animefringe february 2003 / reviews

Zoids: New Century Vol.1
Format: Left-Right manga, 131 pages
Production: VIZ / Mizobuchi Makoto
Comments: This manga is great...if you're a child or a diehard Zoids maniac.
Animefringe Reviews:
Zoids: New Century Vol.1

Followers of the Zoids saga on the Cartoon Network or on DVD can tell any newbie that the series is all about striving to improve one's self as much as possible. There's a strong belief in the unlimited potential each person possesses, and in each episode of the anime series, young Zoid pilot Bit Cloud takes his battle skills to the next level. Of course, he couldn't do it without the aid of the Liger Zero, a particularly adaptable Zoid that quickly forms a strong bond with Bit. The story follows Bit around as he travels as a member of the Blitz team working his way to the top of the Zoid battle rankings.

It wouldn't be absurd to suggest that Zoids, the franchise itself, has quite a bit of potential. Featuring gigantic sentient customizable robots that resemble animals, Zoids could possibly have an interesting plot filled with engaging characters and heart-wrenching drama. The anime series, while available only in English, is entertaining in its own fashion. There are some funny moments even if it is clearly aimed at a younger than average audience, and the cel-shaded CG animation used on the Zoids themselves is cool enough to keep my attention for a while. I think I'd like it even more if there were more details, more action, and a greater focus on the characters than there is now. This manga, sadly, goes in direct opposition to everything I could've wished for, and thus isn't all that great.

Rather than expand upon the Zoids universe, this manga summarizes the entire TV series in a single collection. There are plenty of familiar moments here, but they might only make sense to me because I've watched the DVDs before. Otherwise, everything zips by so incredibly fast I couldn't help but feel there were pages missing to this story. It just dazzles the mind that the first chapter introduces the concept of Zoid Battles and the last one has Bit at the Zoid Battle Finals. The already light story has been filtered down to something that has less substance than most daydreams, and I have to admit that I'm a bit disappointed by it. The characters are all depicted at much younger ages than in the TV series, and their little personality quirks seem to have been filtered away along with any semblance of a coherent plot. If you're looking for your favorite guest characters (such as Harry Champ), then look elsewhere, for they're not going to show up in this manga.

This isn't an insultingly ugly manga, but the characters only vaguely resemble their animated counterparts. Essentially, every scene that features Bit looks just like his pose on the cover, only from a different angle. In each panel, he's aggressively excited about something, resembling a happy Muppet with spiky hair a little too frequently. The visual pizzazz of the series doesn't translate well to the manga adaptation since there is no trace of impressive CG Zoids. In fact, there aren't many illustrations focusing upon the title creatures at all. Most of the attention goes to Bit, looking excited.

If you absolutely must own every scrap of Zoids paraphernalia, then this is for you, because this really is scrap. There's a good chance that younger kids will enjoy this book, but aside from that demographic or hardcore fans, this isn't really a work for the casual Zoids fan. It is inexpensive and much larger than the other Zoids manga currently available, but ten bucks is still a bit too much for most of us to pay for it.