"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 the own organoid. The final conflict, when it occurs, takes place over eight full episodes without running into Ending Fatigue, saturating the series with nearly toxic levels of awesome.
- 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.
- Bad Export for You: While DVDs are available in English, they lack Japanese audio tracks.
- Bowdlerize: Several scenes were cut from the English dub.
- From 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.
- From Guardian Force: In the episode 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 is cut 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
- Dead Little Sister: Irvine had a little sister who died from a fever.
- Desert Punk: Though not in a completely desert setting, the characters spend a lot of time in arid wastelands.
- Embarrassing First Name: Raven's real name is Joyce Chen in the manga.
- 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 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.
- Five-Man Band:
- 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.
- 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, Berserk Fury.
- Parental Abandonment: Van's parents died, Raven's parents died, who knows what happened to Rudolph's and Fiona's parents.
- 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.
- Those Two Bad Guys: The Heaven and Hell Brothers, who show up once in Chaotic Century and again in Guardian Force.
- Time Skip: Between Chaotic Century and Guardian Force.
- 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. The Time Skip takes it Up to Eleven; by Guardian Force, he's one of the top zoid pilots in the world with formal military training including hand-to-hand combat.
- 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.
- A Boy and His X: Van counts double, as both "a boy and his zoid" and "a boy and his organoid".
- 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.
- Big Bad: Prozen.
- Blood Knight: Raven.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Fiona. She grows out of it in Guardian Force.
- The Dragon: Raven.
- Evil Albino: Prozen.
- Girl in a Box: Fiona's first appearance is half this, half People Jars.
- 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! And then Raven proceeds to demolish him, and only withdraws due to orders from above.
- 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.
- Rapunzel Hair: Prozen's hair goes down to his knees.
- 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.
- Abnormal Ammo: The gravity cannon, as may be imagined from the name, fires miniature gravitational fields at its target; it's later used to shoot Van, Zeke, and the Blade Liger at the True Deathsaurer.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Deathsaurer 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.
- Full Potential Upgrade: Turns out to be Zeke's unique organoid power; he can boost a zoid's capabilities above and beyond even what a normal organoid-enhanced zoid can do, allowing it to keep up with its pilot.
- 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.
- 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's All Grown Up: Fiona, compared to Chaotic Century.
- Shout-Out: 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.
- The Worf Barrage: Thomas' Megalomax attack suffers badly from this.
- 0% Approval Rating: Hiltz by the end of the series. The entire planet wants him dead, even Raven and Reese since he was just using them and tried to kill them.