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Series / Zone Fighter

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Ryusei Ningen Zone (Meteor Human Zone), better known in the United States as Zone Fighter, is a 1973 tokusatsu series from Toho, their second attempt at a superhero series after Warrior of Love Rainbowman. It is especially notable for crossing over with the Godzilla franchise.

The Sakimori family resembles a normal Japanese family, but they are in fact the alien Zone family who came to Earth after their home planet, Peaceland, was destroyed by the evil Garoga aliens and their kaiju weapons, the Terror Beasts. To stop the Garoga army's invasion on Earth, the Sakimori family's three children, Hikaru, the oldest son, Hotaru, the teenage sister, and Akira, the youngest brother, transform into the superheroes Zone Fighter, Zone Angel and Zone Junior, respectively. Zone Fighter can also turn into a giant hero to fight kaiju, but only for a few minutes. Zone Fighter must use several different powers to kill the Terror Beasts and stop the Garoga once and for all.

Zone Angel and Zone Junior will often help their brother recharge when he is running low on energy by shooting a beam into the capsule on the tip of his head crest or by using their aircraft called Smokey to fire a replacement capsule after the current one falls off. Zone Great, the grandpa, will sometimes help by pulling a lever which will send his energy into the sky and rain down on an attacking kaiju as a lighting bolt called the Thunder Bolt. The family friend Hideaki Obara is only human but will also lend a hand in stopping the Garoga. Godzilla (yes, you read correctly; it's that Godzilla) will also help from time to time, and the family even made a sort of "Godzilla Cave".

Zone Fighter's trademark power is his Meteor Missile Might in which wristbands filled with anti-kaiju missiles are fired. Unlike the armies', they actually kill monsters and are very accurate, to the point that they even rival Showa Mechagodzilla's Finger Missiles or Heisei Moguera's Spiral Grenade Missiles. He can also fire a Meteor Proton Beam which can blow up a kaiju with a single blast and is used on monsters too powerful to be killed by the Missile Might Attack; a stream of arrow shaped energy which can be either two little red stream, one large red stream, or two very short yellow ones; and a Subduing Mist which acts as a sort of drug to calm down a monster. Additionally, he can run at jet speed, fly, and make a Zone-Barrier to block projectiles or make a Hyper-Barrier to reflect projectiles back at the source.

The show sadly had a short run that failed to conclude the conflict between the Zone family and the Garoga due to the 1973 oil crisis and low ratings making it too expensive to produce. While the series has been criticized by many as a copycat of the Ultra Series, it has gained attention in later years for having Godzilla, Gigan, and King Ghidorah make guest appearances on the show. And as a 70s Showa era kids' Toku series, there are many silly moments in the show juxtaposed with surprisingly brutal Family-Unfriendly Violence. You haven't lived until you've seen Zone Fighter rip out a monster's eyes, cut off its arms, shoot off its head, and then fly its corpse into space just for cheating in ring toss. There's a lot of Monsters of the Week so you'll rarely see the same kaiju twice, especially given what happens to said monster.

Sc-Fi Japan has a comprehensive series guide here.

