Tag Archives: Zeke

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 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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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: Chaotic Century – A Series Review

Technically, I already did a review of the Japanese series Zoids: Chaotic Century. But not too long ago I became curious to see if Zoids had become a topic of conversation on WordPress. After all, that was the raison d’etre for my Spotlight! posts; I started them to put the word out about not only my favorite Japanese “mecha,” but to start a conversation about my much loved anime.

At least, that was what I hoped would happen. Aside from a few likes, nobody seems really interested in discussing Zoids, whether it is Chaotic Century’s zoids or any of the other series. So I sort of let the matter drop, going back to my usual Spotlight! posts and remembering the show fondly, as always….

Then I had the trailer for Zoids: Field of Rebellion recommended to me, and my Zoidian fervor re-engaged itself – with a vengeance!

Not that my love for zoids is ever very far away from me. One of the things I have learned about the stories I enjoy is that, no matter where I go or what makes me set them aside, my favorite characters in fiction will reassert their importance to me when I least expect them to do so. They also seem to like doing this to me when I need them most.

One of the reasons that Chaotic Century has a special appeal to me is not simply because I was young and impressionable when I first saw it. I associate certain things with how the show makes me feel. A beautiful autumn day, an open horizon, a certain tangy, alluring bite in the air – these are triggers which still make me itch, even now, to find a zoid and hop in its cockpit.

I know that zoids do not exist. I have known this for years. But there is still something that I can sense in the air sometimes that makes me feel as eager as I only did when I watched or thought about Zoids. The trailer for Field of Rebellion not only intensified that childish wish, it made me hope for a film based on at least the zoids themselves, if not on Chaotic Century.

If Takara Tomy or another Japanese company is actually thinking of turning Chaotic Century into a film, then all I can say is: “Go for it! Go For It! GO FOR IT!!!!” I have wanted a zoids film – or a series of films about zoids – for as long as I have been a fan of Chaotic Century. But as I grew older and watched other shows I enjoyed made into films, seeing how they were abused and mangled by Hollywood, I began to fear that a film about Chaotic Century would destroy the story and the characters I loved so dearly.

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For this reason, I have decided to inaugurate a series of Spotlight! posts that will focus on the characters from Zoids. I do not want these great characters who still visit me when I need their encouragement to be destroyed as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Transformers, and other childhood friends have been. No amount of CGI zoids or fantastic storytelling would save a film that abused these characters, and this is something I wish to make perfectly clear to anyone who may be considering creating a film based on Zoids: Chaotic Century.

But before I get to those posts, I thought it best to review what makes Chaotic Century such a powerful series. It is not the music (which is stellar); it is not the artistry (which is appealing), and it is not the English dubbing (which is not perfect but still works quite well).

It is the characters, the zoids, the plot, and the themes of the series that make Zoids: Chaotic Century such a magnificent story worthy of the best efforts of those who paint pictures on the silver screen. There are four main plot points in Chaotic Century that MUST be present in any film based on the show. These are:

Friendship, Love, and Redemption

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I will touch on this more in the character posts, but one of Chaotic Century’s biggest selling points was its character growth. Though the story starts out somewhat slowly, the friendships between the characters develop so well and so thoroughly that you do not notice just how far they have come until the stakes begin to rise. Then you suddenly get jerked into a position that lets you realize that these characters have grown due to their contact and interaction with each other. You realize that they would never have become the people they are in X episode if not for the fact that they fell in with each other earlier and have been traveling together since.

The love aspect is present in the main romance in the series, which lasts from episode one to episode sixty-seven. We never see the end result, but we are left to believe that the main characters do indeed live happily ever after when the credits finally roll. A few side romances are shown as well, and these are all handled with an adroit touch. The main couple only exchanges one kiss, and that was not a smooch of the physical variety. If the writers for the movie will not honor these relationships in any film about the series, I will not be watching that movie.

