Locke the Superman: New World Command (Choujin Locke: Shin Sekai Sentai) is a two episode OAV from 1991. I quite enjoyed it but it’s one of those titles that you have to be careful about recommending. I would only suggest it to seasoned anime fans. It has an “old school” feel to it that brought back memories of Arcadia of My Youth (1982) and especially Time Etranger (1985). By “old school” I mean it has a melancholy, sentimental feel and a slow pace. The characters are mostly taciturn and long pauses are common. I like this sort of thing as it seems very fitting for the Japan of a few decades ago. The resolve of the characters and the pain they’ve experienced really come alive with this kind of storytelling.
What I didn’t like was the feeling that I’d walked into a movie that is already half over. A few scenes made reference to earlier Locke the Superman stories that I’ve never had a chance to see. A movie and OAV series preceeded this story and, of course, the manga. Still, I got the impression I was able to connect with everything that was happening despite what I missed.
Locke and four other espers find themselves lead to the same place and all of them have had their memories stolen. A mysterious figure appears and tells them they must cooperate to succeed in a dangerous mission. Only then will they have their memories returned. In keeping with this air of mystery, the audience is kept in the dark about many plot details. The viewer is kept guessing almost as much as the characters themselves. However, the writers don’t leave you hanging. Unlike Evangelion and so many other imitators, New World Command explains everything at the end and lets you savor the plot points as the end credits roll.
Locke the Superman presents a rare combination in science-fiction anime: mental powers and a far-future, high-tech setting where mankind has colonized the stars. I really hope I can someday get my hands on the rest of the Locke the Superman anime. If you’re ready for old school anime, get your hands on Locke the Superman: New World Command.