Blue Comet SPT Layzner1, an early 1980s mecha anime produced by Sunrise, the studio behind the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise and other popular mecha/robot shows, begins with an intriguing premise. Set in a world where the Cold War never ended, the rivalry between the United States and Soviet Union has reached the final frontier - space. Several military bases have been established on the Moon as tensions remain heightened between the superpowers.
The story introduces a group of students from the Cosmic Culture Club, arriving at the United Nations’ Mars base as part of an exchange program aimed at promoting peace and understanding.
The arrival of the Cosmic Culture Club to Mars takes an unexpected turn as they witness a fierce battle involving unidentified humanoid robots and the powerful SPT Layzner.
As the U.N. base is destroyed, only six survivors remain - Elizabeth, Arthur, Roan, David, Simone, and Anna, and the Layzner’s pilot, Eiji Asuka, a half-human/half-Gradosian pilot.
After Eiji is able to fend off the first attack he introduces himself to the survivors and reveals the news that the Grados Empire plans to invade the Earth.
Initially, the survivors are cautious of Eiji, however one of the members, Anna, who acts as a narrator for the story, befriends Eiji. The other survivors begin to warm to as Eiji is able to protect them with the Layzner during their journey to return to the Earth.
Midway through the series, the survivors and Eiji are able to return to Earth, but encounter a hostile reception from the U.S. military. This part intriguingly satirizes the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty during the Cold War.
However, at around this point in the story the show undergoes a significant turning point as the Gradosians are able to successfully conquer the Earth. As a result of this event the story diverges drastically from its initial premise to a post-apocalyptic future, that takes inspiration Fist of the North Star and Mad Max.
This sudden change in style2 and tone negatively impacted the series’ coherence and continuity.
Sadly, due to poor commercial success, the second half of SPT Layzner was cut short, leading to a rushed ending with the last few episodes lacking proper development, leaving many elements unexplained. Fortunately, a 3-episode set of OAVs (Original Animated Videos) was later released, offering a more conclusive finale.
Although the forces of the Grados Empire were defeated, the resolution to the war between the rebels and the Gradosians felt contrived, relying on a deus ex machina3 plot device, however I can understand the necessity as the series was prematurely terminated.
In retrospect, it’s intriguing how the actions Gradosians served to hasten what they had hoped to prevent - the Earth becoming a united planet and its ascension to space.
In summary, Blue Comet SPT Layzner had an interesting premise but suffered a little from the sudden shift in storytelling style and the consequences of an early termination. Despite the show’s shortcomings and early cancellation, it managed to provide closure with the release of the 3-part OAV which provided a satisfactory ending for the main characters, with Anna and Eiji embracing in the closing moments of the episode.
SPT Layzner was created by Ryosuke Takahashi who is also known for his work on Armored Trooper Votoms, Blue Gender and Gasaraki – also funny enough he shares the same name as one of my favourite characters in Initial D. ↩︎
To better illustrate the drastic change, consider any of the original Star Wars films and the drastic change if the world shifted to resemble the world of Star Trek. ↩︎
It has been a while since I watched the series but I recall that the heroes were able to activate a seal which prevents Grados from being able to see what is occuring on Earth and are also unable to travel to the Earth and/or our solar system. As a result of this seal, the Gradosian forces who remain on Earth are stuck there. ↩︎