B’t X (ビート・エックス), pronounced “beat X” and stylized as B’T X, is a science fiction mecha manga series, written and illustrated by Masami Kurumada. It was serialized in Shōnen Ace from 1994 to 2000, with the 63 individual chapters published into 16 tankōbon volumes by Kadokawa Shoten. An anime adaptation containing 25 episodes was aired in Japan between April and September 1996, this series adapts the first six tankōbon volumes of the manga. A second season containing 14 episodes and called B’t X Neo (ビート・エックス・ネオ) was aired between August and November 1997, this season adapts several chapters of the manga but has a derivative storyline and an alternate ending.
Teppei is going to visit his older brother Kotaro Takamiya during a scientific conference after training with a mysterious woman named Karen for the past 11 years. However his plans for a family reunion become stalled when a woman named Aramis kills everyone in the conference to kidnap Kotaro. Teppei on the way to save his brother encounters a broken mechanical horse called B’t X who revives thanks to Teppei’s blood and is now his aide to save his brother from the mysterious Machine Empire.
Big baddy versus talented youth SOUNDS cliche, but what really sets this story apart is the world and how dark it eventually gets. The world-building is done wonderfully here. It’s a wonderful mesh between what we consider the ‘real world’ and a dark, dystopian world of mecha. The real joy in this story is the eventual unfolding of the plot. The writers took a cliche story and gave it a pretty dark backstory. There are some points where you sort of have to stop and take in how absolutely terrible the scenario is for some of these people. You have wars, friends and families who die right in front of them, an overtone of supernatural evil etc etc. B’T X Neo, the sequel to B’T X, is by far much better than it’s predecessor. The story takes the original premise and dives much deeper into a darker, more exciting plot. It follows on Teppei’s quest to defeat the Machine Empire and save his Damsel-man in distress brother. If it stopped just at that, I’d have chucked my copy in the bin, BUT, instead it works on fleshing out our characters. We delve into their pasts, into their relationships. We look into the dark past of the Machine Empire, of the war, of the reasons and the motivations our Heroes draw strength from.
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