Redemption is a big part of the series as well. Many of the villains in the story turn over a new leaf during the course of the show, while several remain evil to the bitter end. These redemptions never feel forced, as the one for Helmut Zemo did in Avengers Assemble’s “House of Zemo.” They never feel tacked on, either, as the redemption of Doctor Octopus in Ultimate Spider-Man’s series finale did.

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Best of all, there are no saving twists for the villains, such as we see in Maleficent. The bad guys either reform or they croak. A couple of villains do kind of reform before they die, but that is probably for the best, as their redemption arcs weren’t likely to last beyond that episode.

Redemption in Zoids takes place gradually; it is natural, the result of progressive character growth and discovery. It is not a spoonfed, hamfisted “let’s all sing Kumbaya and admit that our dads were jerks” moment. (Now that I think about it, not one of the fathers in the series was even a mild jerk, let alone a horrible, horrible person. Score another point for Zoids: Chaotic Century!)

A film about this series has to include these elements; it has to build the friendships and the romances smoothly and quietly. It has to be just as soft on the redemption arcs for the villains as well. Any movie about Chaotic Century that does not do this will not do the series justice, and I will NOT pay to see it.

I know these character arcs would not be easy to condense in a film (franchise), which is the other reason I have been leery of the idea of translating the TV show into a film (series). But if a Chaotic Century movie (series) is in the works somewhere, or on someone’s mental backburner, this character growth is going to prove a challenge for them. It will be a worthwhile challenge, but they may not get the necessary thanks they deserve for this work – even from a Chaotic Century fan like me, unfortunately.

Never Give Up Hope – Or the Fight

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Mostly, it is the main character, Van Flyheight, who has the never give up/never lose hope attitude. This attitude is passed on to his friends by him, thereby infusing the entire story and tying it tightly to reality. We have all faced moments when the going gets so tough, so nigh unbearable, that we cannot stand to think of dealing with the pain for another instant.

Zoids: Chaotic Century shows that even Van is not invulnerable to these moments. What makes him different is that, for him, these moments are rare and they do not last. This allows him to inspire others to hold on to hope when it appears that the battle is already lost.

I cannot tell you how valuable this plot point in Chaotic Century has been for me during my life. I am as weak as the next person; there have been moments when I can see the bottom of the pit of despair, when I have thought life would never, ever get better.

Chaotic Century has been, in some ways, a life-saver for me in these moments. Sure, I have had the “it’s-a-cartoon-and-has-nothing-to-do-with-real-life” thoughts about it. But Zoids taught me that you only really lose the fight when you give up hope. Maybe you cannot always feel hope, as Van seems to, but the show taught me that quitting simply is not an option. Through this show you learn that giving up simply cements your loss while holding out in spite of the pain means you might actually be able to turn the tide of the battle.

A film (or series of them) based on this TV show has to reference tenacious hope as often as its progenitor did. Otherwise, it will not be based on Chaotic Century but on the producer/director/writer’s agenda. The only agenda for a movie (series) based on Chaotic Century should be that hope is more powerful than despair, no matter how grave matters appear to be.

Pursue Your Full Potential – As a Pilot and as a Person

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A sub-theme, if we can call it that, in Chaotic Century is that in order to become the best (or at least a competent and good) pilot in the world, the pilot and his zoid have to reach their full potential as a fighting unit. As one wise character in the series told Van’s friend, “Zoids can sense [their pilots’] feelings and emotions and use them to enhance their own capabilities [in battle]. Once [the pilots] recognize that, the possibilities are endless.”

Anyone who has ever watched zoids remembers the “awe and excitement” we felt when we first saw these enormous, mechanical “spirit animals” running across the screen. We wanted to be that strong, that fierce, and that able to fight. We wanted to be the heroic pilots of our favorite zoids.

The problem Chaotic Century addresses is that zoid pilots can lose sight of this potential in the thick of battle, and thus they lose sight not only of why they became a pilot, but of who they are as people. This leads them to consider their zoids and everyone else’s to be “ordinary” fighting machines which are only useful as tools, pets, or weapons. They stop seeing zoids for what they truly are and see only what they can get out of them.

