Reviewby Carl Kimlinger, Dec 13th 2008
Life on the road gets lively when Shu's group takes on a passenger with the unlikely name of Legolas. Zola has plans for their hairy, uptight and generally unpleasant travelling companion, so they put up with his demands for food and attention. Another stray attaches herself to them when Shu rescues her from molesters who for some mysterious reason refuse to acknowledge that they're anything but dissatisfied customers. Bouquet is pretty and earnest, but she's also klutz-bomb that goes off at all the wrong moments, causing grievous bodily harm to those around her. Naturally she falls head over heels for Shu, and chases them, on foot, to the ends of perdition. She catches up after Shu, Zola and the rest arrive at Legolas' hometown, where they dispel rumors of a haunting, defend the city from invasion, and look for a book with some mysterious-ish stuff in it about the origins of their shadow powers. Upon arriving Bouquet immediately feels compelled to play tug-of-war with Kluke, using Shu as a human rope.
I have never subscribed to the idea that children's entertainment should be judged on a different scale than adult entertainment. It's a tribute to my utter desperation then that I decided to apply a double standard and let my inner child watch Blue Dragon. Unfortunately, afterwards he was in a coma, leaving only the sneering adult to write the review.
Blue Dragon is worthless, which makes it something of a rarity. It's a genuine wonder how a series so full of color, explosions, supernatural fist fights and dippy characters can be so utterly devoid of life. Whatever vile sorcery was used to drain the fun from the story, it should be kept a state secret. God help us if anyone discovers a military application for it. There isn't a speck of life left on this volume. A pitched battle—complete with naval fleets and landing ships loaded with invaders—is rendered a predictable bore by the series' reliance on narrative and visual clichés. Comic relief is coldly murdered by irritating characters and Vizkids' clumsy edits, and the tiffs between shadows are limply choreographed wastes of time. The addition of ditzy do-gooder Bouquet aims to inject some energy into the moribund goings-on, but only succeeds in taking a stab at romantic tension that misses the romance and instead gouges a hole in one's already quivering brain.
While the series does consist of lumps of “follow your dreams” shounen dung strung willy-nilly over a bare-bones epic quest, it does have a leg up on some series by dint of having a plot at all—dull, hackneyed and stupid as it may be. Akira Toriyama's silly, square-edged character designs and Studio Pierrot's shiny high-end CGI are also fun to look at, and sometimes a joke—usually involving the otherwise intolerable Marumaro's unrestrained libido—will actually wrench a reluctant smile from you. It also helps that the series' childish simplicity is incapable of inflicting the kinds of festering wounds that pretensions of maturity are capable of.
This is a standard Vizkids release: no extras, no Japanese track, no unedited version. Whereas the edits in the first volume were mostly unnoticeable, those in this volume are insultingly obvious. Marumaro repeatedly uses the word “kiss” when he obviously means “grope.” An insert shot of Bouquet's bosom is replaced with a repeated shot from an earlier scene, causing a glaring continuity error. Other continuity errors arise whenever the editors try to gloss over the fact that Bouquet must be naked to be invisible. And just to sweeten the pot, the excision of fist and weapon impacts add an element of confusion to the already sub-par fights. That said, Vizkids' hammy English adaptation is surprisingly good going, always ready with some shameless overacting or a snide little aside to give a scene some desperately needed charm. Unfortunately any points earned for the dub are lost (with interest) thanks to the forgettable score and terrible faux-metal opening.
Just because children aren't terribly picky about the quality of their entertainment doesn't mean that you should let them watch terrible television. Sure kids are happy to vegetate in front of awful anime, but they also play with their own poop, and no one encourages that. Leave Blue Dragon to the masochists and do the kids, and yourself, a big favor and rent some Hayao Miyazaki instead.
Overall (dub) : D-
Story : D-
Animation : B
Art : B-
Music : C-
+ Colorful, lots of action, and a new character to boot!
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