ADV Films presents
Blue Seed #2: Descent Into Terror (1995)
"I wonder what part of Mr. Kusanagi I like? He's perverted, indecent, he says mean things to me all the time, and he won't take me out to have fun either... A girl's heart is pretty complicated."- Momiji Fujimiya (Megumi Hayashibara)
Stars: Megumi Hayashibara, Kazuhiko Inoue
Other Stars: Kotono Mitsuishi, Jouji Nakata, Keiichi Nanba, Akio Ohtsuka, Ai Orikasa, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Sakiko Tamagawa, Yuuji Ueda, Kiyoyuki Yanada , Kyoko Hikami
Director: Jun Kamiya
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (12+ for animated violence, fan service)
Run Time: 02h:42m:26s
Release Date: 2001-07-10
DVD ReviewMuch to the dismay of my editor, I put off doing this review until I could secure a copy of the first disc in this four-installment series, and boy, am I glad I did. With seven episodes per disc, there was a lot of ground covered in the first one, which would have left me in the middle of everything not knowing what the heck was going on. Blue Seed was originally released in 1995, created by Yuzo Takada, who was also responsible for 3x3 Eyes and Cat Girl Nuku Nuku.
As a brief recap of the first disc, the show opens with a young girl descending into the depths of the underground to sacrifice herself to the monsters below. We flash forward and meet Momiji Fujimiya (Megumi Hayashibara), an average 15-year-old high school student—or so she thinks—until a huge monster destroys her school while trying to kill her. Despite her upbringing in Izumo, which included learning the purification rituals of a Shinto princess, she is oblivious about the history or mythology of Japan, because she is, at best, not very bright. It turns out she is actually a Kushinada Princess from Japanese legend, and the twin sister of Kaede, the girl who sacrificed herself. Momiji now has the responsibility of being the only one who can make the monsters of Japan, known as Aragami, rest for eternity. But there's a hitch: she must be sacrificed, for as long as she lives, humans will be powerless over these Aragami. This is unthinkable to her, as she is only a young girl, who has never been to Tokyo, fallen in love, or even been kissed. Fortunately, along with the monster shows up Mamoru Kusanagi (Kazuhiko Inoue), a boy pledged to keep the daughters of Kushinada safe. He possesses superhuman abilities gained from the monsters, and has seven mitima, the blue seeds that are the soul of these monsters, as the source of his powers. Momiji also receives her own mitima while defending Kusanagi, which now allows her to sense the presence of the Aragami.
The fight against the monsters is not Kusanagi's alone, as the Japanese government has set up a secret task force, commited to keeping the Aragami at bay, going by the initials TAC (Terrestrial Administration Center). With Momiji now in the open, she joins the TAC team, headed by Daitetsu Kunikida (Akio Ohtsuka), as they set to fighting off the monster forces rising from the depths. While much of the first disc becomes an "Aragami (or panties) of the week" type scenario, character development is also included to establish the personalities of our cast.
As this second disc opens, we meet someone new, Sakura Yamazaki (Sakiko Tamagawa), a faith healer, back from America who is also intent on battling the monsters, and who is none-too-pleased with Momiji's presence. She also manages to spark some jealousy in Momiji with her attentions towards Kusanagi, which leads to a showdown in a talent contest. Of course, being a teenage girl is a confusing time, and Momiji can't quite understand her feelings for Kusanagi, but is encouraged when he asks her out on a date, and her TAC companions devise a revealing method for her to show her true feelings.
However, attention to relationships falls to the background as another newcomer enters the scene, diverting Kusanagi's attention. Murakumo (Jouji Nakata) is also powered by the mitima, but his compliment of eight makes him vastly superior to Kusanagi, though this doesn't deter the two of them from engaging in battle, with Kusanagi invariably ending up on the losing side.
Blue Seed was another show I wasn't sure I'd like from the preview trailers on other ADV discs, which don't do much to convey the tone or style of the series. What I found was a great combination of humor (much of the ecchi variety, with everyone's fascination about Momiji's panties), a diverse cast of characters, lots of action, and grounded in Japanese mythology. It wasn't hard to marathon through 20 episodes in a couple of nights without losing interest, and the episode count per disc certainly pushes this one onto the recommended list.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: A few minor issues drop the grade a half a point, but on whole, this looks really good. There is a bit of grain that tends to solarize a bit, especially in deep blue or tan areas. The normal interlace artifacts are minimal, and colors are rich and well-rendered. Black levels are solid, and the background images that are used throughout feature a broad spectral range from whites and pale violets to rich autumnal oranges and browns. All look extremely good.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
|DS 2.0||Japanese, English, Spanish||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: Sound design works nicely in the stereo audio tracks available in original Japanese, as well as English and Spanish dub. Directionality is well used, dialogue is easily heard (highlighted by Megumi Hayashibara's characterisation of Memiji), and the score suits the programming quite well. No technical issues to report here; a solid soundtrack.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 42 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Sorcerer Hunters, Samurai X, Gasaraki, Gunsmith Cats, Dirty Pair Flash, Generator Gawl
- Character bios
- Omake theaters
My favorite anime extra to date comes next, and a big thumbs up goes to the inclusion of more omake theaters which made their debut on the first disc and return here. These are short offshoots of the main series, featuring our characters in funny and bizarre situations not directly related to the show, and the opening has the cast in super deformed mode with another gratuitous panty shot. This disc contains another two installments, starting with omake theater 3 X-File: In Case of Kunikida. Here, Kunikida and Takeuchi are faced with perilous animation cells, as they poke fun at their animators. Next, in Go! Animation Girl! Momiji becomes a pop idol star. Is the anime world ready for this? While a little knowledge of the anime world is necessary to get the full brunt of the jokes, I love these things!
Another six preview trailers are included for Sorcerer Hunters, Samurai X, Gasaraki, Gunsmith Cats, Dirty Pair Flash, and Generator Gawl.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsThis series gets a recommendation for several reasons: First, it is extremely funny. Each character adds to the dimension of the show, and we get enough development to really get to like or dislike everyone. Second, the storyline is interesting, despite being somewhat episodic at first. Our monsters have great designs, the background artwork is wonderful, and action is well-paced. Third, relationships are being developed amongst the cast, which keeps things interesting. Momiji carries the show, and her geeky awkwardness is just a riot to watch. Finally, ADV is packing these four discs with episodes, making the overall investment minimal, and the inclusion of the omake theaters is icing on the cake, reason enough to buy the series on their own!
Jeff Ulmer 2001-08-22