The challenge Zoids: Chaotic Century presents to its characters – and thereby to its viewers – is it asks us whether or not we have kept our eyes on the prize. The prize is our “full potential” which, while it can never truly be reached in this life, is the only thing worth striving after. Money, power, luxury – these are distractions, in many cases deadly ones. The true potential of a man (or a woman) cannot and should not – must not – be gauged by these foolish categories. What matters is whether or not you are striving after your full potential. Because it is only by chasing after your full potential in this life that you can actually achieve it in the next.

This theme ties directly into the fourth premise any filmakers who wish to bring Zoids: Chaotic Century to the silver screen must keep in mind….


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This theme is so obvious that we fans tend to forget it. Wonder radiates palpably from Chaotic Century; but we viewers become so accustomed to the zoids that, like their pilots, we tend to stop marveling at these magnificent mechanical creatures as we should. We become so used to the vast desert vistas, the high mountains, the plateaus, the hills and plains in the series that we forget how beautiful they are. The music – which still sends tingles along my skin and inspires me to smile like a maniac – becomes so much a part of the background that we hardly notice it.

The way Chaotic Century keeps us on our toes is by having the characters point out the wonder of these things. Time and time again, characters remark on the beauty and splendor of the zoids, reminding us of how special these creatures are. The appreciation that the ordinary village folk in the series show for the countryside they live in reminds us that these vistas are available to us wherever we live. We simply have to actually look out the window and see them as they are. The sacrifices the characters make for each other, the little gestures of friendship and romance sprinkled throughout each episode, call on us to realize how valuable our own friends and families are to us.

Above all, Chaotic Century prompts us to keep our eyes on the prize. It constantly reminds us to strive after hope in hopeless situations, to fight to maintain our urge to discover our true potential. We may not be zoid pilots (no matter how much some of us wish we were!), but we are people who are gifted with different talents, different purposes in this life.

Are we pursuing these vigorously, working to find the “endless possibilities” open to us as we work on these things that we love? Or have we become “jaded” and forgotten what made us want to be a mother, a father, a football player, a Marine, a piano player, a writer, an artist, etc. in the first place? Are we striving for the good, the beautiful, and the best that we can achieve – or have we completely lost our sense of direction?

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Many of the characters in Zoids: Chaotic Century have lost sight of the real reason they became zoid pilots. They have lost sight of the real reason why they wanted to get in the cockpit. As the series progresses, they relearn this – allowing us to learn to look at our own lives with new eyes because we have seen the characters do it.

A film – or a series of them – based on Chaotic Century must have these four qualities. If it (or they) does not, then it has failed to give homage to its progenitor franchise, just as the new TMNT movies and the first three Transformers films did. But a zoids film (franchise) that acknowledges its source material, that shows an appreciation for it, can only be pursuing the series’ full potential on a grander scale.

I leave you to discover Zoids: Chaotic Century for yourselves, readers, as I did in my last post. In addition, I also leave you the longest trailer for Zoids: Field of Rebellion. If they could make this video (which is ABSOLUTELY SPECTACULAR FROM A VISUAL STANDPOINT), then they can make a film out of Chaotic Century!

I do not know if they will do this. I want them to do it, as long as they do not try to rewrite the series when they make the film(s). If they can tell this story, whole and entire on theater screens, I will be in seventh heaven. You will have to tie me to the seat and gag me in order to get through the movie, but I will be happier than a clam if Zoids makes it into theaters.

But that is not my decision to make. I can only watch the TV series and the trailers for Field of Rebellion – and dream. For now, that is enough.

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 Organoids

Irvine's Command Wolf 2

Organoids: the most mysterious of all the zoids on Zi. I promised in my last Spotlight! post that I would describe just what an organoid was. I shall now endeavor to fulfill that promise.

Organoids are six to seven foot tall zoids. Somewhat larger or taller than a big man, they are physically stronger than most men. They are dragon-type beings with three claws on each “hand” and foot. Most organoids have head frills or horns of some kind, though there is one organoid who lacks these. He therefore strikes Western viewers as Tyrannosaurus-type, not dragon-type.

