The title screen of the first season

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes Western animation studios try and emulate the Japanese style shows to varying degrees of success. Since I love what would be called “mecha” shows, US versions like Mighty Orbots and Megas XLR interest me. Add to list tonight’s SNS entry, Exosquad, a Western take on shows like Gundam, in which war is fought using robotic vehicles. Unlike it’s Japanese counterparts, however, Exosquad focused on the lives of the troops and their struggles without the anti-war message, and I think the show is better for it.

Episode 1, “Pirate Scourge”, is a setup to the universe of the series, and the main conflict of the show hasn’t yet started, but it is a good introduction to the series, one designed with older kids in mind (say pre-to-early teen) and a decent way to meet our heroes.

It isn’t until a few episodes later that the struggle mentioned in the intro actually starts, when Phaeton leads the NeoSapiens against the Homeworlds and takes over, using the Exosquad/pirate battle to seize control. (Palpatine take note.) From there and during the next two seasons, the Exosquad would battle the NeoSapiens to reclaim their homes. (This would of course be tough on Marsala, a NeoSapien who doesn’t agree with what Phaeton has done and teams with the resistance.)

While some characters received more focus than others, and therefore appear to have more depth, all the characters have their own personalities and this makes them more interesting to watch. My favorite is J.T. Marsh. He’s a great leader and when Marcus comes to power the team really need him to fight through the incompetence. (Marcus seems to have an issue with E-Frames.)

When comparing Exosquad to it’s Japanese inspiration, it should be noted that the E-Frames are different from those shows. Most mecha in Japanese space war stories have at least some humanoid design. The E-Frames, on the other hand, are different models based on function and wouldn’t be mistaken for a Gundam or a Valkyrie/Veritech Fighter. I like that. Giant robots are cool, but the E-Frames are a lot more practical and sets the show apart from it’s counterparts. You may have seen some of the toys repackaged and recolored for the Robotech toyline and occasionally I bump into those. The original Exosquad toys are bit harder to find on story shelves.

Had the series reached season 3, the humans, pirates, and NeoSapiens would have faced a new danger, hinted at a couple of points in the series but leaving the series on a cliffhanger for the final episode. What the writers have planned we may never know but I’m betting it would have been fantastic.

It’s nice to see a cartoon for older kids back when they were underserved by the animation industry (hopefully it doesn’t go to far the other way like other media and formats) and it’s a good science fiction war series. The two seasons we did get is up on Hulu and available on DVD and it’s one I easily recommend.

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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