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Zone of the Enders, commonly referred to by the acronym Z.O.E., is a franchise produced by Hideo Kojima, owned by the video game publisher Konami, and expanded on by the animation studio Sunrise. The original Zone of the Enders is a game created for the launch of the Sony PlayStation 2, which has so far spawned a single PS2 sequel, as well as a Game Boy Advance side-story, an OVA movie and a 26-episode television anime series. An HD remaster of both the first and second games was also released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2012. A remaster for the second game was released for PlayStation 4 and Windows in 2018, featuring a 4K resolution and the ability to play the entire game with a VR headset.
The Zone of the Enders series is set in the late 22nd century. Humankind has colonized Mars, and space colonies are also set up in orbit around Jupiter. Fueling this expansion are two scientific advances: the development of the Laborious Extra-Orbital Vehicle, or LEV, a mecha used for labor and military use, and the discovery of Metatron, a high-energy ore found on Callisto.
However, those in power on Earth begin to take a dim view of the colonists of Mars and Jupiter, calling them "Enders", and imposing harsh and exploitive laws and taxes against them. Eventually, different groups on Mars begin to rise up in opposition to Earth. A new weapon given to these rebels is the Orbital Frame, a mecha that makes extensive use of Metatron-based technology, These Orbital Frames come to shape the destiny of Earth and its colonies, for both good and evil.
Throughout the Zone of the Enders series, a number of themes and dramatic devices show up prominently, in every series except IDOLO:
- The story usually revolves around two specific Orbital Frames, created as part of the same project. Each frame ends up on opposite sides of the conflict, and the final confrontation is between the two and their pilots.
- The two main Orbital Frames in each series (such as Jehuty and Anubis) are named after Egyptian gods. Also, many of the bosses and enemies in the series (like the Mummyhead), are linked to ancient Egyptian culture and myth.
- The main character of the story usually comes across the Orbital Frame by accident. Dolores, is an ironic exception to this, as while James Links does come across Dolores by chance, it was being sent to him in the first place.
- The main character's Orbital Frame comes with an advanced, intelligent (and always female) A.I. which becomes a major character in her own right. A subplot throughout the series is the growth and development of the AI, as well as her attachment to her runner. However, IDOLO reverses this concept; the frame was a prototype model with no A.I. installed, but instead had an illegitimate mind of its own (as well as a conscience that is, oddly enough, depicted as female). Instead of the runner and the frame forming a friendship, the latter takes control of the pilot completely.
- There is often a clear distinction between protagonists and antagonists that is determined by their respect or lack-thereof of human life. The "heroes" are typically the ones who attempt to save other people and spare lives when possible including the lives of their enemies, while the "villains" can be identified by a disregard for human life and a willingness to sacrifice innocent people to further their cause. This creates an interesting ethical divide, as a character's goals can often be noble, but it comes down to the means that the characters use to achieve those goals that mark them "hero" or "villain." For example, both protagonist and antagonist characters may have an ultimate goal of ending Earth's exploitation of Mars, but the lengths that the characters go to make that a reality will mark them as "good" or "evil."
Video Games Edit
Zone of the Enders Edit
- Main article: Zone of the Enders
Zone of the Enders is the first game in the series, detailing the story of a boy named Leo Stenbuck, a colonist from Jupiter who finds himself piloting the Orbital Frame Jehuty.
Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner Edit
- Main article: Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner
Zone of the Enders: the 2nd Runner, known as Anubis: Zone of the Enders in Japan, is also for the PS2. It features a new pilot, Dingo Egret, who finds Jehuty on the Moon of Callisto two years after the events of the first game.
Zone of the Enders: The Fist of MarsEdit
- Main article: Zone of the Enders: The Fist of Mars
Zone of the Enders: the Fist of Mars (known as Zone of the Enders: 2173 Testament in Japan) is a side-story released for the Game Boy Advance, about a conspiracy involving the construction of Orbital Frames for Earth. The protagonist, a young man named Cage Midwell, finds himself getting involved with a resistance organization known as BIS.
Zone of the Enders: 2167 IDOLO Edit
- Main article: Zone of the Enders: 2167 IDOLO
IDOLO is a prequel for the entire series, telling the story of Radam Levans, the pilot of the first Orbital Frame.
Zone of the Enders: Dolores, i Edit
- Main article: Zone of the Enders: Dolores,i
Dolores, i is a followup to IDOLO, about James Links, a trucker who, while trying to reunite with his estranged family, discovers that a container he was supposed to transfer contains an Orbital Frame, calling itself Dolores, who seems to consider James her uncle.
See also Edit
- Zone of the Enders
- Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner
- Zone of the Enders: The Fist of Mars
- Zone of the Enders: Dolores,i
- Zone of the Enders: 2167 IDOLO
- Zone of the Enders 3
- The names of many people and locations featured throughout the series are based off of various Martian geographic features, as well as other famous scientists and pieces of science fiction.
- The series has several similarities with the Mobile Suit Gundam series, namely, the Universal Century. For example, in the first game, Leo Stenbuck stumbles upon Jehuty during a raid by BAHRAM, like how in the One Year War, Amuro Ray stumbles upon the RX-78-2 Gundam during a raid by Zeon. Another similarity is that Leo has a rivalry with Viola Gyune, who pilots a red Orbital Frame, similar to Amuro's rivalry with Char Aznable, who pilots a red Mobile Suit. Ironically enough, the Mobile Suit Astrea and its successor, the Exia from Mobile Suit Gundam 00 appears to have similarities with Jehuty, notably the Giant Sword on the right wrist and a shield on the left arm.