11 Years before “Hackers” There Was “Video Warrior Laserion”

In the absence of much English-language popularity or information about Video Warrior Laserion I ended up with a wildly inaccurate picture of what sort of a series it would be; it seemed like it was going to be a show about someone going inside a computer to fight computer viruses and so on, because it had a reputation of “a robot programmed in BASIC by a hacker”. And indeed the opening credits strongly suggested it was that, or maybe an Ender’s Game situation where the virtual world was actually something more sinister.

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There’s More to Gold Lightan than Killer Dolphins, Sexy Robots and Weird Fights.

There is something very interesting about Gold Lightan; it is a series that has clear past precedent and many, many interesting future derivatives and yet at the same time feels very much its own thing and quite unlike the competition. It aired in 1981, by which point Super Sentai had already started using giant robots (with Battle Fever J in 1979 and Denjiman in 1980). This is worth noting because the episode to episode plotting of Gold Lightan is strongly reminiscent of super sentai – and in turn it feels equally like a predecessor to 1982’s Space Sheriff Gavan in how strange the villains’ methods are.

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Stronger than God or Devil, but Mostly God, is Daimajin

Arrow Films released a very nice collection of the Daimajin films in 2021, and I have since watched two of the three. They’re honestly extremely interesting entries into the giant monster/tokusatsu milieu because they run with a lot of ideas that I feel would in turn turn into super robot anime tropes, and well worth a watch. I think it’s fair to say they’re both very different to a lot of monster disaster films but also much more thematically similar than you might immediately expect.

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Take a Ride on the Galaxy Express, And Learn a Thing Or Two About The Working Class

Simply put, Galaxy Express 999 avoids the most common pitfall of socially conscious science fiction by not trying to disguise the point it is trying to make in science-fiction jargon, or couch it in allegory. Instead, it makes the simple and devastating argument that scientific progress won’t actually fix the problems in society and will most likely just make them worse. It’s a bold move and one that doesn’t always work because there are some things that haven’t quite held up as thinking-points since its first airing in 1978. Similarly, society has changed and with it perhaps attitudes to social issues.

But broadly speaking while Galaxy Express is wild, unscientific sci-fi of weird and unlikely worlds and trains in space, absolutely none of this gets in the way of the fact most episodes are just extremely explicit complaints about something wrong with people. The show is over a hundred episodes long and trying to be comprehensive would be a fruitless endeavour, but I’m going to here talk about some of the episodes and themes that worked very well – even if the execution of the whole episode might have had some issues, there’s often something very relatable to it.

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The Divine Right of Kings Isn’t Much Fun in “The Twelve Kingdoms”

I’ve had many, many months to digest The Twelve Kingdoms because there’s a lot of it, it’s a very dense series, and it’s best looked at with that breathing-space. It’s a tough sell of a series, a meandering, often tricky to keep up with isekai story that is full of abrasive characters, but its sheer scale and ambition – as cliché as that sounds – is hard to find elsewhere.

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Bad Things Will Happen To People Who Mostly Deserve It In “Argento Soma”

Something I like a lot about Ultraman, among many other sci-fi serials, is it’s frequently willing to just have a very angry episode about scientific hubris and exploitation. The scientific world, or the military, or capitalism, will see in the marvelous and wonderful a chance to grab power or profit, and everything will go wrong. You know exactly what will go wrong and you will see how it once again leads to a senseless fight. Argento Soma is a series that in its first 8 episodes sets itself up as a very long build up to tragedy of this kind, and this is why it is very good.

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We’re Back

I stopped writing this blog because I ran out of things I cared enough about to write about them, and realised I enjoyed things a lot more when watching them without needing to look for things to write about than when I was trying very hard to find something clever to say about everything I enjoyed.

I’m going to be changing the way I write articles; they’ll be shorter and more direct, generally just my reactions to things often once I’ve seen enough of them to form a proper opinion. First impressions are generally wrong, and things are better discussed in any detail once you’ve had time to digest them and think about what to say.

“Gun sans Sword” – It’s Burst Angel

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It’s somewhat rare for a series to be simply described as a solid throwback to the dubious “glory days” of the OVA boom, because that’s a big kind of claim with a lot to unpack inherent to it. Something trying to evoke a high-quality, highly-acclaimed production like Patlabor (1988), Aim for the Top! Gunbuster (1988) or Bubblegum Crisis (1987-91) is going to be doing something very different to something steeped in nostalgia for MD Geist (1986) or Angel Cop (1989-94). Arguably a lot of subsequent anime has respect and nostalgia for the very best of the boom era, and not so much has kept the same reverence for its trashier, more exploitative side.

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“My Large Adult Son Committed A Few Warcrimes” – It’s Trails of Cold Steel 3 (Again)

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This is going to be a fairly comprehensive look at Trails of Cold Steel 3 and as a result is probably going to be best read if you have played the game already. It isn’t often that a game makes a big enough changed impression on me to want to discuss its story at length both at the midway point and the conclusion, but – and this may be a flaw in some ways – it backloads a lot of its plot, and does so in a way that works effectively as a mirror of the way CS1 saw tranquility fall apart.

And while this article is going to go into some heavy places in terms of discussing the game’s political themes and inspirations, it’s important to remember it’s also very funny a lot of the time. Some of the jokes are wearing, particularly the “comedy lesbian” characters, but a lot of the time there are some sharp scenes and charming interactions. It’s worth considering it in comparison to a game I watched a playthrough of recently, Tales of Symphonia 2. That was a sequel to a beloved RPG that brought back, as visiting characters, the old party. It did so in a way that mostly annoyed the player, as it felt that character development was undone and beloved characters were reduced to one-note gimmicks and punchlines. CS3 largely avoids that; it remembers that the party have all matured as characters, have now settled down into new jobs and it offers a fairly charming depiction of a circle of friends trying to recapture the old magic.

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“It Would Be Nice If These Damn Aliens Stopped Attacking Us So We Could Colonise This Planet” – It’s Dairugger XV

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I was interested enough in Armoured Fleet Dairugger XV to keep watching past a point I’d usually give up a series that was not interesting me. It was a super robot show I was not familiar with outside of knowing that it was perhaps the biggest-crewed robot of that era of super robots (with fifteen pilots), that it was (seemingly uncharitably) parodied by Robot Chicken for the length of its stock footage and that it had never featured in Super Robot Wars. And so, when I found out it was receiving official, subtitled streams on Youtube, I decided to watch it.

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