Organoids are exclusive to the Zoids: Chaotic Century series. No subsequent series has them. In Chaotic Century, they are originally thought to be “nothing more than…childish legends.”

Nevertheless, there are those on Zi in Chaotic Century who do believe the legends and spend great time and effort searching for organoids. Why?

Organoids were/are the personal companions to the Ancient Zoidians, a humanoid species which once inhabited Zi and whose survivors are almost indistinguishable from humans. The primary purpose of an organoid, however, is to increase a larger zoid’s power; drawing out the larger creature’s potential for the pilot to utilize.

This is achieved by the organoid fusing with the larger zoid. For an idea of what this entails, check out the video below:

To fuse with a larger zoid, every organoid glows, then launches into the air, usually by means of boosters installed in their backs. The glow must be some form of “phasing,” a time when the organoid is briefly intangible, in order that it may pass through the armor of the pilot’s larger zoid.

Organoids stimulate the evolution of larger zoids when the creatures’ pilots reach a skill level those zoids cannot keep up with. Depending on the leap in skill level, the evolution can take a few days or a month. At the end of that time, the zoid bursts out of the organoid-induced cocoon (which is usually formed out of light), ready for battle and very capable of keeping up with the pilot’s new skill level.

Also, when the zoid the organoid is fused to is destroyed, the organoid will bail out, taking the pilot with him. Sometimes the pilot is found standing next to the organoid, almost totally unhurt. In times of great danger, however, the organoid opens up its own body and uses it as a temporary stasis pod to protect the pilot. Depending on the circumstances, this can be very draining for the organoid, which may have to rest up for a bit before it can become active again.

The organoid’s ability to strengthen larger zoids, giving them more power and drawing out their full potential, makes these small zoids highly sought after by governments, bandits, and others who have a vested interest in control of others. Van and his friends had no end of trouble due to the fact that Van had an organoid. Many wanted to steal the little zoid from him, not realizing that organoids are loyal to only one person, two at the most. And their loyalty must somehow be earned; stealing them is not enough. You have to gain their trust and respect.

“Okay, back up,” I hear some of you say, “I thought zoids were dumb mechanical animals. Now you’re telling me these organoids choose their owners?”

Yes, I am. Because unlike most zoids, organoids are not dumb. Their speech mainly consists of growls, gestures, snarls, or roars, but it is possible for humans to communicate with and understand an organoid. Therefore, they are more intelligent than regular zoids.

We are only introduced to four organoids in Chaotic Century. Each organoid has its own personality and effect on the events of the series. With that in mind, I will now list these four organoids for you, readers. First up:



Zeke is the first organoid we meet. Silver with fuchsia eyes, Zeke lacks the head frills and horns of later organoids. This makes him more reminiscent to Westerners of a Tyrannosaurus Rex than dragon-type, as the translators for Chaotic Century and doubtless the Japanese story tellers and voice actors referred to him. I believe that he is called dragon-type in the English translation of the series because he has three claws on each “hand” and foot. Japanese dragons have only three digits on all their claws; Japanese lore holds that when dragons migrate away from Japan, they gain more claws. To me, this is the reason Zeke is referred to as a dragon-type zoid in the series.

Of all the organoids in the series, Zeke is the friendliest and kindest. He and Van meet in the first episode, where Van discovers the organoid’s stasis pod and inadvertently opens it, releasing Zeke. Zeke is nervous upon meeting Van, and when the fourteen year old approaches him to make friends, Zeke smacks him upside the head with his tail.

Van does not lose his temper over the blow, however, shrugging it off and saying that Zeke “has to prove he can take care of himself.” This reaction convinces Zeke that Van is not a threat. But when a bandit enters the building, searching for Van, he spots Zeke in the process and things get dangerous. The bandit demands Van hand Zeke over to him but, armed only with a live electric cord, Van attacks the zoid the bandit is riding in to protect Zeke.

