Posts Tagged ‘Cyberpunk’

4 Must-Watch Cyberpunk Anime Series–Friday Four

Psycho Pass CyberpunkAs far as I’m concerned, there are pretty much two main kinds of sci-fi: space adventures and cyberpunk. Cyberpunk never had a big presence on TV, and I’ve covered most of the attempts at it by this point. They’ve ranged from very successful, like Max Headroom, to far less so (TekWar) in terms of bringing it to life, but none of them have found much of an audience in the Western world. It’s rather bizarre, if you ask me; cyberpunk IS the fiction of the present, for all intents and purposes. But there is one place where cyberpunk thrived, a place intimately tied to the genre from its very origins–Japan. You can’t throw a rock in a cyberpunk dystopia without bouncing off a Neo Tokyo here or there. And a lot of classics of the genre come in the form of cyberpunk anime, so here are a few series that I feel are must-see.

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Site News

It feels weird to not have a picture on the right, so have this shot of faux-redshirt Max.

It feels weird to not have a picture on the right, so have this shot of faux-redshirt Max.

What? A news update? Yeah I don’t usually do these but it’s a fairly big change headed forward, so it seemed appropriate.

You might have noticed I haven’t done reviews for the last two SHIELD episodes. This is because I’ve decided to put reviews on indefinite hiatus for the time being. Why? Well, for one, it’s hard to compete with big sites that put up reviews immediately after the episode airs, especially since I usually want to watch the episode at least twice so I can really dig into it before posting. Trying to rush them out really just ruins my ability to enjoy the show and that’s no fun. Secondly, they just don’t get that many views; obviously that’s related to the big sites, but also just because a lot of people don’t look for that sort of thing. So far, the most popular reviews have been for episodes where something wasn’t explained to the viewer properly, or some piece of information that seemed innocuous at the time ended up being really important later. People who don’t remember that thing google it and end up here. Recall our old buddy Kai from Defiance, for example. I had contemplated not doing reviews for SHIELD season 3 at all, but ended up starting them anyway and now wish I hadn’t. There’s also the fact that I generally find SHIELD to be of such high quality that I’m mostly gushing about it and don’t have much to criticize. It makes for a rather dull review, if you ask me, and I’d prefer not to waste my time writing glowing reviews each and every week. I can always do that on Reddit in a more interesting and conversational manner. I will still be doing occasional reviews on CutPrintFilm, and season-long retrospectives are still in order.

The other news, partially related to the above, is that I’ve been writing a book of my own for a while now and I’m nearing the final stages before release. This has been in the works on and off for about 3 years now, so I hope my readers here will be willing to give a sci-fi world of my own creation a chance. I don’t want to get into this too much right now, but I will say it’s cyberpunk, or at least a descendant of cyberpunk, hardboiled (with a bit of fandom-related tropes thrown in). There’s a big new world I want to show you, but that’ll come in time.

For now, I’m going to stick with doing the Friday Four each week, a primer in the middle of the month, and a What Could Have Been at the end of the month, if possible. Primers take a long time because I try to watch the entire series before I write one up, and WCHB tends to require a lot of research that doesn’t always pan out in time, so I can’t do them more often than that. With Max Headroom, I was able to dig up a lot of info from a lot of different sources; with Earth 2, there was only one source to work with. Or take Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which I didn’t have enough info on when I first attempted it last November, but slowly gathering more over the following months eventually enabled me to publish it. So sometimes those just have to be delayed. If that does happen, I will try to put together a list-type WCHB, like I have in the past, to post the following Friday.

I think that about covers it. Thanks to the loyal readers–I hope you’ll stick with me in the months ahead, both here on the site and as I expand beyond it. As always, you can post in the comments or get in touch with me on Twitter @RetroPhaseShift if you want to discuss it more.

A Subjectively Obscure SciFi Primer: Max Headroom

Max Headroom TitleMax Headroom occupies a weird spot as it relates to the Primer. Hell, everything about him and his origin is complicated. If you’re old enough to remember the 80’s (and I’m not), you’ll probably recognize the eponymous character, at the very least. He was a pop cultural icon for a while–a witty, irreverent “computerized” character that appeared in everything from Sesame Street to New Coke commercials… and yet the 1987 cyberpunk TV show that starred the character barely eked out 2 abbreviated seasons (14 episodes total) and is all but unknown as a result. I find him fascinating, a fourth wall-straddling fictional star who kind of became the thing he was originally designed to satirize. But is the show worth watching, or has it been rightfully forgotten?

Buckle up, this is a long one.

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A Subjectively Obscure SciFi Primer: Dark Angel

Dark AngelThis month, the Obscure Sci-Fi Primer hops back over to cyberpunk with the Fox series Dark Angel. Unusually for a sci-fi series on Fox, it actually managed to get a second season before being screwed over, which makes it the first show in the Primer to have lasted longer than one (although the two seasons are radically different). More typically, it was shunted to the Friday Night Death Slot and quietly killed to make room for Fox’s next victim, Firefly. The show was created by James Cameron, the king of the box office himself, and Charles H. Eglee, and was originally made with the idea of a feminist superhero in mind. Set in a dystopian version of Seattle, of all places, Dark Angel possesses a lot of cyberpunk themes while focusing heavily on genetic engineering and secret government projects. But is it worth watching now, just 4 years away from the time it was set?

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A Subjectively Obscure SciFi Primer: VR.5

VR.5 RooftopAs we return to the Subjectively Obscure Sci-Fi Primer, we hit upon possibly the most obscure show yet: little known 90’s show and companion to The X-Files, VR.5. Debuting in 1995 and set in 1995, it’s about as “near future” as sci-fi can get. It lasted for one 13-episode season, although several of those never even aired, since it was yet another victim of Fox and the Friday Night Death Slot. As you might guess from the title, this cyberpunk show deals with the concept of Virtual Reality–specifically a multitude of different levels of virtual reality, with the eponymous 5th level referring to perfect immersion, indistinguishable from reality. Or almost, anyway, as we’ll see in a moment.

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A Subjectively Obscure SciFi Primer: TekWar

TekWarIt’s that time again: the Subjectively Obscure Sci-Fi Primer is here to introduce you to our next little-known sci-fi series. This month’s subject is the cyberpunk-esque series TekWar, based on a series of novels by Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. Naturally, that means Shatner has a role in the show, but it was 1994 and he was a little past the action hero days by then. Set in 2045, TekWar is a cop show (Shatner originally thought of it as “TJ Hooker in the future”). It started off as a series of TV movies, four in all, before being adapted to a single-season series. While the show didn’t last long, TekWar spawned a franchise of sorts and has comics running even now. We’re going to look at both the TV movies and the series for this, as they share the same cast (and may or may not be in continuity–I’ll get to that later).

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4 Anime Sci-Fi Films You Should Check Out – Friday Four

Paprika 2Continuing from where we left off last week, I take a step over to Japan’s animation industry for anime sci-fi films that are every bit as amazing as the best live action has to offer. Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Gundam–these are classics, but here I want to share some more recent films that aren’t as ubiquitous. With that in mind, I’ve gathered 4 SF anime films that are totally worth a watch, even to those who aren’t usually into anime.

FYI, this is one of those lists where order doesn’t really matter.

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A Subjectively Obscure SciFi Primer: Total Recall 2070

Total Recall 2070 cityscapeThis month, the Subjectively Obscure Sci-Fi Primer returns to the cyberpunk side of things with Total Recall 2070. Don’t be fooled by the title, as it has practically nothing to do with the similarly-named Schwarzenegger film; it’s more of a separate (if not particularly accurate) adaptation of the same Phillip K. Dick story, “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale,” although it’s so different that the author isn’t mentioned in the credits at all. Produced in Canada, it originally aired in the US on Showtime alongside Stargate SG-1, before that show jumped networks. Showtime really had a thing for turning movies into series that had very little in common with the original film, apparently. As is typical for these obscure shows, it managed only one season, but what’s there is worth a look. It’s like Almost Human, if Almost Human didn’t hate itself for being sci-fi. Read more

What Could Have Been: Charlie Jade Season 2

Charlie Jade Season 2 Alphaverse Last month, I decided to introduce the new “Obscure SF Primer” instead of doing a “What Could Have Been“; I had one planned, but ran into a snag with the research and had to delay it. So this month, we’ll be getting back to the regular pattern by picking up where both left off–a look at what Charlie Jade season 2, the focus of that first Obscure SF Primer, might have contained.

Spoilers for Charlie Jade‘s first season, obviously. Read more

A Subjectively Obscure SciFi Primer: Charlie Jade

Charlie JadeWe’re trying a new column this week, with the goal of introducing some of the lesser known sci-fi TV series to a wider audience who might be looking for new shows after binging on more popular works like Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica. As such, my intent is to do these with as few spoilers as possible, while still addressing the main points of interest. We’ll be starting off by looking at Charlie Jade, a 2005 television series that was filmed and set in South Africa, lasting only one season. For this, I’m going to use a rating system, where a 5 represents must-see, 4 is good, solid television, 3 is “cult classic” stage, where the show’s appeal is likely limited to a specific group, 2 is flawed, but fun, or even “so bad it’s good,” and a 1 is avoid at all costs.

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