Zone Fighter provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Zone Angel, our female hero. While she can't turn gigantic to fight the Terror Beasts like her older brother, she can still kick the asses of the Garoga's soldiers.
  • Alien Invasion: Subverted by Zone Fighter and his family as they try to save the world from giant monsters called Terror Beasts. Played straight with the evil Garoga who not only want to destroy Earth but have destroyed Planet Peaceland, Zone's home world and making him and his family the last of their kind.
  • Attack Reflector: Zone Fighter can make a forcefield in the shape of a shield called the Hyper Barrier to reflect beams right back at an attacking monster.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Zone Fighter can grow to become a 62 meter, 55,000 ton warrior more powerful than Godzilla but only for a few minutes.
  • Badass Family: The whole Zone family has their moments, but it's most obvious with the kids.
  • Big Bad: Baron Garoga, the leader of the Garogas.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Zone Fighter obviously. Sometimes Zone Angel, Zone Junior, and Zone Great.
  • Breath Weapon: Several monsters in the show including Godzilla and King Ghidorah.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: Hikaru, Hotaru, and Akira achieve their super forms by shouting "Zone Fight Power!" For his giant form, Zone Fighter shouts "Zone Double Fight!"
  • Cool Plane: Smokey, a cool plane that hides itself in the clouds unless called upon by Zone Angel and Zone Junior, armed with a laser cannon and possessing the ability to replenish Zone Fighter's energy by launching either a recharge beam or a spare Zone Marker.
  • Crossover: Godzilla did show up on the show five times after all, and King Ghidorah twice. Gigan only appeared once, but that's understandable, given that said appearance ended with him dying.
  • Curbstomp Battle: Godzilla vs. Gigan round 2 (technically round 3 if counting Godzilla vs. Gigan and Godzilla vs. Megalon), King Ghidorah vs. Zone Fighter round 1.
  • Delayed Explosion: The whole point of the show, Zone's Meteor Missile Might will kill a kaiju who will then explode mere seconds after falling over, sometimes even before that. Some monsters even have their heads randomly pop off a few seconds later then suffer a Delayed Explosion.
  • The Dragon: Literally, with King Ghidorah.
  • Dueling Shows: Against Ultraman, which is of course the basis for one of the most popular franchises in its home country while Zone Fighter is generally remembered by the few who do as "that Ultraman ripoff with Godzilla as a recurring character".
  • Eye Beams: At least two monsters in the show have them.
  • Eye Scream: Zone Fighter rips out the eyes of a monster after karate-chopping him hard enough for them to pop out of their sockets.
  • Expy: Spyler is a blatant one of Ultraman Ace's Vakishim with a similar head design and color scheme, but has some elements of other Chojus such as Verokron in its design such as the spikes on its back.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Quite a few in this show. Only Ultraman Ace and the Showa Gamera movies could possibly put this series to shame.
  • Fighting a Shadow: Subverted in one episode; also notable as the monster spawned from Zone Fighter's shadow is the ONLY monster Zone Fighter could not kill in the series.
  • Foregone Conclusion: If this series is believed to be canon to the Showa Godzilla universe, then you know what will happen to King Ghidorah.
  • Friendship Moment: Zone Fighter has given quite a few of these to Godzilla in their fights together, particularly in the episodes featureing Zandolla and the Jellars.
  • Glass Cannon: Zone Fighter dishes out a lot of damage but he has a hard time taking it.
  • Hot-Blooded: The theme song. Sung by Masato Shimon, so it's gotta be.
  • Hour of Power: Like his contemporaries, Zone Fighter can only assume his giant form for a few minutes, but the trope is played with, because there are ways for him to replenish his energy. Nonetheless, he can't completely overcome the limitation, and he will be forced to demorph from either energy depletion, or taking too much of a beating.
  • Interquel: The show aired, and canonically takes place between, the events of Godzilla vs. Megalon and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. With this in mind, the show gets to explain why Gigan never appears in the Showa continuity afterwards.
  • Kaiju: The Terror Beasts and Godzilla himself. Arguably Zone Fighter as well.
  • Kid Hero: Zone Junior gets to fight Garoga thugs alongside his older siblings in the series' human-sized battles.
  • Killed Off for Real: The series is notable for featuring the Showa Gigan's canonical death.
  • Make My Monster Grow: Zone Fighter grows to giant size in mere second to fight giant monsters for a few minutes before needing to recharge.
  • Monster of the Week: The Terror Beasts are what all of Zone Fighter's foes are called. Even King Ghidorah and Gigan.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: King Ghidorah again.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: Most of the evil monsters in this show are just too strange to even begin to describe, even by Toho standards. Seriously, one of them had a friggin' drill for a head.
  • People in Rubber Suits: Well, duh.
  • Special Guest: Godzilla, King Ghidorah, and Gigan.
  • Spell My Name with an S: In Japan, Zone Fighter is known as Zone The Meteor Man or The Human Meteor Zone.
  • Toku
  • Ultraman Copy: As one of the more notable Follow the Leader attempts to emulate the Ultra Series' success, the titular hero is very much an Ultraman in everything but name. The series even drives the point more by having Expies of famous Ultra Series Kaiju fight the hero.