Tag Archives: Shield Liger

Spotlight – Zoids: Chaotic Century – Van Flyheight

Last year I promised that I would begin doing Spotlight! posts about the characters from my favorite Zoids series, along with articles about the “mechanical combat units” themselves. Today, I am making good on that promise; here we will discuss the hero of Zoids: Chaotic Century – Van Flyheight.

Van is fourteen at the start of the TV series (the translators in Canada mistakenly have another character in the show say he is seventeen). Raised in the farming town of Wind Colony, Van’s father died five years before the series begins. Imperial soldiers came to the Republican colony when Major Dan Flyheight and a group of Republican soldiers were nearby. The commander of the Imperial division threatened to burn the village to the ground, but Dan Flyheight and his white Command Wolf, Zeke, took the entire unit down single-handedly.

So at the beginning of the show, Van is being raised by his older sister, Maria, in the Wind Colony. Every chance he gets, he sneaks away from her to explore the ruins of nearby military bases. Judging by their appearance, these bases long predate the current war in the show. Van does this to seek adventure and scrounge for scraps of salvage, despite his sister’s constant warnings that this is dangerous – not to mention her insistence that he do his chores.

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Van Flyheight

But come on, what fourteen year old boy who wants to be the greatest zoid pilot ever is going to listen when his big sister tells him to do boring chores? As the village priest tells her, “You can’t stop the boy from wanting to find a zoid of his own.” And that means she cannot stop him from running off to the desert.

Open, energetic, and easily excited (or offended), Van once again escapes his sister to go exploring in the first episode of Chaotic Century: “The Boy From Planet Zi”. But he gets more than he bargained for when a bandit named Bole begins chasing him in a newly acquired blue Guysack (scorpion-type Republican zoid – more on that another day).

Van escapes Bole by the skin of his teeth, hiding in the ruins. Then Bole’s compatriots/babysitters, Bianco and Nero, come to dig their young charge out of the rubble. Before they do that, they shoot at the ruins to trap Van inside so he cannot go running off to tell the villagers he saw them. That would bring the Republican Army down on the Desert Alca Valino Gang, and none of them want official trouble.

Inside the ruins, Van notices a heretofore hidden door which is now askew. He goes down the path to find a secret room with two green stasis pods inside. Accidentally opening the first, he encounters and befriends Zeke.

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Van Flyheight and his organoid, Zeke

More information about their first meeting can be found here and here, readers, if you want to start watching the series. Even all these years later, I absolutely love this show, and Van is a big reason why.

Despite the fact that he starts out reckless, hotheaded, and callow, Van quickly wins a viewer’s affection with his willingness to pick himself up and dust himself off. His kind, selfless nature make up for his naïveté and impulsive behavior. Over time he matures into a stronger boy, eventually becoming a great young man you still want to cheer on.

While it seems like mere luck that Van lives long enough to become the “greatest zoid pilot ever,” there is actually a lot of raw talent backing him up. Van has the potential to be a great pilot right from the start; he is perceptive, inventive, and quick-thinking. All he needs to learn at the beginning of his career as a pilot is how to put that together with his fighting skills instead of charging blindly into a battle.

It must be said that no one viewing the show would love zoids very well without Van Flyheight. A boy “with a strong fascination with zoids,” Van loves the mechanical animals almost as much as he loves those who are related to him or who are his friends. The entire reason he and Raven, his archnemesis through most of the show’s run, begin their feud is because the latter takes pleasure in brutally destroying zoids.

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Raven vs. Van Flyheight

And when I say brutal, readers, I mean brutal. Van rightly calls Raven’s attacks evil, but we would not really notice how evil they were if not for our hero’s instinctive reaction to Raven’s fighting style. This brings another characteristic of his to light; much like Captain America/Steve Rogers, Van has a heightened sense of right and wrong. He may not be able to explain how he knows the difference between good and evil on occasion, but when he sees some wrong being committed – no matter how small it may be – he instantly recognizes it and acts to correct the transgression.

Of course, some will ask how I can say this, given Van’s penchant for sneaking away from his sister and disobeying her. First, it is important to remember that I did not say Van was a saint. I said he was good – about as good as Captain America, though he may be a few bars lower on the scale. Besides, avoiding chores does not make anyone a criminal-in-training; it certainly seems that Van was obedient most of the time. And who knows where we would be if he had not snuck out to play in the desert every once in a while? Zi would be worse off if he had stayed home, I can assure you!

