Mania Grade: NA
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- Audio Rating: N/A
- Video Rating: N/A
- Packaging Rating: N/A
- Menus Rating: N/A
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
- MSRP: 24.95
- Running time: 75
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Blue Gender
Blue Gender Vol. #1
February 06, 2002
Release Date: October 23, 2001
Overall Rating: 4.4
(on a scale of 1-5)
It's a new offering from Funimation. It's got big ol' bugs, it's got a guy named Yuji, and it's got lots and lots of bug guts. No it's not another Dragonball Z disc, it's Blue Gender. It's the end of the world and all that stands between you and a huge insect is a mecha and the super cool pilot named Marlene. Sounds good, doesn't it... well read on to find out what I really think. Not that I'd lie to you or anything :-)
The animation looks nice and crisp this disc. I didn't notice any flaws with the picture. The sound was good too, but it was coming out a bit quiet, had to turn up the volume a bit louder than normal on this one. But aside from that the sound was nice and clear. The menu is lots of fun. You got some great scenes between the switches and it reacts quickly and accurately. Good job! The keepcase has our two mains in poses of coolness. The cover itself tells you almost everything you need to know including, region codes (1,2 and 4), rating, length of disc, number of languages, number of episodes and volume number. We are missing the number of channels of sound on the disc, but all the extras are listed and you get quite a few. There is an audio commentary from the ADR director and the two main English voice actors. You also get character and cast profiles, some rough sketch art, the original Japanese television trailer, and textless opening and ending. For their first non-Dragonball disc this is a great start.
The end of the world is a popular topic for most science fiction writers. And for many fans of science fiction this topic is also interesting to read. I mean think of all the ways you can destroy and ravage man kind. So with anime this theme is often explored, especially since you can draw what ever you imagine. So needless to say anime fans have seen many version of the apocalypse. Well Blue Gender is presenting another one.
The plot follows Yuji, a young man with an incurable illness (which is never disclosed... is this a plot point or a plot hole?). His doctors decide to cryogenically freeze him and wake him up when they have a cure. Well, would you know it, Yuji wakes up to find his capsule being spirited away by heavily armed soldiers. A huge insect-like creature makes mince meat of these soldiers and comes at Yuji. But he's saved at the last minute by a mecha piloted by Marlene. Well Marlene is super calm and super cold. She drags Yuji's sorry butt out of danger and tries to get him to a place where her unit (with Yuji in tow) can be picked up. During this journey Yuji learns that the world has been ravaged by these huge, insect creatures known as Blue. Humans are used as a source of fuel for the Blue and some of those left have escaped into space. Now Marlene must protect Yuji (who was taken for a reason not yet disclosed) until they can get back into space. Will Yuji stop being a wimp long enough to survive the continuous onslaught of Blue? Don't get attached to any characters yet, as the slaughter comes fast and furious in this first volume of Blue Gender.
As far as the animation goes, it's not too bad. It seems a bit flat for my tastes, and the character design reminds me of Sol Bianca The Legacy (which I wasn't too crazy about either). The backgrounds and scenes are pretty good. But there is also some interesting camera motion and use of editing, especially in the beginning of the first episode. This is used to keep you as disoriented as Yuji is. Since this was a late night show there is plenty of blood, guts and gore going around, especially when the Blue get taken out. So if you like flying guts, this will keep you going. Speaking of squishy guts, the sound so far has been really well done. The Blue has some really nasty sound effects and that just makes some of the scenes really... squishy. The weapons used by Marlene and her unit have some unique work to them as well. It's pretty good stuff that pulls you into world of Blue Gender.
The plot is where things get a bit bland. Mostly what we have is giant bugs have taken over the earth and it's up to our intrepid hero and the ice maiden to kick butt and save us all. We are thrown into the story with Yuji and kept off balance for the first episode. But his constant whining and gasping and gawking, while being realistic were a bit annoying. Also the armed unit that picks up Yuji gets decimated. This was done to show you level of danger that the Blue present. But it came off a bit weak, mostly because I didn't get to know or care about much of the unit. At this point, I'm not really liking any of the characters too much. I think the "been there, done that" feel of the episodes is what's hurting here. If the writers get clever in the next couple of episodes this show could really get good. We're kinda at a balancing act right now.
The voice acting for the English dub was pretty solid. The actor playing Yuji got stuck with lots of gasping, groaning and general breathing for the first couple of episodes, but he did it really well. He had a great amount of panic in his voice and it came through very believable. Marlene's actress also does a good job. The cool, confident commander who is obviously trying to suppress some kind of pain is a well known character in anime. But it can be a bit tricky to make believable. But that's not a problem in these episodes. The rest of the supporting cast does a good job, with an occasional over the top moment. It's a very good effort on Funimation's part.
I have to say that the music is very well done, and kept popping out at me. The score reminded me a bit of Trigun in style and use. It's utilizes many different types of music to create the mood of the scenes. Since this series does seem to depend on building suspense the music will play in integral role. I must also comment on the opening and ending themes. Both are done in a poppy style and both have been dubbed into English, and very well too. I haven't been this pleased with an English dub of a song since Key The Metal Idol. Not only was the musical style kept very close, but the vocal style and the meaning behind the songs are very well done. I really have to commend them on that one. Dubbing a Japanese song can be very tricky (bordering on disastrous), but this came out just right.
I have to say that this series didn't keep me at the edge of my seat the whole time. It was solid entertainment, but it felt just like three episodes of a series. The first and third episodes were the best and the second seemed to drag a bit. Mostly this seems to be the fault of the writing and the way the plot is moving. But it does have many of the ingredients set up to make a very solid, and entertaining sci-fi series. If you enjoy some good giant bug slaughtering action and a very cool female lead then check this one out. While I'm not overly anxious for the next disc, but we got lots of potential. I'm interested in seeing more.
Roman J. Martel
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