That Late-Nite Animation Sensation, episode 3 – TEKNOMAN


Oh boy oh boy, TEKNOMAN.

At one point we were visiting my grandmother’s place and TEKNOMAN, America’s answer to 1992’s TEKKAMAN BLADE (itself a loose followup to 1975’s TEKKAMAN: THE SPACE KNIGHT, known by the same time when it briefly came to the US in 1984), was on TV. We stayed with her for a week due to a snowstorm, and this was on TV.

I absolutely loved it. It was a complete hodgepodge of transformation-sequences, giant robots, space and alien battles, and enough drama and double-crosses to make me feel like it was somehow smart and mature, a hidden gem. The protagonist, Blade, was a mutated human/alien hybrid who transformed into a humanoid mechs-type thing, a result of having been captured by evil alien space crabs or whatever. But  he returns to Earth and helps fight his former captors.

There’s other robots/suits/whatever’s that show up later, everyone’s got space swords, it’s wild, and definitely incorporates several now-familiar artistic aesthetics about characters and backgrounds/giant robots and technology that were popular at a particular period of time. I’ve always had a soft spot for giant mecha/robots and vaguely-fantasy ideas in sci-fi settings, so it hit that spot.

What stands out to me the most about this show is that I remember adoring it despite my short exposure to it. It stuck with me, and then, like a memory of first love, disappeared completely off the face of the earth. No one I ever talked to after who liked anime knew what I was talking about, and even if they had, all I had going for me was that it was on TV in New York in the 90’s on channel 9 one winter.

This was the early- to mid-1990’s, the Internet as a home for pop culture reference and collection was almost nonexistent, and completely unknown to me. If you didn’t watch it when it was on TV, cartoons, were nonexistent, and only word-of-mouth and TV commercials were the only way to stay up to date on things. I also lived overseas, which meant that I just didn’t have access to cable, to fan circles (if those were a thing when you were 12), to anything really. I had my imagination and memory, which was (and still is) notoriously unreliable. Like our last entry, for a long time no one else knew what I was talking about when I’d mention it and I partially thought that I’d somehow made-up huge swaths of some TV show I’d passingly-seen at one point and then attached devotion to.

It took me years to remember what this went by on American TV, and then to find out that of course it was better-known by its original name and edit before being changed for young American audiences. TEKNOMAN was my first experience with that huge bridge between what I knew and remembered versus what was out there, and also in terms of just how big the changes between foreign and American versions of these cartoons. I was on no position to be part of fanzine worlds and circles with tape trading, which meant that this was knowledge I came to relatively late in my watching of this stuff.

When you’re just a kid, you don’t think about that, you just sort of consume whatever’s in front of you, accept it at its face value, and either continue to consume, or move on. It feels so strange to look now at others who talk about being so young and active in these sort of sidebars of fandoms, of being conscious of being in fandoms. I’m glad people have them, but sometimes I wonder if anyone will ever have that sort of moment, a short bright light that you never really forget, not for decades.



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