A gang of teenagers on motorcycles chase a young boy, Kappei Jin, and his dog Chiyonshiki on the waterfront. The gang splits up, but Kappei turns around and knocks one of them in the water. Two of them quickly come across him though, and he falls off his motorcycle, right near the water. As the police arrive, one of the other boys, Kouzuki, knocks Kappei and his motorcycle into the water, but they fall on top of a boat sitting there. Kouzuki and the others drive away. Kappei makes his way back to land and the police pursue him. A bladed tentacle suddenly appears from below the road and starts pursuing Kappei, destroying everything in its path. Kappei and Chiyonshiki nearly fall off a bridge as a result, but Kappei is able to rescue Chiyonshiki. The police car crashes off the bridge and blows up. At the police station the captain grows angry at Kappei, who had stolen the motorcycle and demands someone get in contact with his parents. On a dock by the water, Kappei’s grandparents talk. His grandfather Heizaemon calls to Kappei’s older brother Ichitaro, who is underwater in scuba gear trying to open a hatch. He climbs back up through a tunnel. Kappei’s mother shows up saying they should stop this hunt for their ancestor’s treasures. An explosion hits a nearby cargo ship as Kappei nears the dock. A spiked, snail like robot, the Snai-Sworder flies over it, sending a signal. An obese, green colored humanoid alien, Killer the Butcher, watches as he receives the signal. He sees a group of people looking at the wreckage of the ship and is pleased that there are lots of creatures he’ll be able to enjoy killing. One of Kappei’s friends who is riding on a motorboat with him says they should head back. Kappei thinks going now will be cooler. Kappei is pleased to see that his mother isn’t around and thinks he won’t get in trouble. He notices that Kouzuki’s gang is already here. They approach solid ground near the wreckage and climb onto it. Kouzuki is there with his gang. Kouzuki and Kappei throw ropes with anchors at the end at each other and start fighting. The two of them notice the Snai-Sworder watching them from the sky. The bladed tentacle appears behind Aki and Michi, two of Kappei’s friends. Chiyonshiki attacks it but is knocked aside. Another tentacle appears and destroys Kappei’s boat. Kappei tells Kouzuki to take care of Aki and Michi while he will go to see his grandfather. He is chased by the tentacles, which increase in number. He reaches the dock where his family was, finding it destroyed. Another nearby ship is destroyed by a tentacle. Chiyonshiki barks at a tube leading down into the water making Kappei wonder if they went down there. The tentacles continue to attack the dock and Chiyonshiki falls into the water. Kappei jumps onto one of the tentacles and punches it. The tentacles drops into the water and Kappei swims away, grabbing a stick. Kappei swings at the tentacle which knocks him away with no luck. Kappei comes upon Chiyonshiki in the water and the two are knocked onto a large white ship which starts rising from the ocean. They grab onto a fin to stop their fall. Kappei sees 8 tentacles now rising from the ocean nearby. Suddenly a pink light appears on the ship before Kappei and tells him to recite a passage from his training manual. Kappei doesn’t think he knows the passage but is told the phrase “shoot in” and suddenly recalls things. He and Chiyonshiki jump into a tunnel on the ship and are brought into the bridge of the ship where his mother starts taking off his clothes. Heizaemon sits before Kappei, piloting the ship.
