A few questions for the director of Occult Academy, Silver Spoon and of course, the smash hit series Sword Art Online.
Reviewby Allen Divers, Mar 21st 2002
After the turn of the century, an unknown disease began to plague mankind. Those infected were confined to a deep sleep until a cure could be found. Yuji Kaido, one of the infected, went to sleep to wait for the cure. Now he has been brought back into the world screaming! While he slept, the Blue appeared on Earth with hardly any warning. They wiped out most of mankind, forcing 100 million souls into space. Those left on Earth struggle to survive.
Yuji finds himself awakened by a combat team from Second Earth. He must quickly come to terms with the changes to the planet as the team attempts to take him into space as a sample. Encounters with the Blue become more violent as the team makes its way across Japan to the spaceport awaiting them. Running out of options, Yuji must fight with the team against the Blue to survive!
Blue Gender Vol. 1 contains the first 3 episodes of this 24 episode series. This series marks a great departure for FUNimation as they handle a series very different from their previous experience. Blue Gender is a sci-fi horror series with graphic violence and strong language, justifying its rating of 15+. With a solid mixture of exciting visuals and a strong back-story, Blue Gender gets a strong start with this first volume.
AIC, creators of Tenchi and El Hazard, bring their expertise into the creation of the animation. The animation shows the characteristics signs of AIC's handy work, with strong character and mecha designs. This series is a drastic departure from the standard AIC romantic dramedies and presents a gritty action driven sci-fi adventure. The visuals set the atmosphere well being dark when needed.
Being the second series dubbed by FUNimation, Blue Gender shows quite a bit of experience gained from their previous work. Casting for the characters is consistent with the characters, with no voices feeling out of place. The English actors show quite a bit of flexibility as they rocket through the almost non-stop action pace presented by the show. The English soundtrack uses the same music and sound effects of the Japanese show, keeping the original feel set by the Japanese cast. The script marks a major departure from FUNimation's previous work by staying as true to the original Japanese version as possible.
The extras included on the DVD are quite different than the standard FUNimation fare. A rough sketch collection is presented as a slide show. Also included is the textless opening and character bios. Unique to this FUNimation release is the inclusion of an Audio Commentary by Christopher Sabat (the ADR director), Laura Bailey (voice of Marlene) and Eric Vale (the voice of Yuji). Although heavy on comparisons with their previous work, the commentary is quite informative.
The real strength of Blue Gender is the story. Part Aliens, part Starship Troopers, Blue Gender borrows from strong science fiction thrillers and takes it in a different direction. The story telling is well paced, establishing the character of Yuji first then moving towards filling in the gaps of what has happened to the planet. Both dialogue and action pull no punches as the heroes jump from one bad situation to another. It always seems that just when the characters can stop and catch their collective breath, the plot comes storming down on them. For an AIC series, and considering FUNimation's previous work, this series is very mature and dark in nature. The two main protagonists are Yuji, the young man from a previous age and Marlene, the cold soldier that awakens him. These two represent two very different perspectives as they move through the storyline butting heads quite often.
The only major shortcoming of this series is the fact that despite the amount of action and drama taking place, the back-story is quite slow in coming. Viewers are drawn into the story only to want more as the episode comes to an end.
Blue Gender is an exciting adventure with near non-stop action. The strong story, despite being a bit derivative, draws in the viewer and keeps them coming back for more. Blue Gender vol 1 with its 3 episodes, does a spectacular job of setting up the major plot while slowly revealing the overall back-story. FUNimation shows quite a bit of maturity by picking up this property and running with it in its original glory.
Overall (dub) : B
Overall (sub) : B
Story : A
Animation : A
Art : A
Music : B
+ Strong dramatic story filled with near non-stop action
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