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Anime / Red Photon Zillion

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The White Knights. From the forefront to the background: Apple, J.J., Amy and Champ

Red Photon Zillion (赤い光弾ジリオン, Akai Kōdan Jirion, also known as just Zillion), is a Sci-Fi Anime that ran from April 12, 1987 to December 13, 1987 on Nippon Television in Japan and was produced by Tatsunoko Production and Sega. Thirty-one episodes were made, as well as an original video animation (OVA) movie titled Zillion: Burning Night. After the production of the anime, Tatsunoko Production and Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, the producer of Zillion, established Production I.G to obstruct the dispersing of the excellent staffs of Tatsunoko branch which had done actual production. Therefore, Zillion is considered to be Production I.Gís first work.

In the far future, humankind has spread to other planets and solar systems. It is the year 2387, and humankind's most successful off-world colony is the planet Maris, a world so Earth-like that many call it Earth II. But the Marisians are in danger. The colony is under siege by the Noza Empire, a savage race of warrior-cyborgs from a distant star system that intends to kill all humans in order to lay eggs and reproduce on the planet. The Noza are seemingly invincible and indestructible, and the Marisian Defense Forces are severely outclassed.

All hope seems lost when a trio of guns of immense power are found by the colonists and dubbed the "Zillion Weapon System" after the ancient civilization that created them and the substance "Zillium" that powers them, a mysterious substance which cannot be analyzed or reproduced, and is therefore irreplaceable. Regardless, the molecular disruption beam of the Zillion Gun is far more powerful than any weapon devised by man, and it is the only thing strong enough to destroy the Noza.

An elite fighting force called "the White Knights" is quickly created, with three young Marissian colonists: J.J., Champ and Apple, chosen and specially trained to use these weapons. They are the last hope for survival for the colonists.

Zillion spawned two video games for the Sega Master System, Zillion (an action game similar to Impossible Mission with a bit of Metroid) and Zillion II. It also left a legacy of becoming the first anime to inspire a video game system peripheral, namely the Sega Master Systemís Light Phaser.

Opa-Opa, of Fantasy Zone fame, was a minor recurring character on the show.

Despite the cult success of the video games, the Zillion anime received only a very brief release in the early 1990s in the United States. The first five episodes of the TV series, as well as the Burning Night OVA were dubbed and released on VHS by Carl Macekís Streamline Pictures line. This anime was featured in the music video for Michael Jackson and Janet Jacksonís collaboration "Scream."

In 1993, Eternity Comics published a western comic book adaptation, written by Tom Mason, drawn by Harrison Fong, and lettered by Tim Eldred.

In 2018, Funimation announced that they had obtained the license for the series and released the complete series in October.

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Red Photon Zillion provides examples from:

  • Action Girl: Apple.
  • Action-Hogging Opening: The opening featured gorgeous animation and fighting sequences at the tune of an epic song. The show's animation itself was more limited.
  • An Aesop: Right when the main characters were about to kill the Queen and destroy the Noza spawn, their guns -which had never failed before- stopped functioning. This is because Zillium is sentient and values life over all things. It will help humans to defend themselves from extinction, but in turn it will not drive another species to utter extinction.
  • Alien Invasion: The Noza Empire. They embarked on a campaign of planetary conquest to find other worlds suitable to their race's survival.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Noza army. They all are committed to the cause.
  • Angels Pose: In this picture.
  • Anime Theme Song: Pure Stone by Risa Yuki.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Zillium, the substance powering the main character's guns, of unknown origin, incredibly powerful and impossible to analyze. During the Grand Finale the protagonist trio discovers that, much like the Mazinpower, the Getter Rays, the Ide energy or the Spiral power-, it is sentient.
  • Badass Crew: The White Knights.
  • Beach Episode: Episode Ten.
  • Big Bad: Empress Admis rules the Noza Empire and wants to Kill All Humans and take over Planet Maris to allow her species to lay eggs and reproduce.
  • Cleavage Window: Apple's outfit sports a very prominent one. It would actually be a Navel-Deep Neckline if not for the tiny strap it uses as a collar.
  • Cool Bike: the White Knights use cool futuristic bikes to travel to other places.
  • Darker and Edgier: The Burning Night OVA. For starters One of the antagonists attempts to rape Apple, the plot revolves around a group of crazy whack cults, and the one-shot ends with Apple's ex-boyfriend committing suicide after giving J.J. a farewell speech to look after her.
  • Dub Name Change: In Spain, Zillion was renamed to Zillion, el Caballero Blanco (Zillion, the White Knight). J. J. was renamed Jaime.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: The villains unexpectedly got some good ones: The Dragon died standing up during his last duel with J.J.; and The Queen, after seeing that the eggs had been relocated to a safe place, and therefore the children would hatch and live on, cried in relief and let herself die at last, also standing up.
  • The '80s
  • '80s Hair: The hairstyles and wardrobe of the characters reflects that the series was made in the eighties, in spite of being set in the future.
  • Exty Years from Publication: The anime was made in the year 1987. The story begins, as one can guess, in the year 2387.
  • Grand Finale: The last episodes, when the Noza throw a brutal final attack, and the three heroes travel at space to carry the fight to the Noza base itself and end the war once for all.
  • The Gunslinger: The three main characters.
  • Made of Indestructium: Whatever the Noza are made from, it is completely impervious to anything but the Zillium.
  • Mama Bear: When you think about it, Queen Noza invaded other planets and attempted genocide to protect her children.
  • Mooks: The Noza army.
    • Mecha-Mooks: They are cybernetic lifeforms.
    • Faceless Goons: All of them wear a white mask covering their faces. Possible subversion, since the Big Bad also wears one.
  • Mecha Show
  • Metroidvania: The first game belonged to this sub-genre: the player explored a Noza base, searching new items to open up new areas and fighting enemies in the meantime.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The enemies are alien cyborgs.
  • Power Armor: They were used in the game Zillion II.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Baron Ricks. When he decided that he had met his arch-enemy, he survived extreme hardships because he refused to die unless it was in a fair duel against J. J.. Also, despite having fallen out of favor with his queen and being injured, he still looked chased after J.J. relentlessly for still another battle to which he seeks either victory or death.
  • Red Is Heroic: Other than the word being included in the freaking title, J. J.'s uniform includes a red shirt that he always wears.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: J. J. and Champ. J. J. is the black-haired, hot-blooded, impulsive and emotional red oni and Champ is the blond, calm, rational blue oni.
  • The Rival: Champ
  • Rule of Three: There are only three guns capable of destroing the Noza, and there are three main characters.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Out of the three main characters, Apple is the only girl. However...
  • Thematic Rogues Gallery: All enemies are alien cyborg.
  • Transforming Mecha: In the game Zillion II, there is a bike that morph into a Power Armor.
  • Troperiffic: The show is full with tropes were widespread in the eighties, but it is still funny and enjoyable.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: As cruel as the Big Bad can be, she was trying to save her race from extinction. She just thought that she had to wipe out the humans to guarantee its survival.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Burning Night is very heavily based on Streetsof Fire ,from the opening concert where the lead singer is kidnapped after the band's opening number to the climatic one on one duel between the lead and the villain who seeks to have the singer for their own.
  • Worthy Opponent: The Dragon considered J. J. his, and searched for all means a last fight with him.