Blue Gender Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & 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. #4

By Chris Beveridge     August 17, 2002
Release Date: August 06, 2002


Blue Gender Vol. #4
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Contains:
Tactics
Marlene and Yuji arrive at Baikonur, only to find the space base in a state of chaos. The facility is crawling with Blue, and the computer defense systems have turned on their human counterparts. Now, with supplies and personnel dwindling, the assembled recovery teams must launch a desperate bid to regain control of the base.

Go Mad
The lives of the remaining recovery squad members are thrown into jeopardy when a renegade officer attempts to hijack the shuttle and escape on his own. The attempt is thwarted, but the cost is the diversion of valuable resources from the battlefield, where Marlene and a small team of armor shrike pilots are fighting to stay alive.

Progress
Yuji is rushed to intensive care after being attacked by a Blue aboard the shuttle to Second Earth. Now, Marlene must face an inquiry before the High Council and defend her recent actions on the planet’s surface. But Marlene has questions of her own, and soon begins to suspect a dark design behind the Council’s plans for the recovered Sleeper, Yuji Kaido.

The Review!
Damn this show rocks. Damn!

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The show continues to feature a good strong stereo mix with some nice directionality across the forward soundstage. Guns in particular sound nice and distinct in this show. We didn’t notice any dropouts or distortions throughout the program.

Video:
The transfer for these episodes are spot on and look great. Colors are nice and solid, cross coloration is pretty much non-existent and aliasing is very minimal. Blacks are nice and solid as well, with the space sequences holding up very well. There’s pretty much nothing I can find fault with here, especially with the 3 angles that are there for the opening and closing sequences, which makes everyone happy.

Packaging:
A great looking cover with Marlene in one of her serious moods as we see the split image of Second Earth above the planet while robots from part of one of the ground battles flying across the desert below. The back cover provides a couple of good animation shots. The discs features and extras are clearly listed and the disc is nicely numbered with a volume listing showing up on the spine and on both the front and back cover. The back cover also provides episode numbers and titles. The insert provides another shot of the cover while it folds out to provide more detailed summaries of each of the episodes.

Menu:
The menu system is laid out like the earlier volumes. The animations that play around it are considerably shorter making moving back to the main menu from the submenus a heck of a lot easier to deal with. The layout for the most part is pretty logical. The only part I don't like, most because it confused me the first time, is the language selection since what you're doing is selecting language and subtitles together.

Extras:
There’s a pretty good standard of extras included with this volume. There’s a five minute video piece accompanied by music that delves into the Armored Shrikes, showing animation of them in action as well as a number of design sketches of them. The character bios and cast bios are essentially what we’ve seen before while we get another batch of the clean opening and ending sequences. A nice selection of stills from the show fills out the included image gallery.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I have to say it again. This damn show rocks.

Marlene and Yuji have finally arrived at Baikonur and things are definitely not going in their favor. Near the base a Blue nest has sprung up, which by itself would cause more than enough problems. What’s making this worse is that the defense robots at the base, sort of like an octopus that runs across the ground at high-speeds with a long cable attached to it, have had their programming corrupted. They cannot distinguish between friend and foe anymore. We get a good instance of this early on as they nearly take out our two leads.

As it turns out, other teams have made it to Baikonur as well, but they’ve mostly suffered in the same way Marlene’s original platoon has. All told, barely a half dozen other soldiers have made it here. But if there’s soldiers, there’s someone in command, and we do get a gray haired guy here whose take on the mantle of leadership. He’s devised a plan to get everyone and the two Samples (Samples being Yuji and another Sleeper that’s still asleep) onboard the space shuttle that’s in good condition within the base and off-planet and home to Second Earth.

That plan requires some sacrifice though, but that’s the duty of the Second Earthers to begin with. While four of them will become decoys, using their Armored Shrikes to draw out the colony of Blue and then force them into combat with the Attacker robots, the remaining members of the team will head into the base, reprogram the Attackers to go after only the Blue and then get the shuttle ready.

It’s an ambitious plan, and it’s something we’ve admittedly seen several times in Hollywood science fiction movies. But it’s just done so well here that it’s a real pleasure to watch. Yeah, the supporting cast of characters are essentially basic stereotypes, and you can see the trouble spots coming along, but it’s so tightly written and well executed that it plays out smoothly. These episodes turned into the kind where I couldn’t wait to get to the next one to see how it turned out.

But unlike most Hollywood movies that would end with the lift-off, we finally get our look at Second Earth and some of the people that are running the show. If you’ve got any kind of cynical nature to you, especially after we learned several episodes ago about how all the humans on Earth are essentially considered dead already, then you know there’s going to be some ugly stuff going on in areas up here. With Marlene taking the central role for awhile, we get a really excellent look at several parts of the way Second Earth works.

These episodes were a blast to watch, with the culmination of everything from the opening of the series leading up the Baikonur mission to get off of Earth. With the removal of just a bit of the filler, you’ve essentially got a solid movie to tell there. Thankfully there’s still another thirteen episodes to go after that particular point, and I’m looking forward to the new ride.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Character Bios,Cast Bios,Armored Shrike Files,Textless Opening,Textless Ending,Image Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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