|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Blassreiter is a dark action-drama focused around the exploits of a German military organization known as XAT being tasked with fending off the threat arisen from biomechanical creatures called Demoniacs spawned from corpses and infecting the populace. Also battling the threat is a mysterious young man named Joseph who also wields the power to turn into a Demoniac, though he is able to maintain his normal mental state unlike those who become infected by the strain. The series is divided up into several arcs exploring how several characters in the series become affected by the Demoniac strain and what they seek to gain through utilizing its power. Behind the scenes, a couple mysterious individuals are exploiting the strain and personal traumas of those milking the power of a Demoniac for their personal gain. |
For the most part, Blassreiter is solid with developing its plot and characters in terms of exploring how certain characters become affected by the Demoniac strain, the causes of it and why said characters desire to utilize its power. A number of the characters in the series have some rather tragic back stories that serve to drive their decisions with utilizing their newly found power as a Demoniac. The negatives of having such power are explored as some abuse it for their personal gain without realizing the moral ramifications of their actions while others are driven to madness by it as such where they struggle to maintain their humanity or lose it all together. The series slowly reveals the origins of the Demoniac threat and what connection Joseph has to them as he is seemingly acquainted with the main enemy threat responsible for spreading its plague among the German populace.
Still, the series isn't without its faults. The series can at points get a bit heavy handed with how it portrays its drama and religious themes. In terms of drama, Blassreiter can be quite melodramatic with depicting the developments of its cast and said drama can get overbearing as such where one may have trouble caring seriously for it at points, most notably with aspects of Joseph and Malek's backgrounds. Also, the show's attempts at religious symbolism feel really forced as attempts to milk Christian iconography and Bible verses to try expressing something meaningful come across more awkward than natural. Beyond this, the show isn't really offering much new with its premise as aspects to its storytelling have been milked in one form or another in sci-fi, action and drama titles. Also, do be warned this baby can get rather graphic with its content as there is a high death count in Blassreiter and characters tend to die in some rather bloody and messy ways at points.
Visually, the show is rather pleasing on the eyes for the most part. Character and scenery designs sport subdued color tones and a good amount of visual detail that do well at complimenting the dark and gritty mood that Blassreiter wishes to show off. The visual highlight to the series comes in the form of the Demoniacs and any mecha from human forces being utilized for battle scenes. While the 3D CG animation used in their rendering sticks out like a sore thumb with the regular animation, it is still nicely rendered and onscreen action with mecha and Demoniacs is fluid and intense, making this a nice feast for the eyes with action anime fans.
While having its issues and not really breaking new ground, Blassreiter is still a decent time-killer with what it has to offer up for a dark action-drama. While not up to par with Bokurano and Gankutsuou, Blassreiter is still one of the more decent offerings made by Gonzo.
Last updated Tuesday, January 20 2015. Created Saturday, August 13 2011.
(Buy- or Rent+)|
(All episodes watched--twice):
First of all, don't fall into the trap of jumping to the conclusion that this will be a hokey Gerd-Frenzen-as-anti-Demoniac-vigilante show after watching episode one, because nothing could be farther from the truth. Blassreiter is in fact a startlingly clever and well written story--watching episode two and maybe three will make this clear.
That being said, the excellent animation and artwork were the first things to catch my eye amid a furious motorcycle race--you almost fear that you'll be run over by the 'choppers hurtling at you. Apparently a good many people hate this sort of CG animation, but I was having great fun. The action moves too fast at times to keep up, and I had to rewind--even when there weren't any subtitles playing. Zombies that can merge with fast vehicles--why didn't somebody think of this before now? Too crazy to disturb me, but still fun and exciting. It kind of reminds me of the 1987 movie "The Hidden". I detected a certain "coolness" to this show. It definitely looked like motorcycle racer Gerd Frenzen would be the protagonist and become some sort of superhuman anti-Demoniac vigilante, or maybe ally himself with the XAT (but again, that turned out to be a common mistake). As of episode one there's no explanation of Demoniacs/Amalgams--I almost felt as if I was expected to already be familiar with them--but that's no big problem with a "cool" show. So far, so good--I'm into this.
For some reason I shelved Blassreiter after two episodes (perhaps the fansubs were taking too long to arrive), and have only just now (Winter '09) acquired the entire series. However, having done so I find myself quickly swept up again by the action and excitement. It has become my favorite show at the moment and just thinking about it makes me grin. "This is so f---ing awesome!" I said to myself. At first it seemed like Speed Racer for adults, with a naughty dose of profanity and shameful adult behavior; with time I realized how very deep and sophisticated this story really is. The premise of Amalgams is so freaky that you don't know what to expect, yet the characters react in a believable and rational way, which is an extreme plus. The plot is moving at a good clip, keeping me interested and I don't get the impression that I've missed anything important yet. A wide range of likeable and sometimes bizarre characters has been intoduced--what's the deal with Elea, the elf-like girl who we only see as a hologram? I just pray that all the weird elements come together in a believable way, but so far this show has done a lot to instill confidence, and even if it never makes complete sense the action and dialogue kick ass.
