In September 1999, Cybersix, an anime created by Canadian and Japanese studios hit the air. It featured a leather-clad android, Nazi-coded villains, gorgeous animation and a truly unique art style. Though it was definitively a children's show, it was based on an Argentinian comic that was unquestionably adult. Needless to say that Cybersix was a very unique show, and while it lasted only one season, it would be very easy to remake or revisit today. But first, let's talk about its origin.
Cybersix's Comic Book Origin
Cybersix was created by Argentinian artist Carlos Meglia and writer Carlos Trillo in 1993. It was a dark, romantic sci-fi superhero story about a "Cyber," an android created by mad scientist Von Richter, who cut his teeth working for the SS in Nazi Germany. The Cybers were designed to have free will and relative autonomy, but when they started disobeying orders, Von Richter ordered them all to be destroyed. The only one to escape was Cybersix, a beautiful female Cyber who promptly fled to the city of Meridiana to fight against Von Richter and his creations. She requires a mysterious "sustenance," a liquid that exists in the bodies of Von Richter's creatures to survive, so her constant war against him and his creations is a matter of survival as much as principle.
By day, she takes on the identity of Adrien Seidelman, a young male schoolteacher. She spends her time teaching literature and pining after her colleague, the hunky Lucas Amato. By night, she battles the Frankenstein's monster-esque "Fixed Ideas" or "Technos," his sexually precocious cloned son Jose, and many other monstrosities. Lucas, in the great tradition of Lois Lane, befriends Adrien while falling in love with the mysterious Cybersix.
Cybersix in its original form was absolutely made for an adult audience. Cybersix gets her costume from a Techno sex worker; she violently sucks the sustenance from the necks of Von Richter's creatures; Von Ricter and Jose are unambiguously portrayed as Nazis and Cybersix is frequently nude and shown in sexual situations. So, naturally, it was made into a kid's show!
Cybersix: The Anime
Needless to say, the comic was cleaned up for the adaptation. Cybersix was a joint production between Canadian and Japanese studios. TMS studios, the company behind the Akira film, among many other good things, handled the animation over in Japan. Herve Bedard and his Vancouver-based production company, Network of Animation, was on the Canadian side, and it was Bedard who came up with the idea of making Cybersix into an animation in the first place. Together, they produced 13 episodes.
Bedard originally wanted it to be an adult show -- more in-keeping with the comic's demographic, but in the end, settled for marketing the show to more of a pre-teen audience. He needn't have worried. As it turns out, when you strip away the sex, violence and to a certain degree, the Nazism away, it works pretty well as entertainment for kids.
It also helps that it was beautifully animated. TMS is a studio with an esteemed reputation and it didn't hold back for Cybersix. Every character is wonderfully designed, with their own body language and a distinct silhouette. The city of Meridiana is a gorgeous setting and one that feels very unique with its distinctive South American look. All in all, it just feels brighter and more vibrant than the dark and moody comic it's based on.
Equally interesting is what the producers decided not to cut. Cybersix still dressed as a man for her secret identity, which is somewhat surprising given that the show came out in the 1990s. As well, while overt references to Von Richter and Jose being Nazis were cut, Jose is still seen goose-stepping around in what's essentially a Hitler youth outfit. What's more, while they don't linger on Cybersix's tragic past too much, they don't hide it or clean it up either.
It was an unusual show, but a very good one. In spite of this, Cybersix was unfortunately canceled after just one season.
Why Remake Cybersix?
Cybersix was a show that ended before it's time, and the rich world it created could absolutely be fleshed out in a new series. It would be very interesting to find a middle ground between the children's show and the adult comic. Missing elements from the comic could be added back in -- such as Von Richter's Nazi past and Cybersix's vampiric tendencies -- while leaving out some of the more exploitative aspects.
One of the most interesting aspects that could be fleshed out in a, uh, revamped Cybersix is the main character's secret identity. By day, Cybersix is a mild-mannered, polite, unassuming man. By night, she is able to live out a fantastic and romantic life as an impossibly beautiful and powerful woman. While it might not have been the creators' intent to make her a gender-fluid, non-conforming or possibly transgender-coded character, in 2020, it is difficult to not at least think of it as you watch. The queer-coding of a new version of Cybersix would certainly fit in with cartoons of recent years, like Steven Universe or She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.
A lot of modern superhero films have done away with is the concept of the secret identity. Lois Lane immediately deduces Clark Kent is Superman in Man of Steel; in Iron Man, Tony Stark baldly admits to the press that he is the titular superhero. Cybersix understands the appeal of the secret life much better than modern-day superhero stories. It's a metaphor for the way one feels inside, the romantic, heroic, dramatic persona that we all wish we could live. In the case of Cybersix, the identity just happens to be a gorgeous leather-clad woman who fights sci-fi Nazis.
All in all, Cybersix is a fascinating property with unique and compelling characters, a beautiful art style, a gorgeous setting and a fun sci-fi plot. Hopefully, someday someone will decide to dust off the leather and make something new out of it. In the meantime, we will just have to make do with what we have.