Zeke is quick to return the favor when Van is thrown against the wall. This is what kicks off the friendship between the two, and their bond remains strong throughout the series. Zeke obeys Van, who always refers to him as his “best friend.” Zeke is also the only organoid who is consistently shown to be male. Van never says “it” when talking about Zeke, always saying “he,” “him,” “his,” etc. Many other characters, before they get to know him, call Zeke an “it,” though he never takes obvious offense over this.

Zeke is also shown to be protective of Van, the first episode being proof positive of this. Zeke considers Van his best friend as much as Van thinks of him as such. The two talk often – though naturally, we in the audience only understand Van’s half of the conversation.

There is one other person Zeke will take orders from, his Ancient Zoidian partner Fiona. Fiona, physically the same age as Van, is discovered in a second stasis pod in the same place where Van finds Zeke. However, she has no memory of her past, only remembering the name “Fiona.”

For that reason, Van dubs her Fiona. Throughout the series, Fiona exerts almost as much, if not more, control over Zeke than Van does. Her and Zeke’s bond is almost like that of siblings. Organoids were the constant companions, as far as we know, for all Ancient Zoidians. It therefore makes sense that Fiona would be more able to influence Zeke in some situations than Van could.

Like Fiona, Zeke starts out as something of an innocent. He is easily distracted by almost anything. A running gag in the series is his interest in moths and butterflies (he has been shown chasing the latter around from time to time). He is also the only organoid revealed to have a sense of humor, laughing when Van or one of his friends gets into a scrape. He is also the only organoid I know of who is ticklish.

Zeke can also be embarrassed, though this last does not occur often. This mood is demonstrated by beads of sweat on his head, sheepish growls, and occasional ducks of the head, as if he wants to hide his face in mortification.

Unlike Fiona, at least for the majority of the series, Zeke is also a capable fighter. He will jump to her and Van’s defense on many occasions, and has been shown to be protective of those close to them. This is demonstrated most notably in the second episode of the series, when he helps rescue Van’s older sister, Maria.

Of the four organoids, Zeke is the least threatening and most friendly. In combat or during tense situations, he is a stoic member of the team. At other times, he is as playful and oblivious as a five year old and quite as capable with children as any of the other characters. In some cases, he is even better with children than other characters are.


Shadow the Organoid

Shadow is the second organoid seen in Zoids: Chaotic Century. Black, with blue eyes, four horns projecting from the back of his head, and with two large, bat-like wings in place of the traditional boosters, Shadow is the exact opposite of Zeke. This is because he belongs to Van’s archenemy Raven, who is the complete antithesis of Van and the Winter Soldier of zoid pilots.

Shadow never laughs, only growls with pleasure after taking down an opponent or causing some kind of damage. More so than Raven, he seems to enjoy the destruction he wreaks on others. This has been shown to disturb Raven, whose primary desire is simply to destroy zoids.

Like Raven, Shadow is a savage in a fight. Though he never clashes with Zeke in direct combat, I would say the odds of such a battle are not in Zeke’s favor. Shadow can take down armed adult men in seconds, and destroy zoids in less time than Raven. Also, Raven does not rely on Shadow much in a fight, whereas Van is initially very reliant on Zeke in a combat situation. Both boys have the raw potential to be great pilots, but Raven is the only one of the two who had official training before the series began.

Because of the difference in their skill levels, Shadow is more independent than Zeke. He usually sits on the sidelines to watch Raven battle; when Raven decides the organoid needs exercise or, when Van later proves to be more able to challenge Raven’s skill, then he calls on Shadow to fuse with his zoid.

Despite the fact that Raven appears to consider Shadow as nothing more than a tool, it is eventually revealed that their bond is deeper than even Raven suspects or knows. Shadow is quite protective of Raven, even willing to die for him. Though bloodthirsty and happy to cause carnage in battle, Shadow is quite loyal to Raven and sees him as more than a master or source of fun. He really does consider Raven his best friend, though it takes Raven much longer to return the favor.

