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Anime / Zoids: New Century

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Clockwise from bottom right: Bit Cloud, Leena Toros, Brad Hunter, and Jamie Hemeros. (At the top, Liger Zero on the left and Elephander on the right.)
"Area scanned! Battlefield set up! Ready... fight!"
— the Judge robots, repeatedly

Zoids: New Century, also known by the Japanese title Zoids: New Century/Zeronote , is the second anime in the Zoids franchise. Originally based on model kit toys, the anime series adds new characters and plot to the toy line, as well as acting as thirty minute toy commercials. Only vaguely related to its nominal predecessor Zoids: Chaotic Century, New Century avoids Chaotic Century's dramatic war setting in favor of a Tournament Arc flavored series. The heroes take part in zoid battles, a futuristic Mecha version of gladiator games where teams of zoids fight each other for prestige and cash prizes. These battles are overseen by the Zoid Battle Commission, which enforce the rules of the sport via satellite-deployed robot Judges that act as referees — whose decisions are backed by the Commission's Kill Sats when necessary. Naturally, this doesn't stop the heroes from fighting bandits and other criminals outside the Commission's jurisdiction, or prevent unscrupulous warriors from hijacking matches and forcing legitimate competitors into dangerous "unsanctioned battles".

The series revolves around the Blitz Team, a veteran but relatively low-ranking group of zoid warriors. During a match, they encounter Bit Cloud, a wandering junk dealer who specializes in salvaging parts from zoid battlefields. Bit turns out to be able to pilot the Blitz Team's Liger Zero, a zoid previously impossible to control, and Bit promptly joins the team. The series proceeds from there in grand Shōnen style, with the Blitz Team fighting battles, gaining rivals, learning about the Liger Zero's mysterious nature, and becoming embroiled in the Zoid Battle Commission's conflict with the shadowy Backdraft Group.

This series provides examples of:

  • Ace Custom: A few Zoids had unique designs compared to their mass produced counterparts, most notably Leena and Naomi's Gun Snipers. In the latter's case, it was just a red variant without any unique abilities aside from having a crackshot pilot. In the former Leena turned her Zoid into a walking arsenal of More Dakka and a Macross Missile Massacre all in one!
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Alpha Strike: Leena's Gun Sniper was built for this, capable of firing two gatling guns, two triple-barreled machine guns, four heavy beam guns, and four missile pods simultaneously.
  • Always Someone Better: The Lightning Team, notable for being the only team to defeat the Blitz Team during the series. Their second encounter goes decisively in the opposite direction, however.
  • Animal Motifs: Among the Blitz Team...
    • Bit has lions, through Liger Zero.
    • Brad has canids—his first zoid was a wolf and his second was a fox.
    • Leena starts out with a bison-based zoid, but later upgrades to a dinosaur-like one.
    • Both of Jamie's zoids have been based on pterosaurs.
  • Animation Bump: The animation in New Century is the best in the entire Zoids franchise, though a few battles stand out from the rest of the series, such as the Liger Zero vs. the Red Blade Liger, and the Liger Zero vs. the Berserk Fury.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Well side by side, anyway — Leon and Bit when they take on the Backdraft Group after their battle is interrupted.
  • Black Box: The Liger Zero has one, prompting a baffled reaction from the mechanics that discover it. It's implied to be the Organoid system that makes the Liger Zero an Ultimate X.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The main Blitz Team pilots, if you discount Jamie: Bit is the Blond, Brad is the Brunette and Leena is the (Pinkish) Redhead.
  • Blood Sport: They're robots, so there's no actual blood, but that's still basically what zoid battles are.
  • Bound and Gagged: Leena in Episode 4, when she is kidnapped by the Backdraft Group. The scene is removed in the English dub.
  • Broad Strokes: How New Century treats Chaotic Century. There's a Continuity Nod here and there, enough to imply that they're definitely in the same continuity, but other than that they're largely unconnected.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Dr. Toros. He's childish, naive, and a Cloud Cuckoolander, but he nevertheless managed to design three full sets of custom armor for the Liger Zero.
