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Anime / Zoids: Chaotic Century

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Left to right, Irvine, Zeke, Van, Fiona, and Moonbay. (Top right: Raven and Shadow)
"See you on the battlefield!"

Zoids: Chaotic Century is the first of the several Zoids anime, adapted from the manga of the same name. Known simply as Zoids in Japan, it was marketed as Zoids: Chaotic Century in English-language markets. Western fans occasionally use Chaotic Century to refer to the first half of the series, and Guardian Force to refer to the post-Time Skip second half, though this distinction was never officially made in Japan. It was played on Cartoon Network in North America, but moved to an early-morning timeslot before it finished airing, and eventually canceled entirely without ever showing the last four episodes of the series, which were delayed due to production issues. The Final Four were eventually aired — on Toonami no less — as a gift to the fans.

Chaotic Century's story follows Van Flyheight, a teenager who spends much of his time Hover Boarding around the local desert ruins for kicks. One day, he's pursued by a local bandit and forced to flee into said ruins, where he discovers a set of People Jars in a previously inaccessible part of the structure. In one, he finds a small and unusually intelligent dinosaur-like Zoid; from another emerges a young girl, who proves to have no memory of her past but experiences occasional visions of a mysterious nature. Van promptly names the girl Fiona (which she called herself when initially asked her name, but seemed to forget as soon as she said it) and the Zoid Zeke (after his father's Command Wolf). Zeke proves to have mysterious powers of his own when he instantly revives an old, abandoned Shield Liger, allowing Van to fight off the bandit and return home.

Between being pursued by bandits after Zeke, a valuable "Organoid", and Fiona's visions of a "Zoid Eve", Van Jumps At The Call and decides to go adventuring and see if he can find any answers about his new friends. Along the way he meets tough guy Irvine and mechanically-inclined transporter Moonbay, gets involved in the ongoing war between the Helic Republic and Guylos Empire, and gains a rival in Raven, a warrior for the Empire with an Organoid of his own. Before things can be put to rest, Van must learn about Fiona's past and how it relates to Zeke and the Sealed Evil in a Can that the Empire's Treacherous Advisor, Gunter Prozen, is trying to harness.

Guardian Force picks up after a Time Skip of several years, during which the Empire and the Republic have worked together to form an elite military group: the eponymous Guardian Force, dedicated to ending conflicts before they can become full-blown wars. Van, naturally, has joined on behalf of the Helic Republic; his Imperial counterpart is Thomas Schubaltz, who becomes his partner. The two of them, eventually joined by their friends from Chaotic Century, quickly uncover a plot that threatens the entire world. This time, the mystery revolves around Zoid Eve, and the emergence of several new villains, each with their own Organoid.

This series provides examples of:

