While a bit more serious than expected, Tide-Line Blue was also a bit better, though not without its flaws.
What They Say
After the catastrophe known as the 'Hammer of Eden' struck, 90% of the Earth's surface was flooded, killing over 6 billion people in the process. 14 years later, despite this tragedy, mankind perseveres. With the vast majority of land now submerged, groups of survivors soon band together amongst the world's scarcely available land masses and establish independent political states, slowly moving forward the machinations of society. As these island politicians gather to establish a new United Nations, man's fangs are once again brought to bear upon his brothers. The U.S.S. Ulysses, one of the few remaining nuclear submarines in service has gone rogue, attacking the coalition and declaring war on the world.
In the ensuing pandemonium, Keel, a 14 year old gambler and his secret love, Isla, a local girl who has just given birth to a new baby, end up on board this monstrous submarine. Under the command of the battle hardened Captain Gould, this desperate young family is benignly accepted into the crew. Meanwhile, the UN naval fleet begins its vengeful hunt, chasing the Ulysses with formidable fire power.
Both tracks for this title are offered in 2.0, and for this viewing, I took in the English dub. The mix is solid, if unspectacular. There were no technical difficulties such as distortion or dropout; everything came through clearly. There were some nice pieces in the musical score, and some impressive sound effects, but there was also nothing to make them really stand out. It would have been nice to have a full 5.1 treatment, as there was a lot that could have been done with the underwater scenes, but overall the audio was done well.
Originally airing in 2005, Tide-Line Blue is offered in 16:9 widescreen and enhanced for anamorphic playback and is visually one of the nicer animes I have seen. As the world is flooded, this show relies on a lot of seascapes and therefore on a cool color palette that lends a feeling of hope to all the chaos surrounding the main characters. I was also a fan of the character designs; especially the adorable Isla, though I am a sucker for dark-haired girls with blue eyes. Each design reflects that person’s personality, from Gould’s menacing battle scars to Josie’s militant haircut, and Teen’s neat uniform and proper bearing mark the attitude of the consummate soldier while his brother, Keel, has the wild hair and rogue-like grin of a young man who wears his emotions on his sleeve and refuses to take orders. There were a few technical issues such as noticeable gradients in the water and soft coloring that seemed out of place, which ruined some of the effect, but the overall design was one I liked.
As I have stated before, I am a fan of what Bandai is currently doing with the Anime Legends sets, as their intention seems to be: ‘take up as little space as possible.’ I can appreciate that. This set comes in a standard size amaray case that has space for two discs on each side, one slightly overlapping the other. The front image is a montage with Keel, Teen, Isla and son, and Josie. This is set to a backdrop of the U.S.S. Ulysses surfacing. The back has a couple still shots, a series summary, and technical details. The overall design is pretty simple, but as I said, I like their approach that keeps it so.
The menus also have a nice design. The main menu opens with an animatic that zooms in on the earth, setting to a shot of the space station, Freedom, transmitting above it. The transmissions rotate through a series of images of various characters on a bar to the left. The selections are to the right in green, with the highlight in orange which stands out from the cool colors the rest of the screen uses. Switching to a submenu causes the Freedom to send a transmission beam over the entire screen changing it to the submenu. If I have any real complaint, the animatic loop on the main menu is fairly short, and as it loops to the point after the zoom on the Earth, the sudden shift in the music makes it seem fairly abrupt, though the video itself is fairly smooth.
There are a few extras on this set, though they almost all have to do with the music. There are full versions of the songs “Blue Treasure” and “The Little Mermaid” and videos for “Blue Treasure” and “Voice.” There are also interviews with Minami Kuribayashi and Tatsuhisa Suzuki, who both wrote and performed some of the music, in particular the opening (Kuribayashi) and ending (Suzuki). There was one extra that was not music related, though, and it was the most interesting. On the third disc, there is a roughly nine minute segment showing a test run of a 1/100th motorized, scale model the creators built of the U.S.S. Ulysses that allowed them to observe its movements in water and sketch different actions.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tide-Line Blue is a title that took me a little bit by surprise. Going in, I was expecting a fairly light-hearted look at a conflict and society while offering plenty of sight gags, wacky hijinx, and possibly even some decent action. While Tide-Line Blue had those in spades, what I did not expect was some suitably epic drama and real humanization, which it also had. While I would not classify Tide-Line Blue as one of my favorite anime, watching it certainly made for an enjoyable afternoon.
Tide-Line Blue takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, where a catastrophe known as the “Hammer of Eden” causes the entire earth to flood, leaving only the highest mountain peaks above water and killing six billion people. Now, 14 years later and with 90% of the Earth’s surface still underwater, humanity is finally starting to rebuild its former glory.
The island-town of Yabitsu is home to Keel, a rather worthless young man who spends his days swindling sailors in a gambling scam and pining for the affections of Isla, an industrious jewelry maker. Keel and Isla are friends, though she knows nothing of Keel’s crush, quite possibly because by the time this story opens, she is very pregnant with her first child. And though Keel does not know who the father is, it makes him hesitate on revealing his feelings.
Yabitsu is also the home to Aoi, the Secretary General of the new United Nations. Aoi is trying to usher in a new era of world peace, though her efforts are blunted by the ambassadors of the new countries who are all trying to get a leg up on their counterparts. While attempting to bring them all to a consensus, the Yabitsu base is attacked by the U.S.S. Ulysses, a nuclear submarine under the command of Captain Gould. Gould had once been an ally of Aoi’s years before, but had turned rogue for unknown reasons.
