Back again, and this time with a bloody treat, Blassreiter. One of the original simulcasts is finally getting a DVD release. After the show was given out for free, does the DVD deserve a place on your shelf?
Instead of my normal comment, a small warning. Look at the cover art. If the cover art makes you a bit creeped out, just consider… this is the American cover art. If this is what we get for the cover, imagine the content of the show itself… but for the rest of you, it may be a ride worth catching ( and aha!, fought the effort to make a motorcycle joke!) Also, after the jump is the entire first episode embedded for your viewing pleasure via Gonzo’s Youtube channel, and Funimation Video is also streaming the entire series subtitled (along with a few dub episodes as a preview.)
Blassreiter comes in the now standard ‘two thinpaks in a case’ that Funimation has become oh so fond of. The front cover is a very nice picture, if a bit graphic (although the show warrants it.) The back is a similar picture, along with a decent description of the show, and an accurate list of extras. One thing I quite liked is the thinpak inserts. On the front of each is the shows title in fancy script, along with two lines that have to do with the show. Underneath that, are episode titles, numbers, and descriptions. And on the back of each, more pictures styled like the front and back cover. Inside each case is a single disc, along with another art shot done lengthwise on the backside of the insert. I found the whole package givies a relatively ‘high end’ touch to standard packaging.
The menu for Blassreiter is generally good. It’s a rather clean menu with nothing special about it, but nothing negative either… Well, there is one thing. If you look next to the word all you’ll see a little pinwheel type thing. That actually has to do with the plot of the show, but it’s so small as to be almost not recognizable. It was a nice touch to have something from the show be the active marker, but maybe going a bit bigger in this case would have been warranted.
I’m sorta cringing at how to go over Blassreiter without giving away multitudes of spoilers… so this is going to be very disjointed and I’m gonna leave out many many details (I can already imagine how weird this review may sound.) There are monsters called Demoniacs that are corpses brought to life as living war machines. After an injury, Gerd, a motorcycle racer, is offered a pill that could potentially heal him (and as any science fiction story will mention… ‘with side effects’), and of course he takes it. And he turns into a Demoniac. But a Demoniac that is still completely Gerd, or so he thinks at first. Flashes of anger and violence, seeing other people as Demoniacs, and at times, complete loss of control. And he wasn’t the first this happened to. One reason it’s hard for me to describe the series, there is no ‘main’ character the way we generally look at it. It makes it hard to focus and describe. Another ‘living’ Demoniac, Joseph, codenamed Blue by the XAT (the military/police force that hunts Demoniac’s), is the closest thing the series has to a primary character. We learn bits and pieces of his past, along with bits and pieces of the history of the Demoniacs through the first half of the series.
The oddest thing about Blassreiter is that it jumps between characters whenever necessary to tell it’s story, far more than is normal. At first it was oft putting, but I found it inherently interesting as the series went on. It made it easier when the series took a twist at the very end of the first disc. This happens again at the end of the second disc with more major changes. It was interesting because it almost came across like two seasons of six episodes each, told from various perspectives. The only flaw with them doing this, is the first block of episodes set up the second block. Why is this a flaw? The first block is ok, or maybe good at best. The second block I found great in the best way though. The second block of episodes was at times a character drama that didn’t mind asking questions about how some look to religion for answers or if gaining power and taking vengeance is right, and a good action show with dynamic cameras. I’m looking forward to the second set with the rest of the series on it quite a bit. Blassreiter is a great series worth a look… if you are willing to sit through a few episodes that you may not like as much.
The video quality in Blassreiter is relatively good for a 480i disc. The show is reasonable clear, with colors being quite bright and lines defined well. The video isn’t perfect. During some fast motion scenes the picture breaks up. This is especially evident in a CGI fight scene in the intro (people who have the Haruhi DVD, it’s similar to when Haruhi is running through the star field.) There are a few times during night scenes that near other colors, the black breaks up a bit. Outside of these few general issues, I quite enjoyed watching Blassreiter (to be fair I watched it upscaled at 1080p, but double checking it at it’s native/intended size, I didn’t see any real changes.) Blassreiter has good video, but not great.
Audio on the set is quite good. Both English and Japanese get Dolby 5.1 tracks at 448k. I found both tracks to be similar, although the Japanese track seemed to have a bit more punch during explosions. I felt it worth mentioning that all around the English dub I found very well done, and possibly one of my favorite dubs this year. The audio on the disc is a good listen.
There are a few more extras that what we think of as standard for an anime series. The last episode in the set has an English commentary track with the English Director, and a few cast members. It’s a fun track. A high point was hearing them point out amongst themselves at the beginning just how much of a game changer the final episode of the set is. It’s definitely worth a listen after you’ve seen the episode. We also get two promotional videos (one is three minutes and thirty seconds, the other is thirty seconds.) I found the long one quite fun, as it shows quite a few good action scenes while a full length version of the theme song was playing. We also get the standard Textless Opening and Textless Closing. Blassreiter doesn’t have to many extras, but the ones it does have are good.
Blassreiter is an excellent show once you get past a few opening episodes that based on what you are looking for, may be great, terrible, or anywhere in-between. I found the first few decent, but the second batch exceptional. Blassreiter episode by episode threads the line between action, drama, and violence. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I think if you give it a fair chance through these twelve episodes, you will find yourself salivating for more.
Show: B+ (Starts off decent, but gets very close to being utterly amazing with the second half of the set.) Packaging: A (While the packaging style is normal, I found what was done with it to push it above the normal to something great.) Video Quality: B (While I didn’t notice anything really wrong, with a modern show with a focus’ on “high speed action, as the Japanese promotional video describes it, you expect something more.) Audio Quality: B+ (Good 5.1 tracks for both languages, Japanese seems to have slightly more of a punch though.) English Dub: A (I found it to be a phenomenal dub all around, but as with any dub, your mileage may vary.) Extras: B (Slightly larger collection than is the norm for anime discs, and they are all worth a look.)
Overall (not an average): B+ (A show worth seeing in a good package. Be wary of who you watch with though, as the show is definitely not meant for kids.)
Gallery under ads. All caps are lossless PNGs taken in VLC, feel free to request more. (Caps are sized 853×480 so as to display properly on computer monitors, as encoded the disks are 720×480, but having the caps be 853×480 emulates how they are meant to be seen using the widescreen ‘flag’ put on the DVD.)
This article has been modified since originally put up.
Some grammar fixes. Late night reviews…. I blame the editor personally, but then… I’m the editor… so I blame the Spanish Inquisition.