Many people who follow and know anime has begun to recognize the name that is Gen Urobuchi. He is a writer for many Japanese visual novels, light novels, and of course anime and his signature style of writing has a dark style, nihilistic themes, and tragic plot twists, earning him the fan nickname “Urobutcher.” He did work for the visual novel software company NitroPlus, which most of the shows he worked on were involved also, but for this title we’re reviewing today, this is an original work and collaboration of NitroPlus and Studio Gonzo.
The story is set in a fictional Germany and centers on the outbreak of biomechanical creatures called “Demoniacs”, who rise from corpses and attack people savagely. The Demoniacs have the ability to merge with most technology including cars and motorcycles, not only gaining control of them but also enhancing their performance greatly. Against them is a group of people known as XAT (Xenogenesis Assault Team) who police these Demoniacs in an attempt to keep the peace and discover the reasons for the “Demoniac” change. All the while, a number of human-turned-Demoniacs appear. Some use their powers for good, others for evil. One will rise above all other Demoniacs to become known as the “Blassreiter”
Once going into the show, I was a bit confused going into the plot as it first felt like a motorcycle sports show, although most viewers got confused from that first episode (and by now, people will notice Urobuchi’s way of tricking the audience within the first few episodes of an anime and then it’ll show its true self) and the first opening thinking it was like that but after that gimmick was done, it did play out like a sci-fi action show, set in a foreign land (well, Germany) with some really depressing dark tones (such as dealing with bullying because of one character origins’ and nationality, i.e. being an outsider and questioning why no one will stand for justice and possibly their god as well – yeah, the show does slap around religion to an extent), especially going through most of the main characters’ flashback stories and what’s going on with them now. The story goes through character arcs with the main ones, in order being Gerd Frentzen, Malek Werner, Joesph Jobson, Hermann Saltza, and Amanda Werner.
Some of the characters written does provide some mystery and interesting character development but the thing is it is only the ones with the character arcs….well, all except Gerd as he doesn’t really stick in the show for that long, at least as an important part. Other minor characters doesn’t really stick out much as some of them are mostly red shirts that are obviously going to die. Joesph did provide mystery in his character, Malek did made me feel sympathetic to what’s he going through, Amanda is that character that tries to keep it all together, Hermann is the hot-headed character who will do anything to save the people he know and Gerd…..is that unlucky guy who got it troubling when the show started.
As for the animation, Gonzo learned some things about the CGI usage in their show and how it can sometimes stands out as blocky and weird and not in the best of shape. However, in comparison to Gonzo’s other anime works, this one is slightly above average. The artwork is also fine with its setting being in Germany and when going into a flashback, it really compliments the setting very nicely.
For the music, I really didn’t felt anything from the score or any of the opening and ending songs were standing out. They were some standard j-rock openings and calm, serene and relaxing j-pop songs and the score were just standard action anime music.
For the FUNimation dub, someone’s vocal range showed in this anime and I’m proud to say that Todd Haberkorn was the most improved in this show, mainly because if you watched the shows he’s in (Hetalia, Sgt. Frog, even Shiki), the nasally whiny voice of his always appeared and it’s not like I don’t like it. It’s good, particularly in Sgt. Frog but in here and more recently as he does English dubs in L.A., he shows more of a deep yet smooth voice, which he does very well. Hell, you’ll forget that this is a guy who voiced a green space alien frog. (Yes, I like Sgt. Frog. So what?) As for the other cast members, Travis Willingham was alright, Jamie Marchi was good and Micah Soulsod (or the VA people mistaken for Johnny Yong Bosch a few times) was decent as well.
FINAL VERDICT: This show is hard to understand at first but if you’re not that confused, you might get into it although I know some of you won’t. I would recommend this show to you, but I would say that this really acquires your attention or read ahead before going into the show (just don’t go for spoilers if you want to experience it as a surprise).
So, how well does this Pale Rider ride?
Planet Tyro Rating: Wat— (Wait, what? We don’t have that rating anymore? They changed it? Wait, how come? Oh yeah, that second phase coming soon. I get it. All right.) It’s S’ALRIGHT.
Blassreiter is avaliable on DVD & Blu-ray via FUNimation. It is also streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu (in dub and sub at the time of this review) and FUNimation’s Elite Subscription Service.
And until then, this is MAK2.0 aka Blue Hybrid, bringing the dark elements in one format.
BLASSREITER – animation by GONZO / distributed by FUNimation Entertainment
The Mind of The Hybrid One – my Tumblr site