I just finished watching the 49 episodes of Tekkaman Blade (1992). This is an incredible TV show and I highly recommend it to science-fiction fans. Tatsunoko Pro was behind this show and, as with Gatchaman and others, they’ve turned out a wonderful action show about heroism and bravery.
Just as mankind completes an orbital ring around the Earth and embarks on an age of stellar exploration a mysterious alien force attacks. Occupying the orbital ring by force and spreading strange, alien trees across the surface of the Earth the Radam cannot be stopped. In the midst of humanity’s despair a hero appears. A warrior that can match the Radam’s ferocity. A white spirit that never fails to rise again when defeated: Tekkaman Blade.
The Radam made 8 humans into tekkamen before invading the Earth. Planning to use them as generals in their army, they possess combat abilities surpassing any technologies humans can produce. Aiba Takaya was freed from the alien transformation before its completion and is thus able to use his tekkaman abilities free from Radam brainwashing as Tekkaman Blade. He resolves to fight to the end to protect Earth.
Takaya’s bravery and sacrifice are phenomenal over the course of the show. He dedicates himself body and soul to fight the Radam and in that dedication he never falters. Although constantly beaten and wounded seriously he never fails to rise again and continue his fight. When his health, even his mind, threaten to be swallowed up in the conflict he carries on with an unbreakable resolve. Nothing will make him compromise his vow to free the Earth of the Radam menace. He learns that using his tekkaman powers will cost him his life. With the knowledge of no happy ending for himself after the struggle he doesn’t hesitate to give everything for his fellow humans. Such sacrifice is ultimately rewarded but it’s a long and difficult journey.
Not only that but the Radam have taken his family members and former comrades from the Titan Exploration Team to be tekkamen. Takaya is forced to kill his own brothers and friends if he is to free the Earth. The pain Takaya carries with him is hard to imagine but it doesn’t ever stop him from carrying on with his mission.
In the story’s beginning Takaya sees himself as the only person who can fight the Radam. Earth weapons are useless against the Radam forces so Takaya dismisses all other people as helpless. When he meets the elite members of the Space Knights he only wants them to get out of his way. After constant defeats and setbacks Takaya learns the hard way that he can’t fight the Radam alone. He joins the Space Knights, reluctantly at first, and becomes fully integrated into the team. Without the aid and sacrifices of his team members he would have been killed many times over by the Radam. Arrogance is purged from his thinking as the Space Knights risk their lives together as one. Tekkaman Blade is a very Japanese story. I have trouble imagining an American science-fiction story demonstrating the importance of teamwork and humility to this degree.
One of the nice things about Tekkaman Blade is it takes a positive view towards science and progress. Even though humans are outmatched they continue to try. After a while they start to learn more about the Radam and develop technology to improve their odds. Takaya doesn’t have to fight the Radam alone anymore after the 2 Sol Tekkaman powered armor suits are created. Even when Takaya’s transformation crystal is destroyed the Space Knights research a way to duplicate its capabilities and put the new system into a support robot called Pegas. Humans are not helpless and hopeless. Also, stupid peacenik and environmentalist nonsense is kept out of the show. How refreshing!
With story elements such as orbital rings, space exploration and dreams of colonizing the universe, Tekkaman Blade is very forward-looking science-fiction. This may be due in part to the fact that the show is a remake of Space Knight Tekkaman from 1975. Optimistic ideas like this are becoming too scarce in recent sci-fi stories. I hope newer anime will take some cues from Tekkaman Blade.
When all is said and done the Earth is free. The Radam are vanquished. Takaya lives out the rest of his days as a vegetable in a wheelchair. No miracles arrive to save him from the fate he chose. Takaya’s many sacrifices pave the way for his fellow men and women to find peace. Heroism isn’t always rewarded. It is this understanding that shows us the producers of Tekkaman Blade know true heroism. I hope audiences on both sides of the Pacific can find more stories in the years ahead that have such heart.
Tekkaman Blade is available for sale on DVD in North America and can be rented from Netflix.