Thursday, October 18, 2012

Blassreiter Anime Review

Blassreiter
Funimation
Complete Collection - 4 discs
576 mins. - 24 episodes
$29.98 (2011) S.A.V.E.
$49.98 (2010)
$59.98 (2009) Part 1
$59.98 (2009) Part 2
ISBN 704400098529
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Ichiro Itano
Studio - Gonzo

Synopsis: A mysterious and terrifying plague has broken out in Germany which reanimates corpses into frightening techno-organic monsters called 'Demoniacs'.  These creatures can fuse and control mechanical objects like cars, motorcycles, and weapons.  They typically go on berserker rampages leaving a bloody trail  of death and destruction in their wake, but without any real purpose.  The government forms a task force to counter the Demoniac outbreaks called the Xenogenesis Assault Team (XAT).  The XAT use advanced motorcycles and weapons to fight the Demoniacs.
Don't worry, it's just a naked woman's corpse
During a motorcycle race featuring Gerd Frentzen, the greatest motorcyclist in the world, a Demoniac begins a rampage endangering the crowd and seemingly targeting Gerd.  Another Demoniac appears to dispatch the first and then disappears.  This mystery Demoniac is codenamed 'Blue' by the XAT as they attempt to pursue it after the incident.  Unfortunately, Gerd is paralyzed in the attack and can never race again.
A Demoniac interrupts Gerd's race and 'Blue' comes to his rescue
Leading the XAT is Wolf Goring and his team consists of:

  • Amanda Werner - partner to Hermann, she adopted a young boy named Malek as her little brother, a strong fighter she spends too much time working to stop the Demoniacs and Malek is often left to fend for himself
  • Hermann Saltza - partner to Amanda, former racing partner with Gerd, hot-blooded and fiercely loyal, he is often reckless and charges into a fight without a second thought to help his friends
  • Brad Guildford - partner to Al, skilled XAT anti-tank sniper, stoic individual with a lot of combat experience
  • Al Lutz - partner to Brad, skilled XAT sniper, more laid-back and carefree than his partner
XAT members Al, Amanda, and Hermann
Gerd is depressed about being paralyzed and not being able to race. He meets a mysterious doctor who gives him a pill to walk again in a new powerful form - as a Demoniac!  His desire to race again is so fierce he accepts, but must fight back the raging bloodlust threatening to consume his soul.  Hermann attempts to help his friend and Blue reaches out to Gerd in an attempt to get him to control his transformations.  Amanda and the rest of the XAT try to hunt him down.  The mysterious doctor infiltrates the XAT compound and corners Wolf.  What is her hidden agenda which endangers the XAT?  Can Gerd harness his violent transformations into a Blassreiter?
Malek meets his motorcycle racing hero Gerd
Malek is tormented by bullies at school because he is a foreigner.  They mercilessly pick on him and his friend Johann. Amanda is consumed by her work and never around to protect Malek from the constant onslaught of physical/emotional abuse.  Malek befriends the enigmatic Blue and witnesses the transformation of his hero Gerd into a powerful Demoniac.  When Malek meets the mysterious doctor will he be tempted to become powerful like Gerd in order to fend off his tormentors?
Beatrice, the mysterious doctor offers a pill to solve all your problems
What is Blue's origin and why does he fight against the Demoniacs when he is one himself?  Who is the clandestine organization Zwolf?  Most Demoniacs are mindless monsters lashing out at their surroundings, but some become Blassreiters. What is the purpose of these fearsome beings and will the world be consumed by their fury?

Gerd in his Demoniac form
Pros: Good animation and complex CGI, each main Demoniac has a unique look, lots of fast-paced action, many plot twists and character shifts, depressingly dark, some good moral messages like 'bullying can get you killed', 'remember your friends after they've been brutally murdered', and 'take care of the poor by developing nanomachine technology', opening/ending themes are okay
Joseph Jobson aka 'Blue' - that's one depressing dude
Cons: Plot is convoluted mess which first appears religious (i.e. Demon-iacs, like demons from hell) and then technological, characters are annoying - all of them, just a bunch of action and no real story (besides Blue's depressing origin), too much CGI (computer generated images) for my taste, action is too fast and Demoniac character designs way too complicated/busy, lame ending (although somewhat touching), hair styles for Beatrice and Wolf are fugly
Joseph in his Demoniac form
Mike Tells It Straight: I found Blassreiter to be all flash and no real substance.  The story attempted to be grand and sweeping, but didn't deliver a powerful, coherent message.  The story focus shifted to several different characters over the course of the series:

  1. Gerd's transformation into a Demoniac and his fight to maintain his identity instead of giving in to mindless rage
  2. Malek's battle with his bullies, friendship with Blue, and temptation to become a Demoniac in order to get revenge
  3. The origin of Blue and the Demoniacs - get a box of tissues ready for this one
  4. Hermann tries to liberate Amanda and Malek from the Zwolf organization, but runs afoul of the Demoniacs
  5. Final battle with the secret leader of the Demoniacs and a high character death count
Gerd skewers a Demoniac in mid-air
The character relationships were the best part of the show as the XAT and Zwolf members exhibit great camaraderie/honor as they battle the Demoniacs.  I felt the character animation was good, but the CGI was too much - character designs were too busy or action was too fast to really enjoy.  CGI movement doesn't look natural or real to the naked eye - speeding it up in action scenes amplifies the 'fakeness' ten-fold and I didn't like it.  
Joseph in his berserker state after Zwolf's enhancements
This show reminded me of Dragonaut: The Resonance (another Gonzo show) due to the heavy use of CGI effects (dragons there vs. Demoniacs here), but I liked Dragonaut far better - must have been all the fan-service.  Watching Blassreiter felt like watching a CGI version of Power Rangers (albeit a much darker version).  I enjoyed some aspects of the show, but overall it felt like Gonzo was trying too hard.  The final battle between 'Blue' and the main bad guy didn't live up to the hype.  The ending was pretty weak/sappy and I left feeling disappointed.  Only recommended if you're more interested in flashy CGI action scenes and can live with the mediocre story.

TO BUY and Recommendations: