The developers behind global hits Genshin Impact and Honkai Star Rail have been cooking something and it’s almost ready to be served. On July 4th 2024, Zenless Zone Zero, the company’s brand new action RPG title will be released worldwide, including for players in Japan. With such a strong community of fans and players here, we’re positive that Zenless Zone Zero will make waves here with many exciting collabs and in-person activations to follow. 

Ahead of the game’s release, we’re taking a closer look at Zenless Zone Zero to see what some of the Japanese inspirations in the game could be. Some of these are from our own observations while others are with some help from the game’s producer himself, Zhenyu Li. 

zenless zone zero

What is Zenless Zone Zero?

Also known in the community as ZZZ, Zenless Zone Zero is an urban fantasy game where players assume the role of a Proxy. The Proxy supports others in exploring the Hollows, a supernatural disaster plagued with monsters known as the Ethereal, to help them achieve their objectives. You can play as Belle or Wise, the duo behind the main protagonist and Proxy “Phaethon”. Battles however will be played out by agents all with their own unique backstory, playstyle and character design.

The game has a very contemporary feel with players exploring vibrant areas for story advancement but also to just wind down and drink a coffee, check out some DVDs or play games at an arcade. Core gameplay revolves around building characters and teams of three units, completing missions via a roguelike TV screen traversal and fast action combat with satisfying battles.

Key Inspiration from Street Fighter and Digimon World

During the Zenless Zone Zero global media tour interview, Li shared that two big game influences for him were actually Street Fighter VI and Digimon World. Reviews of the game’s closed beta test have revealed how much everyone adores the dynamic action within ZZZ’s combat system. Li claims this is in part due to the thousands of hours he had spent in Street Fighter where he learned about action feedback in fighting games. As for the latter, Li drew references from his childhood spent playing the Digimon games. The games had a day-night system that allowed the player to stumble upon different incidents depending on the time and location. ZZZ will have a similar approach so make sure to check back in different areas at multiple times of the day!

ZZZ Ramen

The “Waterfall Soup” Ramen Shop

Standing out in Sixth Street with a striking red shopfront is Waterfall Soup, a ramen spot that provides delicious bowls of the hot noodle soup that can buff your character’s performance in upcoming battles. There’s a lot to the heartwarming design that is reminiscent of the kind of hole-in-the-wall joints you’d find across Japan that house some incredible bowls. But we also have to take note of the red noren decoration as well as the koi lantern and signage that signals, Japanese ramen shop to us. The head chef, General Chop, also seems to have design cues taken from Japanese traditional tengu masks that are known to have an intimidating red and black motif with strong features painted on.

zenless zone zero anime

Anime, Anime, Anime

Bearing the distinctive Hoyoverse anime-style, it’s clear that certain style choices are a nod towards Japanese animation series. In the interview, Li was not shy about his love for anime, a medium he has been consuming for a long time. Some of Li’s favorite shows date as far back as classics such as Neon Genesis Evangelion and the Fate series. Another series he mentioned is Soul Eater, of which the anime has very striking and dynamic battle scenes. Some of these iconic movements seem to be reflected in a few of the ZZZ character attack patterns. In terms of contemporary anime, Li has also been watching Jujutsu Kaisen and Frieren. With an urban city setting that encourages the player to feel as though they’re truly living in it, there are certainly some slice of life elements to ZZZ that give off the same vibe as everyone’s current favorite elf anime.

zenless zone zero katana

Section 6 Characters

Playable characters in Zenless Zone Zero are all part of different factions. Li mentioned that this mirrors real life in how we tend to group ourselves into communities based on occupations, hobbies, preferences and interests. One faction in ZZZ is Hollow Special Operations Section 6 which is currently made up of two characters, Soukaku and Hoshimi Miyabi. Aside from the Japanese names, there are also some other references such as the katana that Hoshimi wields and the wide sleeves and pleated high-waisted skirt that take cues from the characteristics of a hakama. We’ll learn more about these characters as well as more members from Section 6 as the game unfolds! 

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