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Twenty Years Later: Blue Gender – The Warrior Anime Movie

6 min read
© 2003 AIC / Toshiba EMI

The early 2000s were definitely an interesting time to be an anime fan with everything really popping as it was becoming a more mainstream thing in America and elsewhere. It was also a big time for Funimation as they were previously known as just the Dragon Ball Z company and even then someone else was releasing those on DVD for them at first. So when Funimation started to expand away from just that property, one of the first things they picked up was the Blue Gender TV series and the feature film itself, which came out about two years after the TV series got underway in 1999. The 2002 film was an interesting project in that it took the twenty-six-episode TV series and tried to condense it down to essentially a 90-minute movie. That required chunking the back third of the TV series and that in itself necessitated a new ending to be created for it. Add in that some new bits were added elsewhere and some scenes re-animated from the TV broadcast version and you get a strange but interesting result.

The project does the good heavy-lifting of using the opening moments to cover some before it shifts to the introduction of Yuji when he’s awakened abruptly from his cryogenic slumber in 2031. Here, he’s the sole survivor being taken out of a facility by a couple of armed soldiers and 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 being 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 humanity’s 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 on, Yuji continues to freak out about everything and while it’s understandable, it does wear a bit thin. 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 ciphers, those we do get to know are being fleshed out well. From here, this is where the feature really turns toward 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.

In the TV series, we had an extensive journey part in order to get to know the characters that 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 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 are lost in 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 its 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 lasts longer but I think this just cuts out too much of the heart of the TV series.

Blue Gender: Warrior is one of a number of interesting series to feature adaptations to come out over the years and this one actually retains a lot of what made the TV series interesting. Just 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 ninety-minute feature. This is a property that really made me interested in seeing what Funimation would do when they first brought it out to be more than just Dragon Ball Z and it worked well as it’s very much Western-oriented in its style and emphasis on “Aliens”-like action sequences with a military bent. With it coming from a very different period of how animation was produced, it’s a fascinating look going back since it reanimated scenes from the series, built a new ending, and added more connective tissue. It’s almost a standalone project of its own that provides a new take on the series and is worth getting if you enjoyed the original work. I wish this was a property that got more attention and while some parts may not age too well overall, it’s one that I think is still a really strong property.

© 2003 AIC / Toshiba EMI