Menu

Bateszi Anime Blog

Anime fans fornever

Basking in the inferno of Cloverfield, remembering Blue Gender

blue_gender_blog_1.jpg

Head-spinning, stomach-turning and mind-racing are a few of the adjectives I’d choose to describe how I felt when I stumbled out of the cinema last night, having just suffered through Cloverfield. To say I’d been looking forward to this film would be an understatement, and even though I’d only discovered its baffling trailer in early January, the anxious wait until February the 1st (its official UK release) was incredibly frustrating. I mean, considering its earlier premiere in the US and the relative secrecy surrounding the central “creature” itself, I just desperately wanted to see this film for myself, and now that I have, here I am.

I loved Cloverfield, motion sickness and all! Even before setting foot at the cinema, I knew I’d love it. Giant monsters, ambiguous origins, unfathomable means. It’s all good. The complete destruction of New York City, depicted in an ultra-realistic style; seeing the Big Apple’s sky-scrapers gradually tumble like a pack of dominos in an inferno of reverberating, twisted metal. Suffice to say, it’s an awesome spectacle, but I digress, this is an anime blog. Must talk about anime.

When one thinks of monster flicks, Godzilla, Japan’s bastion of pop culture, is a behemoth of the genre and yet, for every man-in-a-suit movie, there’s few traditional giant monster/disaster stories in anime. Sure, we have the likes of Evangelion, but even then, that’s much more of a character study than anything else. What I’m thinking of is a pulpy, survival-based story in which humanity is pushed to its very limits of endurance and forced to fend off the constant attacks of an unknown enemy. Having wracked my memory for hours, one TV series crawls to mind; 1999’s Blue Gender.

blue_gender_blog_2.jpgWhen Yuji Kaido, Blue Gender’s young protagonist, is diagnosed with a baffling new illness, he is shelved in cryogenic stasis for an indefinite period of time, comforted only by the promise that he’ll be woken the very moment doctors develop a cure, something that’s currently beyond medical science. Years, maybe even decades, later, Yuji stirs from his great long slumber, though the world he wakes in isn’t exactly the modern paradise he left behind. Earth’s been overrun with giant insect-like creatures called the “Blue”, and of course, they feed on humans. Any semblance of government and army has withdrawn to “Second Earth”; a large space station housing the last remnants of modern civilisation. The few people remaining on Earth, starving and hiding in the rubble of destroyed cities, are being picked off, one by one, by the man-eating monsters, as humanity formulates its last shot at survival.

Blue Gender, much like Cloverfield, doesn’t take prisoners. Life is cheap and of the dozen or so soldiers who come to rescue Yuji from his “forever dream”, only one survives to see him safely back to “Second Earth”. In this series, man’s absolutely lost his place at the top of the food chain and he’s left, like the rest of nature, to live in the constant fear of being hunted. One of the things I loved about the first half of Blue Gender was this strong sense of hopelessness clinging to the characters as they travel across barren wastelands and empty cities, not knowing how or when the next attack will commence. It makes for riveting viewing because, in this world, there is no sentiment, no rules about who dies or when, everyone is constantly haunted by the spectre of death, almost driven insane with fear, no doubt imaging just how it’ll be when their time comes. I first watched Blue Gender on the Sci-Fi channel around about 2001/2; I still remember how, every Thursday evening at mid-night, there it was, another episode to devour. We never missed an episode (much to lament of our father, who’d rather be watching fishing programs) and that’s a tribute to the quality of this series and indeed, some day, I’m hoping to see it again (preferably not dubbed this time). It’s most definitely horror in the vein of “Aliens“, but if you loved Cloverfield, I’m quite certain you’ll find yourself hooked on Blue Gender too. I mean, everyone loves an apocalypse every now and then, right?

Comments

Jayme says:

I was on the verge of purchasing all off Blue Gender quite a number of months ago now from eBay, I wasn’t sure if it was really worth it since it does have very mixed reviews. Somewhat alike Cloverfield in that aspect actually. I loved Cloverfield a lot, It was really everything I expected and more. I might put Blue Gender on my “To Watch” list on MAL now.

I doubt I’ll see the two stories linking in the way you seemed to. Also, The “Insect-like” creatures sound all to familiar. ;p

dengar says:

You know, if you just moved to America you’d get to see all of our movies right when they come out. Plus now that our economy is in the toilet, you’ll probably live twice as well as you could in the UK.

As for Blue Gender, another thing to add to my netflix list. Ever since I stopped downloading licensed stuff in favor of netflix I feel like it takes forever to watch anything.

BrikHaus says:

I was really disappointed with Blue Gender. To me, it seems like “Violence Porn.” Tons of close-ups of gunshot wounds, maiming, and blood spurting everywhere. It was violence just for the sake of violence, with little real soul or depth. Don’t get me wrong, I do like anime that isn’t deep, but Blue Gender was too extreme to be enjoyable. That’s just one man’s opinion, though.

