Blue Gender

December 13, 2004 on 9:15 am | In Blue Gender | Comments Off on Blue Gender

The future is an awful, bleak and horrible place. That’s what people who go to sleep learn upon waking up some years later. Unfortunately for them, they can’t turn over and say “I couldn’t eat another thing” and have to face up to reality. Kaido Yuji learns just that in the 2031 offered in Blue Gender.

In 2009, a new disease is starting to break out on Earth. Because this disease is incurable by modern scientific technology, those infected are put into stasis. In 2031, Kaido Yuji is accidentally wakened at his medical facility to find that horrible bug like creatures, known as blue, have taken over the planet. The blue can eat any matter, organic or inorganic and they roll humans up into green dumplings. Needless to say, Yuji isn’t happy at this turn of events. The marines have come to take the “Sleepers” to Second Earth, the space station that is the only place truly safe from the blue.
Yuji accompanies Marlene Angel and a crew of largely expendable marines on their quest to get back into space – but he might not like what’s waiting for him there either.

Blue Gender is, quite simply, brutal. Some of the time it’s hard to believe that this was shown on Japanese television. The sheer amount of bloody deaths alone would never have made it past the censor in the good old days. The substantially high sexual content is also an eye opener – they showed nipples on TV, damnit! But Blue Gender is brutal in its story telling, as well. The characters who die, they’re kind of important characters. With two obvious exceptions, anyone in Blue Gender can, and almost certainly will, not live until the end – so don’t get too attached to them.

The attitude of the future, not surprisingly, stinks. When Yuji meets Marlene, she is cold, dedicated only to the mission. Yuji is a terrible soldier, because he does not want to put the people grounded on Earth in danger. However, they come to learn from their survival on a planet gone mad!™ that they need to rely on each other and that empathy is not a sign of weakness. The biggest problem in the series is when the couple seem to undergo a character transfusion, with Yuji becoming blood thirsty and Marlene becoming excessively gentle. This is an extremely frustrating problem but is satisfactorily explained by story developments. It just takes a while to get there, in which time hopefully the show has not lost viewers.

Never before has there been a series with such blunt, emotionless sexuality. The characters take an almost Brave New World type approach to sex, just as something to do. In the second episode, before their gruesome deaths, one of Marlene’s unit is giving a report, when a male staff member comes up from behind, feels her up and starts undressing her. This, and further sexual activity on Earth, makes sense amongst the dead-eyed hopelessness of the environment. Then you get to space and there’s what amounts to a “sex factory” – the pipe systems of Second Earth are literally infested with couples going at it. You would think this is a district, but then there’s a lounge where people are publicly fornicating and popping small pills, like soma, to enhance the experience. For this reason it is very important to track the development of the relationship of Marlene and Yuji. This is the series’ gentle point: hard romance is never emphasised, and the bond between the two develops almost naturally. While this series has an extensive amount of sexual content, there is no way it could be described as sexually charged. This is pure anti-service, and is actually quite commendable.

The suspense and thrill could have been saved more effectively had Blue Gender been given a 13 episode season – because it is Marlene and Yuji’s time on Earth that makes it so captivating. Anything after that really can’t hope to compare, but it remains eminently watchable regardless. Admittedly, the shift in storyline also leads to the inclusion of the stupidest looking creature ever, and that might have something to do with feelings of increased sourness.

This anime is from 1999, and is another early AIC foray into digital animation. While it is clear that they improved in the year since the near-unwatchable Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, this anime still suffers some weird off-model shots and a general lack of diversity in colour. The dull, uniform shades used for the blue give the project rather less of the gritty feel that everything else about this series gives off. Marlene is generally attractive, but … look at Yuji’s hair. He has monstrous sideburns, which must be because 2009 will have tasteless fashions. Otherwise, the series leans towards being attractive and the action frequently takes place at literally break-neck speeds.

Kuwashima Houko proves her excellent, diverse abilities once more in her performance as Marlene (suspiciously credited in the first six episodes as Kuwashima Norika). It is increasingly difficult to believe that Kuwashima began her career as the superbly bubbly Yurika in Nadesico. Somehow she has become shoe-horned into the sullen, untalkative girl role, but she can play so many different sorts of characters, and Marlene is a strong example.
Nojima Kenji performs well as the terrified Yuji of the early days, and less so as the arrogant bastard Yuji that springs up later. For obvious reasons, of course.
Kuwashima also performs the OP and ED, and what a rocking OP “Tokihanate!” turned out to be. It sets a perfect standard for the series, and just quietly, a perfect ending. “Tokihanate!” embodies the spirit of Blue Gender.

Blue Gender is strong anime that completely rocks in its initial story arc, and entertains consistently thereafter. The series is not so much about character as it is about human nature, and it tackles this issue very well. The digital animation may be dodgy at times, but the theory and execution are sound – and the ending is a killer. The graphic frankness of Blue Gender sets it apart from many others and makes it well worth watching.

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