Plot: Van is young boy who wants nothing more than a Zoid of his own to pilot, just like his late father. After being chased down by some crooked Zoid pilots, a Guysak pilot in particular named Bull, Van becomes trapped in some old war ruins. He finds a secret passage that leads him to two pods, and he accidentally opens one of them, revealing a baby raptor-like Zoid that he names Zeek. Bull returns to finish him off, and Zeek tries to protect him to no avail. Zeek takes Van and flies them out of the ruins, leading them to an old ruined Shield Liger. Zeek amazingly fuses with the Shield Liger, bringing it back to full form and Van manages to scare off the enemy. After the battle concludes, Zeek leads them back to the ruins where he prompts Van to open the second pod. Thinking it’s another Zoid, Van excitedly agrees only to find that the pod contains a strange girl.
Breakdown: Zoids was a show that I definitely followed when I was younger. Here’s the thing though, outside of the bare basics, I remember nothing of the story. I remember Zoids, I remember fighting, I remember Van, Fiona and Zeek, that’s about it. I don’t know if that says something about the quality of the show. Hopefully it’s just my crappy-ass memory.
As for this first episode, it’s pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. They establish basically what Zoids are without going into expositiony detail. They introduce Van quite well, and he’s a really likable character so far. You click with him near the end when you see how excited he is to win his first Zoid battle. His relationship with Zeek also starts out pretty strong.
The enemies…..are….the biggest weak point of the episode. The other two, who pilot Command Wolves, are just blah, which is not at all helped by their completely bored voice acting. Bull, however, is just nearing ridiculously evil. He whines about not getting one of the cool Command Wolves from whoever his bosses are, so he takes command of a stray Guysak, a scorpion-like Zoid, and tries to prove its worth by killing Van….Yeah I’m sure you’ll look so impressive killing a small boy with a 20 ton battle robot. He justifies it by saying he witnessed something or other, but it’s pretty flimsy.
The other weak spot of this episode would probably be the scene with Van’s sister at their father’s grave. It’s just a big fat exposition dump.
The art is usually pretty good, and even the CGI Zoids look pretty nice and don’t clash too much with the traditional animation. However, there are a bunch of scenes with silly and odd facial expressions. Nearly every shot of Bull is a screenshot for the books, and even Van gets some laughable faces.
The music is pretty good, and the ED has stuck with me throughout the years. Something interesting about this series is that, unlike a crap ton of English dubbed shows, this one keeps the next episode previews, which I greatly appreciate even if they have a habit of spoiling episodes every now and then.
The voice acting, English, is a mixed bag so far. Van’s VA is pretty good and Bull’s is alright, but the silver haired Command Wolf Pilot was just horrible. He could not sound more bored. Van’s sister’s VA also isn’t a very good actress.
All in all, a pretty good first episode that leaves a nice cliffhanger-ish ending to have you chomping at the bit a little to see what’s up with both Zeek and the girl, Fiona.