Tekkaman Blade Set 2 (of 3) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, May 03, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What They Say
Afraid of losing control and attacking Aki or the Space Knights, D-Boy finds himself paralyzed in battle. The team is rescued by Balzac, piloting the military's Powered Suit, the artificial Tekkaman, Sol. Then the invading Radam aliens step up their attack, and D-Boy can't transform into Tekkaman Blade. Noal and Aki step in to protect him.

Meanwhile, Tekkaman Evil searches the Earth for the escaped Tekkaman Rapier, who is really D-Boy's sister Miyuki. Miyuki ends up befriending Aki, and she is given a terrible choice. She can either keep her promise to wait for her brother, or sacrifice herself to protect her new friend from the assault of Tekkaman Axe, Lance and Sword.

Contains episodes 17-33.

The Review!
D-Boy continues to deal with problems caused by the military while also going up against his brother in the form of Tekkaman Evil.

With this release being a presentation of the show as originally broadcast and new no English language adaptation to it, the only track included is the Japanese 2.0 mix. Presented at 448kbps, the stereo mix comes across quite well for a show of this age with a fair bit of directionality. Compared to the previous English only edition which had some severe problems during it, this one sounds pristine. It isn't the kind of mix that will excite compared to more recent shows but it's a solid presentation of the material itself outside of a PCM mix. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of these sixteen episodes.

Originally airing in 1992, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. In its Teknoman version, we had commented on how soft and poorly taken care of the source materials were and wondered how much of it was in the original Japanese materials. Watching these sixteen episodes, spread across three DVDs instead of the two that the English version was done with, it's almost a night and day kind of presentation. The source materials for this release are in far better shape than that version though not completely free of issues. While there is occasionally a touch of softness in some scenes, where the materials here suffer is in some white specks and general print damage. These moments are noticeable and somewhat consistent throughout all the episodes but I have to emphasize that they are minimal and simply indicative of the materials of the time. Colors look rich and vibrant here, backgrounds are solid and there's nothing really visible for the most part in terms of cross coloration. The bit rates for this release are consistently in the sevens to nines and having it across three discs helps a lot. Fans of this show will likely love what they see here, particularly if they've seen the Teknoman collection first.

The Tekkaman Blade collection release is in a rather simple but slick package here that has a really good feel to it. Designed as a chipboard digipak, the front cover is sideways layout that has a very white background with a great visual of Tekkaman Evil and Tekkaman Rapier set against it. This is the kind of design that excels in its simplicity and is very eye-catching. The back cover isn't sideways and it contains a bit of Tekkaman artwork from the show and a couple of very small screenshots. Between them is a decent summary of the premise while the rest of the cover is rounded out with the production and technical information. No insert is included but the interior has the clear plastic digipak holders with character artwork behind it.

Using the same artwork as the front cover across all three menus, the design here looks just as good as the packaging does. The colors look just right, plenty of detail and with the bit of vocal music applied to it, it sets the mood. The only complaint I can have and it's incredibly minor is that the font used for the "Star Knight" section just doesn't work as it reads more like "Staa Hnight" than what it should. Access times are nice and fast and navigation is quick and simple across all of them. Only the third volume has extras on it as there aren't even trailers on the first two volumes. Unfortunately, even with it being just Japanese language, it doesn't properly default to subtitles being on nor do presets work. The subtitle track is tagged as "other" so if you have English set as a default it won't find it.

Though not quite as good as the first volume which had that film-like version of the show there are some good things to be had here. An alternate version of the opening sequence and the eye-catch are presented here with different music that really changes how it feels compared to what it ended up as. Something of an amusing inclusion is the "stock footage roll" which presents, well, the various stock footage moments with labels as to what they are. These continue to be some of the most trying yet obvious moments in shows like this and seeing them as an extra is both amusing and painful. Some of the comments made in it though are priceless. Also included is one of the original promotional pieces made for the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Getting seventeen episodes spread across three volumes, Tekkaman Blade's section collection gets us up to episode thirty three in this forty nine episode series. As with any lengthy series there are ups and downs and often little change until key moments. The halfway mark of this set presents just one of those moments which help to keep it fun and interesting to watch overall but can make specific episodes a real chore.

