2010 TV Series (episodes 13-24). Director: Ichiro Itano. 288 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $49.98. Distributor: FUNimation.
In a parallel Germany, a sanguine plague is rapidly transforming humans into Amalgams, deformed beings capable of melding with technology and exploiting it to civilization’s detriment. XAT, a special police unit piloting advanced mecha, is supposedly mankind’s only defense. But Joseph Jobson, an Amalgam himself, rises above his disease to prove that humanity is not yet lost. Only the secret of his blood can save the world.
So far, mecha seems to be the word of the month. And being a Voltron and Robotech fan from way back, I know mecha. Fortunately, Blassreiter doesn’t step on a beloved technological construct with that unimaginative, xeroxing heel.
As Joesph and XAT combat the Amalgam threat, as well as each other (he is an Amalgam, after all), the fusion of humans and mostly motorcycles is visually enticing. And I’m not just throwing myself at the feet of the character and mecha designers. Anime’s use of CG is improving daily. Finally, action sequences are moving with a fluidity that contends with traditional, hand drawn artistry. Here, Blassreiter gets a nod for getting it right.
Now, don’t get too excited. The backdrop to all this great mecha action is a bit lame. Behind this plague is a world dominated by Western religion, its authoritative offices, and terminology. Even XAT itself turns out to be controlled by a secret organization formerly known as the Knights Templar, and its foremost soldiers are called the Apocalypse Knights! Yet, such complexity and loaded diction is scarcely developed, nor does it really fuel and affect character development and action. All these characters and mecha could easily be draped in the trappings of numerous eras and fashion and the audience wouldn’t know the difference, or probably care for that matter.
Maybe I should look at a funsub? Possible translation snafu????
They’d still dig the action though! Yes, herein lies the cookie.
On the bright side, however, Blassreiter has another anchor, something far better than its weak, religious world: characters. Alongside the crucial figure of Joseph Jobson, there a four other well developed characters that carry this series to the finish line. Consequently, strong characters plus strong action is a math problem that even a movie exec can solve.
I’m not excited. But I’m not bored either.
Give it a look. I kind of jumped in, in media res, so maybe the hook didn’t quite dig deep enough.