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  • Adapted Out: The original Battle Story featured a third nation, the Zenebas Empire. In the anime, the Guylos Empire shares many of Zenebas' traits, making the anime version of Guylos both a Composite Character and Adaptational Nice Guy. Ironically, in Battle Story the Guylos Empire eventually conquered the Zenebas Empire and absorbed it into their own nation.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Raven's reaction after the Death Stinger kills his Organoid Shadow, revealing that, out of all the Zoids Raven utilized, Shadow was the only one he actually cared about.
    • Also, the episode "The Distant Stars" that gives exposition on Raven's backstory.
  • Alternate Continuity: Chaotic Century is an adaptation of the Battle Story featured on the original Zoids model kits, but it is not a 1:1 adaptation, and it takes several liberties with Battle Story's canon.
  • A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away...: Raven's dad makes a comment that humans arrived on planet Zi a long time ago, presumably after the Ancient Zoidians were wiped out.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Death Saurer, which unlike the other Zoids, is not depicted at the size the toyline described it as, and is instead depicted as Godzilla sized.
  • Bowdlerize: For whatever reason, the edited English dub featured some mild swearing, such as uses of "damn" and "hell", which were broadcast completely intact on Cartoon Network under a TV-Y7-FV. This leads one to believe the show may have been dubbed uncut, but was edited down to broadcast standards, and the uncut version never saw the light of day. However, several scenes were cut completely:
    • In Chaotic Century, Moonbay tells Fiona to answer the door when they're taking a shower, she gets out without bothering to put clothes on and opens the door to see Van. He runs away blushing with her chasing him.
    • During the episode in Guardian Force where Van reunites with Irvine, he's sneaking aboard the Whale King but is caught by a group of guys drinking; also the captain grabs Fiona and points a gun to her head.
    • When Van and Fiona go to Lumiere Island, Reese shows Fiona a vision where zombies ambush her, Van comes to her rescue but is shot and lies in a pool of blood. Fiona tries to wake him but then she sees her blood-covered hands and screams.
    • Reese's flashback to her childhood where Nichalo is shot while trying to protect her.
    • In the beginning of the season when Van's village is attacked, the defeated pilot meets up with Hiltz and he's thrown off a cliff.
  • Camp Gay: Stinger. He even pilots pink Zoids.
  • Combining Mecha: Zoids and Organoids.
  • Cool Big Sis: Moonbay.
  • Cool Old Guy: Dr. D
  • Desert Punk: Though not in a completely desert setting, the characters spend a lot of time in arid wastelands.
  • Dramatic Irony: After Raven's parents were killed, he was picked up by Dan Flyheight (Van's dad), who planned to take him home and hoped that the two would become good friends. Sadly Van's dad was killed shortly and Raven would be picked up by Prozen. The two would become bitter rivals for the remainder of the series, never aware of how close they were to becoming adoptive brothers.
  • Dull Surprise: The voice acting in the English dub for Rudolph and Herman is often completely lacking in emotional range.
  • The Empire: The Guylos Empire subverts the usual Empire = Evil trend in the anime, with most characters from that side being shown as sympathetically as their Republic counterparts.
  • Evil Chancellor: Prozen is a defined example.
  • Evil Counterpart: Raven to Van. By the same token, Shadow to Zeke.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Irvine has one of these; the eye behind it is fine, but it gives him useful things like telescopic or infrared sight.
  • Facial Markings: Nearly everyone has them.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Empire is shown as a mix between Germany and the Byzantines. The Helic Republic, meanwhile, more resembles the United States.
  • The Federation: The Helic Republic.
  • Full-Potential Upgrade: The Organoids allow their owners to unlock this in their Zoids, though in slightly differing ways. Zeke can link Zoids with their pilots allowing them to work in complete synchronisation, Shadow can kick a Zoid's power output into overdrive for a limited time, Specula can optimise and grow a Zoid's body, and Ambient can mutate or even fuse Zoid cores.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Dan Flyheight's death while protecting a group of Helic scientists along with Raven and Shadow from Prozen's forces.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Major battles boil down to either both sides lining up opposite each other and firing randomly until one side runs away, or hordes of weak units swarming a single overpowering opponent and being annihilated for their trouble.
  • Hot-Blooded: Van.
  • Hover Board: Van owns one.
  • Humans Are White: There are no people of color on Planet Zi (or at least it's hard to tell if they are white or of Asian descent or both due to Mukokuseki). The only brown-skinned character is Moonbay. This is especially jarring since Raven's father said people from Earth migrated to Zi.
  • Jumped at the Call: Van is more than eager to get into the cockpit of a Zoid and embark on an adventure.
  • Large Ham: Dr. D
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. D counts as a heroic version of this.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Death Saurer, Death Stinger, Geno Saurer, Geno Breaker.
  • Nemesis Weapon: Organiods end up being this. At the outset Van has an white organoid named Zeke who would power up his abilities, and by the end of Chaotic Century he's picked a Rival in the form of Raven, who has his own black organoid named Shadow. In Guardian Force, two more antagonists with two more organoids (one red, one blue) show up as well.
  • Not Zilla: Imagine Godzilla as a Zoid and you've got the Death Saurer (both of them).
  • Parental Abandonment: Van's parents died, Raven's parents died, who knows what happened to Rudolph's and Fiona's parents.
  • Protagonist Power-Up Privileges: Van was the only heroic character to ever fuse with an Organoid, giving him unfair stat boosts from day 1. He could only be matched by Raven who also had an Organoid.
    • By time of season 2 he had made a point of training without it so he could be legitimately powerful, but still fused to face other Organoid owners.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Van and Raven
  • The Rival: Raven is this to Van.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Death Saurer and Death Stinger.
  • Ship Tease: Oh, so much with Van and Fiona. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite go anywhere.
  • Shooting Superman: Most frequently done with the Death Saurer.
  • Sissy Villain: Prozen comes across as one of these; for starters, the man wears high heeled boots.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: The first Death Saurer is not as powerful as the Death Stinger, and the Death Stinger is not as powerful as the true Death Saurer.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Van Flyheight has been translated as Ban/Bang Freiheit/Fleiheit, and the Schubaltz siblings' last name was Schwarz in Japanese.
  • The Stoic: Karl Schubaltz.
  • Super Robot: The Organoids and any Zoid they're merged with.
  • Time Skip: Between Chaotic Century and Guardian Force.
  • Title Theme Tune: The theme song for the English dub consists mainly of someone yelling "ZOIDS!" every few seconds.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Over the course of Chaotic Century, Van goes from a lucky kid with an Organoid to a capable pilot in his own right. By Guardian Force, he's one of the top Zoid pilots in the world with formal military training including hand-to-hand combat.
  • Villain Decay: Prozen went from being the Big Bad to becoming the enigmatic Dark Kaiser to being nothing more than a pawn in Hiltz's plan.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The Charged Particle Cannon, which is only mounted on the most powerful Zoids: the Geno Saurer (and its upgrade, the Geno Breaker), the Death Saurer, and the Death Stinger.
  • Worthy Opponent: Raven is this to Van.
  • Wrench Wench: Moonbay.

