Guess what today is!
Yes! Get the man a prize! It is the second day of Torture Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo Week!!
So what’s today’s subject? (Stop yawning, Tony, or I’ll call Gibbs. And I mean it!)
Today we focus on Zoids: New Century Zero and Zoids: Fuzors. Technically, Zoids: New Century Zero is an immediate sequel to Zoids: Chaotic Century. This twenty-six (yes, DiNozzo, 26) episode series aired in Canada and the United States ahead of Chaotic Century. I have no idea why. *Shrug*
In New Century Zero, the governments of Chaotic Century are never mentioned. The group keeping the peace here is the Zoid Battle Commission. In this series, zoid pilots compete in large, open land areas for prize money and prestige. Most pilots form a team of some sort, while others work solo. These last are called mercenaries. (Don’t ask me why. It makes no sense unless it’s because these pilots are willing to change teams for any large sum of money.)
The antagonists of the series are members of the Backdraft Group, a shadowy organization trying to usurp the Zoid Battle Commission’s power. They are doing this because they consider the Commission to be promoting weak battles.
Honestly, I don’t quite blame them in this assessment. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
New Century Zero concentrates on the adventures of Bit Cloud, a young man who routinely scavenges the sites of these battle competitions (at the start of the series) for useful parts. He does this in the hope of using the better pieces to one day “build [his] own zoid partner.” On one such expedition he witnesses the Blitz Team (composed of Leon and Lena Toros, with the mercenary Brad Hunter) get walloped by a team of three yellow Zaber Fangs called the Zaber Tigers.
In this first episode we learn that the Blitz Team has been on a losing streak for a while. If this ‘battle’ the audience first sees along with Bit is meant to be an indication of how badly they were performing, then the Blitz Team was in a very sorry state.
While Leon has promise as a pilot and Brad is a fair fighter, Leon’s younger sister Lena is as trigger-happy as it is possible to be. The only zoids she’ll pilot are the ones that have the most guns, and she is constantly pestering her father (the manager for the Blitz Team), Dr. Toros, for more ammunition. As for Dr. Toros, he’s a man with wild bouts of eccentricity that are supposed to serve as comic relief. All of this contributes to the Blitz Team being unable to win more than one or two battles, which means they’re always on the verge of going broke.
In the battle that Bit witnesses, things only get worse. Leon’s Shield Liger is totaled and Leon himself ends up with one arm in a sling and a bandage around his head. The battle is called to a halt and postponed until the next day. The one ray of hope for the Blitz Team is that, before he tripped up, Leon managed to bring down one of the Zaber Fangs. It looks like the final half of the battle will be a fair fight.
Now enter Bit, who comes poking around the Blitz Team’s warehouse that night for more parts, only to get caught and tied up. Lena ends up babysitting him through his ‘prisoner’ dinner hour in the hangar. While she’s there he asks her about one particular white Liger standing nearby. Lena explains that it is called the Liger Zero. Since white ligers are rare, her dad snapped it up. But the zoid is more than useless according to her because it will not accept any pilot her father has pushed into its cockpit.
Later on, after Lena has left and the lights have been turned off, Liger Zero wakes up and frees Bit. It then offers Bit a ride. Interestingly, the Liger seems to be possessed of a sense of humor. He takes Bit on a wild run through the desert and, when Bit finally gets him to stop, the two are in the middle of nowhere with the sun high in the sky.
During the Blitz Team’s rematch with the Zaber Fangs, Bit comes back in time to join them. The Zaber Tigers are cheating by having their pilot with the damaged Zaber fire from a nearby cliff with a sniper rifle. Bit takes him down after Lena is decked in the middle of the competition. However, to help the Blitz Team, Bit has to register with them, something he does right from the Liger’s cockpit.
Yeah, you’re right. The team takes a while to warm up to him after this, especially Lena. But with the dough rolling in from the fights he participates in, even she thaws to Bit.
Throughout the series Bit fights beside Brad and Lena, and occasionally the Team’s fourteen year old strategist, Jamie Hemeros (who spends most of his time off the field). Leon leaves the team almost as soon as he’s healed, becoming a much better pilot from that point on. He does not rejoin the team after this, though he does drop by to offer advice (or a fight) from time to time.
Because of the power of the Liger Zero and the turnaround in the Blitz Team’s fortunes, the Backdraft Group takes an interest in them. Realizing that a zoid as powerful as the Liger could be the weapon they need to finally defeat the Commission, the Backdraft Group repeatedly tries to steal him from his rightful owners. And before you ask, they bungle every attempt, often miserably.
On the whole, this series is not as good as Chaotic Century. The reason I say this is because the fighting skills of many pilots in the series are substandard.