  • Butt-Monkey: The Tigers Team, who keep getting slapped down only to return for more punishment. Even the judge accidentally calls them "the Fuzzy Panda Team".
  • Calling Your Attacks: Most common with Bit and Liger Zero's various special attacks (most commonly Strike Laser Claw), but others use it as well. Brad usually calls Shadow Fox's Strike Laser Claw, and Leena is fond of announcing "Wild Weasel Unit total assault!" while she fires every weapon in her possession simultaneously.
  • Came Back Strong: An Ultimate X Zoid like Liger Zero or the Berserk Fury has this attribute, with Vega telling this the sleeping Fury.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Chainsaw Good: There was a (rather scary) episode where a gang tries to hack apart Leena's zoid to steal its custom parts with giant, zoid-mounted chainsaws.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Dr. Toros mentions at one point that the shield on the Hover Cargo could deflect the shot from a charged particle gun. Then the Berserk Fury shows up...
  • Close-Call Haircut: The mecha version occurs in the final battle. The Liger Zero surprises the Berserk Fury by leaping out of a Smoke Shield and immediately launching a Strike Laser Claw. The Berserk Fury manages to dodge, but just barely — the attack actually peels the armor plating off its head. Given that the Berserk Fury's cockpit is in its head (like most zoids), the fact that the attack didn't quite land is probably for the best.
  • Combat Commentator: Jamie usually fills this role as the team's tactical planner, but occasionally Dr. Toros or other bystanders chip in instead.
  • Combat Referee: The Judge and Dark Judge fill these roles, though the Dark Judge doesn't actually do much refereeing.
  • Continuity Nod: Several to Chaotic Century.
    • The Backdraft Group reuse the magnetic field poles seen in Chaotic Century once or twice.
    • Moonbay's Gustav appears in the background of episode 23, complete with the single white replacement armor panel and the booster rockets that make it visually unique by the end of Guardian Force.
    • In the final episode, the charged particle cannon used by the Backdraft Group to destroy the judge satellites is the tail of the Death Stinger, the major threat from the second half of Guardian Force. In addition, the final battle between the Liger Zero and the Berserk Fury takes place on top of the wreckage of the gravity cannon-equipped Ultrasaurus from Guardian Force's finale.
  • Cut Short: The anime was cut down from a planned 30+ episodes to 26. Which explain why the Tournament Arc was so rushed...
  • The Determinator: Harry Champ in his quest to woo Leena, oh so much!
  • Ejection Seat: Zoids come equipped with them for pilot safety. Mostly seen used with aerial zoids, as a mid-air combat system freeze is likely to result in a lethal crash. Other zoids rarely use them, as being in an armored cockpit of a disabled zoid is usually safer than being on foot in the middle of a zoid battle. However, they do have them, just in case — most notably seen when Vega in the Berserk Fury ejects after his zoid goes berserk and starts fighting without input from the cockpit.
  • Empathic Weapon: Liger Zero seems to be unique in that it can respond to Bit and operate autonomously, in addition to not having allowed anyone to pilot it until Bit arrived
  • Every Man Has His Price: The Blitz Team is regularly offered multiple times the normal prize money in order to persuade them to accept battle invitations. Harry Champ and Dr. Laon use it to get the Blitz Team in particular to accept challenges, while the Backdraft Group uses it as incentive for teams to fight them rather than run away when they take over a battle. Dr. Toros even uses it on his own team at least once, offering them extra pay to fight battles they normally wouldn't.
  • Facefault: Happens to the Tigers Team early in the Royal Cup. Newly renamed the Zaber Fangs, the Judge accidentally announces them as the Fuzzy Pandas Team, prompting their zoids to facefault... which freezes their combat systems. While the pilots scream bloody murder, the Judge quickly declares the Blitz Team the winners and retreats to his judge capsule.