    Chaotic Century 
  • Ace Custom: Irvine's Command Wolf and everything piloted by Karl Shubaltz.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Prozen wanted to use the Death Saurer to take over the world.
  • Androcles' Lion: Van befriends a wounded Gordos guarding an old ruin fortress from a previous war at one point and then later in the episode blocks a shot from Irvine.
  • Big Bad: Prozen.
  • Blood Knight: Raven.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Fiona. She grows out of it in Guardian Force.
  • The Dragon: Raven, to Prozen. Mostly in the sense that he's his number two, not that he really cares about Prozen's motivations. Prozen just gives Raven new toys to use for his murder sprees.
  • Falling into the Cockpit: This happens to Van when Zeke brings him to a broken-down Shield Liger and then proceeds to restore it. Van doesn't mind in the least.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Rosso and Viola, towards the end.
  • Hope Spot: In Raven's introductory episode, he goes on a rampage, destroying countless Zoids. Cue Van's appearance in the Shield Liger! Then Raven proceeds to demolish him, and only withdraws due to orders from above.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Prozen. The series starts out mostly lighthearted with the only antagonist to appear aren't hugely dangerous and are reasonably likable, and the war between the Empire and the Republic is mostly just referenced in the background. Then Prozen shows up, and the war takes center stage and protagonists are into events related to it regardless of whether or not they want to.
  • Kid Hero: Van. He's fourteen in the Japanese version, but the dub changes it to seventeen.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Van's Shield Liger being evolved into the Blade Liger. Raven switching out his Zaber Fang for a Geno Saurer also counts.
  • Mysterious Waif: Fiona.
  • Oracular Urchin: Fiona displays some traits of this.
  • The Power of Love: A key component in the regeneration of Van's Shield Liger into a Blade Liger and its subsequent kicking of Raven's ass in Chaotic Century.
  • The Quest: Van and Fiona set out to find Zoid Eve and pick up some friends along the way. However they get sidetracked all the time and by the time Guardian Force starts, they pretty much put off finding it for later.
  • Regent for Life: Prozen is all over this.
  • Sleep Cute: Van and Fiona do this in Moonbay's Gustav.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Van just can't get enough of those papayas.
  • Twinkle Smile: Parodied in the episode "Moonbay's Waltz". Nearly every time McMahon finishes speaking, he smiles and his teeth sparkle. Fiona seems to be the only one that notices and asks if it's normal for teeth to do that.
  • Witch with a Capital "B": In the English dub episode 28, Van calls Irvine a "pain in the chassis".

