Sci Fi TV Genre Gems: Forgotten magic and hidden treasures from the worlds of sci fi TV
What Is It? This animated series follows a war that takes place across the solar system in the 22nd century between humans and a race known as Neosapiens that were originally created as workers / slaves.
When Did It Air? 1993-94, 2 Seasons Totaling 52 Episodes
Why It Stands Out: Because it delivered an Anime-style sci fi epic with well-developed characters and engaging storylines that was unlike any non-Japanese import on television at the time.
The Skinny: This show sought to capitalize on the popularity of Anime at the time and produced a similar type of series for the American audiences. The epic story focused on a war that had broken out across the solar system between humans and the Neosapiens they had genetically created. As with classic Anime, the series introduced sprawling storylines with more mature themes than typically kid-focused animation and also populated the show with well-developed characters. And while it may not stand up as well to some of the most celebrated mecha-war Anime entries such as Macross or Mobile Suit Gundam, it was definitely a gem among American animation.
The show combined politics with human drama and gave us flawed characters that struggled with their own biases at the same time that they were fighting a war for survival. And while at times it could revert to the formulas of American animation as well as copy-and-paste dialogue, it managed to transcend that more often than not and deliver an engaging saga which tapped into the potential of the animated medium. Sadly, though, due to poor distribution the show did not have as wide of an audience as it could have (more on that below) and has since been mostly overlooked and/or forgotten by fans of sci fi and animation. The first season is available on DVD, though oddly not the second anymore. It’s worth picking up, though, for fans of anime and military science fiction and really anyone who enjoys a well-crafted animated story.
Cancelled Too Soon? When Exosquad first debuted, its initial season proved popular and it was picked up up for a second, extended season. But due to a change in the syndication market in the mid-90’s, the show ended up getting pushed to poor timeslots. Its second season did wrap up the Neosapien war, but the first episode of a proposed third season ended on a cliffhanger that suggested an alien threat was headed to the Earth system. The hopes were that the story would be continued into a new season or a movie, but the low ratings from the show’s second season resulted in Exosquad getting shelved.
Did You Know? A joint line of Exosquad and Robotech toys was released in the mid-90’s suggesting the two properties might cross-over. According to Ron McPherson who provided the artwork for some of the toy boxes, the reason was: “MONEY and Story extensions for the animated series. PLAYMATES Toys needed line extensions and Universal needed more storys so they licensed the old ROBOTECH characters to add to EXOSQUAD because the were an acceptably close match up.” Exosquad was already cancelled by that point, though, so the cross-over only occurred with that short line of toys.