Funimation // 2008 // 288 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // January 23rd, 2010
The second act of the XAT is just beginning!
When last we left the Blassreiter anime series, things were looking pretty dark for XAT. It appeared that the amalgams, humans infected with nanomachines that turn them into mechanized zombies, looked poised to destroy German. The leader of XAT has been transformed, almost the entire team has been murdered, and the two survivors are hurt with no place to go. There is new light at the end of the tunnel, however. An organization called Zwolf, descended from the Knights Templar (yeah...no kidding), has been lurking behind the scenes with an unheard of arsenal, waiting for their opportunity to destroy the amalgams once and for all.
While the things I didn't care for in the first half of the series exist just as strongly in the second half, what I did like improved, namely, the story. A very shaky first couple of episodes gave way by the end of the first half to an interesting and sometimes emotional story, even with its less-than-credible science. In the second, it starts where it left off, and the story continued to improve, making for a very satisfying anime series.
The creators have done a nice job building their story without sacrificing action, which is as plentiful here as it was in the first set. We have more motorcycles, more mechs, and more combat; but they've deepened the story considerably, and the overall feel is much more solid than it seemed at first. Though nearly all the original principle characters are dead, we now get the back stories of the survivors, all of whom have led deeply troubled lives before reaching this point. We learn the origins of the procedure that turns people into amalgams and how its noble intentions became perverted by greed and power. The stories intersect more than they initially seemed they would, and the result is quite strong. Sure, the inclusion of the Templars is a silly distraction, but they don't refer to themselves that way; they only mention it to describe their history to one of the survivors. There is some very hokey dialog in both English and the original Japanese, but not nearly as much as some of the anime I've seen, so it gets points for that.
My only real complaint is in the animation itself. While most of the series is traditional cell animation, which looks great, the action sequences are computer-generated and much less to my liking. Some may appreciate it and I understand that it helps the animators easily achieve more diverse, kinetic camerawork, but it looks flat and the switch back and forth is consistently jarring. I could have easily forgiven more static action for better consistency; I'm in it for the story anyway.
Blassreiter: The Complete Series, Part 2 comes on disc from Funimation. Like the first part, the series looks and sounds great, as a new anime should. The picture is solid all around, with a clean anamorphic transfer, bright colors, and excellent detail. The sound is equally good, with clear dialog on both language tracks and good separation in all channels. Overall, the Japanese track fares better, both for the sound and acting quality but, as is often the case, the subtitles can be very confusing. For extras, again like the first set, we have a little more than the average Funimation release. In addition to the typical textless opening and closing title sequences, we get a commentary track on the final episode and a director's guide to the series.
The only strange thing about the set is the cover art. With shots of breasts exploding from uniforms and ripped guys tearing their shirts off, the set seems to promise a load of "fan service," but this is thankfully not the case. Nonetheless, Blassreiter is a mature anime with brutal violence and extremely dark situations. This is definitely for grown-ups, but it's well worth watching.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
Running Time: 288 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Textless Open/Close
* Director's Guide
* Official Site