This exemplary standard of goodness in Van has a profound effect on those he meets. They are impressed, either immediately or over time, by his innate goodness, his determination, and his no-quit attitude. We see this most in the first adult friends he makes outside Wind Colony: Irvine and Moonbay.

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Irvine

Irvine and Van meet in the episode “Memory.” A wandering mercenary who fights or “protects” for money, he is in the area when Van and Fiona get lost in a sandstorm. On the hunt for an organoid to increase his power and strength, Irvine decides to try and steal Zeke from Van. You would think this would make them enemies and, for a while, they certainly are not friends.

But Irvine is not yet so far down the Dark Path that he is immune to Van’s inborn decency. Before you know it, he is traveling along with Van, Zeke, Fiona, and Moonbay. Though he says several times he is just waiting to find an opportunity to steal Zeke, it quickly becomes apparent this is no truer than Han’s statement in A New Hope when he says he is only interested in the money. Van’s goodness awakens and enhances Irvine’s, bringing it to the fore and making him a better person. The two eventually become brothers – not just in the sense of being fellow pilots of high skill, but in the fact that they watch out for, care about, and protect each other.

Moonbay fills the role of mother for Van in the beginning, a little like Hera Syndulla does for the crew in Star Wars Rebels. But where Hera is calm, cool, and very hard to ruffle, Moonbay can and will raise her voice in fury when someone ticks her off. Like Irvine, she has also become jaded by “real life” and she has a mercenary streak. More than once we see her wheeling and dealing on the side to earn more money than others think she needs. Van only directly confronts her once during one of these deals when she almost pulls a genuine swindle, telling her that he “can’t explain it using big fancy words but… [he] sure know[s] the difference between right and wrong!”

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Moonbay

In reality, Moonbay is not much of a mercenary. She just loves traveling, which means that she needs enough money to support herself – not to mention the rest of the gang while they are roving along with her. As a disciplinarian, she is able to get more and better results out of Van than Maria for the simple reason that she is not his older sister. She treats him like the kid he is and tells him off when he deserves it – sometimes with a punch, if she feels he has earned one. At the same time, Van’s goodness keeps Moonbay honest and makes her strive to be better, even if she won’t necessarily admit that out loud.

Zeke remains Van’s best friend and fellow combatant throughout the series. The two are devoted to each other, almost like twin brothers (as opposed to the older brother/younger brother relationship Van and Irvine share). Much like Van, Zeke seems to be possessed of an inherent gentleness and goodness. Where others might have beaten this out of him, Van’s natural kindness enhances Zeke’s and keeps him innocent.

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Van and Fiona

Finally, we come to the relationship Van has with Fiona Elisi (Alicia?) Linnet, the Ancient Zoidian girl he finds in the same ruins where Zeke is hidden. When Fiona is released from her stasis pod, she initially has no memory of who she is or where she came from. She cannot remember her real name (Elisi Linnet), only the name “Fiona.” Despite being irritated by her constant questions in the first two episodes, Van immediately works to help Fiona, taking her to his village so she can be safe.

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While they start out as friends, over the course of the show the two obviously fall in love. Though we only see them kiss once (when Fiona has to talk to Van via a psychic image and/or hologram), the rapport between the two is not that of a brother and sister or of two friends traveling together. It is most definitely romantic, and in the best kind of way. This is made blatantly clear in episodes such as “A Voice from Afar” and “New Liger,” where Van can hear Fiona’s voice in his mind. The two early on show signs of developing a romantic bond, which seems to be the basis for the psychic tie that arises between them.

But the relationship which has the most profound impact on Van’s character is one we never see. This is his bond with his father, Major Dan Flyheight. Though we never watch them interact on screen, Van’s dedication to becoming “the greatest zoid pilot ever” is due entirely to his admiration of, and his love for, his deceased father.

