fight, it doesn’t always stick to this setup, and often we get to see the other teams develop over time as well. These characters aren’t just single episode throw away characters, like in many episodic series, but rather new characters that continue to evolve along with the Blitz Team. They too are shooting for the same goal, and they are all just as capable of achieving it. Sure, it’s not as serious of a story as the war torn “Zoids: Chaotic Century,” but that’s perfectly okay. It’s a fun ride form start to finish, and you can’t help but be drawn into it’s world and characters.

Zoids Moving Forward:

When New Century Zero ended it’s run on Toonami, they continued to rerun it a few more times before they finally moved on to the rest of the Zoids series. The first series and it’s sequel was their next go to, which was a completely different experience from what NCZ offered. Again, this was a war torn world, and focused more on Zoids as being “wild animals” mixed with war machines. It was a much darker series in general, and caught many fans off guard when it first came on. Following this series’ success they then moved on to Zoids Fuzors which... Was canceled after basically one episode. After that Zoids pretty much vanished from the US, which is a shame. Zoids Genesis would air in Japan and once again focus more on the war aspect of Zoids, and at the end of the 2010s Zoids would once again return with Zoids Wild. In this series, characters ride on the back of Zoids (rather than piloting them), and it takes a step back towards the lighter side of things. As for Zoids in the US however? It’s remained missing. None of these follow up series ever got released here, and still to this day we’re waiting for them. It’s sad really, but that’s something Zoids fans have come to accept.

Should You Watch It:

So, should you watch New Century Zero or Zoids in general? Well, that really depends on you. Zoids is a unique mecha series with mechs based on animals. Each part of the series is completely unique, and because of that it’s not ensured that you will like every aspect of it. While NCZ is a fun ride with tournament style battles (with some drama mixed in), the style of the other series is a completely different case. So which Zoids you watch really does depend on what you’re looking for, but I can say that it is a series worth looking into. New Century Zero will always be my favorite out of all of them, and it’s something I’ve personally watched from start to finish many times. I watched every rerun on Toonami as it aired, I rewatched it again in high school, and then even after I became an adult, I often found myself going back to it just for fun. It’s a nice series, and I think everyone should give it a shot. So yes, I think it’s worth watching. 

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post