Overclocked On Caffeine v.1.1 2009-07-01 01:56:00

Blue Gender

26 30-minute episodes

Mankind sucks. You know it, I know it, even the Earth itself knows it. Thankfully, despite our immense propensity for failure, She’s not decided to do anything overt about it. Well, not that any of us knows, at least. Other worlds out there, on the other hand… not quite so lucky about it.

Yuji is a Sleeper. Infected with an unknown, seemingly incurable disease, he is placed into cryogenic storage for a year or two while a cure is worked on. Unfortunately, when he’s finally awakened, 20 years have passed and mankind is no longer in charge. Gigantic insects known as the Blue have wiped out the majority of humanity and forced the rest to the stars. A few scattered enclaves eke out an existence here and there, but by and large, this is not our world anymore. He’s found by a group of soldiers from Second Earth, an orbiting space colony where the remnants of humanity live. They’re looking for Sleepers to assist them somehow in their war against the Blue. Unfortunately, over the course of a few skirmishes, the unit is all but wiped out, leaving Yuji and Marlene, the only other survivor to make it to home base alone.

Blue Gender is a weird show. It forgoes many of the traditions you’d expect to see in virtually any show. Characters are vaguely introduced with original, non-generic designs and you expect them to be important later on. Except they’re not, and they won’t because they’ve just be eviscerated by a stag beetle the size of a minibus, all without any warning at all. Blue Gender is not shy about offing characters left and right by any measure, and it’s rare that anyone mourns them. Any other mech show, be it Real Robot (“war is hell) or Super Robot (“war is awesome and makes you a MAN!”), would at least have a flashback montage for the death of a long-running character, but not here. It makes a refreshing change, and it does keep you on your toes, since anyone and everyone’s a target, but it also makes it damn near impossible to care about anyone when you know they’re potentially seconds away from becoming bug bait. Literally, considering the majority of the deaths in the show are literal ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ moments, sometimes comically so.

The other weird thing about it is the random sex scenes. They thin out a lot as the show progresses, but at the beginning, it seems like you can’t go ten steps without someone groping you. Yeah, I know, it’s supposed to highlight that everyone knows there’s a good chance they’re going to die horribly any second now and they’re desperately trying to find any kind of comfort they can whenever they can – several characters explicitly state this on more than one occasion – but when you see two women molesting each other in the middle of Ops while others look on, barely batting an eyelid, it starts looking a little less than credible.

Thankfully, the fight scenes are much more impressive. The Blue are remarkably resistant to damage, with the result being that a single bug can easily wipe out a whole platoon. Okay, so we’re talking about bugs with armour that can deflect bullets about half an inch in width, and it doesn’t help that the mechs in this show seem to be made of candyfloss and sunbeams as far as armour plating goes. In any case, the fight scenes are nicely fast-paced and suitably brutal. The mechs themselves receive remarkably little attention, and there’s virtually no fanfare whenever a new one is introduced. Indeed, other than one model, which has a very distinct plot-related hook to it, there’s every likelihood you won’t even notice a new model’s been rolled out until several episodes later.

The story itself is decent, if a little heavy-handed on the environmental message, though it all falls apart in the last episode. Blue Gender was released about five years after Evangelion had made its impact (no pun intended) on the scene, and for some unfathomable reason, someone on the production crew thought it’d be a fantastic idea to end this series with a similar metaphysical ending that, again, makes no goddamn sense. Fine enough, except, barring a few ideas about the Earth itself triggering an ‘extinction gene’, there’s no real reason for it. And don’t get me started on the ‘rocks fall, everyone in space dies THE END’ post script which literally comes out of nowhere, that was just taking the piss. In its defence, however, the last few episodes are dedicated to wrapping the story up neatly. Absolutely fantastic considering how many shows, both Eastern and Western wind up running the closing credits before the Big Bad Evil Guy’s corpse is even lukewarm.

Blue Gender is a fine action show that tries too hard in the final stretch and takes a wrong turn at Batshit Junction. Ignore the moments of misplaced titillation and the painfully bad closing minutes and you’re left with a solid series with some great moments and pleasingly icky enemy designs. And if that still doesn’t grab you, imagine its a Starship Troopers spin-off. With the casual nudity seen in both the show and the original movie, it’s a closer fit than you’d ever think, and that’s before you remember the power armour that they forgot to include in the film.

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