Tekkaman Blade Set 1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • 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: 29.95
  • Running time: 400
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tekkaman

Tekkaman Blade Set 1

By Chris Beveridge     February 09, 2007
Release Date: March 27, 2007


Tekkaman Blade Set 1
© Media Blasters


What They Say
It is the near future, United Space Calendar Year 192. The evil alien Radam has besieged the Earth, gaining control of the enormous Orbital Ring that surrounds the planet and raining down mysterious spores that fill Earth with alien plants.

Aki and Noal, two pilots from the Outer Space Development Group, find one of the alien lieutenants who crash-landed on Earth. The stranger claims to have no memory, and is determined to fight to protect humanity! His name is D-Boy, and he appears to be a normal human - until he transforms into the bio-mechanical warrior, Tekkaman Blade!

The Review!
With humanity stuck on Earth and unable to get to the stars, an alien race has plans to conquer and change it to their needs.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
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 the Tekkamen set against it. There's some well placed red, both in background and in blood, as well as the logo. 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 character 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.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
The third volume has all the extras and there are some real winners in here. The clean versions of the opening and closing sequences are really good to see here and they look slightly cleaner than they do in the show itself. A "History of Tekkaman" featurette is included that runs about twenty-two minutes (though no timer is included on it nor do most players recognize the time). The best feature here though is the special episode "Twin Blood." Running just under ten minutes in length, this is a vision of what the show would look like in theatrical form. Done in widescreen letterbox form, it presents a couple of scenes from episode thirteen but with a real theatrical level of quality and much more detailed character designs. Everyone and everything simply looks fantastic and it really feels like they should have put the money for the series into a feature length film.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Running for forty-nine episodes between 1992 and 1993, Tekkaman Blade has had itself adapted to English language in the early nineties under the title of Teknoman. Media Blasters released that version across three collections during 2006 and it brought a fair bit of nostalgia for fans. Having seen that collection before this one, I was dreading going back to a show that didn't exactly inspire or entice me all that much in the long run. Falling into something of a monster of the week kind of mentality during certain batches of episodes, it's uninspired dub and numerous name changes left me feeling pretty bland about it.

Taking place during the year 192 of the Allied Earth calendar, humanity is at its greatest suffering ever. The world was on the verge of beginning its interstellar journey by having built an orbital ring around the entire planet from which they could launch to new worlds and adventures. An Alliance had formed among the many countries in an effort to reach out to the stars and expand the race. At the time this was ready to happen, a mysterious object crashed into the ring and from it came a race of insect like creatures and their spores. These spores caused the air to be toxic and the orbital ring quickly became overrun.

From the ring, the creatures were able to push down more spores onto the Earth and begin their slow but powerful invasion. Humanity's weapons were unable to stop it and before long nothing was left in terms of space faring ships. The might of the military could staunch the wounds of the attacks but they couldn't defeat the enemies. Cities were slowly lost to the forests of spores that grew up around them and humanity fell into a waiting game for the end of things.

Everything has a turning point though and the one here is that on board the orbital ring, one of the mechanized warriors known as Tekkaman Blade ended up fighting back against the aliens that gave him power. Knowing that the final push for invasion was coming soon, he intended to stop it with his powers. But events caused him to fall to Earth and then reluctantly fall in with a specialized group of space observers who become known as the Space Knights. Through their help, and their secret weapon of the sole remaining spaceship, this human who has become something more works with them to stop the other converted humans on board the orbital ring from accomplishing their goal of taking over the planet.

The plot is naturally very similar to what we saw in Teknoman but here it feels a bit less kid oriented and a bit more adult in some ways. The emotional range coming from it feels a bit more sincere and of course overacted at times. What gets to me when I watch this show once again is that it feels like they could have adapted it in English to be the fourth installment in Robotech with little problem. Going back to the show with the original names also helps move it away from the feel of Teknoman. Where Teknoman feels like it comes out on top is with our lead character. In that show just like here, he's lost his memory and has no idea who he is. There, he goes under the named of Blade. Here, Noal nicknames him D-boy early on because he's such a "dangerous boy." Everyone goes with this nickname and it sticks but it feels oh so stupid.

The change in the visual feel of the show because of the cleaner print certainly makes this show a lot more enjoyable. Losing that heavy grainy feel and getting a richer palette of colors makes this look like an entirely different show at many points. The character designs, which strike a resemblance to Hikaru Mikimoto's to me, are very appealing and have just enough of a rough edge to them that they fit the material fine. Though the show certainly isn't the most fluid one out there, there is a good sense of movement and not too much in the way of overly visible shortcuts. You do see scenes adapted multiple times for different backgrounds and the like, but for the most part it's a pretty solid show.

In Summary:
Tekkaman Blade was something I dreaded seeing again because spending time watching a show twice is difficult because of how many shows I tend to watch. Add in the poor presentation of the original release and the various source related problems that led to a less than thrilling experience, there wasn't a lot to look forward to here. Though the story is largely the same, the presentation of it here helps to elevate the material a bit and turn it into a fairly enjoyable experience. Though it has something of a monster of the week feel at times, it plays on a nice epic level and it simply has a bit of fun with itself. While it does take itself a bit too seriously at times, there is enough balance to it that it's a solid but not quite above average show.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English,Textless Opening and Closing, Special Episode: Twin Blood, History of Tekkaman featurette

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.

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