In the ensuing chaos, Keel and Isla get caught up in a blast, which results in Isla being forced into labor. Keel is able to get Isla into the relative safety of a small hut, though knows nothing of child birth. Enter Gould’s adjutant, Teen. Teen had delivered Gould’s declaration of war to the UN and had escaped when the attack began. While finding a place to hide, he comes across the hut Keel and Isla are in. Teen has been taught extensive knowledge of human anatomy and recognizes that Isla is in mortal danger if she does not get help, and he sets about delivering her baby.
From the moment he enters the hut, though, Keel recognizes Teen as his twin brother, thought to have drowned a few years previous. Despite having many differences, Teen offers Keel, Isla, and her new baby passage on the Ulysses as a way to escape the mayhem. While Keel initially rejects the offer, he ultimately takes it when he learns that there is no room of Isla and her baby on the escape vessels provided by Yabitsu. Though Teen is taken captive by UN forces, Keel is able to use Teen’s crest to buy passage on the Ulysses.
From here, Keel sets off on a journey of self discovery. Being on the Ulysses, he is able to see firsthand why Gould does what he does in the manner that he does it, and he begins to see the hypocrisy in the supposed peace that the UN proclaims the world to be in. The biggest lesson he learns though concerns his father. Keel and Teen were born and raised on the space station, Freedom, the last space station in orbit after the “Hammer of Eden.” Their father was given the task of surveying the Earth from space and mapping out the new world.
When he discovers that the space station is inexorably doomed to fall from orbit at some point in the future, he forces his wife and sons to abandon the space station, while he stays behind to finish the work he started, This, of course, meant he was sacrificing himself for the benefit of mankind as he then had no way to leave the station, but he still continues the work to this day. However, his work has been covered up by Aoi, as she fears that the knowledge the map gives would send humanity into more conflicts, fighting over the resources the map details.
As mentioned above, Tide-Line Blue is a title that relies heavily on sight gags, in particular physical humor, for its laughs, and usually it is Keel that is the butt of the joke. Falling on his face, getting strung up for stowing away, and getting beaten up by roughly everybody he meets seems to be the order of Keel’s life.
Then there is Isla’s pet ostrich, Eyebrows. Eyebrows actually spends most of his time chasing Teen around, and always seems to find himself in the middle of situations where he causes problems for everybody involved. I can see Eyebrows’s involvement to be an irritant to many viewers, especially since he never really seems to add anything to the overall story; but I found him to be amusing, especially since his appearances were kept to small doses. Overall, the humor is simple but effective and helps lighten the mood of what would otherwise be a somewhat maudlin storyline.
While the premise is serious, the design of the show had me expecting Tide-Line Blue to be a light-hearted affair. Yet though there are plenty of laughs, the overall theme is actually pretty serious. This was hammered home pretty early on as much of the first episode and a half was spent destroying Yabitsu and starting up a war that nobody wanted. Keel’s and Teen’s road to self-discovery only serve to expand and enhance the dire mood that the world exists in, and their time is spent trying to find a way to stop the conflict. As such, the humor provides brief moments to ease this tension, but is certainly not the main theme.
I found the plot of Tide-Line Blue to be surprisingly deep, though there were plenty of instances of clunky writing that kept it from achieving greatness. For example, it seemed a bit too coincidental for Keel and Teen to run into each other the way that they did. I understand that it is only a 13 episode series, and as such events tend to move fast, but this was too easy. And while the whole idea of Keel’s and Teen’s father still living and working on the space station added a really interesting aspect to their character’s growth and their acceptance of who they were, the whole idea of the map itself being so important that Secretary General Aoi keeps it a secret seemed spurious to me, especially since it ends up being a major plot point. All in all, I think they could have handled certain things better, and it might have made the overall effect of the title more impressive.
What interested me the most in Tide-Line Blue was that while watching it, I felt as if I were watching a Hayao Miyazaki title. The style and substance—in humor, pacing, and message—were very Miyazaki-esque, as were the moments of clunky writing. Take Kiki’s self-discovery, throw in Pazu’s sense of adventure, and sprinkle in the anti-militancy message in Mononoke, put it in a fantastical world, and you have Tide-Line Blue. As such, I see this as a title that would appeal to Miyazaki fans. Though not as light hearted as some of his offerings, the rest is very similar.
Tide-Line Blue is a title that I expected to enjoy and found myself enjoying it more, which is always a pleasant surprise. Certainly there are areas that could have used some tweaking and tightening, but those did not ruin it for me. While it is not a title that truly ‘wowed’ me, I definitely could have found worse ways to spend my time. Being a short series, it is one that might well be worth a look for anybody, as it seems to have a little bit of everything. Recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Full Version Theme Song: Blue Treasure,Full Version Insert Song: The Little Mermaid,Interview with Minami Kuribayashi (Theme Song Writer andVocalist),Interview with Tatsuhisa Suzuki (Ending Theme Song Vocalist),Music Video: "Voice" Performed by Tatsuhisa Suzuki,Music Video: "Blue Treasure",Trial Run of 1/100 scale-model "Ulysses" submarine,Textless Opening
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Memorex MVD2042 Progressive Scan w/ DD/DTS (Component Connection), Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System