So, to get the discussion off of the Diloforce page, where is so does not belong, I thought I'd write a blog about what makes certain Zoids popular, and certain Zoids not. Note that I am not Japanese, nor have I studied, or been involved with, Japanese culture, so I do not speak for their popularity trends, as they are, potentially, wildly different to the west.
Beware that this is probably going to leave you aghast and thinking that I'm a biased loony who doesn't know what he's talking about. That would be a fallacy, both by thinking that the views here actually reflect my personal opinions, or by thinking that what I've written here is somehow flawed because I was the one who wrote it. Read it for the logic that I used, not the conclusions that I reached.
But let's look at firstly, whether Zoids was actually ever popular. Was Chaotic Century popular? The answer is, to be honest, no. Now people jump up in arms and yell and scream, "Slax! You don't know anything! Clearly XYZ,etc.!", and that would be silly, because you don't even know my definition of popular. Did Zoids sell a franchise? No, it didn't. Ben 10 sold a franchise. Pokemon sold a franchise. Zoids Chaotic, did not. Now people at this stage still do not see my point, as clearly, Zoids did sell once upon a time, so clearly Chaotic was successful! Well, no. Actually, Chaotic was the product that was sold, not the advertising that sold the product. What, then, was the advertising? Simple: Zoids: New Century. Zoids New Century was like a super-condensed, action packed, high-color, series. It sold Chaotic Century. In turn, Chaotic Century built the world of Zi and sold the models.
Here's how I draw that conclusion:
- Firstly, it is well known that Zoids is (or at least was), targeted at children (don't misunderstand this as only children should watch, that wasn't what I said).
- But children have a notoriously short attention span. Getting them involved in a show means battles, cute characters, crisp colors, big explosions. A plot is not a necessity. A premise, yes, a plot, no. In fact, a plot can alienate people. If you join a plot half-way through, you won't get into it.
- Build an anime off this, and you pretty much get THE definition of Zoids: Zero.
- But that's not enough to sell a franchise. That same short attention span that got them hooked on Zoids also is what leads to the franchise's ultimate demise: The children will forget about something it if they aren't constantly reminded of it.
- And Zero's quality was expensive, you can't afford to keep that up week in week out.
- Here's where Chaotic came in, it was a much longer series. It had all the Zoids, all the battles, all the loveable characters, but it stuck to a plot that could be, efficiently, dragged out for more than twice as long as Zero.
- This meant children were reminded of their loyalty to the franchise long enough for them to buy the models.
And once that's all done, swap back to Zero, rinse and repeat!
But then what of Fuzors?
Well that's simple. You can only rinse and repeat for so long. Eventually everyone's bought a model, and you simply cannot sell any more. Your profits will slump, your franchise will suffer. The answer? A sequel! And that's exactly what Fuzors did, it tried to sell a whole new model line, obviously, the Blox line, by tapping into the successes of Nc0. But this series suffered from multiple fatal flaws. The first is poor animation quality.
You see, Zoids Zero was made possible by recycling a heck of a lot of animation from Chaotic. Furthermore, it had recurring battles, which pitted the same Zoids up against the same Zoids over and over, so it could even recycle footage from within its own series. This gave them more budget to add special effects, which made it look eyegasmic. Fuzors, on the other hand, had no such luxury. It had to make all the models from scratch. And this hurt them. Although they were able to make the models, they were not able to cell-shade them, nor did they give them good run cycles. And that's blatantly apparent by comparing any picture of NC0's Liger to Fuzor's Liger, the latter is much more grey, and therefore, critically less interesting.
The second fatal flaw was that they tried to directly tie Fuzors to Zero in order to maximise fan attraction. I can only conclude that this horribly backfired. The worst way to make the afore mentioned lack of budget apparent is to put it next to something that was made with a high budget. And that's what they did by putting RD into a Liger Zero (and Blake the Fury). Now, they tried to overcome this by making the Liger super-ultra-mega-ultimate. Unfortunately, they did this in the worst possible way- by making everything else weaker. This means that now, not only is the Liger Zero less spectacular than it was previously, everything else is even less spectacular than that. There are a few exceptions. For instance, Gairyuki and the Energy Liger. These were legitimately strong. Of course, these only showed up after half the series was past. People don't have an attention span that lasts that long. It was never going to work. I'm willing to bet that if you took only the episodes where the Liger Zero Falcon and the Gairyuki were featured, you'd have a pretty successful series, but this was not the case. I can only say it is little wonder that Fuzors was cancelled in the states.
There were other issues, like the really really bad choice of sound effects and voice actors (Brad Swalie should NEVER be employed for ANYTHING other than joke roles), or like how they deemed it necessary to put in cast members who did nothing (Sweet and Hop, I'm looking at you), but these are relatively minor issues compared to the two ones stated above.
But now I draw my blog to a close. With Genesis.
Genesis will probably never get a dub because it would be really expensive to do so, considering how long the series is (and risky, CC could be cut in half if it failed, and had Nc0 as a test case, Genesis only has Fuzors as a test case, and well all know how well that went), plus it doesn't necessarily fit into its target demographic in the west, having considerably more "typical anime" features than the others (which may prove problematic for the censors as well, which ups the cost of translation further), but is not enough of a "typical anime" to be brought over by the anime companies either (not to mention that fansubs dilute that market anyway). It does have the same poor-quality run cycles as Fuzors, but (save for the elephander, which looks ridiculous) the use of Bio Zoids and Genesis-line models means that a comparison that exacerbates these shortcomings will not be made (on the whole). They will be noticeable, but not "WOW, THE FURY LOOKS LIKE ****!" noticeable.
I can only hazard a guess at Genesis' success, and given that it was sold to Super Robot Wars, I can naught but think it was at least mildly successful in Japan, but as I said, I cannot gauge that market reliably with the knowledge I have at hand.
So, next time you say "Nc0 had no plot!" You should automatically know my reply. sometimes, no plot is the best way to go. It spawned a whole franchise in the west, one that ultimately appears to have been usustainable, but hey, look at how active this wiki is, all without a single anime episode in the last six years (and counting)!