katmic (Level 10)

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When i first watched Blassreitter a few years back i remember being really amazed by the quality of the series, not merely the amazing CG effects but the interesting and somewhat broody characters, intricate story and bad ass fight scenes between mecha suite clad heroes and villains.
It took a little over 12 episodes for me to lose the taste for Blassreitter and by the end it wasn’t the anime that i had began watching two dozen episodes ago; a shame really, because it had so much potential.

THE PLOT:>

In a near-future central Europe, a mysterious “plague” has started turning corpses into creatures the public calls Demoniacs and officials call
Amalgams. Capable of bonding to and controlling machinery and typically prone to going on bloody rampages, the Amalgams have become a dire threat to public safety, one opposed by the members of the elite security organization XAT.
One living Amalgam, a loner who goes by the name of Joseph, known to the XAT as Blue ( blue in armored form), is able to control his transformation into an Amalgam and endeavors to defeat the ones that appear and run amok; however his actions are greatly misunderstood by XAT, with forces moving in the shadows behind him to promote the Amalgam transformations towards some apocalyptic goal.
Idolized champion motorcyclist Gerd Frentzen soon gets accidentally caught up in the whole affair, as does Malek, the bullied younger brother of XAT member Amanda, at which point death and chaos and many flashy battles ensue.

MY REVIEW:>

Blassreiter is one of those really sad sad anime series that i have watched, not because of how really bad it was, but because of how good it might have been; it actually reminds me of Guilty crown which infuriates me because of how amazing it could have been. But then again i can’t even compare the two because Guilty crown’s failings, in my eyes at least, where how ridiculously predictable and corny it could be. I had lost interest the moment they mentioned the second void virus and things played out exactly as you would expect when the hero loses his powers (seriously they had the chance to do something more original than that).
Blassreitter wasn’t predictable per say but it became quickly dreary with the passing of time, especially with the second half of the series. I will start with the good bits, because there were some interesting elements.

The Animation:> I wasn’t kidding when i compared this anime to Karas because clearly that was what they were going for. The normal animation was fairly impressive during the normal scenes, fluid and crisp; but it was with the battle scenes that things really took off, with Gozno switching from basic animation to full on CG techniques, creating a wholly unique feel to the picture.
When the characters would enter their demoniac/amalgam forms, the series usually took a turn for the better, with the really vivid colors and CGI somehow perfectly blending into the 2D environment, this only accentuated by the characters’ unique powers in their mecha forms. I point this out as an impressive element of the series, yet it also acts as a foil, because beyond the half way point things really take a turn for the worse.
For one thing, an incongruence begins to emerge between the CG elements of the characters and their 2D environment; after a while they do not mesh as well as they used to, but even that i could forgive because it wouldn’t have had much of an effect on my enjoyment, if it wasn’t for the direction.
Rating: 5/10, technically a 10/10 if not for the problems pointed out in the point below.

The action:> Think of someone sky diving out of a plane, a camera attached to their helmet as they twist and spin in the air. That is what this anime’s so called epic battles began to devolve into after a while, action sequences supposedly so fast that you couldn’t follow, yet simply rotating the camera and the angles around so fast, inverting the directions over and over again so quickly that you get more confused than impressed.
Of course i can understand the budget constraints. They were going for Karas level graphics and after a while it was obvious they lacked the movie budget to pull the effects off as effectively. Yet what they did with the battles felt like very cheap short cuts, basically jumping from one scene from the other during the action, so fast that it takes you a while to realize that in truth, they aren’t showing you anything, just a pair of guys jumping and leaping around each other, weapons blurring about randomly.
It pissed me off to no end and this feeds back into the animation and how its quality also began to suffer in tandem with the action scenes. Basically there is a point in the series where the animation seems to wow you, but after several episodes the CG elements do not look as amazing as you thought, the mecha suits looking more awkward than anything.
Rating:> 7/10, initially amazing, then not so much some time after.

