Anime Meta-Review


Blue Submarine No.6


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Title Info

  • seen: 1-4 of 4
  • type: OAV
  • grade: worthy
  • source: fansub
  • form: sub
  • dur: 120
  • made: 1998
  • Review created: Mon Jul 30 11:32:32 EST 2001
  • mod: none

Perhaps not the first anime series to include computer graphics. But certainly one of the first I saw able to cleverly capitalize on the strengths and weaknesses of this new (at the time) media. Although the ultimate product does leave me with mixed feelings.


Has anyone else noticed that a lot of anime has apocalyptic visions in it? well, here's another one in case you haven't noticed. One of the worlds most revered scientists has lost faith and compassion in humanity in itself. Unfortunately, in anime at least, such a person may have the power to do something about it. To be more specific he's engineered a change to the earths climate so as to flood much of the land with water. And to go with this world he has created a new species which, no surprise, is largely aquatic. It's also a species which feels that mankind doesn't really have a place in `fathers' vision of the new world.

The most surprising thing is that mankind seems to have convincingly lost. The worlds climate has been changed, billions of people have been killed and militarily they're down to their last desperate options. Although the military, primarily the brave men and women of the submarine fleet, are not going down without a fight. That said the main guy we follow seems to have washed out of the military and lost any amount of `gung-ho'ism he might ever have had. Cynical and seemingly without any faith in a future, yet still a skilled pilot who the navy would love to have back. In fact it may just turn out that it is this man, and his personality, who has the best chance to discover the true reasons behind the actions of the mad-man they are trying to defeat.


And firstly a word about why the production works quite well. The first thing that happens is they cleverly decide that people and organics are drawn in the traditional anime way. While effects, machines and large objects are done using computer graphics. Secondly in the computer graphics they focus on dynamic movement rather than pure flash. Some of the render effects are quite simple, and subdued, but they move well. And one of the reasons they move well, and the third clever thing, is that the whole setting is well suited to computer graphics. The sea works wonderfully to allow free movement in 3 dimensions, reduced detail and limited visual range so you don't lose focus on the action.

And, with respect to their skill, it works well. The computer graphics actually isn't that flash by modern standards, but it has energy and it has enough style to make up for the effect of dating over time. The torpedos tracking through water leaving trails of turbulence are great, submarines and huge whale like creatures arcing gracefully through the water trying to avoid them. And then the flash of fire and pressure that lets you know they've failed. Add in the claustrophobic space of navel vessels, the pressure of the conflict and a little bit of tactics and jargon and it is not without a certain thrill.

On the other hand the story doesn't manage to do so well...but I'm not sure why. Sure it's pressured by the need to have large serves of computer assisted action, and there's not too much character work, but it seems to have all the right pieces in place. The characters are sort of moody and complex, though their inner logic remains somewhat obscure, and the interaction and dialogue has a certain depth and punch. There's lots of classically intense confrontations, especially those between the two races and the final interaction with the nemesis scientist. It's mature and a good basis, but it's always failed to really grab me. Perhaps because it's a bit too pressured, a bit too much art over substance or perhaps it's the somewhat unusual conclusion. It's not bad by any means, and adds greatly to the title, but I can't help but feel unsatisfied when it's over.

Still, in the final analysis, the feeling that it could have been stronger than it is does not form a negative. There's some good stuff in here, the story may well appeal and the usage and merging of computer and traditional animation is extremely well done. The characters are interesting and some of the `monsters' of the sea are as rich in personality as they are limited in dialogue (somewhat of an in-joke, watch the show). There's even a nice little romantic parallelogram built into the progress of the story. Music is great, voices are generally good although the young human female was a touch shrill for me. This is a title worth trying.

Other Reviews

  • THEM review THEM seem to have been initially put off by the familiar sound to the plot, but the review makes it clear that they liked what they found. They like the interaction between the characters, and the conclusion more than I and found the mix between traditional and computer animation to be both wise and skilled. They don't like the high price of the anime much (yikes!) but give it a strong recommendation (4/5).
  • Akemi's AnimeWorld review An excellent, and long, review from AnimeWorld showing their normal attention to detail. They liked the action, although noted that it did cut into story and character development to an extent. They also noted a certain `arty' style but found it generally successful and responsible for some memorable scenes. Ultimately a positive review (3.5/5).
  • Anime Review review The Anime Review is not too thrilled by the plot but gives the action and energy of the title a thumbs up. Although perhaps not enough to overcome the expense of actually acquiring the title. Some good points are made about the merging of computer and traditional animation with the feeling being that this is a step in the right direction (4/5).
  • Anime Critic review The Critic acknowledges that the usage of computer graphics has been the focus of attention but argues that there are many other positive aspects being missed. He clearly likes the essence of the series, and doesn't mind the computer work, although even he find the price of the series a sizable negative (3.5/5).
  • Lord Carnage review A very strange review from Carnage-dono. He seems to be arguing that while the series is good it has some serious flaws and way too much hype associated with it. He also seems to feel the series lacks a certain substance and disliked the female lead, a viewpoint that I have some sympathy with (2/5).


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:15 WST 2009