The re-imagination of old shows is a tricky mistress especially in the world of anime. Back in the 1970's a series called Tekkaman the Space Knight came out and was an interesting science fiction endeavor. I personally have only seen bits and pieces of the original so I am by no means an authority on it. When the revitalization known as Tekkaman Blade came out in the 90's it was something worth looking at though the English version left something to be desired.
In many ways the first Tekkaman was an anime pioneer when it originally came out. Unfortunately time has not been fare to the science fiction genre and most of the old shows we know and love have become watered down thanks to over-saturation in the genre. How many times do we have to see huge robots fight even bigger aliens? To take that further, how many times have we seen humans transforming with suits of armor to fight aliens? I'm a lover of just about every robo-anime out there but in many ways Tekkaman Blade felt lukewarm the more I became familiar with it.
The show takes place in a future where mankind has become comfortable with venturing into space. Better technology has allowed humanity to create an orbital ring around the planet and it has benefited our people in a number of ways. However, when a fleet of hostile alien creatures called the Rahdam come to pay us a visit, they take over the spatial fortress and the benefit of technology turns into an instrument of destruction.
The creatures use the ring as a launching post for assaults on the Earth below. In addition to essentially transforming our planet into a hospitable environment for themselves they are using weapons available on the array to decimate entire cities. Our armaments consistently prove to be useless against the Rahdam as well so naturally all hope seems to be lost. That's when Tekkaman Blade shows up on the orbital ring.
Suited in white armor and possessing reckless abandon, Tekkaman Blade uses advanced weaponry and a pair of brass balls (thankfully figuratively) to tear through the Rahdam. With spear, dagger, and boomerang in hand he is a force to be reckoned with but another mysterious other warrior arrives on the scene. This new robotic fighter spouts death threats at Blade and charges at him full on. His relationship to Blade isn't revealed until later but their ensuing battle sends our tentative hero crashing helplessly to the mighty Earth below.
Back on our planet some of Earth's meager defense forces witness Blade crashing to Earth but from their distance they presume it to be a meteor or Rahdam weapon or something. Proceeding with caution they discover a naked man walking out of the blaze and smoke. The guy has extensive injuries that are congruent with the wounds inflicted on Blade so they take him back to their medical facility. When he comes to he franticly searches for a way to get back into space in order to fight the Rahdam again. Eventually he teams up with the humans and becomes a part of their Space Knight squadron, working with them to defend the Earth and humanity.
The origin of his power is a mystery at first but as the show progresses more Tekkaman show up to confront Blade (known as D-Boy by this point, which means Dangerous Boy...yeah, I know it's lame). In total this collection features the first 16 episodes from the Japanese cut. Because of this, if you think that you have seen Tekkaman before (known previously as Teknoman) you may want to rethink your impressions. The result from this presentation is a series that is the same but very different in many regards. Emotion feels rawer and much of what happens seems more natural.
For a time Tekkaman Blade remains fairly episodic with one monster of the week plotline after another. An overarching story does surface during all the hoopla and for what it's worth it is engaging; just not entirely so. We have seen science fiction shows like this so many times before that most of the content here is kind of redundant. Blade's progression as a character is a driving force but it's the relationship all of the Star Knights have that gives the show weight. This DVD release is a fine presentation for Tekkaman and honestly is the best that we have received here in the States. If you enjoyed the original or want to check out a science fiction show that you may have missed this one is definitely worth a shot.
Tekkaman Blade originally aired over in Japan in 1992. With 15 years under its belt the image quality is naturally weathered but not quite as faded as you'd expect. The image is vibrant for the most part and much of the transfer looks better than Teknoman did. There are some problems with grain, speckle, compression, and a bit of softness found in the picture but again, they are to be expected. Overall the presentation here is arguably better than the series has ever received before but little to no clean up effort was exuded to bring the video up to speed.
Tekkaman Blade's audio presentation is a little unique compared to other anime that we see on the market. Since the English dubs were presented as part of an edited version of the show that track could obviously not have been used. Instead of pulling in the resources to compile a new one Anime Works has opted to keep the show as original as possible. A Japanese 2.0 Stereo track is all that you'll find here and quite honestly that suited me just fine. The technical presentation of the show is on par with what you'd expect from a stereo track though a little more presence on the soundstage would have gone a long way. English subtitles are available.
This three disc set includes bonus features available on the third. First up is the obligatory textless opening and closing animations along with some trailers. There is a mini-episode of sorts called "Twin Blood" that is presented with widescreen and is basically an OVA. The animation is different and the overall look is much more refined. It's really too bad that the entirety of Tekkaman Blade didn't turn out looking like this! Last but not least is a look at the history of Tekkaman which includes footage from the original show and a bit of information. Watching snippets of the 70's version reminded me a lot of Gatchaman. Maybe some day we'll have this original series as well?
Tekkaman Blade is a fine re-imagination of a thirty year old show. The action is intense and the characters are interesting but the concept gets kind of dry after a while. It may have had more originality back in the day and because of that many viewers may be turned off. This is still a rich show with a strong following and there's plenty of reason for newcomers to check it out. Anime Works' 3 disc collection is arguably the best treatment that this series has ever seen. You can't really go wrong checking this show out!
Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!