Blue Seed Series Review

Posted On

"Even now, Blue Seed still ranks alongside the aforementioned titles as a classic of the era."

While 2015 will witness the twentieth anniversary of many of the most popular anime series of the 1990s (Neon Genesis Evangelion, New Mobile Report Gundam Wing, Slayers, and Ghost in the Shell, to name a few) 2014 happens to mark two decades since the debut of Blue Seed, a science-fiction/ Japanese mythology amalgam that was among the most popular series of the decade and, even now, still ranks alongside the aforementioned titles as a classic of the era.

Blue Seed follows the exploits of the T.A.C. (Terrestrial Administration Center), and their newest recruit, 15-year old Momiji Fujimiya, who has a unique and mystical connection to the Aragami, a species of plant-based monsters that have recently begun rampaging across Japan. Momiji is the latest in a protracted line of Kushinadas, women whose lifeforce hold the power of the Aragami in check, and have done so for centuries; with the splitting of the bloodline following the birth of Momiji and her twin sister, Kaede, the Aragami have reawakened after years of slumber, and both the T.A.C. and the Aragami are attempting to harness the Kushinada’s power for their own purposes – one to protect humanity, the other to destroy it.

The original two-volume manga upon which Blue Seed is based was written and illustrated by Yuzo Takada, whose debut manga, 3x3 Eyes, was also subsequently made into an anime; later, he oversaw the animated adaption of another of his comic-creations, All-Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku. Takada’s rather distinctive character designs show through from time to time, but a majority of the character designs do not differ significantly from many other series. Visually, unlike many anime from the 90s, Blue Seed thankfully lacks significant instances wherein animation quality is noticeably lessened, whether due to budget constraints or changes in lead animator; while the animation may not be the best that the era produced, it is at the very least consistent, and most of the action/fighting scenes are rendered quite well.


"In my opinion, the intermingling of sf and Shinto elements is where Blue Seed truly shines; two genres with questionable compatibility combine to create a unique, and engaging, whole."

The narrative advances at a steady pace, although some episodes, particularly at the onset, do have a “monster of the week” feel to them; as the series progresses, however, the purposes and motives behind the Aragami’s actions become clearer, as do the backgrounds and motivations behind the various supporting characters. As with Takada’s other works, characterization is one of Blue Seed’s stronger suits; very early on, personalities and traits are well-established. A downside of this, however, is that at times the relationship issues between several characters (such as Momiji’s stereotypical and often-clichéd, “clumsy-anime-girl” reactions to signs of affection, or lack thereof, from Kusanagi) seems to overshadow the (supposed) seriousness of the situation, i.e. the possible destruction of humanity; further, Blue Seed failed to escape 90s anime’s odd fascination with “fan service,” and this (of which there is a sizable amount) too detracts somewhat from the gravity of what is, purportedly, a battle for mankind’s survival. In my opinion, the intermingling of sf and Shinto elements is where Blue Seed truly shines; two genres with questionable compatibility (one largely Western, the other intrinsically Eastern) combine to create a unique, and engaging, whole. While a mixture of two such diverse influences is interesting enough (particularly when it works), I believe it had a stronger impact for American audiences at the time of its debut, than now – in the late 90s, when Suncoast stores across America were beginning to expand their VHS anime selection from one, to two, to three shelves, Blue Seed was one of the better introductions for American audiences, in the early years of the late 90s anime explosion, to Japanese mythology, spirituality and, on some level, even modern Japanese nationalism.


"Blue Seed, while perhaps not as well-known as many of its contemporaries from the period is, nonetheless, an entertaining and, by the end, an engaging part of what many fans feel could be considered a golden age of anime production, storytelling, and quality."

Similarly to another of A.D.V.’s prominent titles at the time, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Blue Seed was among the company’s higher-quality English dubs; Blue Seed also utilized many of the same voice actors as Evangelion. Amanda Winn voiced protagonist Momji Fujimiya (just as she did Eva’s Rei Ayanami – both characters, interestingly enough, voiced by the same Japanese seiyu as well, Megumi Hayashibara), and Tiffany Grant (best known for depicting Asuka Langley Soryu) portrayed Blue Seed’s red-haired, combat-crazy Kome Sawaguchi. In both series, A.D.V.’s voice staff matched, not only the original Japanese voice-actors, but also the characters themselves, to the point that, even with years having passed since last watching Blue Seed dubbed, I still hear the characters’ voices in English, as opposed to Japanese.

Nearly two decades after its initial stateside release, Blue Seed currently resides in something of a limbo, accompanied by many other titles following the 2009 dissolution of A.D.V.; the last official release was in 2008, in the form of a thinpack boxed set of the entire series. Despite that being the case, the entire series can be found relatively easily online, a purchase I would recommend – Blue Seed, while perhaps not as well-known (or, in some cases, as good) as many of its contemporaries from the period is, nonetheless, an entertaining and, by the end, an engaging part of what many fans (myself included) feel could be considered a golden age of anime production, storytelling, and quality.

Review by: Nathan Madison

B+

1 comment :

  1. Huge fan of the show. A very underrated gem.

    ReplyDelete