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Dan Flyheight

We only see Dan Flyheight once in a flashback in the episode “The Distant Stars.” However, that brief glimpse shows us where Van gets not only his piloting skills, but also his kindness, gentleness, and strong sense of right and wrong. Dan’s last words – his last thoughts – are for the two children he will leave behind, showing that the strength of Van’s love for his family and friends was learned at his father’s knee. He even names his best friend Zeke after his father’s zoid. In a world where the power of the father is laughed off and derided as unnecessary, Van proves the exact opposite with his fond remembrance of the father he lost too early.

The plot for Zoids: Chaotic Century is the joys and travails not only of a boy becoming a man, but of a page becoming a knight. Van is needed now more than ever for viewers, boys and girls both. Girls will learn what really makes a man by watching this series, while at the same time boys learn the virtues which will be their guides and friends throughout their lives.

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If, as is possible, someone intends to make a film (or a series of them) about Zoids: Chaotic Century, they HAVE to get Van Flyheight right. If they do not do that, then the movie(s) they make will be worthless, or very close to it. Along with Captain America, Aragorn, Optimus Prime, and Sir Galahad, the one character in the universe who you CANNOT mess with is Van Flyheight, readers.

But you do not need to take my word for it; just visit the posts I have about the show to see what will be lost if Van is not brought to life properly. Or, better yet, hunt down Zoids: Chaotic Century’s eleven DVDs on www.amazon.com and watch the show yourselves. If you hate it, I will be surprised. If you love it – welcome to Zi, readers! We’re happy to have you on the battlefield!

Catch ya later! 😉

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Zoids: Field of Rebellion Videos

Hey, readers!  As you know, I am a HUUUUGE fan of the Japanese Anime Zoids: Chaotic Century.  Last year, a video game called Zoids: Field of Rebellion was released in Japan.  As far as I know, the game is still in the Japanese market, which is a real shame, because I WANT THIS GAME!!!!

Ahem.  Anyway, here are a couple of advertisements for the video game:

And here is a behind-the-scenes video for the new trailer:

To quote and paraphrase Van Flyheight: “Ooh!  Me wantee!  Me wantee very, Very, VERY MUCH!”  If only we actually had zoids here on Earth – or could go out and find/build them on Zi!!!!

I hope Zoids: Field of Rebellion makes it to the American market soon.  I WANT THIS GAME!!!

Right, I already said that. 😀

See you on the battlefield, readers!

A Gallery of Images from Zoids

Following this blog the way you have, readers, you may have noticed this writer is a HUGE fan of the Japanese anime Zoids: Chaotic Century.  This post is a full-blown gallery of pictures I have assembled and am now showing off.  To get you in the mood, the intro theme for Zoids: Chaotic Century is at the top of the post.  I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I do, readers.

See you on the battlefield!

The Mithril Guardian

The Zaber Fang (Raven’s Model)

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Shadow (Raven’s Organoid)

 

Dibison (Thomas Schubaltz’s Model)

 

THE BLADE LIGER (Van Flyheight, Leon Toros, and Fuzors’ Models)

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Command Wolf (Standard and Irvine Models)

Irvine's Command Wolf in full
Irvine's Command Wolf 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irvine's Command Wolf

 

The Lightning Saix (Jack Cisco Model)

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The Gojulas

The Gojulas

 

The Shadow Fox

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The Shield Liger

Shield Liger

Shield Liger Missile Launch

 

The Storm Sworder

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The Iron Kong

Spotlight: Zoids – The Blade Liger

Here’s Spotlight! Once again, readers, I take you back to a planet “in the far reaches of the Milky Way.” That planet is Zi. The focus of this post is one of the living “mechanical combat units” that dwells there – The Blade Liger!

There is only one zoids series that truly gives the Blade Liger the attention it deserves, Zoids: Chaotic Century. The other zoids series – Zoids: New Century Zero, Zoids: Fuzors, and Zoids: Genesis – barely give the Blade Liger the time of day. This is because the heroes of these other zoids television shows pilot newer, more powerful Ligers. I think that that is somewhat unfortunate; though I love the Shield Liger, I also love the Blade Liger, and I hate to see it get so little attention in these later stories.

This leads us back to the topic of today’s post. What is a Blade Liger? A Blade Liger is the next step in the evolution of the Shield Liger. When a particular zoid and its pilot work together for a long time, they tend to develop a bond, kind of like a cowboy and his horse. Also, pilots whose skill grows with each battle get stronger and more powerful. The zoid typically keeps up with the pilot’s skill level – until it cannot go any farther.

