What They Say
It is unknown how long they have existed. Some sightings date back to 2017. But in the year 2031 Humankind was replaced as the dominant species on Earth. They are known only as The Blue. Many believed that the Blue were created by a rogue nation as a weapon of mass destruction. But it soon became all too evident that this was not the case. These monstrous insect-like creatures now exert their terrible will upon the planet. As a result, the remains of the human race have fled into outer space to escape the infestation of the Blue. Suddenly awakened after 22 years in suspended animation, Yuji Kaido finds himself thrust into a nightmarish reality. Yuji soon learns that the very survival of the entire human race rests in his hands.
Originally out in 2002, a couple of years after the TV series, the film is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Comprised mostly of footage from the TV series plus various bits of new footage, the transfer looks just as good as the TV series did. The transfer is some of the better looking material AIC has done in recent years as they mix both a realistic color palette with some of their classic character designs mingled with new ones. There’s a great feel to the colors used for the characters, such as Marlene coming off particularly well. Cross coloration and aliasing are both very minimal which helps to give the transfer a very smooth feel in general. The only areas we noticed some slight problems on was some of the reds in the background where some chroma noise occurred. Other than that, this looks quite good.
Though a bit softer than I had hoped for, the front cover provides a good looking dark image that has a cold looking Marlene in profile set against one of the Shrikes while the full background is a mix of reds and blues. The artwork, especially around Marlene, just has too much of a soft feel to look really striking. The back cover finds itself a bit more confused with half of it, such as the various stills from the show, listed in one direction while the summary and discs features are listed in another, causing you to have to rotate it to read it or see the pictures. It’s a strangely laid out piece. The insert has an interesting illustrated version of a scene from the show while the reverse side lists the individual volumes for the series.
The main menu for the show has a really nicely done in-theme menu of one of the computer layouts that’s used in the show itself but spruced up a bit. Selections ring around the interior as animation clips from the show play in the center on the rotating sphere while some of the creepier music from the show loops to it. It’s actually a decent musical loop at that and doesn’t end abruptly but rather fades out nicely, something I wish more menu designers would actually pay attention to. When FUNimation sets out to a do a good menu, they achieve it, but most of their releases are typical flat static pieces. On the downside, the disc didn’t adhere to our player presets and we had to change language settings on the fly.
Coming out two years after the TV series ended, the 95-minute feature takes the 26 episode series and attempts to take the highlights and key moments from there and break it down to its core pieces while still managing to tell a story. Some new animation is added and it looks like a few areas have been reanimated to mesh in with it. In addition, we get a new ending with some significant differences there compared to the TV show. The core of the movie is very much like the TV show though.
The features opening takes place over a period of twenty two years or so. We’re initially introduced to Yuji when he’s awakened abruptly from his cryogenic slumber in 2031, where he’s the sole survivor being taken out of a facility by a couple of armed soldiers and a giant mecha. Through flashbacks, we see Yuji in 2009 when he’s learned of an incurable disease that he has, and that they hope to have a cure someday and they’ll awaken him then.
The flashbacks to the past help to illustrate just how desperate things are in 2031. While we see a number of people and life in general in 2009, the world of 2031 is nearly empty. Sometime in 2017, an invasion of sorts by the creatures called Blues arrived, and they pretty much acquired the planet overnight. These large-scale bugs treat humans much as we do bugs. But the Blues have the ability to eat anything and turn it into energy or waste. So our world is one large picnic table for them.
Now granted, the way Yuji is woken up in 2031 is something that will throw anyone. While being wheeled towards the exit of the building, one of the Blues attacks and kills the soldiers and gives the mecha a hard time. Yuji awakens to see all of this, including one soldier sucked into the Blue. So yeah, I’ll cut him slack when he freaks and runs. And when he ends up in his original sleep chamber section, where he sees others he went to sleep with having their chambers in ruins. And when he notices that the Blues seems to mold the dead bodies into these cabbage like pieces that they’ll “get to eat later”, I’ll again let him freak some.
Thankfully, the woman piloting the mecha, the rather attractive but cold-hearted Marlene, gets him out of the base and meets up with the crew of regular badasses she works with. Yuji learns of humanities flight from the Blues and that what’s left of mankind is now up in orbiting space stations, which is where he’s going to be. But through the various encounters early one, Yuji continues to freak about everything.
Well, up until Marlene gives him one good hard slap. Then Yuji starts to develop some backbone, and as their situation gets worse and worse as they make their way to a take off base, Yuji becomes more involved with the dwindling crew. While the crew outside of three or four of the characters are pretty much just cyphers, those we do get to know are being fleshed out well. From here, this is where the feature really turns towards what it’s going to be about. Marlene and the others trying to get their precious specimen, aka Yuji, off the planet and into space where he’ll be studied and hopefully put to good use.
Their journey takes them from Japan to Korea and deep into Russia before some globe-trotting to Africa and the US takes place. Along the way we do get to know the characters better and empathize with them more as we see more of their backgrounds and how they’ve been raised in their very different worlds. The primary relationship that’s developed though is the one between Marlene and Yuji as the two of them make their way through all the different locales and simply try to survive as the group gets thinned out.
In the TV series, this was given over to numerous episodes and had some rather interesting detours that really let you get a feel for the characters. These detours also gave you the chance to see the world as it was in two extremes. The ugly Blue filled regions that were filled with death and destruction as well as the gorgeous empty landscapes, such as when they traveled through the snowy regions of Russia. A lot of these moments and character strengthening pieces are lost to the feature which had to focus more on streamlining things to the action moments and keeping the pacing going along right.
At the end of the Blue Gender TV series, what I thought we had was a surprisingly Western styled piece with a heavy accent on duty that could be parlayed into a wonderful live action TV series with a finite ending. Like a full season and be done with things. What the feature movie here provides is a look at what the Hollywood theatrical live-action movie version would be like. The things we learn to like about the characters in the TV series is lost to the bigger moments of action and explosions. The moments we do get help flesh things out but they don’t provide the hook like they should since they’re short and almost feel like filler until the next action sequence. Each version is trying to accomplish their own objectives and I think each of them does it well enough. Sometimes a movie version like this ends up winning out over the TV series and last longer but I think this just cuts out too much of the heart of the TV series. This is what’ll show up on cable networks but it’s the TV series that tells the real story.
Blue Gender: Warrior is one of a number of interesting series to feature adaptations to come out over the years. This one actually retains a lot of what made the TV series interesting but not enough to give it the weight and excitement that the original carried. But that’s only going to be a given when you go from a ten-hour series to a one hundred minute feature. I’d recommend the movie to get a taste of the series to see if people are interested in it, but at the same time I’d rather say just go for the series and enjoy it. Blue Gender in both aspects are very much Western-oriented in their style and emphasis on “Aliens”-like action sequences with a military bent to them and it’s a strong aspect that’s played out well. It’s been good to be able to revisit this property since it has been quite awhile but in the end it’s made me want to haul the box set out and watch that all over again.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitiles
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: October 7th, 2007
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.