The Complete Series
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Reviewed by Jason Thompson
lue Gender” is one of the latest releases from The Viridian Collection, which highlights certain classic anime series and collects each in an affordable package. The series originally debuted in 1999, and in this set the entire 26-episode run is included, along with a feature-length film entitled “The Warrior.” While these Viridian sets are usually excellent in terms of the series that are chosen to be featured, “Blue Gender” as a whole doesn’t hold up quite well enough for various reasons, the foremost being the absolute redundant nature of too many of the series’ episodes.
The gist of the series is thus: 20-year-old Yuji Kaido has developed a strange illness for which there is no known cure. He volunteers to be put in a cryogenic state, to be awakened in the future when a cure is possibly found. He becomes a “sleeper,” and is woken up in 2031 to find that the world he knew no longer exists, taken over by a mutant strain of creatures known simple as the “Blue.” Enter Marlene Angel, a member of the Sleeper Recovery Team whose mission is to get Yuji to the “second Earth” space station safely, as a team of scientists has decided that the sleepers may actually be the key to stopping the Blue menace.
The first half of “Blue Gender” more or less deals with Marlene and Yuji making that trek to the space station. Marlene is cold and calculated, while Yuji is still holding on to the values he held true before he entered sleep. Yuji demands that Marlene and her partner make him part of the recovery team, to help them fight and get him to the space station safely. Of course, much drama ensues, with Yuji’s morals clashing with Marlene’s way of getting things done, with the end result being Marlene eventually turning a corner and becoming more like Yuji when she sees the value of humanity.
The second half of “Blue Gender” revolves around Yuji meeting a rival named Tony Frost, a fellow sleeper who excels in killing the Blue. Yuji feels he should be able to kill the Blue just as efficiently as Tony, and soon starts going mad competing against him. The cause for the madness is “b-cells” in the sleepers’ bodies. When activated continuously through battle, these cells soon take over all manner of rational thought. In fact, it turns out that these cells exist in the DNA of the Blue gender itself, and therefore the two are actually related.
When “Blue Gender” works well, it’s an exciting and thoroughly captivating series, but all too often too many of the episodes feature the same thing: the Sleeper Recovery Team climbing in giant mechs to battle the Blue over and over. It can get numbing pretty fast, with one episode dissolving into the next without much variation. The same holds true for the second half of the series as well. The rivalry between Yuji and Tony is so stretched out that one can begin to lose interest and just want the damn thing to hurry up and get resolved already. However, there are a few other things that plague “Blue Gender.”
First is the addition of various sex scenes. It’s not that the sex scenes are offensive or “bad” in any way, nor are they explicit. They feel like they were just thrown in to the middle of various episodes for no reason other than to simply be there. They don’t further the store (save for one instance), and look like they were tacked on for lack of any other ideas. Second, there is the animation of the series itself. “Blue Gender” isn’t the prettiest looking anime by a long shot, but sometimes the drawings of the main characters look so half-assed (usually during close-ups, of all things) that it almost becomes a joke to look at them. Third, and to a lesser extent, is the unintentionally hilarious misspelling of various English words throughout the series. Be prepared to have your ocular senses assaulted if you’re a grammar freak.
As far as being a “must have” anime series, “Blue Gender” is not it. It’s good enough for a rental, but you might find yourself growing listless after a bit even watching it that way. Had the series been cut to a 13-episode arc, it would have been a much stronger and effective show. But the main ideas presented here don’t easily withstand so much of the same-old same-old in the majority of the episodes. Everything about “Blue Gender” feels a little forced in the end, making it feel rushed and tedious when all is said and done.
Special Features: It’s the usual batch of things that you find in an anime series such as this. Included here are voice actor bios, character galleries, textless openings and closings for the show, remixes of a couple of the songs featured in the series, character profiles and trailers for other Funimation titles.