Damn, this show's pretty slick! The artwork is exemplary, the action is wild and exciting, the characters are neat, and the plot makes perfect sense. It even gets emotionally powerful at times, such as at the end of episode six. One day I watched no less than four episodes, and I seldom watch more than one episode of any show in a day--two is unusual, four is extraordinary. I wonder why Blassreiter hasn't gotten more attention than it has.
I'm not happy with the way the mystery of the Amalgams was explained all at once; I was having much more fun as bits and pieces of evidence were slowly assembled. Furthermore, the explanation seemed kind of typical, almost like a cop-out. In a scientific sense it didn't make much sense either (how can they de-transform back into human form?). But again, it's the extreme "coolness" which drives this show, so a lack of plausibility isn't a disaster.
Again and again, the sheer excitement of this show leaves me in awe. It's like a high powered rush from one surprise to another. So much ground has been covered already that I can't see where it could possibly go from here--and it's not even halfway over yet! The story moves so fast that there's no time to guess what will happen next. The explanation of the Amalgams was just the begining, as yet another faction that even they hold in respect is introduced--it's like what I'd thought would be a three dimensional story becomes four dimensional. I wouldn't be enjoining it nearly as much if it weren't character-driven. Hermann and Amanda remain the principal characters, and at this point I wonder if anybody will avoid becoming an Amalgam. There's no clock checking as I watch Blassreiter--or rather I check it in hopes that the episode is not nearing it's end. Pardon my French, but this show kicks ass to hell and back.
The end of episode twelve, the halfway mark in the series, left me with my jaw detached from my skull and lying on the floor. The tension has been raised to an excruciatingly exciting level by events which I had assumed could never happen in a show like this. The highly developed characters which we've come to love are put at risk and not all will live to tell the tale. The whole original premise of the show, i.e, XAT versus the Amalgams, has been swept away and a new one will replace it. How did this happen? Let's just say that the good guys don't always win in Blassreiter. If the second half is as good as the first, this will be a definite "Buy".
One thing is for certain: this show is not for children. The recent scene of two characters having sex made that clear! There are scenes of disturbing brutality, hatred, prejudice, and needless to say, bloodshed. But I don't think the violence here is at all gratuitous; much of it is violence you don't want to see, as innocent people or characters you've come to like meet their fates. There is a good deal of it, but violence isn't dispensed to the viewer carelessly, rather it is only shown when necessary and effectively moves the story onwards.
I'm not so sure I like the course the second half of the series is taking. The Zwolf organization (that means "twelve", doesn't it?) seems a little too generic and implausible; maybe nobody besides me cares, but I think that there's no way that an organization that has the influence and resources to develop and employ such fantastic technology would remain unknown for 800 years. It's kind of like the sudden explanation of the Amalgams, in that the plot seems to suddenly leapfrog forward when it had been moving at a most comfortable pace. For once I'm confused rather than intrigued about where things are going. But this problem isn't really a major problem at all, it's just what's keeping Blassreiter from being a virtually perfect show.
Just when I was uneasy at so much of the first half of the series being swept away, I'm given just what I need to fix the problem--it would be a major spoiler to say more than this. I can't help feeling that whoever wrote this story was a true professional, and is "playing" me with great finesse. That is, this person knows just when to tell me the bad news and just when to toss me a bone. I'm repeatedly surprised as things which I couldn't have dreamed of in my wildest imagination take place, and yet fit seamlessly into the story. The result is that Blassreiter firmly holds my attention. This is the sort of show which I wish had an unlimited number of episodes, because each would be fresh and exciting and the story would never get old.
The second half seems less focused than the first but is awesome nevertheless. Characters come and go and come again, interweaving their own stories into the plot of the series as a whole. Each time I have doubts the show takes off in a new and unexpected direction, which allays my fears and leaves me thrilled. It's been so long since I've seen such a skillfully written show that I'd almost forgotten that it was even possible. This is high quality stuff; I almost feel guilty that I'm consuming it as rapidly (one episode per day) as I am.
Episode 23, the next-to-last one, was great from an action standpoint--it just didn't make sense. I couldn't help feeling that the character of Shiho had been added just because somebody felt the series needed at least one Japanese hero or else it wouldn't be popular. His crusade against nuclear weapons ("I won't let Germany go the way of Japan!") was nonsense; when the entire human race is at risk, a little nuking makes perfect sense. In fact, why hadn't it been done earlier? A single warhead might have eradicated Xargin and the Amalgams with relatively little collateral damage. Actually, of course, I know why it wasn't tried: because that would have spoiled the excellent plot of the series. Blassreiter has done a good job of convincing me that the Amalgams are a genuine threat to be taken completely seriously--but that means any and all possible measures to exterminate them are justifiable. Also, why did Sasha take down the last two planes, when the outcome had already been decided? I couldn't help feeling that this episode seemed like a cheap shot to villianize the US (which couldn't possibly have been aware of the Isis Project, and was only trying to save the world), and kind of cheapens the series as a whole. Still, I was prepared to forgive practically any mistake which this awesome show could make.
