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In the mystical world of Shangri-la, demons and humans live side by side, watched over by a parthenon of ancient Chinese gods. But when normally-civilized demons start to go berserk, the gods require the services of Genjou Sanzo - a Buddhist priest with a magical gun, an evil-banishing scripture and a take-no-prisoners attitude. Aided by the ancient monkey god Son Goku, the half-demon Sha Gojyo and the demon exterminator Cho Hakkai, he sets off on a treacherous journey westward, with armies of demons, dark mages and angry gods all standing in his way...
Though ZOE and Saiyuki differ in storyline and genre (historical fantasy vs sci fi mecha), both shows have a collage of characters that are easy to connect with even on the most basic level. Both shows are vaguely episodic quest-like traveling yet have an ultimate goal that the viewer is reminded of each episode. Animation style, character design and color schemes are silimar though the shows have different settings and themes. A primary character of each show exhibits the duality of childish innocence masking greater abilities and power while having a figure of authority they respect and admire. Both ZOE and Saiyuki feature characters that have interesting bantering, arguing, fussing and fighting relationships while their core is obviously and in the end, most importantly, family. The viewer has a wide selection of characters to identify with and a perk is that the "villains" are somewhat likable and add to the dynamic of the show in ways other than being overtly evil. Varieties of villains also have their own stories that explain their motivation.
Both shows feature a lot of action and a strong central plot that is advanced by a succession of shorter plots (although Saiyuki is more 'episodic' than ZOE is), but both also gain a lot from a cast of characters with great personal dynamics. Both feature a group of people traveling together on a grand quest while trying to iron out personal differences, and both feature a 'family' dynamic, with a strong central 'parent' figure, an innocent (but incredibly powerful) child figure and two 'sibling' figures that serve as a middle ground.
The Year is Cosmic Era 73, two years after the end of the war between Earth and the PLANTs. Peace had finally been achieved thanks to efforts put forth by both sides, but it was not meant to last. When rebel Earth Forces soldiers infiltrate the PLANTs and steal ZAFT's new prototype Gundams, it's up to Shinn Asuka and the crew of the Minerva warship to hunt them down and retrieve their mobile suits. With the war now back in full swing, will Shinn and the others find a way to restore peace?
Gundam Seed Destiny is full of mechas that are piloted by children, opposed to Zone of the Enders Dolores where they are "piloted" by adults. Although Zone of the Enders Dolores is a lighthearted show when compared to Gundam Seed Destiny, I still recommend it. I find the mechas design used in Zone of the Enders Dolores a bit more realistic because it has an ejection system for the pilots. But then again there is not a lot of mecha vs. mecha combat in Zone of the Enders Dolores when compared to Gundam Seed Destiny.
Gene Starwind and Jim Hawkins make a living on various jobs and bounties. While waiting for their ticket to hit it big time, a mysterious woman named Hilda leaves them with a key to the puzzle of finding a starship of great power, known only as the Outlaw Star. What are these long lost spaceships and what is the Galactic Leyline?
The universe of the future is divided between the Earth Alliance and ZAFT. After a year of war, ZAFT attacks the neutral colony Heliopolis to steal five prototype mobile suits. The mission is a success, but a young man named Kira stumbles upon the fifth Gundam, and he may be the Alliance's only hope...
Zone of the Enders: Dolares, i feels a lot like the Gundam that wasn't. Specifically SEED came to mind while I was watching it, probably because of their similar release dates so the animation in them is fairly similar. ZOE has a similar setup to your typical Gundam with Earth vs Mars (human conflict), but does have a good bit more humor to it. All in all ZOE feels a lot like a less ambitious Gundam with more comedy to it and does it pretty well. (Do be sure to watch the prequel ZOE movie first before the series though)!