As a way to explain this, I will tell you how Raven became Shadow’s master. Shadow was initially a wild organoid, wilder than Zeke or any other organoid in the series. It took something on the order of five men to bring him, struggling all the way, into the room where Raven was waiting.

In order to tame him, Raven tackled Shadow to the ground and wrestled with him, until the organoid realized he had met his match. After that, he stopped struggling and allowed Raven to rip his collar off. He followed Raven wherever the other went after that.

It may be this wildness which is responsible for Shadow’s love of battle and destruction. Like a tamed wolf, he is loyal to Raven and obedient to him. To all others he bares his teeth and snarls, or ignores them as inferiors. They are nothing, Raven is everything. Also, battle is a constant in the wild. Half-feral as he is, Shadow would respond to a fight or challenge to battle with the instincts of a wild animal. He is only docile to Raven; to all others, he is a wild and dangerous creature not to be approached on even a dare.

A fit companion for Raven, I have to say.



Ambient is a red organoid with green eyes. He has five horns projecting from the back of his head and a small, hook-shaped spike on the bottom of his chin. Also, like a Stegosaurus, he has four silver spikes on the end of his tail. These are flexible, and he will not hesitate to use them in a fight.

Ambient is partnered with the mysterious red-haired, green-eyed Hillz. Hillz’s mission is hidden for most of the second half of Chaotic Century, and so I intend to reveal as little about it as I possibly can.

Ambient is even more bloodthirsty than Shadow, and twice as dangerous. He is less wild and more controlled than the black organoid, however. Therefore only by his actions in combat do we understand him any better.

He seems, like his master Hillz, to hold all those around him as inferiors. He only meets Zeke directly once, when the latter bulldozes into Ambient to save Van, caught in combat with the deadly red organoid. But Ambient has traded angry growls with Shadow, and it is clear that the two have no love for each other.

The only thing Ambient desires is destruction. Anything that furthers those goals is quite acceptable. He does not seem to take pleasure and joy out of much, except for the “honor” of being “chosen” to – well, that is telling too much.

Ambient’s power is to tap directly into a zoid’s core and draw out its full potential instantly. This is the power of most organoids, apparently, but Ambient appears to be especially proficient in this area. He is not an organoid to be trifled with, nor should he be challenged by just anyone. He is too dangerous for that.


Specular the Organoid

The one organoid consistently called “it” throughout the latter half of Chaotic Century, the timbre of Specula’s growls suggest to me that this organoid is female. Taller and thinner than most organoids, Specula has blue armor and gold eyes. Specula has one horn projecting from the back of her head, with two silver horns on her cheeks which are reminiscent of an insect’s mouth pincers. Having seen her do battle with Shadow, a shorter organoid, I can say with all surety that Specula is not physically a match for many other organoids, though she can certainly overpower humans.

Specula’s mistress is Reese, a blue-haired, blue-eyed psychic with a special grudge against Fiona. Why? Well, you will have to watch the series to learn that!

Specula shares Reese’s psychic talents and can even increase them. Reese takes great pleasure in using her telepathic talents to manipulate others; a joy Specula seems to share. This earns Reese the moniker “the Blue Devil” in the series, and for a while she certainly lives up to this name!

Later, after Reese recovers from injuries sustained in battle, she believes Specula is dead until the organoid puts her head through a hole in the roof and gives an affectionate growl to say hello. So it appears that Specula does have some warmth in her, but that it is stored up and directed toward Reese alone.

Interestingly, Specula’s name is Latin. It means a variety of things, including “summit” and “bit of hope.” But you will have to watch the series to know why I mention this!

Specula, like all organoids and their chosen partners, is shown to be protective of Reese. When Reese needles Ambient, the organoid is not pleased and shows his anger by growling. Specula responds in kind, rumbling a warning in no little anger at the red organoid. Strong or not, she will defend Reese to the bitter end.

The Gojulas

Well, readers, this has been a rather long post! I will sign off for now but be back with another zoid soon enough, I assure you! Until then –

I guess I’ll catch ya 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!”