For some pilots, this means they have to get another zoid. Their old partner just cannot keep up with them anymore, and if they want to keep fighting and increasing their skill, potential, and fighting prowess, they need to stay alive. Piloting a zoid that cannot keep up with you is a good way to get yourself killed.

However, in some cases, zoids can evolve to meet their pilot’s new skills. Usually, this is best achieved by an outside force, typically an Organoid. (I will be discussing these in the next Spotlight! post, so stay tuned!) The Organoid enhances a zoid’s and its pilot’s power. This helps both zoid and pilot to grow and achieve their “full potential.” A zoid could, conceivably, evolve on its own. But that would take time or special circumstances. Organoids speed up the process so that it takes a minimum of a few days, or a maximum of a month (give or take).

The Blade Liger is lion-type, just like the Shield Liger. But it is bigger, faster, and stronger than the Shield Liger. With larger paws, longer canines, and boosters to speed it on its way, the Blade Liger is an ideal close-combat zoid.

The Blade Liger shares two features with the Shield Liger. One is its energy shield. As with the Shield Liger, the Blade Liger can extend fins in its “mane.” These fins, in conjunction with the shield generator, put up an energy shield that protects the front half of the zoid. This shield, unlike the Shield Liger’s, can be made stronger. Despite this, the Blade Liger’s shield can be pierced. It just takes more work to pierce a Blade Liger’s shield than it would to break through a Shield Liger’s shield.

The second feature the Blade Liger shares with the Shield Liger is that it has a cannon between its forelegs, on its chest. But this cannon has two barrels and it fires rounds with a higher yield than the Shield Liger’s triple barrel cannon.

Now, you may be wondering, “Why is this zoid called a Blade Liger?” Before I answer that question, take a look at the video below:

Pretty cool, huh? Those gold blades are what give the Liger its distinctive name and trademark attack. While the Blade Liger is at rest or otherwise engaged, the blades fold up on its back. When the Liger’s pilot tires of playing games, he can end the battle swiftly by firing up the boosters and lowering the blades, which are then charged with energy. Coming against an opposing zoid at its maximum speed, a Blade Liger can literally slice an enemy zoid in two. (There was one episode in Chaotic Century where a pair of raptor-type zoids lost everything above their waistline to a Blade Liger, yet their legs kept on running!)

The Blade Liger’s speed is spectacularly high. It can outrun most land and air zoids. With a very few modifications, it can also keep pace with the two or three of the fastest zoids known to Zi. And the blades, when lowered and pointed forward, can be used to strengthen the Blade Liger’s energy shield. The energy used to charge the blades, combined with the power of an active shield, meshes both energies together. This strengthens the shield and, apparently, the blades as well.

Also, laser rifles can be attached to the backs of the blades. Raised and aimed over the Liger’s head, or “fired from the hip” when the blades are folded forward against the Liger’s sides, the lasers on these blades can be accurately fired at an opposing zoid. On a lightly armored zoid, these laser shots are dangerous and will cause serious damage. Zoids with heavier armor can shrug off the shots, but they better hope the Liger does not keep shooting at the exact same spot. The laser shots are very effective in any battle; they simply take more time to cut through thicker armor than through the “skin” of lighter zoids.

Finally, there are the Blade Liger’s teeth and claws. Those teeth are as deadly as they look, and the claws can at the least scratch the armor on the heavier combat zoids. Lighter armored zoids do not stand a chance against a Blade Liger’s claws.

The Blade Liger has two seats in its cockpit, just like the Shield Liger. The forward seat is for the pilot, the rear seat is for his co-pilot or “RIO” – Radar Intercept Officer. Though the Blade Liger of Chaotic Century is blue, it has been shown in a variety of other colors in subsequent series. New Century Zero featured a red Blade Liger, Zoids: Fuzors showed silver/gray Blade Ligers, and Zoids: Genesis at least mentioned a black Blade Liger. The toys come in several other colors – including white trimmed with pink! (Blah!)

All in all, the Blade Liger is a beautiful zoid. Specially adapted for close-combat fighting, with blinding speed and agility, the Blade Liger is one of the best zoids around. Anyone can pilot a Blade Liger. But it takes a champion to bring out the zoid’s full potential. And in Chaotic Century, that is just what we get!

