Tag Archives: Zoids

Spotlight: Zoids – The Genosaurer

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Throughout my Spotlight! posts on zoids, I have been hinting about some of the more powerful “mechanical combat units” which inhabit Zi. I did not want to spoil anything before I had covered the other wonderful and amazing zoids in the series. But by this point, I have almost run out of zoids which I can describe before I turn to these more powerful mechanical animals. The Redler, as I stated, is not an impressive zoid to me, and this signals trouble. If I consider the Gustav a more interesting subject than a zoid that makes up most of the Guylos Empire’s air force, I need to pull out a trump card or two before I lose focus entirely.

It is for this reason that I am going to describe today’s zoid: the Genosaurer.

Now, before we go any further, you pronounce it gene-o-saur-er. I have heard the zoids called everything from gene-o-saur-us-es to gen-o-saurs, and I will NOT accept these as legitimate pronunciations of the species. Please bear that in mind for future reference, readers.

The Genosaurer’s origins are integral to the plot of Zoids: Chaotic Century, and so I will not be saying anything about them here. If you want to know the details, watch the series. I am not giving you any more spoilers than I absolutely have to in this post.

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The Genosaurer is based on the Tyranosaurus Rex, despite having three claws on each “hand.” The reason it has three claws may be an homage to the Japanese dragon, or it may be due to the fact that the Genosaurer’s claws are attached to cables and can be fired out to grasp another zoid.

I do not know the exact reach of these cables, but I do know that they are strong. When the Genosaurer’s pilot “reels” these cables back into the Genosaurer’s arms, they can drag an enemy zoid, even if it is a Blade Liger, in toward the Genosaurer. Though short, the zoid’s arms are flexible enough that, in close quarters, a pilot can lash out with them and slice through the armor of an enemy zoid.

Unlike most zoids, the Genosaurer’s cockpit is not in its head, beneath those terrifying red eyes. It is in the zoid’s torso or abdomen; the position is relative to the angle of the camera shot, but that is the general area where the cockpit is situated. There is a reason for the cockpit’s position, which we will get to momentarily, readers.

The Genosaurer comes equipped with a double barrel pulse laser cannon on its back and a smaller one just above its nose. These lasers can either bring down an opposing zoid or they can do a fair amount of damage to it. The zoid’s teeth can also be used offensively. The Genosaurer’s frame is strong, allowing it to bend over and pick up a smaller zoid in its mouth. It is also strong enough to raise its head with said struggling zoid between its teeth and close its jaws on the part of the zoid it is holding in this manner. When the pilot does this, it is bye-bye time for an opponent.

The zoid is also strong enough to go toe-to-toe with an Iron Kong and match its physical power. And the Genosaurer’s tail is a weapon in its own right. Since the zoid is so maneuverable and flexible, its pilot can swing in close to an opposing zoid and slap it with the appendage to send it rolling across the battlefield. The Genosaurer is also capable of kicking a downed zoid across the combat zone. This means it can step on a downed zoid repeatedly and suffer no damage, though it will severely damage or destroy the enemy “mechanical combat unit.” Never underestimate those legs, readers.

Part of the reason for the zoid’s speed is that it has boosters in its heels and along the backs of its legs. This allows the zoid to make great time across long distances; with the right pilot, the Genosaurer could travel from Guygalos, the capitol of the Guylos Empire, into Republican territory in a few days or even a few hours. This means that it can outmaneuver most of the zoids it encounters on the battlefield. Only a Command Wolf, a Lightning Saix, or a Blade Liger can come close to or match the Genosaurer’s speed in close combat.

But the Genosaurer’s most fearsome weapon is lodged in its mouth. Before I describe this gun, readers, please view the videos included below:

When you see the Genosaurer lock down to the ground with its footlocks (those silver “fourth toes” at the back of each foot), the fins in the tail pop out, and the gun slides forward from the back of the zoid’s “throat” – get out of Dodge. The white light that coallesces in front of this gun’s barrel is a ball of charged particles, which can be fired out as a stream for a few seconds. This stream of charged particles will incinerate whatever and whoever is in its path. This is the reason why the cockpit is not in the zoid’s head; there is no room for it and the gun in such a limited space.

