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Tekkaman: The Space Knight (1975) Anime Review

It took me 3 months to finish this 26 episode anime. It was a grind but when I feel in the mood for another grind I might just watch the remake, Tekkaman Blade, to see what the characters look like and act like compared to the original.

The first few episodes of Space Knight Tekkaman are a great set-up, so you might want to check them out. The earth has become uninhabitable due to pollution and at the same time aliens attack the earth. The aliens attack by destroying the Space Angel, a human space ship sent to find “a second earth” beyond the solar system. The alien space-ship’s lasers basically make certain parts of the Space Angel to phase out of existence leaving the cross-section of the ship bare. If you have seen any of those educational cross-section illustrations of aeroplanes and other vehicles that’s how the aftermath of the attack looked like. This first attack made the aliens seem threatening and ruthless, and although they remain ruthless throughout the series, they become less threatening after getting beaten by Tekkaman in every episode.

Tekkaman wears a medieval-knight inspired armour in space. He rides a mech called Pegasus and grabs alien space-craft with his whip to slice them open with his lance. It looks pretty cool whenever they’re fighting in space. Tekkaman has one special attack called Voltekka, he can shoot a star shaped laser-projectile from his head, but other than that he doesn’t really get any power-ups.

Joji Minami transforms into Tekkaman after his father, a researcher aboard the Space Angel, is killed in the first alien attack. This gives Joji the motive to transform into Tekkaman and fight against the aliens and protect the earth. It doesn’t get much more pure and simple than that. The lyrics of the opening are about Joji’s feelings towards: “In the light of the shining galaxies, If you call out your father’s name…The tear you cry will be another star.” And yet sometimes his hatred of aliens leads him to misjudge some situations.

The alien/monster designs are varied but we don’t really get to know much about the aliens beyond what powers they have. For example there exists a race of ninja aliens whocan phase through walls and there also exists a race of ant-sized aliens who canmind-controlhumans by entering their brains through the ear, but we don’t really know anything about them beyond that. The aliens exist just to create interesting scenarios for our heroes to overcome.

After the initial set up it’s just an episodic monster of the week anime. The aliens try to destroy the earth in a different way each episode and sometimes it’s kind of interesting. For example, in one episode, they try to pit the humans against each other by revealing to the public the secret that the earth is dying and that the elite are planning to find another planet for humans to live in. Mixed with the truth, the aliens lie about allow humans live on earth if they betray the human government. The fact that these scenarios are contained to one episode means that there isn’t much time for them to have an impact since everything needs to be resolved in twenty minutes. However in those short twenty minutes, the anime is not shy about casually showing people being killed in the mayhem caused by the alien attacks, there are plenty of shots of crowds being swept away among the rubble of the buildings torn down above them. However it doesn’t linger much on these moments, it’s all very fast, then the heroes swoop in to save the world again.

Although the lyrics of the ending talk about the cold battlefield of space wherein our hot-hearted heroes battle, most of the battles happen on earth rather than in space.

In terms of major themes, there would be environmentalism and racism but not every episode is about these things. Environmentalism as a theme is part of the premise, the most environmentalist-centric episode was the plot when the aliens try to take over the world by spreading the seeds of human-killing plants throughout the earth. There’s a whole montage of the humans frolicking in the peaceful nature before the plants abruptly start killing thousands of people. After the crisis is resolved, Professor Amachi, the voice of reason and morality of the series, comments that if only the instantly germinating alien plants didn’t kill people then they would be exactly what the world needed.

The anti-racist messaging comes in the form of the relationship between Joji, the human who transforms into Tekkaman, and Andro, an alien from another dying planet who escaped onto Earth but wants to return to his homeland. Joji hates aliens because his father was killed by aliens, and Andro on the other hand, is tempted to betray the humansto return to his planet. There’s a lot of banter and distrust between these two characters at first: Joji is hot-tempered and passionatewhereas Andro is sarcastic and acerbic, but through honesty and saving each other in a pinch,they eventually form a strong manly bond. Professor Amachi’s daughter, Hiromi, served as the moderating force between these two, and also she’s cute.

Tekkaman was cancelled halfway only to be brought back as a remake, Tekkaman Blade. The last Tekkaman episode ends on a cliffhanger. This cancellation also means that a lot of things in Tekkaman remain unanswered, such as why the aliens want to take over earth even though earth is a dying planet. From what I could find out the real reason was that the aliens wanted to destroy humanity to prevent it from polluting more planets.

Twenty-six episodes is pretty short for one of these old monster of the week anime TV shows, but I am not sure if I could take any more episodes. It took me three months and I had to force myself to watch the last three episodes.

Maybe there are others who can appreciate this anime more than I can, maybe that’s you dear reader, but for me it was just a historical curiosity that I indulged in to satisfy my completionist mindset. To keep the child-hood reminiscing short, I caught the first few episodes on DVD when I was six years old and a few things kindled my curiosity about this tale: the mystery behind Andro’s character and his powers, the lasers which can bi-sect a space-ship, and Tekkaman’s painful looking transformation where Joji is covered in chains before the armour is forged onto his body. The answers to these questions were kind of disappointing or non-existent but I didn’t hate this anime for that.

If anyone can find the soundtrack for Space Knight Tekkaman, please do share a link in the comments cause I’d like to have it.

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Note for the reader’s sanity: This blog post started out as a review of Gunbuster but quickly spun out of control onto matters outside an anime about high school girls…

The following poetry has been kindly provided by our literature club members: ‘aja’, ‘Fahrenheit’, ‘Huskycommander’ , ‘Fox the Eternal’  and ‘Church’ respectively. We hope you enjoy reading our work!  …

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