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Manga / Pilot Candidate

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The Candidate for Goddess (女神候補生 Megami Kōhosei — lit. "Goddess Candidate/Cadet") is a manga by Yukiru Sugisaki that ran in the seinen magazine Comic Gum from 1997 until 2001, when it went on hiatus. It was later adapted into a 12-Episode Anime series mostly known in the United States for a very brief, one-time run on [adult swim] during the block's early years (when it aired on the weekends and had animated comedies on Sundays and action cartoons on Saturdays) under the title Pilot Candidate. There was a thirteenth episode OVA that never made it out of Japan until 2016, when Discotek Media rescued the anime's North American license.

The story takes place in the year 4084. It has been over one thousand years since the Crisis of Systems, which resulted in the destruction of four planetary systems, leaving only a single inhabitable planet named Zion. Mankind is forced to live in space colonies, since that one planet is constantly being invaded by alien life forms that have come to be known as the Giseisha ("犠牲者" lit. "Victim"). To stop the aliens and to allow people to land on Zion, mankind has developed the astronomical humanoid weapons, Ingrids, or Goddesses. At the G.O.A. (Goddess Operation Academy), young men are trained to pilot the Ingrids. Each of the pilots has a special power called EX; for example the ability to freeze time or to move at extreme speed.

If you're not aware of Sugisaki's particular claim to infamy, the series has been on hiatus since around the turn of the millennium. But as there are no reports of her passing away, it's not impossible for the series to continue, or even be rebooted.

Pilot Candidate contains examples of:

  • Marshmallow Hell: Kizna puts Zero through this in episode 05 while she's trying to find signs of EX on his hair.
  • Meaningful Name: Zero's real name, Rei. See My Hero, Zero below.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Teela wears a Stripperific one piece leotard, has ridiculously long blue hair, has a well-endowed bust, has long legs... She's quite the package.
  • My Hero, Zero: A variation in which his real name is Rei (零) but he goes by "Ze Ro" (ゼロ) for... some reason.
  • Necessary Drawback: Goddess pilots will eventually lose their ability to pilot them, and suffer a mental and physical breakdown in the process.
  • No Name Given: The mysterious girl that Zero encounters inside Eeva Leena in Curriculum 01. The context of her appearance and presence has implications, but is only speculation. The fact that no name was ever given for her, it's hard to even refer to her without needing to specify which episode or event she appears in.
    • There is also a man that Dr. Rivould is seen talking to in the same episode, whose name, if any, is not spoken and is only seen as a silhouette.
  • No Smoking: The Cartoon Network-edited version turned all the cigarettes into toothpicks.
  • Orphaned Series: Both the anime and manga end very abruptly.
    • It's probably more appropriate to say that the manga has been "eternally hiatused", rather than having ended. There is still a very slim chance that Sugisaki-san will take it back up again, as the manga was rather better than the anime. That said, it's been nearly 20 years now, so getting one's hopes up is not advisable.
  • Prolonged Prologue: The entire series feels like it's setting up for something greater, but it ends before the candidates make it to pilots and doesn't even properly introduce many characters, which is why a lot of people hated the anime (even when it wasn't edited to Toonami standards and shown on [adult swim]).
    • The manga also had similar issues, but at least it tried to explain some of the things happening, as well as giving the characters some depth in the process.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Zero and Hiead. Zero and Erts also had this when they partnered up.
  • Ship Tease: Zero gets this with at least THREE characters (and a potential fourth) throughout the series:
    • Erts, his senior partner prior to Erts' promotion to pilot.
    • Kizna, his repairer. Prominent in promotional artwork.
    • Teela, whom he vaguely has a connection to, but the series never got that far enough for them to "officially" meet each other. Also most prominent in promotional artwork, moreso than Kizna.
    • Hiead, whose antagonism brings to mind the likes of Vegeta, Katsuki Bakugō, or even Wolf O'Donnell, all of which have been interpreted as homoerotic by fans.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Due to the Gecko Ending, these questions will never be answered:
    • Why are the Victim attacking Zion?
    • Why does Teela have an interest in Zero beyond the fact that she seemingly saved his life a few years ago?
    • Who is the mysterious girl that Zero encountered inside Eeva Leena?
    • Who is the person that Dr. Rivould is seen talking to early on?
    • What is the connection between two specific people in Zero's dreams and their possible counterparts in the real world?note 
  • Shrinking Violet: Ikhny, which doesn't help when she's dealing with someone like Hiead.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Teela is the only female pilot. The other female characters are either repairers or hold supporting jobs. Justified as she possesses more than one EX, which is such a rarity that Zero and Hiead are the only known others.
  • Space Cadet Academy: The setting of Candidate for Goddess.
  • Spell My Name With An S: Since the series is full of made-up, difficult names (helLO, Philphleora), it's prone to this, and especially makes translation difficult for the ones with no official English name.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Hiead looks like he's about to rape Ikhny, but just tells her "your job is to support me" instead.
  • Stripperific: The boys' candidate uniforms. You know, the black ones they wear everyday, which seem to show a lot of skin. And given that this series has a Cast Full of Pretty Boys...
  • Tsundere: Philphleora, Rioroute's repairer. Possibly Kizna.
  • Unusual Ears: Kizna has fox ears. A flashback reveals that she once had human ears, but what the hell happened was never properly explained.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Zero's biggest obstacle to becoming a pilot is his phobia of zero gravity.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Hiead is The Lancer, but he is also a very cold, asocial guy who has no problems with threatening girls. Decidedly not the most heroic of characters, though he does seem to become nicer by the end, but who can say for sure, really?
    • In the manga, Hiead was The Rival who was also a vicious Blood Knight who took no qualms with beating down (and nearly killing) a fellow classmate during a training exercise. It got to the point to the point that he and Zero frequently clashed violently and the latter even grew to hate his guts and never tried to befriend him unlike in the anime.

Alternative Title(s): Candidate For Goddess