Kappei’s mother and grandmother puts pilot clothing and a helmet on him. His grandmother tells him where to go. Kappei slides into a tunnel which puts him in a chair which is transported below to the Zambird craft cockpit. The Zambird is released onto the top of the white ship. Kappei sees that in the distance, the tentacles belong to a large bird like mecha, the Mecha Boost Domira. The Zambird takes off from the white ship. Kappei calls out to his grandfather, wondering what is going on. Heizaemon said Kappei always wanted to fly a fighter jet which is why he allowed him to do so. Kappei objects, saying he doesn’t know how, but Heizaemon tells him he has been teaching him for the past year and a half in his sleep, using technology left behind by their ancestors. He says the white ship was also from their ancestors and was the treasure that they the family was searching for. Heizaemon tells him that ancient manuscripts tell them an enemy known as “Gaizock” is coming, that the beast in front of Kappei must be a mecha boost belonging to them, and that only Kappei and the Zambird can fight it. Heizaemon tells him he’ll have to fight to save his friends as well, causing Kappei to remember them. At that moment Kouzuki is fighting off tentacles of the Domira on his small boat. Kappei shoots at the tentacle with the Zambird, destroying it. Heizaemon tells him to rise and how to use the rear screen of the Zambird to avoid the enemy. Kappei fires at the tentacles of the Domira, destroying many of them. The Domira’s laser razes the Zambird then fires several missiles at him. Ichitaro tells him to turn off the engine and fire its jamming beacons, which enables him to avoid them. Ichitaro tells Kappei to do the Ace Change, which Kappei somehow knows how to do. This transports him to the Zambird’s cockpit, transforming it into the humanoid robot Zambo Ace. Kouzuki and the others are surprised at the appearance of the Zambo Ace and their boat is capsized. Kappei flies down and pulls them out of the water. Kappei chuckles over how easily he could crush Kouzuki, but Heizaemon calls out to him so Kappei brings them to dry land. The Zambo Ace flies towards the Domira and starts punching it. Kappei starts laughing, saying this will be easier than fighting Kouzuki. Ichitaro warns him that the Zambo Ace isn’t good fighting in the air, but Kappei ignores him. The Domira is able to knock the Zambo Ace into the water. Ichitaro tells Kappei to head to the beach where he won’t do much damage. Ichitaro shoots out the Zambo Magnum from the white ship. The Domira approaches the Zambo Ace on the ground and surrounds it with many of its tentacles, flinging it to the ground multiple times. The Zambo Ace is able to break through from them but is nearly struck by several missiles. The Zambo Magnum arrives and attaches itself to the Zambo Ace, which fires at the Domira and strikes it. Heizaemon tells Kappei that the Zambo Ace will automatically aim while still, but Kappei will have to do the aiming himself while it is moving. The Zambo Ace backs away from the Domira and reloads. It fires at the Domira’s missiles and is knocked back. With smoke filling the air, Kappei believes the Domira has disappeared. He adjusts his weapon, adding components to it. Ichitaro tells him to prepare the grenade launcher since his current weapon may not be strong enough. Multiple tentacles burst from the ground and the Zambo Ace jumps into the air, firing at the Domira as it rises. Ichitaro tells Kappei to find the Domira’s weak spot. The Domira bursts towards the Zambo Ace, greatly elongating its abdomen. Kappei fires at its elongated abdomen, which is its weak spot, and the Domira blows up. Inside his lair, Killer the Butcher realizes Earth has a robot as well. He isn’t worried about the fate of the Domira, which was simply a reconnaissance craft. He declares that he will slowly kill everyone. Meanwhile, several additional ships rise from the sea, which Heizaemon calls Beal 1st, Beal 2nd and Beal 3rd. Kappei’s mother is surprised that their family possesses such ships. Heizaemon thinks it is a sad fate for the Jin family. The Zambo Ace lands aboard the Beal 1st.
One of Tomino’s earliest mecha anime, Zambot 3 is clearly designed as a giant robot-type show and starts off a bit different than the others works of his that I’ve seen. The inclusion of aliens (in this case the Gaizock) is a rarity (appearing only other in Ideon) and much of the episode is spent with Kappei fighting a robotic bird type creature. The discovery of previously left behind crafts and weapons is another reminder for me of Ideon, with the discovery of the various Beal crafts. The episode introduces many of the show’s key characters, as well as its principal villain. “Killer the Butcher” is one of the most over the top villain names I’ve ever heard of in a work of fiction. Kappei’s dog has a lot of focus in the episode as well, making me wonder if he’ll take on a Haro-type mascot role in the show. Kappei seems pretty gung ho at going into battle once it is explained that he has been secretly being taught while asleep. Still, I can already sense some arrogance in him. Not as hectic a beginning as I am used to for a Tomino anime, but an alright way to start off the series.