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.
This lukewarm sensation had a lot to do with the episodic nature of its content and the generic personalities each character possessed. You could essentially pluck one character out from the series and drop them into another and they would fit in just perfectly. As a whole the first released left a relatively positive impression with me but in the 17 episodes available on the collection there were many slow and pointless adventures.
In the second volume we received 17 episodes of Tekkaman which, more or less, moved the series forward. For the most part things were very episodic with the Rahdam showing up, the humans fighting them off, and D-Boy getting suited up for a giant finish. Quite honestly there was sparse activity on the storyline front and things only got interesting as the darker Tekkaman fighters were fleshed out. The appearance of D-Boy's sister through a wrench into some workings in the show and there was a plot to craft more Tekkaman soldiers. All in all things were left on a somewhat somber note but with so many episodic adventures clogging things up the pacing slowed to a crawl and there just wasn't enough to keep the story "popping".
With the third volume Tekkaman Blade comes to a close as episodes 34 through 49 wrap things up. Going into this installment I was kicking around some speculation regarding how well things would turn out in the end. As I feared, the slow romp towards the finish didn't completely satisfy or live up to the promise built upon earlier in the show. In this volume there are still some episodic storylines and even some "remember this?" moments from earlier in the series. Add to those faults the fact that there is weak character development all around and you have a butt-kicking show that went out kind of like a sheep instead of a lion.
During this volume D-Boy tackles yet more of the sinister Tekkaman fighters. There are still plenty of them left to cause a ruckus and D-Boy is more than willing to jump into the fray thanks to the death of his sister (and that whole saving humanity thing). Well, things look mighty grim for much of this installment. The orbital ring is in ruins and the Rahdam continue to grow at an exponential rate.
The most interesting confrontation this installment offers is a battle between master and apprentice. D-Boy in his Tekkaman Blade outfit goes toe to toe with his former trainer in a fight to the death. This was one of the most climactic moments of the series and ironically enough it wasn't even the finale. In regards to that (the ending) things were in fact quite anti-climactic.
The focus of the final battle just seems to be off from the very beginning and it feels like a mere destination at the end of a long and tired journey. I didn't feel emotionally involved on any level and the series just completes itself way too quickly. There feels like there should have been more after the fact but sadly there isn't. I suppose when things are all said and done Tekkaman Blade could have finished on a far more sour note. I was just disappointed because up until the end the show had become long in tooth.
If you appreciated the Americanized version of Tekkaman Blade that was released prior to this one then you'll fall head over heels for Media Blaster's uncut collection. However, if you're coming to this series as a newcomer with your feet wet in the giant robot genre you'll most likely walk away bored. There are plenty of cool things about Tekkaman Blade but in the end the poor pacing, development, and storytelling just don't do it justice. I'm going to recommend it for fans but suggest a rental for everyone else.
Tekkaman Blade originally aired in Japan during the 1992 season. With 15 years under its belt the image quality is naturally weathered but not quite as faded as you'd expect. The picture is vibrant for the most part and much of the transfer looks better than the sub-par and edited Teknoman release 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 the best that this series has ever seen before. It appears that very little effort had to be expelled in order to get the video up to snuff though things aren't as perfect as one would hope. Fans will be pleased though newcomers will note the age of the material.
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.
The final collection of Tekkaman Blade brings a couple of interesting bonus features to the table but to be honest there isn't anything groundbreaking. These inclusions are called "Bonus Episodes" on the back of the DVD though they're really just short extras. The first, "Burning Clock" takes a look at Shinya's point of view regarding some events in the series. The second, "Missing Link", bridges the gap between Tekkaman Blade and the six episode sequel OVA. Neither "episode" is particularly enthralling though the pair are well-produced and give fans something else to watch.
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.
I enjoyed the first two collections of Tekkaman Blade (the first more than the second) but found the third to be something of a let-down. As the end credits rolled I found myself thinking, "That's it?" and was immediately disappointed. There was hardly any build up, secondary characters were sparsely used with these episodes, and there was very little in the way of a climax. This was a series that featured too many slowly paced episodes to really allow viewers to latch onto the concept. However, if you liked the Americanized version of the show you'll find plenty to appreciate here. Newcomers may get into it as well though it really depends on your personal preference. I'm going to give it a light recommendation though it borders on rental.
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