See you on the battlefield!

The Mithril Guardian

Spotlight: Zoids – The Shield Liger

Shield Liger

Here’s Spotlight! Today’s focus is on yet another zoid from the series Zoids: Chaotic Century. This zoid is the Shield Liger – a zoid designed and built by the Helic Republic to counter the Guylos Empire’s Zaber Fang. Although the zoid is referred to as a Liger, which is the offspring of a male lion and female tiger, the Shield Liger is based solely on the lion. Unlike the Zaber Fang, the Shield Liger has a larger cockpit and can seat two people, one to pilot the zoid and the other to “fly RIO,” or act as a sort of Radar Intercept Officer.

During the first half of Chaotic Century, the Helic Republic and the Guylos Empire were locked in a fierce war (we never learn exactly what began the war, and some of us are not particularly inclined to care why it started). The Republic was fighting for its survival as a nation and, being the underdog in the war, its weapons were not of the same quality as the Empire’s. One character in the series, Moonbay, continually scorned the quality of Republican-made goods, particularly its ammunition.

Since the Empire had more wealth, it could afford better gear and weaponry for its soldiers, while the Republic had to make do with what it could build from scratch or buy from others. Undoubtedly, some of these merchants who sold the Republic goods for its war effort offered them technology that was substandard. Building stuff from scratch also means that some of the Republic’s equipment would not function well, and at times it was known to give out in the worst possible situations.

Shield Liger Missile Launch

The Shield Liger is a zoid which is not quite as lithe as a Zaber Fang, but it is a high performance and maneuverable zoid nonetheless. Because the Republic had less wealth than the Empire, they had to make the most of the weapons they had. So the Shield Liger, unlike the Zaber Fang, comes equipped with two eight shot missile launchers that are folded against its sides when it is not in combat. When in a battle these missile launchers can be lowered and used to fire missiles at an enemy zoid (the above photo showcases the Shield Liger’s left missile launcher in action).

The only problem with the launchers is that they can only carry so many missiles. Not only that, the Shield Liger must remain still while it fires its missiles, making it vulnerable to attack if it is still firing at a rapidly approaching target (this was never seen in any series that I know of, but it is a possibility I have thought about). Also, if a particularly ruthless enemy pilot wanted to severely damage a Shield Liger, they could snap off one or both of the launchers when these were lowered (this was never shown in any zoids series that I can recall, but it was another prospect I considered).

The Republicans, ever practical with their limited supplies, also installed a two barrel cannon (it may have been a laser cannon, I never learned for sure) beneath a panel of armor on the zoid’s back. This panel is not shown in either of the attached photos, unfortunately.

This cannon would be an asset it close combat, because the Shield Liger pilot could extend the cannon and fire broadside at a rival zoid if it could get close enough. The three barrel cannon between the Shield Liger’s forelegs is another weapon that could be used to great effect in combat (the Zaber Fang, too, traditionally comes equipped with a similar cannon between its forelegs).

Perhaps the Shield Liger’s most impressive weapon is its energy shield (hence the name Shield Liger). Though it is not shown in either of the attached photos, the shield is a dome of white energy that is activated when a plate of armor under the zoid’s chin flips down at a roughly seventy degree angle and another plate of armor behind the cockpit flips up at the same position. This activates the Shield Liger’s energy shield, which covers the front half of the zoid.

The shield can be used defensively to protect the zoid from enemy fire, but it can also be used offensively. Ramming another zoid while the Liger has its shield engaged can either damage the other zoid or it can knock the opposing zoid down. But while the shield is a great asset and can block most conventional fire, a heavy duty enemy shell, a ram attack by another zoid, or a heavy bombardment can tax the zoid’s energy reserves to the point where the zoid cannot keep the shield up. Once the shield is down, the zoid is again conventionally vulnerable.

The shield can also be pierced by another zoid’s attack, not just enemy shells. Raven was able to penetrate the shield of Van’s Shield Liger with his Zaber Fang (Van is the protagonist of Chaotic Century). The maneuver destroyed Raven’s Zaber Fang but it also broke through the Liger’s shield. And there are zoids with capabilities that can destroy a Shield Liger very easily, but those will be discussed another day.