The story:> With a heavy hitter like Gen Urobuchi on the team, this is where i expected the series to shine, and for a moment it did. We are presented with a pretty interesting character in racing star Gerd who, after contracting the plague and accepting its transformations as the only salvation for his career, kick starts a series of events that alter the future of the city.
Gerd’s collision with protagonist Joseph places the pale rider within XAT’s cross hairs, attracting the vengeful ire of Gerd’s best friend and XAT elite agent. What starts out as a misunderstanding, with Joseph as the hero eliminating dangerous demoniacs like Gerd, spirals out of control as
the plague begins to claim more lives.
Joseph is pushed into a corner, torn between destroying the amalgams urgently, before succumbing to his own plague infested illness and contending with the human elements, supposedly fighting to stop the plague but intent on eliminating what could be their only salvation. Thrown into the chaos is Amanda, torn between what she believes to be true, the evidence against Joseph and her determination to see him for what he truly is.
This basically plays out like a resident evil story, with a monstrous virus that, once contracted, warps the host mind for the worst, turning honorable intentions into a quest for apocalyptic domination. And as with any resident evil story there is death on a massive scale; yet because this is a resident evil like story, by a certain point many of the characters have resurrected as Amalgams with powerful new forms, now determined to destroy all that they once held dear.
Yet there is an element of humanity, with most amalgams, at least those that transform without the knowledge of their friends and team mates, it becomes a matter of survival. Having spent years eliminating Amalgams without mercy, you have characters that now understand what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a mecha infused fist, and it becomes a matter of claiming the nation for their own, a home without humans to hunt them.
There is lots of tragedy, too much in fact, with each character tortured by some dark past, some evil they suffered, even the villain Xargin and what created the barrier between him and friend Joseph, who chose to see the light in humanity where Xargin only saw darkness. There are some pretty clichéd moments, which is where this anime begins to fail for me.
Everyone just has to have some tortured past that explains why they are what they are. This reminds of bleach where every single arrancar and Espada was crafted into a sympathetic figure by the time of their death. It was infuriating then and even more so now. Blassreitter could do better than simply creating and relying on tragedy for shock factor.
That is what it felt like; sure there are some pretty impressive death scenes, which came as actual surprises. But most seem forced and unnecessary, trying to create the sort of tragic atmosphere that doesn’t lend the series strength. Joseph is interesting as a character, but very typical of the hero, just like Xargin is a typical villain who thinks he is bringing peace by destroying the world.
And of course he is so much more powerful than Joseph could ever imagine, yet the hero triumphs in the most corny manner possible, with a power up that, while this anime is completely sci-fi in nature, is completely supernatural, using undead spirits and the lot. It is probably one of the cheapest ends to a series i have ever seen, besides guilty crown and that utterly ridiculous defeat Gai (the only reason i watched Guilty crown) suffered from the weaker primary protagonist.
There are few things i hate in anime as much as contrived power ups, especially ones that have never been hinted upon before their use. Blassreitter messed up in the second half of its run.
Rating: 4/10, admittedly the story with Amanda’s brother was quite an interesting side plot, the racism theme it follows and how the kid begins to deal with the darkness of his transformations and its bloody consequences against his bullies. Though it makes no sense that he would keep it a secret from the one person who knew how to deal with the problem, Amanda working at XAT and all that. None the less Malek and Johann where my favorite characters.

Overall rating:> 6/10, could have been amazing but it spiraled out of control after a while. A lot of the mecha suits introduced in the
second half of the season, especially the paladin units and the hardware from Zwolf where wasted, like many great characters, cast aside before they could achieve their full potential.
Blassreitter, a pseudo German term roughly translated as pale rider-which is what Joseph is technically- is a 24 episode anime directed by Ichiro Itano with assistance from Gen Urobuchi, through the combined efforts of Gonzo (Afro samurai: Resurrection, Last Exile: Fam the silver wing (crappiest sequel ever), Strike witches, Welcome to the HNK, Basilisk, trinity blood, Hellsing, Samurai 7) and Nitroplus (Chaos head, stein’s gate, Fatezeo light novels); it was released in 2008.
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