Reviewby Richard Winters, May 14th 2011
Series 1 (Eps 1-12) Eigo Edition
This trend of intermixing CGI and cell animation has been met with mixed results, some good some bad. Blassreiter, to me, falls into the former catagory. The series, about the inevitable fall of the human race via alien-like creatures (read: government conspiracy, in Germany no less!) is enhanced through the fluid movement and imposing like of the CGI effect.
Then there's the story. Difficult to describe and so, so dark in theme it's just right up our ally. We have a stab at it in the full description.
We really enjoyed the first-half of this series from Gonzo. Directed by Ichiro ITANO (Fist of the North Star).
When you hear the word “Gonzo” there are certain associations that spring to mind. Hunter S Thompson. Copious amounts of hallucinogenic drugs. Skipping the plot and slamming straight into the action. For the modern anime fan, girls clad in fetish wear, zooming around shooting alien beings. While Hunter S. is sadly not present in Blassreiter due to being dead at time of production, I am pleasantly delighted to report that Gonzo otherwise live up to their name in this anime with a savage intensity that pulls no punches.
Visually from the very opening sequences of a motorcycle race the spectacular blend of CG and traditional animation sucks the viewer into a frantic world. In the Germany of the not-too distant future, a vile plague is resurrecting the dead as hideous biomechanical monstrosities known as demonics that can assimilate with non organic objects. We start the action in medias res with a hideous zombie attacking the German Moto GP (as sponsored by bridge'stoned tires and sopwith airlines. I laughed like a lunatic). Then the biomechanical hell machine, redolent with Ni θ of nitro+ fame's talented style came climbing out of a fiery wreck, still shooting. In short it took two short minutes and I was caught hook, line and sinker.
The action escalates quickly, a second demonic appears to fight the first, as does the de rigueur fetish outfit clad paramilitary group XAT and our protagonist is wrecked with a crippling spinal injury. When the smoke clears, the demonics are gone without trace. Discovering that the crippled rider has almost no friends, a scientist (at the very least smacks of madness ) encourages him to take an experimental drug which enables him able to walk again. But of course it comes at a terrible cost. He has become a demonic himself, the first recorded instance of a living person becoming one. He uses his new found power to get revenge on the zombie that put him into this situation and this my friends is just episode one. It gets better, much better.
Digging hard into zombie movie cliché for episode 2, themes of loyalty, betrayal and friendship are explored in a blood thirsty and violent fashion. Any time there is characterization or plot it's a reason for someone else to get mutated and mutilated. By episode 3 the body count is climbing, the XAT thinks they are hot on the trail of the demonics and the demonics… are just about impossible to find. This continues for another two episodes. And then finally the plot kicks in.
Wait? Plot? Yup, we got us some plot. It costs us some of the chunky cheesy salsa and violent explosions, but now its shown up I have to admit it's a fun plot. Sneaky conspiracy theories, more treachery, and the terrifying end of a bunch of school bullies that will warm the heart of many of us. Motorcycles get replaced by mechs, Transforming mecs that are also motorcycles. Somehow I think Ni θ might have been watching some Genesis Climber Mospedia.And finally, Armageddon. Yup, nanotech powered biomech zombie hordes swarm across Germany and nukes are thrown around with gay abandon. Roll credits and wait for more of the red red kroovy in season two.
Being honest, I don't think this anime is for everyone. If you're looking for deep characterization, look elsewhere. World changing social dynamics? Nope not present here. A conspiracy theory that can't be out thought by a 5 year old? Sorry there's no case of “what a twist” here, it's all very predictable. If on the other hand you are looking for fight scenes that could have been choreographed by John Wu, Girls and guys in skin tight hot pink armored suits riding combat motorcycles, biomechanical freaks of nature, transforming mechs and blood and guts all over the shop, you've come to the right place.
Being Gonzo, the animation is crisp and gorgeous. Mecha and biomechs are rendered in brilliant CGI more than high enough quality to get this bot freak more than a little excited. For a series that lives and dies on action scenes, a lot of attention has been paid to small details, tight motion cycles, pilot detailing and the like. As a result the fights are pleasingly lacking in the traditional mecha series animation errors. The english dub is of special note, as the dialogue, while not a literal translation, flows naturally. Plenty of idiom is used so that XAT feels like a close knit special forces team. As a result, the finished product is eminently watchable without the resulting ' poke your eardrums' out that plagues sci-fi anime. Unfortunately the same can't be said of the music, the incidentals are ok but the opening and closing credits.. the missus thought I was watching some horrible parody. Skip them, they're really not worth your time..
My final verdict: Fun sci-fi with lots of gore and mechanical violence. It won't change your life, but it will give you 12 episodes of solid and fun entertainment. Rant Recommends!
Overall (dub) : B+
Overall (sub) : A
Story : C-
Animation : A
Art : A+
Music : D
+ Amazing designs, animation and cathartic violence. Aims for so bad its good, and succeeds.
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