Zorndyke, a once well-respected scientist, waged war on humanity by melting the polar ice caps and unleashing his army of mutants. Humankind's last hope lies in Blue Fleet, submarines that fight the war. When the question of the war going nuclear becomes apparent, it is up to Hayami Tetsu to find a way to resolve the war without further needless destruction to either side.
Blue Submarine No. 6's main strength lies in its story. Coupled with a potent atmosphere, Blue 6 creates a haunting post-apocalyptic world to use as a backdrop in this war story. Despite this OVA being set around a war, the story benefits more from the parts where there is a lul in the action, allowing the OVA to develop the characters and the world around them.
The characters were as deep as a 4-part OVA would let them be, but Blue 6's length and the shear number of characters naturally resulted in many side characters getting the short end of the stick; besides Hayami, Kino, and a few other major characters, I would be hard-pressed to even remember the names of most of the crew of Blue 6.
I did appreciate Zorndyke's mutant army getting their fare share of screen time. While the commander Verg, a creature whose resemblance to a dog is as great as it is to a human, seemed like precisely the murderous monster humans make Zorndyke's army out to be, you find out that neither he nor anyone else are what they initially seem to be. The most interesting character was Mutio, a fish woman whose life Hayami spared early on. While she was a largely non-speaking character, she probably had the most fascinating development over the course of Blue 6.
While the idea behind Blue 6 was a good one, it was not presented in the best way. I was particularly disappointed in the quality of the visuals. While the traditional hand-drawn cel animation generally looked decent, Blue 6 was perhaps a little too in love with the CG animation, which looked awful. Cowboy Bebop came out the same year as Blue 6 and ostensibly had a smaller per episode budget due to being a 26-episode TV series rather than a 4-part OVA, yet Bebop had CG that looked fantastic and, more importantly, there wasn't the excessive amounts present as there were in Blue 6.
Besides sacrificing time for the characters, it is also because of how poorly animated they were that Blue 6 probably would have benefitted from fewer battle scenes, most of which took place underwater. A lot of the mecha simply didn't look convincing and the overall look of the visuals resembles a video game that came out at around the time this anime was released; the same visuals would've been excellent if they were made for a Nintendo 64 game, not for an OVA.
The sound of Blue 6 did fare a little better than the look. For the most part, the voice acting was very good. I thought Zorndyke's and Hayami's seiyuu stood out the most. The music was made up of pretty catchy jazz pieces. While the ending theme "Minasoko ni Nemure" was a neat jazz song, many of the tunes played during the episodes didn't fit their scenes very well. The scene at the beginning of part 4 in which Verg expresses his frustration to Mutio after she saved Hayami's life comes to mind with this; that scene would have been just fine without any music at all but the jazz playing as Verg shouts with his immense rage was just out of place.
Overall, I would recommend watching Blue Submarine No. 6 for its story and characters, particularly for its fresh take on some themes which can be a little trite, such as "Can't we all just get along?". It is a little disappointing that how Blue 6 was presented was what is keeping it from being a great anime instead of a moderately good one.
Blue Sub 6 was recently re-released on Crunchyroll So I gave it a re-watch and just finished that moments ago. Here's my thoughts.
Story - Not great tbh. When this show aired almost two decades ago on Toonami, I recorded it to VHS after they'd made a huge deal about it in the weeks leading up to it. That was, I believe, 1999? And I was in middle school, so I obviously had terrible opinions about everything. One of them was thinking that Blue Sub 6 was rad. After re-watching it as an adult, I can tell you that the 4 episodes this OVA takes to play out are terribly paced, full of filler, and have a really miserably unsatisfying ending. If you want a dark, gritty, post-apocalyptic sci-fi mecha OVA, save yourself the time and just go watch Gundam Thunderbolt instead.
Animation - When it's 2D, the art style has aged okay and the characters are relatively well designed; if you're a fan of mid-to-late 90's anime, you'll like the look of BS6. Where this show falls down so many years on is the constant and terrible 3D CGI. That's not really surprising, late 90's sci-fi anime is pretty rife with unbearably bad "Reboot"-tier 3D animation and the janky water effects and mecha animation don't even look half as good as years-old video games.
Sound - In the interests of full disclosure I have only ever watched the dub of BS6. Maybe the Japanese soundtrack is better and it earns a few points of an interesting jazz-themed soundtrack (even if it is occasionally a bit out of place). However, the English dub sets those points on fire by giving the most of the villains a difficult-to-understand heavily-synthesized voice track. The primary badie, a sharkman named Velg, has an especially impenetrable "L" type modulator going on only the modulator sounds like its having a seizure. A lot of the voice tracks are also really quiet, so it gets annoying when you crank the volume to hear important dialogue only to suddenly get your tinnitus triggered when it cuts suddenly so some shrieking villain or loud explosion.
Characters - The main characters are a generic anti-hero and poorly-characterized genki girl. THe main dude, the constantly sardonic Hayami, is an interesting as a cardboard box with an emo wig and the girl Kino picks up and drops grievances like she's playing baskteball. The villains are mostly pritty two-dimensional and the final bad guy, an evil mass-murderer scientist-guy, is basically a boring mash-up of every quietly evil scientist trope ever. The ending that resolves his meeting with the main characters feels so rushed and gives such poor resolution to his arc that he may as well not even be in the movie; not like his grand total 10 minutes of screentime in a 4-episode OVA really give you much time to care about him as a character.
Overall - This OVA's not great, like I said. It gets two stars from me, not quite basement tier with my all-time least favorite things but it's just kind of bad and poorly paced and hasn't aged well. Why CR suddenly decided this was a thing we all needed to see again is beyond me. Would've been better to leave the memories dead and buried.