Only Van’s Blade Liger could deflect the charged particle stream after its shield had been modified, first with the Liger’s own extended blades, later with tweaks to the zoid’s shield itself. Other shields were no defense against this gun, as Van found out when his first zoid, the Shield Liger, was destroyed by a charged particle blast. Zoids without shields are utterly unable to defend themselves against this gun. Even air zoids like Redlers cannot outfly this deadly stream of “fire breath” that the Genosaurer can emit at will.

There is a catch, however, to using the charged particle cannon, one which I have already touched on. The charged particle cannon’s recoil is so great that the Genosaurer must use those “fourth toes,” known as footlocks, to anchor itself to the ground. Otherwise, the power of the blast would send the Gensaurer skidding backward, and it might throw off its aim as well.

The second weakness of the charged particle cannon is that the Genosaurer cannot turn its body when it fires this gun. The footlocks hold it in one position; try to turn the zoid, however slightly, while you are firing this cannon and you will break at least one of the Genosaurer’s ankles.

You may wonder how I know that this zoid is capable of so much, readers. The answer is only one word: Raven. Van’s archnemesis, Raven piloted two Genosaurers during Chaotic Century’s run. And as I have said elsewhere, Raven was the Winter Soldier of zoid pilots. If you thought he was scary in a Zaber Fang, then let me tell you that you have not seen him scary until he took the controls of his first Genosaurer.

And after that, he only got scarier.

Though the Genosaurer’s color scheme looks purple to us, the characters in Chaotic Century call it black. Raven’s first Genosaurer had the black/purple color scheme with lighter purple highlights. His second Genosaurer was darker and had red highlights in place of the purple ones. There is a reason for that, readers, but I will not tell you what it is just yet. I am saving that story for later.

Also in Chaotic Century, we saw Reese acquire and use a blue Genosaurer. While most of this zoid’s equipment was virtually the same as the weaponry used by Raven’s Genosaurer, Reese’s zoid had a more powerful laser attached to its nose in place of the pulse cannon on the noses of Raven’s Genosaurers. Her Genosaurer also had lighter blue, or perhaps indigo, highlights. Most of Reese’s attire and equipment was blue, so this made sense. In the case of her Genosaurer, however, the color gave the zoid an almost feminine cast.

But the black color scheme for this zoid is predominant, showing up again in New Century Zero when a team of unscrupulous pilots were given three Genosaurers by a member of the Backdraft Group. (For some reason, the translators had them pronounce the name gene-o-saur-us-es, which was very irritating.) The only other color variant for the Genosaurer was seen in an episode or two of Zoids: Fuzors. That Genosaurer had the regular black armor, but it also had yellow hightlights in place of the expected purple or red. I do not know if that qualifies as intimidating, exactly, but it will certainly get your attention, readers.

This is all that I have to say about the Genosaurer. I do not want to spoil too much about Zoids: Chaotic Century and the other series until I have to. And I will have to, soon enough. Aside from Zoids: Fuzors and Zoids: Genesis, I can describe almost all of the zoids we see in Chaotic Century and New Century Zero in a handful of future posts. Sadly, we are coming up on that ending sooner than I wanted. I will be able to stretch it out for a while, but eventually, there will not be anymore Spotlight! posts about a zoid here on Thoughts on the Edge of Forever, for the simple reason that I will have described every one which I know about.

This is the reason why I keep encouraging you to watch the TV series, readers. You cannot get all of your answers from me if you want to discover the wonderful world of Zi. I will have nothing more to tell you after a point, and you will have to either watch the series to get your zoids fix or forget that they even exist. I would prefer the former to the latter, but the choice is yours, not mine. I can only offer what I know to you and hope I whet your appetite for the adventure.

Until next time, I will “see you on the battlefield!”