I have always had a preference for the Shield Liger, even when other, stronger zoids stepped onto the scene. It is a strong zoid when paired with a capable pilot, and I think that, if zoids were real, I would choose to pilot a Shield Liger. But that right now is a dream that has yet to see any chance of fruition.

Still, it’s fun to have a dream like this, I think.

Later,

The Mithril Guardian

Zoids: “See You on the Battlefield!”

Zoids Chaotic Century

Helloo DiNozzo.

No, I have not rescinded my punishment for your paying me with the smaller Klondike bars from the squad room vending machines.  It is just beginning.

I’ve even made a name for this punishment.  You know how they have National Sibling Day, National Speak Like a Pirate Day, National Chocolate Day, etc.?  Well, I’ve started something similar….

Torture Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo Week!

What are you complaining about?  This is like Garfield’s National Fat Week celebration.  And it has your name in it, for cryin’ out loud!

So, let’s get to business, shall we?

You’ve been to the desert.  I know you have; I saw that particular case – the woman with the uranium paint.  You really ought to take horseback riding lessons, Tony.

That aspect aside, do you know what I like about deserts?  Not the ones with endless sand dunes but the ones with high canyon walls, narrow arroyos, and plains of red sand?

What I like about this kind of desert is it makes the world appear wide open.  It feels like you can go anywhere.  No foliage blocking your view, no high rises hemming you in on all sides, nobody telling you to hurry up or slow down –

You don’t seriously think I’d go into a desert without water, do you?  I’m not that much of a tenderfoot, DiNozzo.  Unlike you, that is.

What, you may ask, makes me look at deserts this way?  The answer is the Japanese cartoon series Zoids: Chaotic Century.

Yeah, I knew you would say that.  Be quiet and let me talk!

Written and drawn in Japan, the series of sixty-seven episodes (yes, 67 episodes) takes place “in the far reaches of the Milky Way, on the planet Zi.”  It was eventually translated into English in Canada and played on Cartoon Network in America in the early 2000’s.  It focused on the adventures of fourteen (mistakenly translated as seventeen) year old Van Flyheight.

Van is a headstrong young orphan in the care of his older sister, Maria, at the start of the series.  He wants to become “the best zoid pilot ever” because of the example of his dead father who was a zoid pilot.  Van regularly sneaks away from his village, the Wind Colony, into the nearby desert.  One such trip – the first episode of the series – begins with him being chased into a long-ruined military base by a hotheaded bandit about three years his elder.

What this young bandit, Bol, is trying to prove matters little to Van.  His problem is getting back to the village without the knucklehead following him.  Or acing him out when he attempts to escape.

Trying to get away, Van is instead chased further into the ruins where he discovers a small zoid in some sort of stasis pod.

Okay, wait.  I can see that I’m going to have to play dictionary and give you the definition of a zoid.

A zoid is a mechanical animal about two or three stories tall (on average) with hidden weapons in its body.  A zoid is pilotable; that is, a human can pilot or ‘drive’ it.  Usually the cockpit for a zoid is a cab situated in the forward part of the zoid’s head.  As with height, this feature also varies from zoid to zoid (some have the cockpit in their chests).  Most often, though, it is in the head.

The zoid Van discovers is a dragon/T-rex type nearly six or seven feet tall.  No cockpit on this guy!  (He and similar zoids are referred to as ‘dragon-type zoids’; this may stem from their three claws on each ‘hand’ and foot.  Only Japanese dragons have three claws which is why these zoids would be referred to as dragon-type in this series.  At least I think that’s the reason for this description.)  With pink eyes and silver armor, the zoid is initially not friendly to Van since it considers him to be a threat.

However, Van’s good nature soon leads the zoid to realize Van will not hurt him.  Van dubs this small zoid Zeke, after his father’s white Command Wolf.

Ugh, DiNozzo!!!  A Command Wolf is – obviously! – a wolf-type zoid.  Sit down and let me finish!!

As I was saying, he names this small zoid Zeke after his father’s white Command Wolf.  The two are on the way to becoming fast friends when Bol literally barges into the room in his continuing pursuit of Van.  Spotting Zeke, Bol decides to take him and sell him “for a small fortune.”

In order to protect his new friend, Van attacks the blue Guysack (scorpion-type zoid) that Bol is piloting.  Quickly overcome, Van believes he is finished when Zeke intervenes –and takes a beating for his bravery.

