Appliance No. 3: Blue Gender (Episodes 1-3)

Blue

Yeah, I’m not entirely sure why I called the first post in this series an “Appliance”. I guess I needed to call it something, and it matched our name. Oh well…

Hello all! Today we will be talking about Blue Exorci… I mean Blue Gender (now I really wanna watch another Blue show…). Fair warning, I will be spoiling specific plot details about episodes 1-3. With that out of the way, let’s begin my long-winded take on Blue Gender!

 1. Background

I saw this series on the shelves while I was still on that horror kick I mentioned on the last post. I’m pretty sure the store had every volume available, and last I checked it still does, but Volume 1 was enough for me at the time. There was a clear a futuristic Sci-Fi influence on the box, almost cyberpunk-like, and I do often enjoy me some cyberpunk. The description talked about the mysterious “Blue”, which admittedly had me intrigued. My hope, based on this and a few skimmed reviews of the show, was that this show would potentially be “Survival Horror: The Anime”. While that may have been too high (and too vague) of an expectation, I figured that if the show had some likeable characters, tense situations with maybe some bombastic action after the proper build up, and memorable monster designs then I’d be happy. At the very least, I was hoping that it would be an entertaining Sci-Fi romp with some ridiculous and campy moments. Maybe the show would be like those old Sci-Fi movies that are a bit funny to watch, but have a certain charm that I often eat right up. My curiosity was certainly high when I started the first episode.

2. Impressions

From MyAnimeList:

“Blue Gender takes place in the not too distant future in a world where things have gone terribly wrong for humanity. Humans have been replaced at the top of the food chain by the Blue, a race of bug-like aliens that have colonized Earth and pushed humans aside. A space station, Second Earth, has been constructed as a safe haven for humans, with the hope of one day reclaiming the Earth once more

Yuji Kaido was cryogenically frozen, having been suffering from a disease known as B-Cells. Once awakened, he joins a team of soldiers that have come to Earth to extract him. Unfortunately, nothing goes according to plan as they make their way back to Second Earth.

Yuji will have to deal with the horrors of fighting a bloody war as he and the fighters from Second Earth look to survive. Will they be able to win back Earth without losing their humanity?”

Let it be known that I have watched these three episodes a couple of times now, and I am glad that I did. My opinion has certainly matured through rewatching. The first time through, I was absolutely not a fan. I disliked the post-apocalyptic setting, the over reliance on mech based action took away a lot of opportunities for tension, and the characters were not ones I could get into. I was ready to consider this show an absolute failure. But I decided to give it another go anyway, and maybe I was just having a bad day the first time through or something. I found myself appreciating the show at least a little more. I still have problems with it (which I will get into), but I do not all out hate this show.

Blue 3

Let’s start with the setting/premise. I was in an internal debate for a long time about whether I liked the post-apocalyptic setting. See, I generally don’t like it when something takes place in a situation where “humanity is on the brink of extinction”, because it often feels like a cheap way to give the story emotional weight. Of course the idea of the near extinction of humanity makes me sad, but if that’s all you have to offer that is of any narrative worth, then I am simply not interested. Of course, I don’t feel that way about all post-apocalyptic stories. Some of my favorite games and movies such as Final Fantasy X or Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind take place in post-apocalyptic environments. The worlds in these stories are very hostile and bleak at times, but there is still a sense of beauty and wonder to them. I just didn’t see much of that, or much worth in general in Blue Gender’s setting the first time through.

Giving it more thought, the setting of Blue Gender is actually not all that bad. To start, the way they introduced the world by having main character Yuji wake up in the thick of it from the sleeping pod was pretty cool, and served as a great means of teaching things to the audience by teaching them to Yuji. It also wasn’t trying too-too hard to be dreary and depressing. I would say that it had the right mix of depressing bleakness, and hopefulness to fight back. The visual aesthetic of the setting was also well done. Seeing the abandoned buildings and how the Blue have left their mark on the world was really cool. Overall, Blue Gender does do a good job with its setting, and I would be interested in seeing more of the world post Blue invasion.

The pretty good setting and well done introduction to the world, however, are extremely marred by the characters. Going back to the examples of FFX and Nausicaä, most of the characters in those stories are extremely well done, each looking at their situation in interesting ways, and showcasing the human condition in memorable ways. I related to a lot of them, understood their struggles, and felt that there was actual depth to them. For Blue Gender’s characters, some I dislike, some I like, and others feel like they’re just there to have a one note personality and die. I’ll focus on a few of the characters with a more involved role, despite my strong desire to rant about the girl who was there just to be groped by one of the other soldiers (while she talked on a headset emotionless) and then die because she wasn’t wearing her seat belt.

blue scared

Yuji is a good place to start. Yuji is a pretty stupid character at times. I honestly wish I could use a more eloquent word for it, but that was the prevailing thought in my mind when watching some of his actions. He is like an overreacting child. Look, I can understand being confused and emotional when waking from a sleeping pod in a world taken over by monsters trying to kill you. But some of the stuff Yuji does just makes me want to roll my eyes (see his irrational reaction to seeing occupied sleeping pods being transported, which caused him to jump out of the car taking him to safety in order to “wake them up”). The show tries way too hard to emphasize his fear and helplessness in the situation (see the scene where he urinates himself), and it ruins any opportunity for me to feel any fear or suspense.