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Zoids: Chaotic Century – Discovery

Yesterday, I posted an article describing the Japanese cartoon series Zoids: Chaotic Century. Today, I have decided that it is not enough simply to talk about this series I love so much. I have to show it to you as well, readers.

Below you will find the first six episodes of Chaotic Century. (Sorry for the poor quality of the film and sound – these were the only full episodes I could find!) They are in numerical order and they are in English. If you like what you see here, you can purchase the DVD Zoids: Chaotic Century – Discovery here at http://www.amazon.com. Discovery is the first DVD of the series, which you can acquire in its entirety on eleven discs.

I do not know how many copies of the DVDs are out there now, but they are worth your time and money. If you cannot or do not want to spend the money to purchase them (which I kind of already did), then look ye to the videos below and their compatriots on youtube! There is more than one way to wear a hat – or to pilot a zoid. 😉

Check out the videos at your earliest opportunity, readers! See you on the battlefield!

The Mithril Guardian

 

The Boy From Planet Zi

 

The Mysterious Fiona

 

Memory

 

The Protectors

 

Sleeper Trap

 

Jump! Zeke!

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….

Wonder

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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!

Spotlight: Zoids – The Redler

Image result for zoids redlerHere we are on Zi again, readers! Today’s subject is a zoid that makes up almost ninety percent of the Guylos Empire’s air force. This zoid is the Redler.

Based on the Japanese dragon, the Redler usually seats one pilot beneath the orange or green canopy in its head. But it can be modified as a two-seater and – in a pinch – three big guys can squeeze into the cockpit behind the pilot’s seat. I know because I saw three of Viola’s male friends cram themselves in to her Redler’s cockpit while she flew it. And yeah, it looked about as comfortable as it sounds.

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The Redler is dragon-type, as I stated. This is its official designation, as well as my understanding of the zoid from its appearance. Like the organoids in Chaotic Century, the Redler only has three toes on each foot or talon. Japanese dragons only have three claws on each foot; Chinese dragons have five digits and Korean dragons have four. Japanese lore holds that dragons from Japan grow extra claws when they leave the land of the rising sun. Chinese and Korean lore hold the opposite; they say their dragons lose claws when they go to Japan.

Anyway, the Redler is definitely based on the Japanese dragon. It is a lightweight zoid that usually comes equipped with bombs and missiles under is translucent wings, which extend for flight and can fold closed when the zoid lands. Some Redlers also come equipped with mini-machine guns under their “noses.”

The Redler’s only built-in weapon is its tail sword. This sword lifts up from the tail, where it fits into a hidden slot. The blade is sharp enough to do damage to Shield Liger armor. Diving at a land zoid from above and with momentum from its flight behind it, the Redler can also knock such a zoid to the ground. Along with the damage inflicted by the blade, this is usually bad news for the pilot of the ground zoid.

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Most Redlers have Imperial purple armor. But the Redlers belonging to the Empire’s elite Eisenback unit are black and faster than normal Redlers. And in The Emperor’s Holiday, Rudolph is shown to have an escort of black Redlers with modified heads. These rounded heads give the Redlers a more dragon like appearance and make them look more like Redlers used for bodyguards of the Emperor, I believe. There is no given explanation in the series for why they appear different from normal Redlers, so this is conjecture on my part.

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Viola’s Redler was the only one with a personalized color scheme, just like Moonbay’s Gustav was the only one that would stand out in a parking lot full of Gustavs. Why Viola’s Redler had orange and red armor is not stated; it could be that she acquired the Redler with this paint job, or she had the color changed to suit her outlaw lifestyle. Either way, hers was the most recognizable of the Redlers seen in Chaotic Century.