Bit’s skill mostly comes from the Liger Zero, which is later revealed to have a built-in organoid system or “black box” that lets the Liger memorize an opponent’s pattern of attack. Once this is done, the Liger decides on a more effective counterattack and acts on it. Such a rare zoid is called an Ultimate X in the story. Although Bit does have a good ‘battle sense’ and treats the Liger as a partner, after a point the audience is left wondering just how much of his prowess is actually the Liger’s ability to learn.
As I mentioned before, Lena’s battle tactic is to blow her opponent straight to kingdom come. So she gets very angry when her target doesn’t stay still long enough to get shot. Several other minor characters share her nearly insane attitude, which leads to predictably boring battles throughout the series. Jaime’s piloting is marked by nervous reactions or extremely foolish charges. Even though he’s a good kid, Jaime is much better at giving the team tactical pointers than he is at fighting.
Brad is the only member of the Blitz Team who shows any real piloting skill. He excels in sniping and close combat, and can often be seen chiding Lena for her overuse of her weapons. While Leon eventually does become an amazing pilot, I’d bet money that Van or any of his friends could put him down with very little effort. On the positive side, I’m sure Leon would be willing to learn from them. The same could be said of Brad.
I have a similar attitude toward the few other pilots in the series with good skills, such as the sniper pilot Naomi and the Lightning Saix (cheetah-type zoid) pilot and team leader Jack Cisco. But either of them against the crew, bad or good, from Chaotic Century would get whipped so fast it would make their heads spin. Unlike Leon and Brad, these two may be more inclined toward vengeance than learning from their mistakes.
The one pilot in this series who shows anything near Chaotic Century skill is the young boy who appears in the last five episodes of the show. And sadly he’s the Backdraft Group’s secret weapon. His name is Vega Obscura, and his main objective is “to be in some really great battles.” It’s never clarified whether or not he shares the Group’s views. For the most part he seems to be genuinely interested in nothing more than a good fight. And while Vega also pilots an Ultimate X zoid, the Berserk Fury (a Tyrannosaurus Rex-type zoid), he proves in his second appearance (via a video game) that he has great potential as a pilot.
I’m inclined to think he might be related in some way to the Chaotic Century terror Raven. However, I’ve never been able to find any confirmation of that. It’s mostly conjecture on my part, based solely on his physical appearance and astounding fighting skills, not to mention the similarities between his zoid of choice and Raven’s. (Raven eventually had to find a new zoid when his Zaber Fang was destroyed. I am not telling you how or what he got instead, Tony. That would spoil it!)
All in all, I feel that New Century Zero falls far short of the mark that its predecessor set.
Now you’re going to wonder why I said that I would also talk about the sequel series Zoids: Fuzors. This series is a lot like New Century Zero, which is why it’s part of my note. Fuzors is set in a future at least several hundred years after Bit’s time. The government in this series has again shifted, though it is similar to Bit’s. Now the government is centralized in some place called Blue City. Once again the protagonist for this series pilots the Liger Zero, the same zoid Bit had. This pilot, however, is younger than Bit and goes by the name RD.
Hey, I didn’t write it! Sit tight and let me finish! (And no, Bit and RD look nothing alike.)
Blue City is home to the same type of battles that Bit participated in, except these are often confined to arenas within the city. The series never finished its run in the U.S., but it had twenty-six (26) episodes, too. (When you’re talking about zoids, I’m beginning to think that twenty-six is not a good number for them.)
There is one big difference between Fuzors and New Century Zero. In Fuzors, certain zoids can combine with other zoids. For example, the Liger Zero combines with two different bird-type zoids on different occasions in the series. Combining in this manner increases the zoids’ power in battle, making the Liger twice as powerful as he was before. And twice as desirable as he was in New Century Zero.
Yes. Once again an underground conglomerate begins trying to get as many Fuzors and pilots as they can under their control. Fuzors shows RD and his team as the only ones actively working to stop them. At the same time, RD is also on a quest for a zoid called the Ultimate Zoid, which his father was pursuing when he disappeared. So it could be argued RD is searching for his father in this story, too.
As with New Century Zero, I couldn’t help but feel that Fuzors fell short of the mark. The zoids were good, as always, but the idea of fighting for near meaningless profit and glory simply doesn’t jive with Chaotic Century’s “Battle to reach your full potential” motif. The lack of a strong overarching plot, which was present in Chaotic Century, was also a stone around the necks of these two sequels. The writers may have felt that way, too, since neither series lasted more than twenty-six episodes.
What about the third sequel series? Come on, DiNozzo. I’ve about yapped my jaw to death here, and you want me to talk some more?
Aha! So I have managed to rope you in!!….. Flustered attempts to proclaim your innocence will get you nowhere.
And don’t worry. This is Torture Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo Week, remember? I’ve got all of tomorrow to tell you what I know about Zoids: Genesis – which isn’t all that much, I admit. And when we’re done with that – ooh, the possibilities!!!
So, are you ready?
Then…hang on to your cover! (Remember, you’re part of the navy!!)