  • Fanservice: The series doesn't indulge in it too heavily, but it has its moments. There are a number of scenes where the characters are shirtless, wearing towels, or in bikinis for no readily apparent reason besides this trope, not to mention the number of women wearing very form fitting battle uniforms and lingering shots of their well-developed busts throughout the series. Then there's Naomi, who embodies most of those at once.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Bit, the Hot-Blooded Spirited Competitor, is sanguine; Leena, the self-absorbed Tsundere Blood Knight, is choloric; Brad, a Consummate Professional mercenary who maintains that he's not really part of the team, is melancholic; and Jamie, the Nice Guy and team strategist who is constantly overshadowed by his more aggressive teammates, is phlegmatic.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In episode 11, when the Blitz Team is checking their pilot rankings at the zoid trials, all of the names that bump Bit off the leaderboard are famous guitarists.
  • Hover Skates:
    • Like every animated tyrannosaurid Zoid before and after this, the Berserk Fury can move like this, firing its various thrusters to cruise along just above the ground.
    • Jamie also uses a pair of boots that let him slide along the ground in one episode; it basically lets him go skiing on a slope that's grassy instead of snow-covered.
  • Improbable Hairstyle: What exactly are those huge rods floating above Leena's head? Other than a stand-in for Expressive Hair, anyway.
  • Insufferable Genius: Vega comes off this way at first, though as a Child Prodigy zoid warrior rather than being generally intelligent.
  • Irony: Leena's favored combat method is the Alpha Strike, which works well with her Dibison and its sixteen cannons. Her Mid-Season Upgrade, however, was a Gun Sniper — a zoid known for precision attacks more than volume of fire. Leena has hers modified with a ton of extra weapons, which she delights in firing all at once... except the build-in sniper rifle, which she's never shown using.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Of a sort. Most characters get at least two outfits: a "casual" one that's their normal day-to-day wear, and a "piloting" one that they use when going into battle. Main characters also get a "swimwear" outfit during the Beach Episode and Hot Springs Episode, and a "sleepwear" outfit seen when they get woken up in the middle of the night.
  • Lighter and Softer: Than Zoids: Chaotic Century. Rather than being a story dealing with war and having Zoids being used as weapons of death, this series was one big Tournament Arc where the stakes were much lower. Even the Backdraft Group's master plan is simply to supplant the Zoid Battle Commission to allow their lawless form of Blood Sport combat to be the norm.
  • Love at First Sight: Benjamin's odd love for that one "special Judge"; Hand Waved with some Techno Babble about their similar identification frequencies.
  • Manchild: Dr. Toros is alarmingly childish for the nominal leader of the Blitz Team. He loves playing with models of zoids (and sometimes prefers that to paying attention to actual matches), and has a tendency to judge the value of things based on how cool they are (the Blitz Team ended up with both the Liger Zero and its Mecha Expansion Packs because Toros thought they were awesome, rather than for practical reasons)
  • Master of All: In contrast to the Liger Zero's Multiform Balance, the Berserk Fury is this. It equips both a charged particle cannon and an energy shield for enormous offensive and defensive abilities, has extremely quick reaction times and the capability to ride on its thrusters and float above the ground like a high-speed Hover Tank. To round out its abilities (and avoid Crippling Overspecialization), it has a pair of "buster claws" (actually large, multi-purpose blades mounted over its shoulders) that provide rapid fire capability with their integrated beam cannons, plus melee firepower by spinning rapidly to provide a drill-like effect.
  • Mecha Expansion Pack: Most noticeable with the Liger Zero and its armor components, but other examples such as Harry's Dark Horn and Leena's Gun Sniper also exist — we just never see those zoids without their expansion packs.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: The Gun Sniper for Leena, the Raynos for Jamie, the Blade Liger for Leon, and the Shadow Fox for Brad. Notably, Brad, The Lancer, is the last to get an upgrade. Quite as notably, Jamie's was forced upon him.
