Saturday, February 02, 2013

Revisiting favourites: Blue Gender

It occurred to me today that I've only seen most of my "favourite" anime shows once. Or once the whole way through at least; I've restarted some a few times, but have never managed to get more than a few episodes in without getting distracted and leaving it unfinished1.

Now that I've discovered a few new shows through Crunchyroll, and either finished or caught up to them, I've finally got the interest to try and rewatch some of the stuff that I've been meaning to get back to. The main reason I'm keen to revisit stuff - especially the shows that I watched very early on - is that I'm curious how much my enjoyment will have been affected by the additional stuff I've seen since. I have very fond memories of some of this stuff, and would like to know if it holds up.

I'm going to start with Blue Gender; the impressions below are based on a single watch-through around ten years ago and a rewatch of the first episode that I've just finished.

In addition to the slightly dodgy title, Blue Gender also has one of the more questionable ending animations I've seen, while the the episodes themselves contain more gore and sexual content (both implied and overt) than is probably necessary for the story. It's an unrelentingly bleak series, with absolutely no comic relief and the constant threat posed by the Blue is, frankly, kind of exhausting.

The Blue themselves - the possibly-alien insectoid creatures that have pushed humans to the brink of extinction - have much more interesting and varied designs than I remembered, but their generally impressive size and armoured appearance is let down by the "core", an uncomfortably-vaginal opening (usually on the face) that acts as a one-hit-kill weak point. The pulsing animation and sound effect used for the core is pretty gross - which I assume was intentional - but only really serves to draw attention to this hugely convenient visible weak point. It's not as though the humans' weapons have a whole lot of trouble penetrating the Blue exoskeleton anyway, and since the show takes such delight in showing the bloodspray from every bullet impact it seems redundant from a story perspective as well.

There's a lot to like though; as far as I remember the overall series arc, while padded in places, is compelling - even if the ending did leave me scratching my head. The Blue designs are great, and I really love the aggressive lines of the Armored Shrike mecha. The wheels built into their feet is an especially nice touch, which allows them to move around more quickly and quietly than by running. The character designs are generally not great, but I've always liked Marlene's hairstyle (and she's a great character generally, from memory - hopefully she isn't ruined for me by new things I notice this time through).

I've already got some vague memories of storylines and character arc creeping in after that first episode and I'm worried that the show's sexual politics, especially later on, are going to blow a hole in my enjoyment. Fingers crossed it's not as Neanderthal as I'm convincing myself.

1 The only series' I've definitely been through more than once are Neon Genesis Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, Princess Nine and FLCL. They're all amazing.

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