The first release of Blassreiter took me by surprise. Here was an anime property that balanced biblical influence with mecha, nano technology with medieval-style culture and motorcycles with zombies. Better still, it did it with style. It was ambitious in terms of scope but the characters were interesting enough to make the journey worth enduring. Now the second and final collection has arrived and I’m quite pleased to report that in many ways, it is even superior to the first.
Released across two discs, Blassreiter The Complete Series Part 2 comes packaged as a pair of thin packs within an outer cardboard slipcase and consists of episodes 13-24. The show comes in at a total runtime of 288 minutes and wears an appropriate TV MA (mature, 17+) rating due to animated violence, gore and some rough language.
Language options are standard sub & dub with both an English dub and original Japanese soundtrack (either in Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround) & the choice of English subtitled if so inclined to turn them on.
Extras include a commentary by the English cast over Episode 24, Director’s Guide to Blassreiter (with English subtitles), textless opening and closing songs, and a host of fresh Funimation trailers on the second disc.
The story continues in a fictional German city where an apparent outbreak of biomechanical creatures named "Demoniacs" rises from human corpses with an appetite for violence and destruction.
We continue following the exploits of Joseph Jobson, or what little remains of him, as the lone hope for this plague-infested world. With mutated genes coursing through their veins, carriers are unable to find eternal peace in death and instead roam the earth with tormented memories that spawn their desire to kill. Joseph and his highly advanced GARM motorcycle are attempting to restore purity to a demented gene pool. The trouble is that he is running out of the strength to resist the rage growing inside him.
Whereas the first episodes moved along at a whirlwind pace, the second set literally begins by focusing on back-story; particularly Joseph’s and Magwald’s. To cut to the chase, it works here. Suddenly the motivations behind the characters’ actions in this epic tale become clear and believable. These sections are truly heart wrenching but contribute to a new sense of depth to an already ambitious prose.
The pacing here is a little better balanced as well with the human element and our emotional nature offsetting the intense (and well constructed) CG battle segments.
Interestingly, the English dub is, in my opinion anyway, the superior of the two language options this time around. Not because the vocal talent does a better job (both are excellent) but rather because the FUNimation adaptation of the material is actually a bit more moving due to its penchant for integrating western ideology (particularly biblical-references) into the mythos.
At the end of the day, you really come away from Blassreiter with a hodgepodge of emotional expenditure interlaced with a slightly grim appraisal of our definition of existence.
As a mecha fan, I was particularly impressed with the use of that technology in some of the final battle sequences but there is so much going on beneath the superficial that multiple viewings is the only way to fully appreciate everything presented here.
In all, this is one of those Gonzo titles that manages to integrate so many story elements into a visually jam-packed thrill ride that it’s hard to dispute their reputation as one of Japan’s premiere animation studios. The fact that FUNimation didn’t take the easy way out with a simple direct-translation is the icing on the cake. In fact, their influence on the property actually elevates a solid franchise to near anime perfection.
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