BLUE SEED (1995)

 

Format: 26 24-minute episodes on 4 DVDs

 

Rating: PG (AC, GV)

 

American Production: ADV Films

 

Japanese Production: TV Tokyo/ING/Movic

 

Grading

 

Premise:

C+

Story:

C+

Writing:

C

Character Design:

C

Animation:

C

Artistic Merits:

C

English Dub:

C

Musical Score:

C

Opener:

C

Closer:

C+

 

 

Humor Content:

C+

Action Content:

C+

Drama Content:

C+

 

 

DVD Presentation:

not reviewed

DVD Extras:

not reviewed

 

 

OVERALL:

C+

 

Synopsis

      For centuries it has been the birthright of the Fujimiya women to serve as the Kushinada, a princess whose sacrifice can imprison the monstrous plant-like Arigami that have ever been a foe of mankind. 15-year-old Momiji Fujimiya was unaware of this legacy until the day the Arigami started attacking her. Quickly she comes into contact with Kusanagi, a warrior empowered by the Arigami to protect the Kushinada against accidental death. (A Kushinada dying in any way except a specific set of circumstances releases massive energy that is as effective as a sacrifice for temporarily imprisoning the Arigami once again, you see.) At first he seeks to kill her to release himself from his role, but ultimately he becomes her protector and love interest, as he was for Momiji’s twin sister Kaede before she apparently died. Contact with Arigami also brings Momiji into contact with, and under the protection of, the TAC, a special bureau assigned to monitor Arigami activity and deal with them if necessary. When Momiji becomes bonded to a mitama (a comma-shaped blue stone which is the physical embodiment of an Arigami’s soul – the “blue seed” of the title) she gains the power to detect Arigami. Together with Kusanagi and the TAC she attempts to help rid Japan of the threat of the Arigami, who want to eliminate mankind and return Japan to a more pure and natural state.

 

The Long View

      Although the set-up for Blue Seed gets a bit complicated, it plays out in a more straightforward manner: assemble a team to fight the monsters that want to get rid of humanity, protect the girl who is regularly endangered (and doesn’t seem to have the common sense to avoid danger), thwart the plans of a former associate of the TAC who is now in league with the monsters, and allow room for the girl to fall in love with the dashing warrior. The story is steeped in Japanese myth and tradition, although I can’t say for sure whether the myths from which the Arigami and Kushinada come really exist or were created just for this series. Since the Arigami can monstrously transform nearly anything living by bonding their mitamas to it (including insects, trees, cats, and people), the premise allows for a wide array of monsters to appear and be fought. Blue Seed does get points for the creativity it shows in this regard, although the monsters the creators came up with aren’t that much different from what might be seen in any anime with demonic creatures in it. The writing also gains points for figuring out a way to resolve the series without having it come down to a climatic battle, although whether the average viewer will find the resolution satisfactory or just cheesy is in question.

      Although Blue Seed is mostly an action-oriented series, a fair amount of room is allowed for character development, and not just of the central character Momiji (who was clearly designed to appeal to the viewer by acting like a completely ordinary 15-year-old, although some viewers are more likely to regard her as being pathetic). The development is a little uneven, but all the main supporting characters except perhaps Komi are given at least one episode where they can step beyond their stereotyped role. This is most effective with Kunikida, the aging TAC leader who is so worn down by the struggle against the Arigami and what it has cost him personally that he’s reluctant to acknowledge the interest of one of his attractive younger subordinates. Lest anyone think that the series gets too weighty or stuffy, though, there is a certain bombastic flair to it, with bad jokes and comic exaggeration flowing freely. And let’s not forget the regular panty shots of Momiji – who seems to favor animal-print underwear – that occur at least once per episode in the first half of the series.

      The technical merits, sound, and voice work for Blue Seed are very ordinary, although its opener does feature an early application of CGI effects. Of particular note on the artistic front is the character design for Momiji, who is hardly the delicate and cute (or sexy) hottie that would normally be seen at the center of an anime series. Remarkably, she is actually a bit on the stocky side, and certainly not athletic or smart, either. (And she actually wears street clothes most of the time, which is not a normal set of circumstances for a teenage Japanese girl in anime.) Except for her hair she has a very “white trash” look and demeanor about her, which makes her distinctive if not necessarily appealing.

      The rating given here for Blue Seed is the rating assigned to the series by Action Channel. Personally, I would have rated it a mild PG-13 due to the occasionally graphic violence, so consider this a “high-end” PG rating. It is probably too intense for children under the age of 10.

      One other point of note: Blue Seed has a distinct underlying environmentalist theme, and a related secondary theme which claims that Japan has lost sight of it heritage and communion with nature in the wake of modernization and overdevelopment. This is a fairly common theme in major anime series and movies over the past decade, however, not one that is distinctive just to this series.

      Although Blue Seed was made as a stand-alone series, there is an OVA follow-up which has recently been released in the States. That will be reviewed separately at a later date (i.e. once I have actually seen it).

 

DVD Extras

      This review is based on an Action Channel broadcast of the series and an earlier VHS version of some episodes, so I cannot comment on the DVD extras. Presumably they include the “Omake Theater” extras (which in this case were superdeformed summaries of the previous episode) that followed each episode on the VHS copies.

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Momiji, Kaede

Amanda Winn Lee*

Kusanagi

Jason Lee

Daitetsu Kunikida

Rob Mungle

Azusa Matsudaira

Sharon Shawnessey

Ryoko

Marcy Rae

Komi

Tiffany Grant

Yoshiki

Kurt Stoll

Sakura Yamazaki

Allison Keith

Murakumo

Aaron Khron

Shunichi

Brian Granveldt

 

      * - also co-directed and co-wrote the English translation

 

 

 

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