I love SPT Layzner. I always have, I always will. In fact, among mecha anime, it is, by far, my favorite series of all time. I started watching it back in 1985 when it started, back in the days when there were no fansubs, you had to watch multi-generational video tapes, imported from Japan, and try to work out what was going on. I’ve been waiting for years for the fansubbers to finish the show, and it has been a very long wait. Some shows take forever and finally, they finished it up and I sat down and watched the entire 38-episode run, plus the three specials.
So here’s my take on my favorite mecha show ever. Enjoy.
SPT (Super Powered Tracer) Layzner takes place in the far-off time of 1996, where humanity has finally gotten into space, colonized the moon and is now working on colonizing Mars. However, the Cold War still rages between the United States and Russia and both sides threaten nuclear annihilation. On Mars, the United Nations has formed the “Cosmic Culture Club”, an educational group dedicated to promoting peace and common understanding through space travel and exploration. Sixteen boys and girls have come to Mars to study, but in the midst of their arrival, strange alien mecha start shooting up the place, catching the facility in the crossfire and killing all members of the Cosmic Culture Club except for six. They are stranded on Mars, but befriended by one of the mecha pilots, Eiji, who tells them that the Earth has been targeted by the aliens, but he’s defected and wants to help defend humanity from the clutches of the Grados Empire. The aliens, seeing that humanity was already exhausted from decades of fighting the Cold War, decided this would be a perfect time to attack, the Grados supercomputers have predicted that if left unchecked, humanity’s fighting could eventually engulf the entire galaxy. There were two humans opposed to the plan, Ken Asuka, a deep-space astronaut assumed lost, but captured by Grados for study, and his son, Null Albatro, also known as Eiji. Eiji stole an experimental mecha suit, SPT-LZ-00X, the Layzner, which may give them their only hope in surviving against the Grados.
SPT Layzner is, of course, a mecha show, but unlike a lot of mecha shows, it doesn’t limit itself to just a couple of designs, there are tons of different craft. It will never catch up with the sheer number and variety of the Mobile Suit Gundam shows, but it does it’s best. Just mecha alone, the show has nearly 25 different designs, which is kind of insane for a show that only ran 38 episodes. Throw in spaceships and ground vehicles and air transports and powered armor suits and there’s a wealth of designs to consider. There are a number of unused designs, even a transforming Layzner. I really wish we had seen that on screen!
Unfortunately, in it’s initial release, SPT Layzner was not an immediate hit, it took a bit for it to achieve cult status and after a major advertising sponsor pulled it’s support, they had to wrap things up early. It did a lot of things right, it portrayed mecha realistically, it had great characters and a fantastic storyline but it came out at the same time as Zeta Gundam and Genesis Climber Mospeada and just as the OVA craze was really getting going with Megazone 23. As such, it’s run was cut short and the ending was really a mess until they released a series of 3 OVAs to recap and complete the storyline.
There are some shows that are really fantastic and this is one of them. I seen nothing but good things when people look back at SPT Layzner and lots of fans, myself included, wish it had gone on longer. I’d love to see a modern day reboot, but giant robots just aren’t in fashion these days. Still, now I finally have my complete series, subtitled in English, maybe you ought to go get yours.