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Pioneer presents
Zoids: The Battle Begins (1999)

"Battle mode approved. Area scanned. Battlefield set-up. Ready? FIGHT!"
- The Judge

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: April 01, 2002

Stars: Don Brown, Richard Cox, Brian Drummond, Ron Halder, Saffron Henderson, Colin Murdock
Other Stars: Kelly Sheridan, Brad Swaile, Sill Switzer, Sam Vincent
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (intense robot battles)
Run Time: 01h:24m:24s
Release Date: April 09, 2002
UPC: 013023176195
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BA-B+ D-

DVD Review

Zoids is pretty shamelessly based on a line of popular toys. It involves the competition between the pilots of giant robot animals in tournament battles. When the main character, Bit, gets his first look at the hanger when his team's hardware is stored, he lists their names off one by one, and you almost expect him to add, "each sold separately." Animated programs designed to sell toys are nothing new, however. Both Transformers and G.I. Joe existed first in collectible form as well. And for what it is, Zoids is far better than it has to be, with impressive computer animation and serviceable plotting.

Bit spent most of his life dreaming of becoming a Zoid pilot and competing in the tournaments, but he had to settle for a job as a simple parts scavenger until, one day, fate intervened and he found himself a member of the Blitz Team, a Zoid Squad made up of Leena, Harry, and Jamie and their respective vehicles, the D-Bison, the Command Wolf, and the Ptera Striker. Bit pilots Liger Zero, a temperamental robot that has never before allowed anyone to control it. Together, they face a different opponent in every episode, battling for prize money and fame.

The characters are fairly one-dimensional, but a lot of fun. Bit is a brash hothead, Leena is a brat, and Harry is the sullen leader, and each episode develops their characters a little bit more. But the reasons to watch, and likely why airings of the program have become so popular on Cartoon Network, are the intense battle scenes, which play like a combination of Gundam Wing and Pokemon. The Zoids are animated with CGI, and though at times you can tell that they are made up of simple polygons, for the most part, the effect blends seamlessly with the backgrounds. Each battle depends heavily on formula, with Team Blitz falling behind before winning at the last minute, but they differ enough that they remain interesting to watch.

This DVD collects the introductory four episodes of the series, which features loose continuity throughout.

Episode 1: Commence Battle: Attack Liger Zero
Bit joins the Blitz team and they face off against the Tigers Team.

Episode 2: New Partners Vs. Naomi the Red Comet
Bit and the Blitz Team battle Naomi, a Zoid pilot who has never lost a battle with her sniper robot.

Episode 3: The Prince Arrives: Harry Champ
In this humorous episode, Team Blitz faces off against Leena's childhood friend Harry Champ, who becomes jealous when he thinks that Bit and Leena are involved.

Episode 4: Unsanctioned Battle: The Mysterious Backdraft Group
Leena is kidnapped and to win her back, the rest of Team Blitz must face the renegade Backdraft Group in a battle with no rules.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Zoids is very well animated, with a good integration of CGI and traditional animation, and the combination looks very nice on DVD. Colors are very bright and stable. I noticed no evidence of artifacting or digital noise, and just a tiny bit on aliasing in the opening scenes. A very nice presentation.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The audio is presented in English 2.0. The mix is confined to the front soundstage, which presents a fairly wide field of sound. Dialogue is clear throughout, and the battle scenes make good use of the left and right mains, with some panning and directional effects. Throughout, the rock music score takes full advantage of the front mains as well.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Zoids File 01
  2. Toy Commercial
Extras Review: In terms of extras, Zoids has just a couple. Zoids File 01 is a nifty variation on a still gallery. A page offers brief bios of three different Zoids (Liger Zero, Gun Sniper, and Dark Horn). You can highlight each robot's picture for a closer look, or click a nearby link for information about the pilot and a picture.

Other than that, there's an honest-to-goodness commercial for the line of Hasbro models from the show, complete with the phrase "some assembly required, batteries not included." Shameless, I tells 'ya.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Zoids is a pretty cool show, with pretty cool animation, and overall, is a pretty good excuse for an animated toy ad.


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