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Some Eisenback and Imperial Redlers came with mini-machine guns placed on the sides of their heads instead of under them. These were no more powerful than the other kind. A few others came equipped with two large, long-barreled guns on their backs. These packed more of a punch than the mini-machine guns, but they were also fixed in place. Since the Redler’s fuselage is not articulated, it cannot bend very much. This would mean that the zoid would have to swing around and hold position to fire these large cannons, and that means the Redler might not be able to avoid enemy fire or an airborne opponent’s attack. A cannon of the same type with a single barrel was also available for Redler pilots and would be a drawback in combat for the same reason.

In fact, as a general rule, Redlers were the cannon fodder of aerial combat in Zoids: Chaotic Century. Van and his friends went through them like Luke Skywalker and the gang would go through Stormtroopers. While more impressive than the Republic’s Pteras Striker, the Redler was no match for a good pilot on the ground and it definitely could not compete with a Storm Sworder (but then, very few zoids can).

As you can tell, readers, the Redler did not make much of an impression on me. It is too slow for my tastes and not durable enough to take a beating in combat. Neither is the Storm Sworder, of course, but what it lacks in armor it makes up for in sheer speed. The Redler is a good zoid but it is just not my cup of tea.

However, that does not mean it cannot be your cup of tea. Until next time, readers, I will “see you on the dance floor – oops, I mean battlefield!”

 

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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!

Book Review: The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop

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Did you ever dream about your toys coming to life, speaking to you, playing with you, and becoming your best friends, readers? I used to do that. I loved the characters in all the stories I read about or watched on TV. I wanted to romp with 101 Dalmatians come to life, to pilot a zoid across Zi’s burning deserts, to travel through the Stargate with SG-1. I even wanted to hang out with Lieutenant Harmon Rabb Jr. from JAG.

So this means that stories such as The Castle in the Attic were tailor made for me. If I could not convince my toys to come to life and talk to me, I could read about toys that did do this for their owners.

William Lawrence is a ten year old American boy. Since he was little, while his parents have been away at work he has been cared for by Mrs. Phillips. Mrs. Phillips is from England. She lost her husband in World War II, and aside from William and his parents her only family is her brother, who still lives in England.

Coming back from gym class one day, William learns that Mrs. Phillips is going back to England. She is homesick and wants to go back. This upsets William mightily. He loves the old woman like she was his own grandmother and he does not want her to leave.

So he takes the picture of her husband and her pearl pin and hides them, hoping that this will make her stay. But Mrs. Phillips knows him too well not to guess what he has done, and eventually William returns the items. In order to make their parting a little easier, Mrs. Phillips gives William a model castle which has been in her family for generations.

There is only one toy that goes with the fully equipped, articulated castle: a knight carrying a dagger, sword, and shield. Called the Silver Knight, William puts the toy and the box it came in on the castle courtyard.

Later, after he has been put to bed, William waits until everyone has gone off to sleep. Then he sneaks upstairs, opens the box, and takes out the Silver Knight.

But the Knight does not feel like a toy. He feels warm. And squishy. And he is moving!

William is so surprised that he drops the Knight in the castle courtyard. Once he is upright, the Silver Knight challenges William to a duel. Once the preliminary arguments are dispensed with, the two go to their separate beds. William is not quite sure that he has not dreamed the entire encounter, so he goes up to the attic again next morning to see if the Knight is still there and alive.

Turns out, he is.

The adventure continues on from here, readers, but I do not want to spoil more of the story. If you want to know what else happens in the book, you shall have to cross that drawbridge yourselves! I would not want to spoil your fun.

Also, be sure to look for the sequel, Battle for the Castle. It is not my favorite of the two, but it never hurts to read the sequel at least once.

See you around!

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Spotlight: Zoids – The Liger Zero

First of all, I would like to extend a humble thank you to those who have dropped by to check out the Zoids posts I have written. I started writing them because I love zoids and could find very little about them on WordPress. They are a niche series and market, and this means they are not particularly popular. But every time one of you clicks on a post about a zoid, I feel that I have connected, however briefly, with another fan of this amazing Japanese series.

Today’s zoid is not from Chaotic Century, my favorite series, but from two of the series which followed it. This zoid is the Liger Zero, the main or “hero” zoid in Zoids: New Century Zero and Zoids: Fuzors.

