This is a case of a good idea overdoing itself. The main themes and story in Blue Gender are very mature and grim enough to deserve praise on their own. Unfortunately the pacing was very slow to the most part and the whole thing was too depressing to be liked by most, so this anime didn’t get the credit it deserved.
The art quality ain’t bad at all. The animators went for realism instead of showing off, in the form of making the weaponry looking rather plausible. The mecha and the machineguns all look like they use real life physics (if we just stretch the fact mecha and space colonies don’t exist yet). That had as result most battles to feel slow or simple, to the point where the action was not part of the main story at all. Not bad but then again it kinda takes the fun away in a series that is supposed to be about war for survival. I’m not saying it would be better if the action was more Hollywood-like, just more… exciting.
There is excitement in this series by the way but not during action. It has to do with the overall atmosphere of the series. And it’s not the happy one but the scary type. The setting is post-apocalyptic, with most of mankind having been killed by grotesque monsters and their corpses turned into big meatballs, sort of food storages for the monsters. Most cities now look like giant bee hives and the streets are filled with meatballs, full of faces in agony on them. Boy, did that give me the chills.
That expands to the surviving humans as well, whose mentality is really affected by all this. Have you noticed how in most anime the characters act happy-go-lucky no matter how grim their world looks like? Like they have no touch with reality all around them, making them distant and hard to see how the hell they fit in all that. Well Blue Gender is not one of those anime because all its characters are cynical, pessimistic and lack real ideals. Their faces are to the most part expressionless and they even have sex in random moments with random people just to feel they are alive.
Yes, there are erotic scenes in this series, as are gruesome deaths. That adds to the already grim atmosphere and in theory creates a feeling quite uncommon in anime. All that in theory…
In practice, as I said the anime outdid itself. The action is already not the central focus and even the atmosphere I described so far is done in a pace that tires the viewer. The characters are so cynical, their actions feel like they are done in boredom or by force of their superiors. It is kind of hard to bond with people who look like they don’t care about anything. They even talk in a dry way, which although fitting to their personalities is still making you wonder where the heck is their motivation for fighting.
Adding to that the rather run-down budget on animation which at moments makes the action to feel boring or mostly made of frozen panels and you got yourself a cake that was left too long baking in the oven. And I don’t imply the looks in this series are bad. In the contrary they are quite good for the most part. It’s just that any series should magnetize the viewer no matter what it is all about and this anime was like telling you to be uncaring. A bit lost in translation but it is otherwise a solid winner in inflicting you with emotions. Even the wrong ones.
The story as I said is quite interesting. The Earth is overrun by mutated beasts and the last remnants of humanity struggle to destroy their breading points in hopes of taking back their planet. The “hopes” part is a bit hard to emphasize as they are all cynical and expressionless and this is what makes the anime hard to like.
The story does not remain on this rather typical premise. It is also about the gradual maturity of the protagonist, who was put to cryostasis in hopes of finding a cure to his illness in the future and awakening in a world made of nightmares. It is also about his co-fighter, a female soldier, finding the will to feel alive and human again next to him. And it is also about solving the mystery behind his illness which seems to have the same roots as the appearance of the monsters. Its themes are very mature and interesting, albeit still corny if you have watched many post-apocalyptic stories.
And I’m not going to lie that all its good points have been done before, in other anime, in a usually better way. I mean, bugs invading Earth is not original at all. The Rodan from Tekkaman Blade come to mind, where the action there was far less realistic and yet far more exiting. And the secret behind the monsters’ origin is quite typical in such scenarios too.
The appeal of the characters is another issue. Being so cynical makes them hard to empathize or remember. Most of them are killed by the end of the series, none of which in a heroic way. It is very realistic this way but at the same time they are forgotten almost immediately, as everyone else is too cynical to care about it. Yet if you think of “that certain death” in Tengen Toppa, you immediately have all the reason to remember that one for being over the top idealistic. Thus the cast is forgotten under the feeling of their own personality: Cynicism. In fact, the most distinctive character in the cast is the scheming leader of the space colony, who acts and looks exactly like Gendo Ikari from Neon Genesis, making even him an imitation of someone in a much more controversial series.
Bottom line, Blue Gender is a good anime that is buried under its own attempt at being different. More dynamic action or more lively characters or maybe less episodes could have saved it from the cynical stance most have towards it today. I still recommend it as a nice watch but not with too many high expectations.