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Episode 1 – Knockover on Planet Zi – Tilly's Zoids

Tilly's Zoids

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Episode 1 - Knockover on Planet Zi

Screenshot Gallery - My Thoughts

Our new series begins, as anime will, with an intro. Zzzoids, FUZORS! it barks, as eyes flash and the Zero roars, leading into a montage of clips. We see most of the main cast and their Zoids in stock footage fashion, plus confrontations between the Zero and BF involving a triple charged particle cannon and lens flares. It's not the most exciting thing in the world, especially compared to the original footage the Japanese version later animated, but it gets the point across.

Once we get past the title screen (sporting Liger Zero), stuff happens.

The camera sweeps through a futuristic city, one animated entirely in CGI. It's full of skyscrapers, crazily suspended roads, and various elegantly-built luxuries beyond the war-torn Zi of old. Cars drive happily along punctuated by occasional thumping sounds, prompting viewers to wonder how long before something bad happens.

We focus in on one red car and its ditzy passengers, soon finding that "something" is a Liger Zero, bouncing like a squirrel down the street, buzzing cars and scaring innocent civilians. After terrifying the red car's driver and his blind date (her name is Julia, he calls her Jamie), the Zero bounds on, its pilot shouting hasty apologies. He's followed by two Peacekeeping Bureau Zoids: Aro Saurer (piloted by Ciao) and Gorhecks (piloted by Deed). They scold its pilot, who we now know is RD, for riding his Zoid on the streets in "sector three". Telling them to chill out, RD scolds his Zero for not listening...as he runs smack dab into Gummie and his Gojulas Giga. Gummie takes the role of the stereotypical cowboy, cornering him with a "fee fie foe fum, it's over RD...you're done!".

The Liger Zero doesn't agree, and neither does RD. Proving that architecture of the future features windows that can withstand even the toughest of 80-ton cat impacts, he bounces the Zero off a building—"let's blow this popsicle stand!"—and over the Gojulas Giga's head, skittering away down a corridor. Gummie laughs, saying RD got away fair and square. Before Ciao can protest too much, Gummie is contacted about a burglary. Someone's stolen a truckload of jewels (in sector four, no less).

RD arrives back at his team's base, bragging about his Liger's crimefighter-fighting abilities and saying hello to Hop, their manager. He's interrupted by Sweet, who reminds him that he's technically breaking the law. He may be a reckless hero type, but that doesn't make him cool! (Her hair looks slightly like Leena's, leading to thankfully briefly lived fantheories that she must be Bit and Leena's daughter. By that logic, is Ciao related to Störmer?)

Sigma, being the snarky member of the team, taunts RD about how he and Helmut are going out rounding up rogue wild Zoids ("All right! Time to protect the innocent citizens, a job only a select few pro Zi Fighters can handle!")...and RD's got an entirely different job. He's the courier boy, as Sigma puts it, something RD and the Zero are perfect for. Helmut's unimpressed with the joking around, being the resident serious Command Wolf pilot, and he and Sigma's Boldguard set off together with a dramatic pose and a painful run cycle.

RD wanders outside to sulk, finding carting crap beneath a cool fighter type. Sweet, hanging up laundry that includes a t-shirt with a phoenix on, is again the one to knock some sense into him. She reminds him that all jobs are important to team Mach Storm, not just the flashy piloting. Besides, she continues, he swore that he'd do "whatever it took" to find the legendary Alpha Zoid his father talked about, and that's gonna take money. The flashback-o-matic screen shows what's obviously Liger Zero, taken right from the title screen...or what's obviously Liger Zero Falcon if you're watching the Japanese version. Foreshadowing at ten o'clock, captain. Slightly more optimistic, RD reminds her to fill out forms before setting out ("Yes sir, oh great and mighty one, I'll drop everything and get right on it!"), and Hop congratulates Sweet on a job well done.

The courier order leads to a place with a shady-looking guy, who mocks RD for looking like a kid (it would seem you need to be a certain age to drive a Zoid in Fuzorsverse—so what about Matt?). I would think the blue hair would be more weird, but this is anime. RD gets annoyed, and the guy continues being shady, saying he needs his stuff delivered to Easy Town "pronto" and that the packages contain some ambiguously high-tech components. A mysterious woman watches from the shadows as the Zero bounces off, cargo on its back...

We cut back to the Mach Storm base, where we find out the wild Zoid roundup went smoothly, they haven't heard from RD, and that Hop can't work the remote to their giant-screen TV. Sweet manages to turn it on, getting a home-shopping channel until Zoids Battle ("where war is the only way to win!") comes on. She promptly goes fangirl over Black Impact, which is a team of three charcoal Blade Ligers that for all their jerky run look a thousand times better than the old animation model. They easily slaughter Renegade Force, being as it's a team of three Godos. Their leader, Rastani, shows up on screen, looking cool, and we cut briefly to RD muttering about how he can't stand him.

Not that this works as a comment on the fandom. Especially not RPG characters.

We then see the shady guy and some other shady guys, talking about how RD couldn't possibly figure out that his package contains the stolen jewels, as he "had 'I'm am idiot' written all over his face". Shady guy does not realize that there's a rather obvious blinky red voice recorder on the ceiling. It belongs to Savage Hammer, the Obligatory Rival Team.

Savage Hammer, besides listening in, are holding an evil plotting session consisting of Sandra (obligatory lady with cat), Burton (obligatory guy with accent and elf ears!?), and Blake (obligatory broody bishounen). They're looking to re-steal the stolen jewels from RD, of course, and...they like purple, going by their plotting room's decor.