STORY SECTION: 5/10 [Damn you GONZO! You keep doing the same mistakes, over and over. Very good visuals and promising stories that are always ruined by your apathy at keeping the pace of a series as good as it begins. Shame on you!]
Post-apocalyptic world, animal-like mutants, a submarine out to save what’s left of humanity by an insane scientist, and some more typical elements, packed in only 2 hours. The main theme of the story is hardly original. The pace of the story is almost predictable. The conclusion is on the other hand promising but fails to wrap the story smoothly or even to make sense. You almost feel like the scriptwriters were not given enough time and ended the story in a rush, unfulfilling way. The scenario clearly needed more episodes and development in order to run smoothly and to make sense. As it is, it feels like a lot of fuss happened for no reason and the conclusion will leave you more frustrated rather than satisfied. It had potential for greatness, thanks to all the talking about humanity’s greed and ecology. It didn’t make use of it though and thus the story is half good. A typical GONZO mistake.
CHARACTER SECTION: 3/10 [And as the main development begins, we see the ending credits.]
- As it is, the only character with interest is the “evil” scientist, who wants to wipe out humanity. He has a good reason for what he is doing and is not a typical bad to the bone villain.
- The only thing the rest of the characters do is fighting for or against him, instead of having personality and goals of their own. There is supposed to be some personal drama around the leading man and woman but given the short duration of the series, it will feel uninteresting. All the whining and crying of the shark-like leader and the renegade female mutant feel more like pointless torture time, rather than reason for acting as they do. None of the characters has much coloring or development because of the duration. Most seem to have something interesting to show but nothing of such is shown in the end.
- Even the scientist is not that great, as his plan is not given enough time to be explained. I mean, destroying humanity and most of the world just to replace sentient life with a race of warlike animals? How will that help the planet? Duh!
ART SECTION: 8/10 [3D mutants never looked so well.]
- This is amongst the first anime that managed to mix 2D and 3D without making it look utterly stupid. There is a huge amount of details and colors given to almost everything, making the optical department a sight of sore eyes.
- Realism in motion is quite good, although casual viewers will probably dislike the way 3D objects move and the mannerism of the characters. They both look weird and not natural, something that was expected for an early CGI work. But it’s not like GONZO learned from its mistakes and improved later on.
- Anyway, the animation takes some time to get used to but it eventually becomes bearable. The 3D doesn’t always look ok next to the 2D but if we think this is GONZO we are talking about, we must give them a credit for taking animation in anime to a whole new level with this title. Really; just check how lame all previous attempts were. Hell, just check how uninteresting most upcoming 3D anime were. This is truly amazing; a feat not that many anime have managed to surpass even by today.
- Other than that, the character designs were way too generic and simplistic to the point you cared more about the backgrounds and the action instead of them. This tends to make them less interesting than the theme of the story.
SOUND SECTION: 7/10 [Funky rhythms and ouga bouga drums.]
- Jazz for humans and tribal for mutants. Hehe, it almost made it sound like a strategy game with themed factions. It was a nice touch. Not that any of the music themes are memorable but they have spunk. Some thought that the music was inappropriate during battle scenes or during the dramatic conclusion. I say it is far more atmospheric than in most anime. What the hell did you people wanted? Blood boiling music in battles and some sad ballad in the end? This is neither a war drama nor some cheesy mecha series. It is this alternative take to the cliché that does the trick. So, ok, they do tend to be monotonous in the long run but the feeling of originality almost overshadows this glitch.
- Voice acting was decent, although the voice synk for mutants feels more like dubbing than actually listening to what they say with groans and barks, their native language. Beyond all that, the context in the dialogues is very philosophical and scientific. You must actually pay attention to what they say. Do you learn anything new out of all this talking? Not really; the context is pretty mainstream in such kind of series. At least, you won’t be skipping entire pointless blah, blah parts, something most series suffer from.
VALUE SECTION: 1/10 [Value your planet and recycle.]
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
It turns out the aesthetic feeling of the series is better than the story and the characters together. It helps to keep you watching but not to like what you watch. Bzzz! Not much enjoyment.
- The submarine is sinking! Abandon ship! –How will we do that sir? We are 5.000 feet underwater. – Oh, crap…
Captain Planet. A ridiculously childish ecological cartoon.
Earth Girl Arjuna. Nice ecological concept, boring presentation.
Waterworld uses the same “melting the ice caps” idea. It is still stupid as a movie.
Blue Gender has a similar feeling to it.
Yellow Submarine. For those of you who like old songs, silly graphics and insane stories.
Nausicaa of the valley of the wind. Movie for kids, my butt. It is of the same duration as Blue Submarine No. 6 and yet manages to tell you ten times more things. And just try to read the clearly longer and superior manga version.
The story seemed to be pretty good for the most part, and provided me with some good entertainment. I did like the idea of Humanity fighting for its survival, even though it is not an original concept. However I did not like the rogue scientist idea, and thought that it had been overdone and stereotypical. What bothered me the most was how ridiculous the enemies of humanity looked. I would have prefered it if they had not been shown. One thing that I did like about it was that it had a good main idea that it got across and made it very clear.
As I have mentioned before, the enemies looked horrible, They were almost as ridiculous as Jar Jar Binks. They used some computer animation, which I feel that it made it feel like it wasn't part of the series, but just to show off the computer technology of the time.
The characters were mostly good, and they were not one dimensional characters. They each had different characteristics and were complex. They had tensions with eachother as well as with themselves.
This is an okay series that felt like it should have been a movie instead of a series. It wasn't perfect, but it was ok.