Reviewby Allen Divers, Sep 30th 2003
DVD 1-8: Box Set
Diagnosed with an unknown disease, Yuji Kaido is placed in suspended animation until a cure can be found. While he slept, the world changed. Now Yuji has come back to the world screaming, trying to understand what has happened and just what are the creatures that have destroyed the world. Forced into a situation of fight or die, Yuji does the only thing he can and joins the remaining survivors of humanity to fight the Blue. While still struggling with the changed world, Yuji must also come face to face with a changed humanity, where survivors on the planet are already considered dead, and the real power of Earth is now in space.
With little fanfare, Blue Gender burst on the scene over a year ago. Departing heavily from the established norm of FUNimation releases, Blue Gender stood as the proof that FUNimation could handle something other than a mass-market product. Very different from their previous endeavors, Blue Gender presented itself as a sci-fi horror series on par with some of the great sci-fi horror films of North America. Not pulling any punches, FUNimation developed a solid adaptation for the series and quietly released it to the awaiting public. Now, after a successful run on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block, the series is being released in a complete box set. All eight volumes of this great series are available for a new set of fans created by its televised premiere.
The box set is a simple, no-frills box containing the eight original volumes of the series. With a few "authentic" signed posters, each volume is the same as was released before. For new fans, be warned, as the content is the original uncut version, not the slightly tamer version that aired on Adult Swim. There's a big, orange "ages 15+" sticker on the front to keep the parental units informed. Extras on each volume were kept simple, with the standard array of textless songs and trailers. A nice making of commentary with series stars, Eric Vale and Laura Bailey and voice director, Chris Sabat, is included on volume 1.
The English soundtrack marks a true departure in the philosophy of FUNimation at the time they began this series. Being a much more mature undertaking than their previous work, the voices cast required a real feel. The decision was also made to go with a script that stayed as true to the original Japanese script as possible. Chris Sabat remarks on the commentary of episode one how he had the urge to throw in a few one-liners that don't exist in the original Japanese, but by refraining gives their first real non-DBZ outing a solid and professional feel. Throughout the series, there are a variety of great performances as the actors are allowed to truly act their very emotional parts. Strong on drama and less on comedy, this series truly pushes the actors in their performances. The overall affect is a solid English dub that showcases the talent that FUNimation has put together. The English track goes a long way to complement the exciting visuals of the Blue Gender series.
The original animation and artwork for Blue Gender were handled by the folks over at AIC. Visually grittier than some of AIC's other popular works, Blue Gender develops a life of its own with its mecha and monster designs. Much of the layout and suspense created through the action of the animation pays homage to many of the great sci-fi and horror films out there. While there is a lot of the slop and chop of many action movies, there is also a strong level of suspense allowing the viewers imagination to fill in the gaps in the visuals. The overall affect is a much more dramatic series that moves through a variety of scenery to present a very vivid picture of a future earth. The series maintains a high level of quality animation and artwork as it moves through its main story arc, and through the minor story arcs that appear.
As a series, Blue Gender is based on the overused end of the world scenario. As is typical in these kinds of stories, a mysterious enemy has beaten mankind to the brink of destruction. With no other options, mankind makes a daring escape into space. From there, the story picks up with the recovery of a young man named Yuji. As things go from bad to worse, he is forced to adapt to the new world and have to learn what has happened in the world. In the early parts of the series, the viewer is let in on what is happening at the same time as Yuji discovers. The early episodes establish the main arc of the series. From the beginning to the end, a series of shorter story arcs appear as challenges to Yuji and his new comrades as they try to make sense of what is going on. In between all of that is the constant threat of the Blue as well as suspense and drama that plays out through each episode. The action barrels through each episode at a break-neck pace, pausing only long enough for necessary exposition to answer many of the questions that this series produces.
Blue Gender fits well with many of the classic sci-fi series that explore issues very close to our current times. While there are plenty of brain-numbing action sequences, the series manages to explore many deep issues. While the series does seem to get a bit long, with a full twenty-six episodes, the story moves well from episode to episode. Blue Gender builds a vivid world and strong story that manages to explore a variety of side stories as the characters are pulled towards the conclusion of the series. Blue Gender is a strong sci-fi adventure that doesn't lose the humanity at the core of its cast. For FUNimation, Blue Gender represents a new step into anime fandom as they show that they have what it takes to work with some of the best series coming out of Japan.
Overall (dub) : A
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B
+ Dramatic storyline and action sequences explore the future of humanity
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