Zoids: New Century Zero

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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/Zero[1], 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 prequel 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 Blood Sport 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 Shonen 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.

Tropes used in Zoids: New Century Zero include:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Blood Sport: They're robots, so there's no actual blood, but that's still basically what zoid battles are.
  • Broad Strokes: How New Century treats Chaotic Century. There's a Mythology Gag here and there, enough to imply that they're definitely in the same continuity, but other than that they're largely unconnected.
  • Butt Monkey: The Tigers Team, who keep getting slapped down only to return for more punishment.
  • 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.
  • 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: The Backdraft Group re-use the magnetic field poles seen in Chaotic Century once or twice.
  • The Determinator: Harry Champ in his quest to woo Leena, oh so much!
  • 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.
  • Face Fault: 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.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Love At First Sight: Benjamin's odd love for that one "special Judge"; Hand Waved with some Techno Babble about their similar identification frequencies.
  • 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.
  • Man Child: The Doc is alarmingly childish for the nominal leader of the 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 the Doc thought they were awesome, rather than for practical reasons.)
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: The Gun Sniper for Leena, the Raynos for Jamie, the Blade Liger for Leon, and the Shadow Fox for Brad.
  • 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.
  • Mythology Gag: Several to Chaotic Century. 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. The series' final battle takes place on top of the wreckage of the gravity cannon-equipped Ultrasaurus from Guardian Force's finale, and the charged particle cannon used by the Backdraft Group to destroy the judge satellites was the Death Stinger's tail.
  • 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.
  • Plank Gag: Happens when Bit knocks out several thugs with a large pipe. He's confused as to why they are unconscious afterwards. Maybe.
  • Ramen Slurp: Doctor Layon 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.
  • 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.
  • To Be a Master: Though individual characters have individual goals, the various teams' collective goals boil down to "win more zoid battles".
  • Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: The Backdraft Group have absolutely no issues whatsoever with using underhanded tactics in order to win the battles against other groups.
  1. read as "New Century Slash Zero"