|Adult Swim Premiere||February 23, 2002|
The Candidate for Goddess, renamed Pilot Candidate in the United States, was a Japanese anime series co-produced by Xebec (Production I.G) and Bandai and directed by Mitsuru Hongo, that premiered in Japan on NHK's BS2 satellite channel from January 10, 2000 to March 27, 2000. The anime featured a combination of 3D CGI animation and traditional cel animation.
Bandai Entertainment acquired the North American distribution rights to The Candidate for Goddess in 2001 with plans to air the series on Cartoon Network. According to Bandai's Jerry Chu, the anime was renamed Pilot Candidate to veer away from the term "goddess" and because they believed the new title was more descriptive of the series.
Cartoon Network originally intended to air the English dub of Pilot Candidate on its popular Toonami programming block in 2001. However, the anime was delayed and ultimately premiered on Adult Swim's new anime block Adult Swim Action from February 23, 2002 to May 11, 2002, with reruns continuing through August 17, 2002. Despite being broadcast on the more mature Adult Swim, Pilot Candidate was heavily censored, including the removal of nudity, violence, tobacco use, and religious references. This was likely due in part to it being originally intended for Toonami and the episodes already having been completed with the intention of the children's demographic. The anime was not popular with audiences, and Adult Swim has regretted showing it, stating in a bump several years later, “Pilot Candidate: Never again.”
In the future, humankind has expanded and colonized other planets. In Star Year 4084, a cataclysmic event called the "Crisis of Systems" resulted in the annihilation of four planetary systems. With Zion being the one planet left with the ability to sustain human life, humanity must cling to life in space colonies. Now in Star Year 5030, Zion is under constant threat of invasion by extraterrestrial life forms dubbed "Victim". In order to combat their alien foes, humans have developed a quintet of giant, mechanized weapons called "Ingrids", or "Goddesses" due to their female, humanoid resemblance.
A training school called the "Goddess Operation Academy (G.O.A.)" is established to train the specific few which have the capability of piloting the Ingrids aka "The Goddesses", five fighting robots that protect Zion. They are typically young men and must meet several requirements: They must be in good health, must be 14 to 16 years of age, must have an EO blood type, and must possess the potential for "EX", superhuman abilities which secondarily link the pilot's nerves to the Ingrid's interface. As EX puts such a physical and mental strain on the pilot, replacements must be turned out by the G.O.A. within a reasonable amount of time. Each pilot is also partnered with a female repairer, who maintains the Ingrid and manually blocks painful feedback from the Ingrid to the pilot during missions.
Zero (Candidate 88) has just arrived at G.O.A. when he falls into the cockpit of the Ingrid Eeva-Leena. Since the synch between pilot and Ingrid are very sensitive everyone believes the Goddess will kill Zero in an attempt to synch. However, just before Zero passes out he makes a full synch with the Goddess. Before he can find out more about the incident, his pilot training begins.