By the mid-2000s, anime had become normalized in America, thanks in part to the power of Dragonball Z, Pokemon and “the big three”. But while anime had become an accepted pastime, accessing the diverse selection of shows was not easy due to limited time slots, heavy censorship, and complex or neglected distribution rights. With more family-friendly programming readily available, it was refreshing to see more mature anime pop up on public access, MTV or SyFy.
SyFy has been airing anime since the 1990s, still known as the SciFi Channel today. Although not a widespread channel and its programming blocks were oddly timed, SyFy remained a beacon of hidden anime gems, typically from the channel’s appropriate sci-fi genre, but also aired some horror, thriller, and fantasy options.
Patlabor is a procedural, gritty mobile suit police show
Earth colors and urban surroundings Pat laborits history, adding more relatability to the themes of gentrification, classism and technology. While Labor, this universe’s form of mobile suits, have been integrated into the police force among other industries, they are still relatively new, developing technology prone to complications. There are several manifestations of the series in the form of films, TV series, and OVAs, but the film saw more significant popularity through SyFy and VHS rentals.
Labor are getting frivolous all the way Pat laborits version of Tokyo, which requires the thinly stretched police force to uncover why. The film follows this tough group of police and others as they discover corrupt elements in the Labor industry. As trouble spreads across Tokyo, the main characters try to avoid a massive technological uprising that could derail the city’s progress and wreak havoc across the country.
Guided by a relatable and enjoyable cast, Pat labor is an example of science fiction due to alternate timeline. Having human corruption and disenfranchisement as the core cause of this technological breakdown makes the story even more relatable, as hackers and other digital terrorists wreak havoc with modern technology. Equal Ghost in the shell, Pat labor feels possible, as the issues stem from human problems that are relevant today and the film doesn’t venture too far into the fantastical.
The Drama of Appleseed Humanizes Technology
Apple seeds fully embracing a wild technological futuristic post WW3 catalyzed scientific evolutions, looking at one of humanity’s routes. Balancing a human perspective with a cyberized human provides Apple seeds a unique window into social dynamics and issues arising from introducing cyborgs and bioengineered organisms into society. Deunan and Briareos work together to prevent terrorists from destroying one of the cornerstones of their society, the Gaia supercomputer. Gaia maintains the networks and facilities of Olympus, a megacity, and the setting for Apple seeds.
Instead of an anonymous, detached terrorist, Apple seeds adds layers of tragedy and humanity to the story by connecting the terrorists to the main characters. An emotionally heated cyberpunk chase ensues as Deunan and Briareos rescue one of their bioengineer friends from their former human friend’s plot. This conflict challenges human superiority, arguing for balance and respect for all life, even manufactured life.
Deunan and Briareos help transcend boundaries between species through genuine conversation and openness. Humans and bioengineered beings are brought into the fold as greed and corruption mar a promising future. The exciting action and true friendship creates Apple seeds stand among the finest sci-fi action anime ever released.
Macross Plus combines music and conflicts perfectly
One of the most accessible entries in anime’s classic Macross franchise, Macross Plus mixes wonderful music with sci-fi into a beautifully animated and composed work of art. While Macross Plus embracing most aspects of the franchise, the story stands strong on its own, requiring no prior or further thrust into the world of Macross. Divided friends, lost dreams and broken hearts give soul to a tale of technological superiority and music.
Childhood friends seek their dreams in the stars and stardom, only to find themselves tarnished versions of their goals. Isamu and Guld grew up competing just to land themselves as test pilots for rival firms inventing the next generation of fighter jets. Their jobs bring them back to their childhood home, where they hear something similar to their other friend Myung’s amazing voice from an AI pop star.
Gorgeous action goes hand in hand with stunning and cerebral concerts that celebrate passion and corruption. The music is haunting and futuristic, combined with surreal holograms that prey on Isamu’s memories. Yoko Kanno scores perfectly Macross Plus with an eerie soundtrack that stays in the memory bank long after watching. Three friends fight, separate and reunite to overcome corruption within themselves and a futuristic culture.
The bleak urban horror of Tokko bleeds with potential
A catastrophic event in a town near Tokyo opens up a rift that releases demons into the world. These demons inhabit the inhabitants of the affected area, often darkening their souls to fuel their evil. In response, the government opened an organization named Toko which gathers uncorrupted inhabitants with demon powers.
Ranmaru and Saya, sibling survivors when the demonic pit appeared in Machida, both join the police department to uncover truths. A voice of reason, seemingly untainted by the demon energy, Saya tries to keep her brother safe and sane while pursuing her parents’ killer and dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Relationships develop and fade as Ranmaru uncovers the truth about his dreams.
An urban horror battle between super-powered police and demonic forces leads to exciting battles, bloody violence and mystery. Toko is a fast and jarring experience that offers a nice change of pace from other horror anime with deep source material for those who want more. In addition, there is a vague but rich mythos of demons that draws in fans of the occult.
SyFy attempted to bring strange genre anime to the masses in the West before audiences existed. By gathering a few new fans and helping enthusiastic fans find new gems like Registration of the Lodoss War, project A-ko and Armitage III, among many others, is earning SyFy a place in Western anime history. The bravery of a quirky network to venture into an unproven medium helped anime gain more of a foothold with a slowly growing audience.