The Liger Zero is a cat-type zoid. With a body more streamlined than the Shield Liger’s or the Blade Liger’s, it does not immediately strike us as lion-type. Since ligers are the offspring of male lions and female tigers, it makes sense that all Ligers in the Zoids’ franchise would resemble lions. Other cat-style zoids in the stories are too different from lions for me to believe that good ol’ Liger here is anything but lion-type.

The Liger Zero’s cockpit is in his head, behind those glowing orange eyes. Liger Zero – or Liger for short, according to his pilots – is a very rare type of zoid. He is one of the few Ultimate X zoids on Zi. What is an Ultimate X? Well, according to New Century Zero, Ultimate Xs are zoids with built-in black boxes known as organoid systems. The writers chose this gimmick for their pilots instead of using an actual organoid running around by the pilot’s side to make them and their zoids more special.

This organoid system allows each Ultimate X to learn and adapt to an opponent’s moves. Once defeated, the zoid’s organoid system analyzes the battle to learn which maneuver brought it down. When an Ultimate X engages a previous foe who defeated it in a prior battle, it strikes in the opponent’s documented weak spot or retaliates with a more powerful move of its own.

This makes the Liger a very cool zoid, but it also means that the bar for the pilot he chooses does not have to be particularly high. Yes, I said the Liger Zero chooses his pilots. He has an organoid system built into his zoid core, and as my post on the organoids of Chaotic Century pointed out, organoids can choose their “owners.” The Liger works on the same principle; he is not dumb – as in mute – as most other zoids are.

New Century Zero, as I stated in the post Ready, Fight!, revolved around battles between prizefighters that were largely mediocre. Only a few characters in the show actually had the potential to become champion fighters, and they were held back by their lack of real competition. In my opinion, the pilot for the Liger Zero in this series was not one of these potential champions. Bit Cloud was funny and perceptive, but he did not have the fiber necessary to become a star pilot in the true sense of the term. Most of his success, I would say, is due entirely to the Liger’s ability to learn and make up counterattacks on his own.

In the course of New Century Zero, the Liger Zero’s white armor could be removed and three other armors put on in its place. The picture below gives you an idea of what these armors look like:

All four of these armors had specific uses. The first armor was the white “basic unit” plating. This had no weapons except for a double barrel gun set between the Liger’s forelegs. Though Bit added a sniper rifle to the Liger’s back while he was “wearing” this armor in the second episode of the series, the weapon was later removed. The Liger’s greatest asset while wearing the “basic unit” armor was his Strike Laser Claw attack. When Bit gave the word as the Liger charged forward, the zoid’s forepaws would begin to glow with bright yellow energy.

Once within striking range of another zoid, the Liger would leap and pull back one of his paws – left or right, it did not matter which. Both paws were charged with energy, but the Liger could only strike with one paw at a time. In this way he – and all other Ligers – resembles a real lion. Lions can only raise and strike with one forepaw at a time. They cannot use both in a lion-to-lion battle, perhaps not even while hunting. They can only strike with one forepaw.

The Strike Laser Claw, as I said in the post about the Shadow Fox, can easily cut through the “skin” of lightly armored zoids. Zoids with moderately thick armor can be taken down by this attack as well and, though it will not finish larger zoids with thick armor, the Strike Laser Claw attack will still do noticeable damage that can lower their combat ability. Bit ended several of his initial battles by using the Strike Laser Claw maneuver to finish off an opponent. This was the beginning of the Blitz Team’s winning streak.

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The next armor, also from New Century Zero, was the Jaeger armor. This armor was blue with white highlights and it was very aerodynamic. Light though it was, it could take a decent amount of damage in close quarters fighting, mostly because the zoids it was designed to fight were lightly armored as well.