  • More Dakka: Basically Leena's combat philosophy.
  • Multiform Balance: Liger Zero's various versions. The Zero armor is the Jack of All Stats, the Jager armor is a Fragile Speedster, the Panzer armor is a Mighty Glacier, and the Schneider armor is a Glass Cannon.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: The Backdraft Group. They seem to be primarily a gambling ring that caters to rich, powerful clients who enjoy "high stakes" battles with no safety rules — but then, how does overthrowing the Zoid Battle Commission fit in to that?
  • Nobody Can Die: Despite dealing with giant robot Blood Sports in mecha that equip Wave Motion Guns and are capable of Macross Missile Massacres, and dealing with certain villains that are actively disdainful of the usual rules for pilot safety, no one in the series is ever injured past the point of becoming a Bandage Mummy for a few scenes, much less actually killed. Hell, not even the zoids get that badly damaged — they are only about three examples of a zoid being damaged beyond repair in the entire series.
  • Pity the Kidnapper: When Leena is kidnapped by the Backdraft Group. Their video call ransom demand is repeatedly interrupted by Leena fighting with her captors, and she eventually escapes (thoroughly trashing their base in the process) on her own anyway. Polta, the one negotiating the call, puts them on hold to subdue her during it, and returns visibly worse for the wear and without any actual success.
  • Plank Gag: Combining this with a Coincidental Dodge enables Bit to unintentionally rescue Naomi Fluegel from two thugs by brutalizing them with a large pipe. He's confused as to why they are unconscious afterwards. Maybe.
    Naomi: (Is this guy totally zoned out or did he do all that on purpose?)
  • Privileged Rival: Harry Champ, one of Bit's rivals. To wit, Harry comes from a rich family while Bit was a junk dealer. And that's not mentioning that the Blitz Team already suffers from Perpetual Poverty...
  • Ramen Slurp: Dr. Laon and the Tigers Team both do this occasionally.
  • Rank Inflation: Teams in the Zoid Battle Commission are divided into "classes" to prevent mismatches; teams can only challenge other teams within their class. The classes are alphabetical ("B" class is higher than "C" class, with "A" class higher than that), except for the highest, "S" class — which cannot be earned by normal means, but is only available to winners of the prestigious Royal Cup tournament.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Harry is entirely incapable of noticing the fact that Leena has zero romantic interest in him, no matter how obvious it is to everyone else.
  • Spirited Competitor: While some pilots fight for glory, money, or power, about half the cast fights for the sheer love of zoid battles. Prominent examples include Bit, Leon, Vega, and Jack Cisco. This attitude is also what inspires Stoller and Pierce to defect from the Backdraft Group.
  • Split Personality: Jamie and his alter ego, the Wild Eagle.
  • Stock Footage:
    • Obvious in the Once per Episode Transformation Sequence, but it's also evident in many of the fights, especially against certain zoid types.
    • Taken even further with Leon's Blade Liger, with its movements and attacks being practically identical to Van's... even down to the camera angles.
  • Super Prototype: The Liger Zero and the Berserk Fury, as Ultimate X Zoids, both count. The Shadow Fox is a more typical example, a highly advanced unique machine built by Dr. Laon.
  • Tournament Arc: The entire series can be said to be one, but the Royal Cup at the end of the series definitely counts.
  • The Adventure Continues: The series ends with the Blitz Team having won the Royal Cup and presumably continuing on much as they have been for the entire series.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: "Strike Laser Claw", which generally plays whenever Bit is about to tear someone apart with the same attack, or the ultimate attack of whichever Mecha Expansion Pack he happens to be using at the time. Also, "Zero Schneider" and "Zero Jager"
  • To Be a Master: Though individual characters have individual goals, the various teams' collective goals boil down to "win more zoid battles".
  • "X" Makes Anything Cool: The extremely powerful zoids with organoid systems are referred to as "Ultimate X" zoids for no readily apparent reason besides this trope.