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Pilot Candidate
Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 12/31/2000

Sometime in the future, the only planet left for mankind is Zion. The problem is, persistent and powerful aliens called Victim seem bent on destroying Zion. To protect and preserve Zion, five gigantic humanoid mechs called Ingrids (often referred to as "goddesses") are dispatched every time the Victim attack. Only the best pilots are assigned to the Ingrids, hand-picked from hundreds of hopeful pilot candidates. A young man named Zero is among these candidates, and he's prepared to give it his all to become a pilot...
I don't know if it's good or bad but Pilot Candidate's basic premises are a lot similar to the phenomenal anime series "Neon Genesis Evangelion", as you can see below:
Pilot Candidate: Zion is under attack from mysterious aliens known only as Victim.
Evangelion: Earth is under attack from mysterious aliens known only as Angels.
Pilot Candidate: Gigantic humanoid mechs called Ingrids piloted by teens are Zion's only defense.
Evangelion: Gigantic humanoid mechs called Evas piloted by teens are Earth's only defense.
Pilot Candidate: A different type of Victim attacks every time, each more powerful than the last.
Evangelion: A different type of Angel attacks every time, each more powerful than the last.
Given these points, should we just dismiss Pilot Candidate as an Evangelion rip-off? Not exactly. What Pilot Candidate lacks in originality, it makes up for in its overall treatment of the storyline and absence of cryptic symbolisms. Zero is an ambitious young man (nothing like Shinji Ikari for those who've watched EVA) who wants nothing else but to pilot an Ingrid -- a bonafide goddess of space that can vanquish Victim. But before Zero can actually become a pilot, he has to undergo rigorous training and rise above hundreds of other pilot candidates. Only those with exceptional skills and EX levels (EX is some kind of special power) can become candidates, and Zero happens to possess the characteristics that are required. But Zero is not the only one who is dead set on becoming a pilot. His fellow candidate Hiead will not be outdone, and he will do anything to become a pilot as well. Each pilot / pilot candidate is teamed up with a repairer, who takes care of maintaining and providing technical support for the pilot and the Ingrid. Zero's partner is a catgirl named Kizna, and they share an amusing relationship which is characterized by lots of bickering but is actually founded on a certain degree of mutual understanding. Watching these two relate gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling without the mush.
What ultimately rained on my parade was the abrupt, inconclusive ending. Pilot Candidate stops cold just when you've come to know the characters, just when you're starting to grasp the overall situation... just when I was getting really excited! It leaves you with an annoying what-the-f*ck!? feeling, so much so that I even thought that I missed the last volume. But no, the twelve eps are all there is to it.
The art and animation are generally of good quality, except for the visually jarring CG sequences. The 3-D space battle scenes look fine on their own; in fact it was like watching the CG portions of a high-budget PS2 game. It just did not match the rest of the series too well, and I felt the overall flow would've been smoother had they just stuck to cel animation all throughout (like EVA did).
Pilot Candidate is altogether an enjoyable ride. It was great fun while it lasted, but you need to ask yourself if you're willing to be left hanging before you go get it.
I kind of doubt that a continuation to this series will ever materialize.

Pilot Candidate
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Review Title:
Pilot Candidate
Alternative Titles:
Candidate for Goddess
300 Minutes
General Rating:
4 out of 5 stars
Suitable For:
Action, Mecha, Military,
Sci-Fi, Space
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