Wildstar's Anime Review

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Blue Gender Review

Blue Gender is the latest mechanized military anime from Ryosuke Takahashi, the director of Gasaraki. This new, and much darker, series differs markedly from Gasaraki in many ways. The primary difference is the that the protagonists are not combating a political or economic entity, but rather an army of giant mutant bugs. I am not a fan of monster shows or giant bugs, but Blue Gender is different: These enemy bugs are really nasty, really evil, and have put humanity in a real mess. The status of the earth is very depressing. So, for a change, the presence of this foe actually necessitates the need for giant robots. Much as in Macross, the mecha have a good reason for being in the plot, other than just selling toys.

The character designs are also greatly different. These are not the cute anime protagonists we have seen in Evangelion, Macross or Yamato. To be honest, these characters, though well animated, are out-right ugly. I guess it's the new trademark of production house AIC! But ugly isn't a turn-off here, and it fits in with the stark subject matter of the show.
Also, with the absence of Headgear alumni Shinji Aramaki, the mecha action is presented in a different manner. It is not the "mecca of all mecha shows" that Gasaraki was. While detailed, well-animated mecha battles do dominate Blue Gender's action scenes, it is not with the same loving detail we saw in Gasaraki: The mecha-fetish is there, but the camera doesn't linger on every metallic gear, strut, or bolt.

Ryosuke Takahashi is credited with a supervisory role, with another person actually directing. This may explain some of the difference I just noted; or, Takahashi may have wanted to go with a different look. But his involvement is most apparent in the uncompromisingly realistic portrayal of mechanized combat. The carefully scripted, hard sci-fi plot is another trademark. In a spoiler-free nut shell, earth has been over run by giant mutated bugs and humanity has formed a resistance. The main exciting sci-fi story elements are too sparse to spoil here.

Many anime directors have tried to avoid inserting mecha into their stories; so, the economic and fan pressures to do so has forced respectable directors (such as Gundam's Tomino and Gainax's Anno) to dig even deeper into the characters and plot in order to display their artistic talents. Judging by this first DVD, Blue Gender seems to be one of these shows where the creative team has given all they have within the constraints of the "Giant Mecha" genre.

The reason I bought this DVD in the first place, was because of the glowing review on the SciFi Channel's anime internet site. It promised extremely high quality animation and a quality plot. So far, Blue Gender has delivered, with much more promised ahead.

Extras: First, there seems to be some king of alternate angle option with the opening credits, but I couldn't figure out how to use it. Oh well, they get brownie points for trying. The other extras here are really great. The standard "production sketches" turned out to be not standard at all, but fantastic rough color sketches set to the cool industrial techno soundtrack. These guys can draw mecha in their sleep! There is also a very nice running commentary with the American voice actors long with the first episode. Even though I don't watch dubs, I found it to be very educational and fun. The guy who plays the lead role is one hilarious dude: "brussel sprouts"? There are also credit free openings and closing, as well as profiles of the English voice actors.

My blue Gender Review at Mania.com

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