"But lucky for us, pilfering the jewels will be as simple as taking candy from a baby."
"And I adore candy."

Sandra hiffs a dart at a picture of the Mach Storm logo (not a picture of Mach Storm, just the logo), telling a waffling Burton to take care of the jewels and leave RD to Blake.

Meanwhile, the Liger Zero bounces through the desert, RD complaining that the only music disks he has have been listened to death or suck, something I can greatly sympathize with. I can't really sympathize with what happens next, though: his display goes beepy, warning as warning systems should when there's a Berserk Fury on your tail.

Blake fires, knocking the Zero off its feet. It seems he and RD know each other, leading to an exchange of angry-witty banter consisting of random threats and RD saying he'll fight when he's not in the middle of a courier job (proving that he has some sense of responsibility, as all good heroes should). Blake doesn't listen, of course. Taking the Zero up into some rocks, RD comes back down with the sun at his back, springboarding off the BF's back. As the Fury gets back up, he's already fleeing, now with a definite lead.

We cut momentarily ahead to Easy Town, where the mysterious woman from before makes a pass at the flunky of mister shady guy, tricking him into telling what's in the package...

...and it's back to Blake and RD, with the Zero running full tilt and the BF shooting pink laser beams of death behind. Their not-showdown is interrupted by Burton, who's piloting a Lord Gale. He blasts the Zero off its feet (with lasers?) and scolds Blake for not taking care of RD. Blake, in turn, ineffectively menaces the Lord Gale with his eggbeaters. RD comments that this is gettin' freaky, and Burton tells him he isn't anything like his father was.

As anyone knows, that is a bad thing to say to a hero with an absent parent.

The Liger Zero charges, missing the Lord Gale but dodging Blake's attempts to spork it. The eggbeaters knock the cargo carrier off the Zero's back in passing, scattering jewels in the air to Blake and Burton's dismay. While they're distracted by the shiny, RD comes back in with a LASER CLAW ATTACK, slicing through the Lord Gale's lances in an actually-cool shower of torn parts. Post-slash, RD finally notices the jewels and the Liger does too, staring down as if tempted to play until the BF roars. Blake advances, RD insisting that he's still got to deliver his cargo and refusing to back down.

The Peacekeeping Bureau arrive just in time to save RD from potential sporkage, firing off flares and scaring off Blake and Burton with the combined bitey-power of the Gojulas Giga, Aro Saurer, and Gorhecks from before. The resident rivals each get in a last jab before they split: "Well, it looks like you lucked out again, RD!" "No, you lucked out, Blake!"

Once the would-be villains are gone, Gummie explains the stolen jewels deal, chuckling and telling RD he's "lucky someone tipped us off, otherwise we might be scraping you up off the desert!" while Ciao and Deed are stuck picking up all the sparklies. Seems Gummie found out about the plot thanks to a girl with a sweet voice...one of your old girlfriends, he suggests to RD's annoyance, though the brief in-town cutscene reveals it to be the woman from before. To add insult to injury, RD next discovers he isn't going to get any money, given the people hiring him turned out to be, yanno, criminals.

Night's fallen, and we cut back to Mach Storm's base. Sweet's having fun with the jewelry the owner gave as a reward, but Hop cuts off her one-episode fit of girly, telling her the person who gets to keep it is actually the mysterious tipster. As she arrives we learn she's Amy, another member of the team...albeit one who's only around half of the time. She snuggles up to Sweet, cheerfully retrieving the various rings and necklace in a matter of seconds before prancing off. Sweet grouches, and Sigma and Helmut hide behind their reading material.

RD, meanwhile, is wandering the streets and having another mope. He's pretty much ignoring the big screen TV on one of the buildings, which shows first an interview with Rastani ("Winning has nothing to do with my chiseled good looks and immense raw talent. I spend hours in front of the mirror practicing my victory speeches.") and then a battle setup. It's the three Blade Ligers from before versus a Dark Spiner and a Killer Dome, and the crowd's quite enthusiastic. RD isn't, at least until the watching civilians gasp in shock.

He runs back to the screen in time to see the Blade Ligers already beaten by a single Zoid...the Killer Spiner.

My Thoughts

So, first episode. It gives a general idea of the setup and characters and thus succeeds there, though everyone's out of character to their later personalities (Sweet fangirling, Sigma asking her out to dinner, super-angry Ciao?) and it doesn't "hook" as well as /Zero. In fact, Fuzors didn't grip me from the start. I found it more an acquired taste.

Between the new animation company and the fandom's misconceptions and expectations, the whole series started rocky overall. Some issues (like the choppy Zoids and the PKB's portrayal as goofy) were its fault. Others weren't: people thinking it was a sequel to /Zero and that characters would somehow end up being tied to it (and that the Zoids would be using its 90+ episodes of animation practice), people expecting the Zero and BF to be equally smitey, people expecting everything to be doom and war.

In retrospect, I can't help but be amused by the fandom opinion that the Liger Zero still pic used for the Alpha Zoid meant nothing because the animators were being lazy. After all, it meant plenty, but it was the animators being lazy. I also can't remember what I thought of the issue. Ah, memories lost to time and messageboard crashes...

Final observation: The US Cartoon Network airing of the credits for episode 1 had Sweet walking on the right hand side of the screen. It disappeared from future airings, and is also not in the DVD credits. I'm not sure if it made it into any other countries' airings, so any info on this is welcome.

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