SPT Layzner has been slowly emerging from the untranslated depths of the 80s for some years now. I always welcome the arrival of a fresh episode, interested to discover how the hero, Eiji, will become more put-upon this time.
The physical controls of the title robot are supplemented by a basic AI called Rei, who takes voice commands and issues alerts. A weaponised Siri, if you will. Rei’s simplistic, programmed desire to preserve Layzner and efficiently destroy its enemies brings out Eiji’s more complex goals, for the poor guy frequently winds up arguing with his computer to his job done.
But it becomes clear that there’s another computer in Layzner, one which will cheerfully act without consulting the pilot at all. This sets up what was to my mind one of the finer scenes I saw this year, Eiji’s attempt to provoke Layzner’s second computer out of hiding by shooting up his own cockpit. Excessive? Well, Eiji says that his cockpit is his world, and he has a point: he’s renounced his home planet, and has spent most of the show genuinely living in Layzner’s cockpit or its tiny support shuttle and fighting day-in, day-out. It can’t be fun when there’s something uninvited living in technology so intimately tied to your life.
As it turns out, Layzner’s second computer is not simply a malevolent actor—but I should really shut up before I unleash spoilers.
(Lest I give the impression that Layzner should be taken entirely seriously, I leave you with a link to wah’s handlist of lessons from the show.)