Blue Gender Vol. #5 (of 8) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, August 23, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, August 06, 2002



What They Say
Contains:
Heresy
When Yuji disappears from the Medical Station, Marlene defies orders and decides to find him on her own. Now, with Amick Hendar's security forces on high alert, Marlene must descend into the lower reaches of the Military Station to find the one man who may know Yuji's whereabouts -- Science Director, Seno Miyagi.

Set
Marlene’s attempts to free Yuji from the laboratory in which he is being held are thwarted. Now she must once again stand before the High Council to defend her actions, this time with Yuji at her side. When Chairman Victor reveals the Council’s true reasons for recovering the Sleepers, Marlene is stunned to learn that Yuji may be humankind’s one hope of taking back the Earth.

Calm
After beginning an intensive combat training program with the newly formed Sleeper Brigade, Yuji finds himself the object of another young Sleeper’s attention. Even the sterile military environment of Second Earth cannot subdue all human urges, but as Yuji soon discovers, a little human contact could cost him everything.

The Review!
After all the action and non-stop journeying across the landscape, things settle down to a more suspenseful nature here, as some of the mysteries of Second Earth become revealed.

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:
There’s been precious little smiling on the covers for this series so far, so it was about time a cute young girl got on there and flashed those pearly whites. Alicia brings some color to an otherwise dark cover, with Tony Frost giving off a distrustful look behind her while their new equipment is taking up the majority of the background. 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:
Naturally, as the series progresses, there’s less new extras with each volume, so this isn’t a surprise. There’s two main new sections here, with the Blue Gender Sketches and the Image Gallery providing some good stills. Character profiles and cast bios make their regular appearance as does the textless songs. I still can’t complain about the textless songs, seeing how as the night before I wrote this, I had the end song on repeat for 2 hours.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Marlene’s life is definitely messed up now. Her re-education at the hands of the Military side of Second Earth has been running her ragged, but she can’t bring herself to get past the things she’s learned and adopted from having fought for her life with Yuji for so long. Their continual insistence of killing any Earthling that gets in the way during combat is just too much for her, and she balks at it each time it comes up during her combat exercises.

Without really knowing why she’s feeling like she is, she makes her way back to where she last saw Yuji being worked on, only to discover that the entire room is scrubbed clean and no trace of him is there. Her time spent on the computer networks doesn’t even reveal that he’s been brought on board. As if every trace of him has been wiped from the system. Marlene finds herself even more drawn to finding Yuji now, and goes so far as to actually steal a cruiser and head over to the medical satellite after she finds some camera footage showing Yuji being moved there.

The episodes then turn into a game of cat and mouse, with some fairly stupid cats, as Marlene sneaks into the satellite and begins her hunt for Yuji. The military soldiers that come over in pursuit along with her re-education teacher, prove to be unprepared for what Marlene can do. In some ways, this makes sense. She’s likely spent more time on Earth and in combat with Blue than most of the regular’s on board these ships. And with her re-education going so poorly, her teacher likely thinks she’s lost all her skills. But still, there’s some moments where you do just roll your eyes that they actually scripted it like that as she avoids the soldiers.

All of this leads towards some surprising moments, as a new Director comes into the picture, one who takes control and usurps the authority of the High Council and gets away with it. Or so it seems. Marlene and Yuji find themselves now getting involved in what the real reason is behind acquiring the Sleepers from Earth, and some of what the Sleepers original illness is really all about it. There’s some solid revelations here, it’s just the way we got to them is somewhat corny.

One episode here is, at least to some views, very out of place here, as it’s the closest we get to real fan-service of the flesh kind. With Yuji and Marlene attached to a new group here, there’s more women about and the attitude here provides some more insight into the whole Second Earth mindset. One of them, a somewhat young Alicia, takes advantage of Marlene’s differing views and unsure feelings about Yuji so that she can pursue him. There’s an amusing couple of minutes of nudity early on here, but it’s also something that you’d see in the same kind of live action film of this nature, and have seen in the past. If there’s anything actually bad about this episode, it’s that the characters seem to be properly animated only about half the time. Frankly, it’s just nice that for once the whole issue of sex and characters gets tackled reasonably well in a regular non-hentai series.

Blue Gender’s taken a definite turn here, but it’s only to set up the next stage of events and battles. There’s something important coming soon, and the characters we’ve followed from the beginning are just now getting their true focus. After nearly fifteen episodes of simply running and trying to stay alive, a real reason for survival is now given to them.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Blue Sketches,Character Profiles,Cast Bios,Textless Opening,Textless Ending

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.



Mania Grade: A-
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