IKnight says:

‘crawls to mind’ . . . it’s the little touches that get me, every time.

bateszi says:

@Jayme: If you love movies like Aliens and Starship Troopers, you’ll love Blue Gender. It’s very bleak and violent, but at the same time, very interesting too. At least, I definitely recommend you give it a couple of episodes to impress Also, nice to read you’re into Cloverfield as much as me, some of the down-town scenes of destruction are brilliant and I’m tempted to go back and see it again, though not particularly relishing the motion sickness; first time I’ve ever come out of a film feeling a little dazed and dizzy.

@dengar: If only life were that simple. To be honest though, I’d love to visit the ‘States some time. Not just for the early screenings of movies though, I’ve heard your BigMac meals are huge compared to the puny UK version :)

@BrikHaus: Well, each to their own. I wouldn’t really call it “violence porn” (it’s hardly Takeshi Miike or Shigurui) but I can definitely understand your point of view. Also, I’d suggest that you don’t necessarily need to feel a sense of “soul” or “depth” to enjoy something; at its basest level, Blue Gender is an all-out action/horror story. It’s not a brilliant example of anime, but I found it fun, exciting and most of all, refreshingly straight-forward. Much like Cloverfield, really, I couldn’t care less about the characters (if I want drama, I’ll point to the likes of Honey & Clover), it’s just cool seeing these giant insects rip-up stuff and cause mayhem – anything else is a bonus. Also, you hate Ghost Hound too, but I love it, I guess in many ways, we’re quite the opposite of each other :)

@IKnight: Thanks for noticing something like that! Originally, I wrote it as ‘came to mind’, but being the “tinker-man” of blogging, I wanted the creepy “horror” theme of this post to infiltrate even the more mundane phrases we use in every day speech! Oh dear, this is what I waste hours doing :(

Benjiro says:

Blue Gender. Now that brings back memory’s.

Jayme: Place it again on your to buy list. Well worth it.

Its one of those underrated anime series, that don’t cater to the general public because of its dark nature. It makes you think, what if it where you? What if everybody you knew is dead? Here you are, awaken, and the first thing you see is something that tries to kill you. Thrown into a world where you are nothing but food to be turned into a riceball ( you get the reference when you see the serie ;) ), and to be consumed by the ‘Blue’ later on.

The serie is also very chilling in how life lost its meaning to many. How those human survivors on earth are nothing but something to ignore by those that did escape the slaughter.

The bad thing is the rather low budget animation used for the serie ( but that soon fades in the background because of the mood the serie sets ).

Calling it “violence porn” is going overboard. I think Saw ( more specific the later one’s II, III, IV ), and a lot of other movies are more fitting the term these days.

One can say, that Blue Gender to today’s standards is even “mild”. I think more people die ( in a more big mess ) in one episode of ‘Hokuto no Ken’ then in the entire first half of Blue Gender. :)

The biggest selling point about Blue Gender, is its more realistic nature imho. The mechs are not indestructible gundams or whatever. There are more realistic. Same reason why i like Gaseraki ( for a large part for trying a more realistic feeling to the serie ). Sure, it is/there is Sci-Fi, but its not going overboard ( for the most part ). Another serie i like to recommend is “Armored Trooper Votoms”.

IKnight says:

Hmm, why didn’t you mention that this had mecha? [I suppose I should’ve paid more attention to the image.] Now I’m really interested . . . finding a Region 2 copy of the final disk (if one was ever released?) seems to be quite hard, however.

I thought about two-thirds of Blue Gender was actually really good. If they’d just stopped at episode 20 it would have been great. Oh and I have to say, “What no love for Gunparade March.” I mean it wasn’t as good as Blue Gender, but it definitely had that creepy, the bad guys are winning and you’re just food type of feeling to it.

I was going to mention RahXephon, but that isn’t really what you’re talking about here :)

Benjiro says:

Now that you mention ‘bad guys winning’ & ‘creepy’ feeling, i just remembered: “Sentou Yousei Yukikaze”.

bateszi says:

@Benjiro: Nice to find another BG fan. I guess people assume the series is violent because its tone is notably harsh and downbeat. In between the deaths, there’s very little hope or distraction, it’s just a constant slog for survival. I must admit, when I see the word “violence porn”, I immediately start thinking of recent US movies like Saw and Hostel. And I must revisit Yukikaze sometime too, my first experience wasn’t too good :(

@IKnight: The mecha are fairly well integrated into the narrative. It’s not like Gundam where they are the key selling point, the mecha are simply used as tools for war, so I guess I just naturally forgot to mention them. Anyway, I wouldn’t bother with the R2 version – aside from the availability issues, it’s one of MVM’s early dub-only releases. It pains me to say it, but you’re better off importing.