    Guardian Force 
  • Abnormal Ammo: The planetelicite shells used by the Ultrasaurus's Gravity Cannon. The shells are so dense and uniquely designed that when fired, they collapse in on themselves and create a localized, miniature black hole; it's later used to shoot Van and the Blade Liger at the True Death Saurer.
  • Aborted Arc: Guardian Force left a lot of subplots unresolved and hanging (some of which were leftovers from Chaotic Century).
  • Alpha Strike: Thomas's Megalomax is an example; he fires all seventeen of his Dibison's cannons simultaneously. Which somehow combine into a Wave-Motion Gun blast.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Geno Breaker is the single most deadly non-legendary Zoid in the series, and is tailored specifically to fit Raven and Shadow working in concert. However, it can only stay merged with Shadow (and thus at peak power) for 180 seconds, meaning that if anybody besides Raven piloted it, they'd be screwed.
  • Big Bad: Hiltz.
  • Bokukko: Reese likely qualifies, between her early outfit (the later catsuit, less so) and using "boku" in the Japanese version.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Karl falls under this along with an entire base controlled by a Mind-Control Device in episode 7.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Thomas shouts Megalo-Max!! every time he uses it.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Remember The Valley of The Rare-Hertz in Chaotic Century? Guess what? In Guardian Force, it's where Zoid Eve is located.
  • Clip Show: The episode “G-File”.
  • The Dreaded: Raven and the Geno Breaker, at least until Hiltz and the Death Stinger begin their rampage.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Ultimately why Raven, The Rival and effectively The Dragon of the bad guys, and Reese, the Evil Genius, both abandon Hiltz. Though, to be fair, Hiltz pulling a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness on them both didn't give them much reason to stick around.
  • Fastball Special: Van's final attack on the True Death Saurer is somewhere between this and Catapult to Glory.
  • For the Evulz: This was apparently why Hiltz wanted to resurrect the Death Stinger and Death Saurer.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Raven pretty much goes through one after Shadow temporarily dies, and Reese goes through one shortly after as well to the point where they both fight against Hiltz and the Death Saurer at Zoid Eve.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Big subversion! The final few episodes reveal Prozen to be the Dark Kaiser who was ordering the villains around only for Hiltz to ascend him for the finale.
  • Hover Skates: The Geno Saurer and Geno Breaker can move around this way.
  • Mecha Expansion Pack: The Attack Booster of the Blade Liger. Amusingly first tested on Moonbay's Gustav.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Teased with the Blade Liger, but ends up being Time to Unlock More True Potential instead of a real Mid-Season Upgrade. Raven gets another, from his Geno Saurer to a Geno Breaker. Irvine moves from his Command Wolf to a Lightning Saix.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Used almost word-for-word between Raven and Van when the former saves the latter from a Macross Missile Massacre late in the series.
  • Running Gag: Moonbay referring to her Ultrasaurus, and Irvine correcting her.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Both Van and Fiona are notably older and taller than in Chaotic Century, with Van being more muscular and Fiona filling out.
  • Ship Sinking: The Thomas/Fiona ship was sunk in episode 51, after Van went missing after being defeated by Raven. Irvine told Thomas that Fiona loved Van, and after this point, Thomas stopped flirting with Fiona.
  • Shout-Out / Suspiciously Similar Song: To Jurassic Park (almost to the point of plagiarism when both themes climax); just listen to the Ultrasaurus' theme and then the Jurassic Park theme. Also consider how similar the scenes with the Ultrasaurus first moving and Dr. Grant seeing the living Brachiosaur/Brontasaur/whatever are, especially since the aforementioned themes start playing in both instances.
  • Talk to the Fist: From Raven to Hiltz during the final battle. Doesn't work out so well for the former, since the Death Saurer just grabs Ravens Geno Breaker, and blocks the Charged Particle Shot with the shield encased hand.
  • The Worf Barrage: Thomas' Megalomax attack suffers badly from this.
  • The Worf Effect: The Guardian Force spends a great deal of time and effort trying to defeat Raven's Geno Breaker, only for Hiltz to show up with Death Stinger, something that can even inflict a Curb-Stomp Battle on the Geno Breaker.