The Jaeger armor’s primary purpose was to boost the Liger’s speed. This it achieved flawlessly, allowing the Liger to keep pace with Jack Cisco’s Lightning Saix. While Bit used the Jaeger armor on other opponents from time to time, its main purpose was to even the fight when the Blitz Team was scheduled to do battle with Cisco and his Lightning Team. The Jaeger armor did not come equipped with any weapons save the boosters on its back. When the Liger wore that armor, he was the weapon.

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The third armor for the Liger Zero was the Schneider armor. Orange with blue and white highlights, the Schneider armor came equipped with seven blue blades. Two were attached to the Liger’s sides and would fold up on his back, like a Blade Liger’s blades. Bit did not usually rely on these; his main attack when he put the Liger in the Schneider armor was the Buster Slash.

The Buster Slash was accomplished by the Liger extending five blue swords from his “mane.” These would flip forward to surround his head. One blade flipped down from the Liger’s forehead while four others would fold forward from his “cheeks.” These, like the blades on the Liger’s back, would charge with energy as the Liger ran toward his opponent. One hit with this maneuver was generally all Bit and the Liger needed to bring down a competitor.

The Schneider’s Buster Slash feature was a very powerful attack. Only a couple of zoids and their pilots were ever able to defeat it, and because of the Liger’s “black box,” their victories were short-lived. Bit and the Liger would eventually overcome a number of these defeats by using the “Seven Blade Attack.” Lowering the five forward blades, the Liger would then lower and extend the two swords on his back. These he would point forward from his sides, as a Blade Liger does when he is “shooting from the hip.”

This would allow the energy flowing through all seven blades to merge into a crackling, shield-like sphere of blue energy covering the front half of the Liger’s body. If the blades did not defeat an opponent, then the overwhelming energy produced by the seven charged swords would. Though Bit rarely used the Seven Blade Attack – and I doubt his true piloting ability – I have to admit this Attack was a beautiful thing to watch. It caused massive damage to opposing zoids and ended the battle with finality. The Schneider armor did not come equipped with any guns, just as the Jaeger did not. Aside from their built in weapons, the Liger could still use the Strike Laser Claw while “wearing” the Schneider or the Jaeger armor.

The fourth armor more than makes up for these armors’ lack of firepower, not to mention the “basic unit” armor’s small chest cannon. The fourth armor, known as the Panzer unit, was camouflage green and loaded down with guns. Lena must have envied Bit for this armor; he never had to reload it, so Dr. Torres was never pestered by anyone but his daughter for more ammunition and artillery. Bit was quite satisfied with what the Panzer already had.

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The Panzer armor came equipped with two Hybrid cannons, each of which had two muzzles. These were mounted along the Liger’s sides and reached from his shoulders almost to his hips. The recoil on these cannons was so great that the Liger would go skidding backward several hundred feet after firing them. Meanwhile, missiles of every stripe and size that could possibly be inserted within the armor lay in wait for Bit to fire off his “Mega Bomb” attack.

When Bit fired the “Mega Bomb,” these missiles streaked out of hidden compartments throughout the armor. Using this attack, the Liger could destroy multiple targets at once, or almost obliterate a single opponent in one fell swoop. For gun and ammunition enthusiasts, the Panzer was the cream of the Liger’s crop of alternate armors.

Despite the power of the Panzer armor, Bit rarely used it. Because it held such arsenal, the armor was very heavy. It severely limited the Liger’s mobility. Combine this with the immense power the armor had to draw from the Liger for it to function, and it meant that the Panzer armor would make the Liger’s systems overheat to a dangerous degree. If Bit did not jettison the armor a few minutes after using it, he could very well kill the Liger.

And so, after using the Panzer armor in combat, Bit would have to jettison the Liger’s fourth skin on the battlefield. Heat shimmers would rise from the Liger as he stretched and shook off the sense of confinement. This was no big deal if the Liger had just dealt the final blow to his challenger. But if he had not done this, then he and Bit would be left completely vulnerable to attack. Without his armors the Liger Zero is literally naked; stripped bare with no defenses except his Strike Laser Claw. And even that may not work without a set of armor on his chassis. So while the Panzer was a great asset, using it carried too many risks most of the time. This was Bit’s reason for holding the armor in reserve after refusing to use it for most of the series.