I was certain that the final episode would be as powerful as the ones which had concluded the various arcs, and would brilliantly tie everything together, but that didn't exactly happen. In fact, it dawns on me that the second half of Blassreiter was almost a different series from the first; it was semi-confusing and not as well thought out. The show had a satisfactory conclusion, but I was expecting a fantastic one. There was no single distinct moment at which you realize that against all odds victory has been achieved. It was more of a "Is this that Isis thing?" sort of conclusion. Joseph taking the Isis capsule then beginning a one-hour battle marathon was absurd; shouldn't he have swallowed it something like 55 minutes before he confronted Xargin? The ending seemed very hokey and childish--sort of a they-lived-happily-ever-after conclusion--even if they're dead. And a certain character would've died soon anyway, so don't feel bad about this person getting killed? I did like the continuation of the theme of protecting the oppressed in the postscript, though. The conclusion of the series as a whole was nowhere near as good as that of the first or second plot arcs. The gritty, deadly serious tone of the series is discarded in favor of a dumbed-down ending. I checked to see if there had been a change of directors halfway through, but that doesn't seem to have been the case.
Still, I loved Blassreiter as a whole. This was a show which pushed all the right buttons, so to speak. Not a brilliant treatise on philosophy or ethics (though there is some), but definitely a brilliant action adventure series. And the characters were remarkably well developed (Hermann and Elea were my favorites)--definitely one of the strong points of the series. Amanda is remarkably intelligent and capable for a female anime character, but also displays realistic angst when she sees what happens to Malek. Xargin's motivations were difficult to understand, but I couldn't help feeling sorry for even that green-haired bitch Beatrice at the end. This was a show which took off in an unexpected direction, and kept moving so fast that I never had time to lose interest (or question whether it really made sense). I was continually astonished at how skillfully Blassreiter revved up the excitement, even during the second half. So utterly many shows cannot do so that I can't help wondering, how is it possible to do something like that?
To give you yet another hint of how much I liked Blassreiter, afterwards I did something which hasn't happened for a long time: I began rewatching it rightaway. Damn, this show is so ----ing cool--it's a brilliant detctive story in which the clues fall into place one by one (at least during the first half). The XAT ("Xenogenesis Assault Team") members are extremely professional, which is a nice change from the supernaturally skilled fighters who are usually pitted against paranormal opponents. They are only human, not superheroes, yet manage to make a dent in the Amalgams anyhow, using nothing more than their brains and combat skills. Even the second time around this series is great fun; for one thing, all sorts of cryptic lines make sense in retrospect. I did some searching on the 'net for other reviews (there weren't all that many since this was released direct to the internet), and the impression I got was that lots of people scoffed at Blassreiter right from the start, because they hated Gonzo-style CG animation and assumed the show would rely on it at the expense of everything else. But among those who kept going, a common comment was that this is a very underrated show, and I agree wholeheartedly. Even as I rewatch episodes, I'm repeatedly awed at the skill with which the story is told and how intrigued I become as a result. It's a pity that episode one put so many people off. Therefore, I decided to raise my rating to a tentative "Buy". Rewatchability is a basic requirement for me to recommend buying anything, and I think Blassreiter is definitely worth watching numerous times--I know I will.
My favorite line: "If he's possessed he might rise from the dead and come after you again!" --Hermann
Also: "If XAT becomes a problem, I think you should just crush them" --Elea
P.S: Some reading I've done on other websites suggests that Blassreiter is another example of an anime based on an incomplete manga, which would explain a good deal about why the ending didn't seem to be up to par with the remainder of the show. I would love to know how it was supposed to end by the mangaka--maybe I'll go searching for the final volume of the manga.
Catch Amanda's montage at the Cute Girls with Guns page!
Last updated Sunday, October 17 2010. Created Friday, April 11 2008.
Great top-notch animation with soldiers swinging light-sabers on motorcycles, strange evil monsters merging with cars, and serious soldiers armed with sniper rifles and rocket-equipped armored cars. |
Too bad this show comes off as another one of those ‘transformer’ & 'kill-the-monsters' series created to target the 12+ years-old-boy crowd and to sell the video game that is in works.
It is worth watching at least one episode of this series – just for the animation, but just don’t expect more.
Last updated Wednesday, April 09 2008. Created Wednesday, April 09 2008.
|Japanese Series Web Site||http://www.blassreiter.com/|