Tuesday, February 21, 2017

My Life in Fandom: BattleTech's Lost Inspiration, Fang of the Sun Dougram!

The Castalia House blog today had a post by Jeffro Johnson on how the Real Robot subset of mecha anime began its push to the West when "Robotech" was a model kit line with truly awesome dioramas, leading to FASA's fantastic BattleTech tabletop wargame and its associated RPG: MechWarrior.

What's notable about many of the 'mech designs that would go on to form the core of BattleTech is that while one source would go on to become well-known in the West (Super-Dimensional Fortress Macross) thanks to it being the first (and most loved) part of the Robotech television series the other major source would remain obscure in the West until recently: Fang of the Sun Dougram.

It is a happy accident that the people behind BattleTech put in all the hard SF that they did, from technologies to politics, because it turns out that Dougram itself is a nigh-seemless fit into the overall feel of BattleTech. You could set this story in the Free Worlds League and make only one change (Earth to Atreus, and associated references) to make it fit- it's that good a pre-existing fit. That's why I'm recommending the series, old as it is (early '80s), to those wanting something Japanese for their BattleTech/Real Robot fiction-or-gaming inspiration.

The series never got a Western release, so--like Legend of the Galactic Heroes--you're going to have to rely on fan-curated playlists and grey streaming sites to actually watch the damned thing. It's not in HD, the animation is akin to what you saw in the original Mobile Suit Gundam and other anime series of that era, and it's got that 80s malaise that's common to anime of the era, but the story is solid and worth your time.

Maybe, someday, they'll remaster it and give it a proper commercial release in the West. Until then, this will have to do.

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