The next two alternate modes the Liger Zero possessed were used in the Zoids: Fuzors series. I did not particularly enjoy Fuzors for the simple reason that it involved more meaningless prize fights with characters that had little talent for actual combat. Plus, the series ended mid-way through here in the States, and so I never saw the show from beginning to end.

I was also somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of separate Zoids fusing together. It felt a little too much like they were taking a cue from Transformers, where two Autobots or Decepticons could combine into one fighter. The organoids fusing with a larger zoid never bothered me; maybe because they did not change the zoid’s outward appearance on most occasions. But actual zoids in Chaotic Century and New Century Zero had never combined into one “combat unit” previously. I cannot say precisely why, but the concept never did sit well with me.

This is why I do not remember much about the two alternate modes of the Liger Zero in Fuzors. The first alternate mode was the Liger Zero Phoenix. A zoid which had never been seen before and which was something of a legend, the Phoenix was a wild zoid who did not usually mingle with the tame or piloted zoids.

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Liger Zero Phoenix

Despite this, she eventually decided to partner with the Liger Zero and his pilot RD. That is correct, I said she. Throughout the series the Phoenix was referred to time and again as “she”, the first combat zoid ever to be declared female. The Liger Zero was always spoken of in the male sense, as were several other zoids in Chaotic Century. While the organoid Specula was called “it” a number of times in that series, I personally considered her to be female. The Phoenix’s gender was therefore not terribly surprising or upsetting for me.

I do not remember too much of the Liger Zero Phoenix’s capabilities in battle. I think the combined power of the two zoids allowed the Liger some limited flight capabilities and I believe it super-charged his Strike Laser Claw attack. There was also a lot of fire in the arena when RD had Liger Zero and the Phoenix combine into one; she was the bird of fire, after all. I think she may have added some flames to the results of the Strike Laser Claw attack.

This partnership did not end well. In one battle, RD got in over his head and the Phoenix was destroyed. At least, her zoid form was. You know the old legend about how the phoenix is reborn from the ashes, right? Well, after Phoenix’s death, RD went into an emotional tailspin. On his journey to find meaning in his life after getting his partner killed, he met a young, dark-skinned, dark-haired girl named Venus. She was a bright, chirpy little thing who was wise beyond her years and had feathers in her hair.

She also had the ability to commune with zoids, something RD discovered when he woke up to find her conversing one-sidedly with the Liger. (Liger’s growls do not translate into English, readers.) With Venus’ help, RD found a new Fuzor partner for the Liger, the Jet Falcon. The two combined into the Liger Zero Falcon and were a pretty impressive team – by Fuzors’ standards. I am not up to speed on their capabilities, but they were not to be sneezed at, from what I recall. And the Jet Falcon was referred to in the male sense, in case you were curious.

RD and Venus parted ways after this, but when they did he noticed that one of the feather’s the girl wore had fallen on the ground near his feet. Picking it up, RD was surprised to find it looked like a phoenix feather.

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Liger Zero Falcon

This is as much proof as we ever get that Venus was in fact a reborn Phoenix, but in human form. I cannot say the idea is terribly unappealing; it was one of the few things I liked about Fuzors. After all, the legends never say whether the phoenix is reborn as a phoenix, and the Japanese writers obviously decided to have some fun with this assumption on the part of viewers. It was a very innovative story device, in my opinion. Color me impressed.

Well, readers, this is all the info I have on the Liger Zero. If you want to know more, check out Zoids: New Century Zero and/or Zoids: Fuzors. If you would rather skip watching the series, try the Wikipedia files on them instead. Neither of these series were my favorite show, and I must admit that I rank Fuzors even lower than New Century. But this is not the fault of the zoids, and they are always worth watching, even when their pilots are not.

So, in the spirit of the Zoidian desert, readers, I will “see you on the battlefield!”