@Cameron Probert: I do remember feeling a bit underwhelmed by the second half of Blue Gender, but still, I enjoyed it enough to see it ’till its typically ambiguous\philosophical end. Also, RahXephon is one of the first series I tracked down when I first started seriously watching anime… I loved it and in fact, I just bought all 7 DVDs in a recent sale. It’ll always be in the shadow of Evangelion, but being soft-hearted, its central romance and the various theatrical tragedies utterly captivated my emotions. And yeah, opening theme by Yoko Kanno. An awesome series.

kauldron26 says:

loved blue gender. the character development btw yuji and marlene was truly incredible. few anime have reached that level of intimacy and intensity between two characters. the time spent developing their characters and their relationship awed me back then and still awes me now. Blue gender was Dark as hell… i remember my shock when characters got killed like nothing, or how the director depicted sex in the future when there is nothing to live for. Contrasting the humanity of the future and the humanity that develops in Marlene as Yuji loses his really blew me away. Blue Gender is another example of an anime that is truly a character study in disguise of a genre medium i.e. scifi.

Indeed, RahXephon is my favorite series on all time. Granted, I watched it before I watched NGE, but I still like it better for so many reasons.

Honestly I did a post on it a long time back now. And a lot of people got upset with me one way or the other. But it still captures all of my feelings about the series.

bateszi says:

@kauldron26: Hey man, nice to see you around these parts again… I wondered what had happened to you, considering the last message you left was Dec 18. Hope you’ve been well, anyway.

@Cameron Probert: Ahh, the age-old NGE/RahXephon debate. My opinion is that while Evangelion is the better series overall, I’m not sure if it was as emotionally engaging as RahXephon, which I probably enjoyed slightly more (at least, more on a personal level, NGE has amazing art direction). Evangelion is definitely “world class” anime, one of the rare stories capable of winning over new fans (like “Cowboy Bebop”), but being an anime fan, I just prefer the more romantic style of RahXephon. Also, apologies for causing a bit of a ruckus on your blog, I wasn’t expecting it to blow up like it has!

[…] heard that there were mecha involved, I became interested. [Yes, I did take note of bateszi’s recent remarks and try Blue Gender. Yes, I do let other people control my taste – though the fact that Takahashi […]

@ bateszi – Oh no problem. I kind of like the controversy. I didn’t realize I was going to ruffle so many feathers either. And I’m always up for a good debate to be fair. And actually your comment got me to watch ef-tale of memories, which I don’t think is a bad show, not an awesome show, but pretty good all told.

kauldron26 says:

hey man, life has been crazy the real world and college are glaringly different, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I havent had much time to watch any anime. Bokurano was the last thing i saw and it was ridiculously depressing it served no purpose but to kill a character off every week. Moyashimon was great in that it served as a college life show which are so rare, slice of life and educational as well. It was so original i had to love it.

Complete anime on my HDD that i have yet to watch: Denno Coil, Higurashi, Legend of Galactic Heroes, Madlax, Shigurui, Zipang and Ef a tale of memories as for ongoing shows i just dl and save for future viewings. However ive been enjoying Spice and Wolf. shows i highly recommend that im certain u still havent watched!! romeo and juliet and Skull Man. I really loved those shows especially RxJ. Skull Man is unlike anything you have seen bro.

A Show that really, really surprised me tho is 009-1
i gotta say i wasnt expecting anything good from this anime at all. it was very surprising. i was expecting the show to be one of those anime that is pure fan service with no substance. i was quite wrong. i dont know why i have always been a fan of old school animation, especially the kind used in TERRA (which is the best anime of 2007). 0091 uses the old school style to the fullest just like they did in giant robo. i liked it alot, it fits the time in which the story takes place too. its like a futuristic past in which the cold war is still going on. the soundtrack i loved because my favorite genre of music is jazz… and all the music here is all jazz baby. and the dub was very well done. nothing is held back and nothing is lost in translation. the weakest point of this anime is in the story. each episode focuses on a specific case or mystery. which i believe was also the weak point of mushishi In my own opinion. however what really blew my mind was the dvd only episode called rhythm and blues and i have to say it is one of the best episodes i`ve seen all year. this episode was about how we find love where we least expect it, and how frail it is. when we find it we are swept up in the moment and we have to treasure those moments, because as soon as it comes, it can also be lost as easily. the episode was beautiful and painful. in regards to character, it was very different because each episode gives us insight on who mylene really is, and sometimes we cant tell if she`s a good person, or just a cold hearted bitch to the core. but that is what makes it interesting. we are forced to contemplate on out preconceptions on what makes a person good or evil. i enjoyed the anime quite alot, and i have to say it has some of the best music i have heard all year. and the action scenes were quite spectacular.

Yea man, so check out my recommendations, i have yet to recommend a crappy show right? later

[…] fathers of the ‘real robot’ genre. In recent times, he has directed the likes of Blue Gender and Flag, but the majority of his most influential anime was created during the Eighties, one of […]

Leave a Reply