It’s clear that the show wants to convey the theme of loneliness with Yuji. On paper, I could see this being used quite well in this situation. However, it again feels like the show is trying too hard to convey the theme by having Yuji be so obvious about it. Between the stupid action of running towards the pods (because he thinks it’ll make him less lonely to wake them), to his constant rants about being alone and wanting to die, subtlety is very unsubtly thrown out of a window with fireworks tied around it.

Blue 2

Conversely, female lead Marlene kicks some serious butt, and has a certain cool factor to her actions. She is also very cold and serious. This is absolutely not a bad thing on paper. In fact, I like Marlene’s character to a large degree. Her character just seems a bit shallow at times because they want to emphasize her lack of empathy.

These early portrayals of the main two characters are such a detriment to the show because it makes their developments extremely obvious. Based on these episodes, it’s easy to predict that Yuji will learn to be brave and fight the enemies as some sort of heroic super soldier (his illness might go into play with that), and Marlene will soften up over time and be more open about her feelings. The two will undoubtedly grow closer, fall in love, so on and so forth. I could be wrong (which is the problem of a first impressions review), but that was my prediction when watching the first episodes. This development would not be bad per se, and I have certainly enjoyed plenty of shows with predictable plots/developments, but having Yuji be so aggressively afraid (to the point of it being near comical) and Marlene so aggressively stoic makes their inevitable development all the more obvious, and makes me less invested in them. Again, I normally don’t mind predictability very much in these types of shows, but the way they present these characters just makes it hard to ignore.

I do like fellow soldier Joey. He just seems like a nice guy who is fighting for the good of mankind. When he becomes emotional and reacts to things, it feels more genuine, probably because they don’t draw it out or do it over and over like with some people…. And yet, it’s hard to grow attached to him. The show makes it quite clear in episode 2 that it will gladly kill characters just like that to showcase the unfair nature of the fallen world (such as lack of seat belt girl), and Joey seems like a perfect candidate to show that theme. He’s also not on any promotional art I have seen for the show, so….

Blue 4

(R.I.P., at least probably)

(Minor Character Rant Over)

Okay, let’s talk about some other aspects. For one thing, the Blue look quite cool. They come in multiple forms in these first episodes, and I’m curious as to how the rest of the types look as well. They also provide some creepy moments. Namely, the way they deal with humans. However, for such “evolved” creatures, they certainly have an obvious weak spot… But hey, I can live with it. The show will probably later explain why it’s the weak spot, and I’m sure I’ll be cool with it. The mech based action with the creatures really grew on me, and the fight scenes can be quite enjoyable and a bit tense to watch. Part of me wants to see Yuji become the super soldier I predict he’ll be, just so I can see more cool fights.

Blue5

(Again, they look really cool, but just guess where the weak spot is)

There are multiple times when the visuals get very graphic and shocking, and the soundtrack matches the emotions perfectly, making for some horrific moments. Episode 1 specifically had plenty of these moments that I loved experiencing. The soundtrack as a whole has some “eh” tracks, but it’s often quite good. It can be pretty menacing, cold, and even aggressive at times. There are also instances when there is just this background noise that really fits the scene, giving it more of an ominous feeling that I enjoyed.

However, my soundtrack compliments do not extend to the theme music. The opening and closing do not really fit this show at all, at least to me. I mean, listen to this opening:

Ohhhhh the cheese… It feels like an 80’s glam metal song, which doesn’t exactly prep me up for some dark sci-fi action horror. Why would someone that’s trying to make something meant to be somewhat scary use music that is so hard to take seriously? Who does stuff like tha-

Okay true,  but…

Ok… You win this round Blue Gender…

As I mentioned earlier, Blue Gender tries way too hard displaying its themes. It always feels like it needs to go that extra step just to make sure you know what it’s going for, and it’s often unnecessary. If the show didn’t try so hard to show Yuji’s fear or the lack of humanity among survivors, then it would be a lot better, and I could take the show much more seriously. Those moments I mentioned in episode 1 that I loved so much were great because they felt more confident. They used the imagery, concept, music, and dialogue to craft something memorable with the underlying themes present but not in your face, rather than making something out of fear of the audience not getting the themes that were trying to be conveyed.

I often feel that I am overthinking this show a bit (if you couldn’t tell already). It’s certainly not “Survival Horror: The Anime”, but why would it be? I will gladly admit that I let my expectations run wild with this one for little to no reason. When I take the show for what it is (at least for these episodes), it’s pretty enjoyable. It’s just that the show has a lot of annoying problems and hasn’t shown anything extremely impressive yet that makes me forget these problems. Which brings me to the big question…

3. Will I Continue Watching It?

Well…. Maybe? My answer to this question has changed about five times since I have started writing this post. I feel that this is a show that I need to be in the right mood for. There is a lot in Blue Gender that makes me want to see more of it. I’d love to see more of the destroyed world, the monsters, and the action. I haven’t even seen the space station yet. However, I think I’d have to be in the type of mood where I do not feel like over thinking things and nitpicking its flaws. I can’t say if I would be able to remain interested for 26 episodes, but I can see myself watching more of this show sporadically. I will say that for fans of shows like Attack on Titan, this show would most certainly be worth your time. AoT is extremely similar to Blue Gender, but I would not be able to tell you which is better just yet.

But no matter what I think of Blue Gender, it’s at least better than the Resident Evil Director’s Cut Basement Music.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! I apologize that it is so long. I just had a lot of thoughts about this one. I’m very curious to hear what other people think about this show. Have you seen Blue Gender? What do you think of it? Is it something worth sticking with? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Regardless, thanks again for reading!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s