Things look pretty bad.  But Zeke has some special talents that neither of the boys is aware of.  Escaping Bol with Van on his back, Zeke finds a wrecked Shield Liger (lion-type zoid) outside the ruins.  Dumping Van in the coverless cockpit, Zeke glows white, jumps into the air, and then ‘fuses’ with the Liger, “bringing it back to life.”  (Yes, zoids are living creatures,  Tony.)

In the Liger, Zeke’s power and Van’s own natural piloting skills allows the two to drive Bol and his partners off.  After the bandits leave, though, Zeke returns to the ruins.  There Van discovers a second stasis pod adjacent to Zeke’s destroyed casing.  He opens it, expecting another small zoid (called an ‘organoid’ because of the ability to merge with larger zoids) to pop out.  Instead, when it opens he finds a girl of about his own age inside.

I might add that, mysteriously, she and Zeke share the same eye color.

Taking her back to the village, Van learns the girl has no memory of anything – not trees, not fruit – except the name ‘Fiona.’

Guessing this is her real name, Van calls her Fiona.  Some time after this, the bandits attack the Wind Colony to get Zeke.  Van again defeats them and drives them off.  But with the possibility the gang may return in the future to harass his village, Van leaves home to protect the townspeople from these aggressors.

Out in the wide world, Van quickly makes friends and enemies through his strong belief in “the difference between right and wrong” as well as his naiveté.  Among the traveling companions he acquires is the transporter Moonbay, a sassy, independent young woman roaming the desert.  She carries cargo for whoever will pay her a large sum.  Another member of the company is Irvine, a young mercenary who travels with them initially only to steal Zeke.  Republican Captain Rob Herman (who arrests Van after an encounter with ‘sleeper’ Guysacks gets the bunch in trouble) also comes to respect the hotheaded youth.  (No, he does not travel with Van’s group.)  Many other characters also learn to count Van as a friend.

Van’s strongest opponent is Raven, an Imperial soldier his own age.  A master pilot, Raven is a terror in battle and a scourge to the Republican ranks – so much so that even the Imperials do not trust him.  Hating zoids and practically everyone else, his abilities are sharpened to a fearsome degree when his black-armored, blue-eyed organoid Shadow fuses with his blood-red Zaber Fang (a Saber Tooth Tiger-type zoid).  Van and Raven battle several times because of these opposing natures: Van’s love of zoids and his friendships versus Raven’s hatred of these machines and condescension toward everyone.

Although Raven is Van’s most deadly enemy, he does encounter others.   The villains include all kinds, from low-brow bandit riff-raff to the Regent of the Guylos Empire.  Van and his friends soon find themselves deep in adventure and peril.  The underpinning theme of the series is Fiona’s mysterious past, her capability to communicate with Zeke, and her ability to read the writing of an ancient civilization that once thrived on Zi.

Fiona’s past coming back to ‘haunt’ her, and by extension everyone she cares about, eventually takes precedence in the series.  When the credits role in the last episode, Van has achieved his wish and become “the greatest zoid pilot ever.”  Zi, just like its deserts, is once more open to adventure for all.  I like to think Van and Fiona have a lot more fun after the screen goes black, as is proper for any series.

Zoids: Chaotic Century seems to take a lot of elements from Star Wars, with the addition of other, less noticeable themes and motifs.  The most prominent idea, and this is what really makes the show, is that the pilots have to fight to ‘reach their full potential.’  Every zoid has the capability to be a stronger and greater creature, a capability that is usually accomplished in battle.  This is impossible, however, without the proper pilot.  Only as a team can both the pilot and the zoid achieve their ultimate potential.

Watching Van get there is a thrill and a million, DiNozzo.  You have got to take a look at the series.

Altogether Chaotic Century is a very well thought-out, well-executed show.  It is no wonder it had three sequel series (Zoids: New Century Zero; Zoids: Fuzors; and Zoids: Genesis).  Chaotic Century is so detailed that it demands more stories from Zi.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe these three series lived up to Chaotic Century’s legacy.  But that’s a topic for tomorrow in this stellar Torture Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo Week.

In parting, I will say only this, Tony:  “See you on the battlefield!”

Later,

Mithril