Zoids Wild Zero – It Has Begun
It looks like Japan’s artists may have beaten this author to the punch on #ReturnoftheZoids. For the twentieth anniversary of the franchise, two new Zoids series were released in 2018 and 2019. The first of these, titled Zoids Wild, did not seem to really fit the mold of previous series. It tried, but rather than follow the pattern of a mecha sport and/or war story, it pursued a different path entirely.
Since Zoids has always been a franchise that focused on the ramifications of war or the sport of regulated combat, this new portrayal of the living machines did not sit well with this author. She was not particularly certain she wanted to try the sequel series, Zoids Wild ZERO, either. But the articles heralding its release listed some interesting facts about those working behind the scenes for the show.
First came the announcement that several of the artists behind Zoids: Chaotic Century* and Zoids: New Century Zero* had returned to work on Zoids Wild ZERO. Then we were told that the lead characters were going to be voiced by huge Zoids fans. And then, best of all, it was revealed that the original Japanese voice actor for Van Flyheight would have a role in the new series.
Most of this news was enough to make me tentatively excited. But after three disappointing prior installments, I intended to keep Zoids Wild ZERO at arm’s length. Then the trailers and footage from the series came out, and my attention was irrevocably caught.
Zoids Wild ZERO takes place on Earth and sets the stage for all the other series, including Wild. The story focuses on the struggle between an evil empire and a republic (I’m no longer sure of their respective names at the moment), just as the original Battle Story and Chaotic Century did. Apparently this Empire has begun outfitting zoids with special visors that render the biomechs unable to act outside of the pilot’s direction. These visors suppress the will of most zoids, though some can at least make their displeasure known, as the Gatling Fox does in the video below:
Gatling Fox Instinct – 4K
In contrast, the Republic allows their zoids to act on their own. Rather than force the mechanical animals to obey their will, they work on forging bonds with their bionical companions. The main character, Leo Conrad, actually has a strong enough connection to his Beast Liger that it will come running when he whistles for it. So in addition to the many callbacks to earlier series, Wild Zero seems intent on emphasizing that zoids are not machines but living creatures with a certain amount of sentience.
Personally, I like the classic design for the zoids better than those seen in ZERO, which are smaller than the ones we previously saw onscreen. That’s not to say the models in this series are bad – the Gatling Fox and Beast Liger are two of the best looking new zoids I have seen in a long, long time. And the Genospino, while not on the level of the Death Saurer, certainly makes an impression as the main villainous biomech of the show.
On the whole, though I prefer Chaotic Century, Zoids Wild ZERO looks promising enough to make watching it worthwhile. It also presents an opportunity to pitch #ReturnoftheZoids once again. Although loyal fans such as Kohdok have done their best to keep the franchise in public memory, it remains difficult to discuss the series because Zoids flew under the radar of so many anime/mecha fans. Zoids Wild ZERO puts the spotlight back on this beloved anime…
…And that means the potential to write mecha tales along similar lines just received a huge boost. 😉
Zoids Wild Zero – Worth the Fight
If you want a taste of what this author’s mecha fiction will feature, pick up Unbound III: Goodbye, Earth* from Amazon today. Zoids has a cameo in the story, and as I have said elsewhere, the franchise has influenced several of my other works. If you like mechanical beasts fighting on the field, then you will want to keep tabs on me here at Song or on Facebook.
Let the Return of the Zoids begin!
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