Tekkaman Blade is another show I’d never have seen if not for SRW, and the constant raving of this guy. And I can’t thank them well enough. It’s a shame, because this is such a damn good show. Too bad my country has virtually never heard of TB, or even its English release, Teknoman. Tragical.
Tekkaman Blade is a 90’s remake of the 70’s anime Space Knight Tekkaman, which is a very campy-looking show set mostly in space. But as far as remakes go, there is little in common between them, aside from the Tekkaman concept and the Space Knights organization. TB is a dark and gloomy show, in the vein of Zeta Gundam. And it’s just as awesome as Zeta is.
TB’s premise is simple, if not a bit cliched. Aliens rain poisonous spores on the Earth’s surface, and bring humanity to its knees. A man falls down from the heavens, claiming to be the only one who can stop the aliens. This man is Tekkaman Blade, and his power comes from a mysterious Tek crystal that allows him to conjure a nigh-indestructible armor around him (Power armor counts as mecha, hah! Look at SRW). But Blade isn’t exactly hero material, though. He’s a big dick right from the start, relying more on bravado than anything else in order to get results. And boy, he gets beat up badly because of it. In fact, this is one show where the main character gets shitted on very often: Blade is beaten up by alien grunts, fails to henshin, goes berserk, commits friendly fire, gets his ultimate attack thwarted, gets scared and refuses to fight, loses his sanity, gets beat up again, you get the picture. The amount of punishment he goes through in the entire 49 episodes of the show is mind-boggling, but the admirable thing is that he gets up every time he’s beaten back, and comes out stronger. It’s very Nietzschean, and a testament to the amazing tenacity of human beings.
Blade’s character development is masterfully done. His “I’m the only guy who can beat the aliens so get out of my way” shtick falls real fast, and he learns to seek the help of comrades. Any other show would stop at that, but TB takes it further: somewhere along the line, Blade fails his teammates, and becomes fearful of fighting. “What if I fail my friends again?” he asks himself. He pulls off a Shinji, retreats within himself, and, without delving much into details, is convinced to stand up and fight again. It goes into a loop: get beat, stand back up, get beat again, keep on fighting. By the end, Blade is a real man, and his will grows into great heights, becoming comparable to giants like Simon, Guy and Ryoma.
As the show goes on, rival Tekkamen show up. The first one up is Dagger, and he’s a slippery bastard whose well-deserved demise we cheer. But this show is unforgiving. Episodes later, we’re shown a kick-in-the-balls twist: his greatest nemesis is none other than his own twin brother! And this is where I get to my next point: Tekkaman Blade has one of the greatest and most bitter rivalries in anime. Tekkaman Evil (yes, that’s his name alright) is badder, stronger, and more motivated to win than Blade, who becomes half-hearted after this revelation–can he really fight his own brother at all? It is a mournful thing, being forced to kill your friends and family, who are beyond help. Remember that Blade is fighting people whom he held dear, and he does so with pure hatred in his heart toward the alien race that had twisted his family and friends. His hate is so great that it keeps him going on long even after his natural strength would’ve left him already.
Being a long show, TB has its own share of fillers. Oh wait. Did I just say fillers? I’m more inclined to call them character-driven episodes, though, because they do a good job of endearing the viewer to Blade and his friends. There’s the awesome Danny Boy episode, the cute but sad mansion episode, the Noal episode, and so on. They’re great on their own, and give us a peek on how people seek to live and find happiness in such a ruined world. Another reason why I love this show: GRIMDARK as it is, it keeps on reminding us that hope is just around the corner, waiting to be seized.
The supporting cast is a lovable bunch. Chief Freeman is a soft-spoken commander whose appearance belies his JUST AS PLANNED machinations. Think of a Gendou who actually cares for his people and you’re set. Aki Kisaragi is hot, mature, womanly, and never boring. Noal is the cheery, cocky dude who lightens the mood up (He’s also the one who gave Blade the nickname “Dangerous Boy”, or D-Boy for short. Best nickname ever.). Milly the operator is cute and flat (Screw depth, flat is good!). There’s Levin, the gay engineer (or was it mechanic? I mix him and Honda a lot) who is your proto-Leeron, and Old Man Honda, the tough-and-tender mechanic guy.
The voice cast for this show is also phenomenal. Blade is voiced by Toshiyuki Morikawa, who gets into my badass male seiyuu list for this role alone (this and this are just icing on the cake, really). Takehito Koyasu as Evil is perfect, and is my favorite Koyasu role of all time. The Space Knights are also made of big names: Hirotaka Suzuoki as Freeman, Megumi Hayashibara as Aki, Chisa Yokoyama as Milly. And I won’t spoil who’s the final boss for you, hohoho. Or you can look it up if you don’t mind being spoiled.
And by the way, the OP is just loads of win. Watch it.