With the first set out of the way and a good deal of the basics account for, this set of episodes focuses largely at first with more seemingly random encounters against the Radam. At the same time there are conflicts still raging between Colbert and Freeman over what to do. Freeman's more measured style has helped his crew to make some good gains but Colbert continues to abide by the rule of recklessness is what wins the big engagements. Naturally, D-Boy continues to be in the middle of this. With his Tek Setter and abilities, it's little surprise that Balzac was sent in to swipe data to help their own "Sol Tekkaman" program that will give them a super soldier of sorts to go against the Radam.

Balzac and Malraux's back story helps to make them come across as a little less nasty and mean at times. The entire point of the project ends up being one that allows Noal to be able to stand toe to toe against the Radam. This is of course fortuitous timing as Tekkaman Evil has been forced into taking more decisive action against Blade after Dagger had been eliminated. This brings in a few more contacts between the two as Evil is just as his namesake indicates and he uses whatever he can to take him down. Interestingly, his position becomes somewhat threatened during all of this as Tekkaman Rapier has been determined to be incompatible with the Radam and forced out. With her memories coming back to her she makes a bee line for Earth in order to get to her brother D-Boy.

It's at this point that the show hits its dramatic moments as D-Boys past and the lies he's been telling are laid bare. Her arrival shakes things up nicely not only for him but those around him who find out what he really is all about. The exploration of his past and the events at Saturn aboard the Argos brings more of the Radam's arrival into light as well as expanding upon the kind of tension and angst that revolves around his combating the Tekkaman in general. These explanations go a long way towards shifting the show from one of weekly battles and drama to one of real conflict and emotion.

Takkaman Rapier's arrival is also another significant shift in the battle for humanity's survival as Tekkaman Evil decides to go all out based on how things are shaping up. With the revived Tekkaman Axe, Lance and Sword now at his side, the planet ends up embroiled in a very bitter war of attrition as the Allied Forces fall under the onslaught. Shifting the storyline five months later where the Space Knights are separated a bit and D-Boy is looking to get to the moon in order to bring things to a close, the series becomes more episodic as smaller tales expand upon the fall of mankind. There are some good stories here, such as getting more on Noal's past that helps make him more interesting, but it takes on a road trip feeling as they travel about looking for a way off-planet.

Still dealing with having seen this in its Teknoman version, it can be difficult at times to watch something that I feel like I've already seen. There are plenty of differences and the overall result is a much more enjoyable experience but I can't shake off that feeling. With the length of the series, it's the key moments that are the best but it's the slower ones that are building up the cast of characters. With the loss of the base and being on the run, everyone gets to shine a bit different. The only area that I continue to really hate about this show is that Takaya is called D-Boy. Using Blade in the Teknoman version works well for that adaptation but using D-Boy here makes me want to go to Japan and smack some sense into these people. There are plenty of bad names out there over the years but D-Boy continues to top the list of things that just get under my skin with how bad it is.

In Summary:
Though there are still issues in trying to separate this version from the Teknoman one, Tekkaman Blade is a solidly enjoyable series for what it is. In a lot of ways they simply don't make shows like this anymore for better or worse so getting my hands on one is always something of a pleasure. If we hadn't seen Teknoman first I probably would be more gung-ho over this experience. This set of episodes covers a lot of ground, marks some good changes to the pacing of the series and in general is a lot of fun. It's not high art and it's a concept that's been done many times but it's competent and while hitting all the right marks.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Alternate Opening Sequence and Eyecatch,Stock Footage Roll,Promotional Footage

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Toshiba HD-A1 Progressive Scan HD DVD player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Media Blasters
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 425
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Tekkaman