Blassreiter, The Complete Series: Part One – DVD Review

Review by: Clive Owen

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 288 minutes
Genre: Action/Sci-fi
Rating: TV MA
Release Date: Available Now

With great power comes great madness.

I have to admit that anime series like Blassreiter are my real guilty pleasure. Like most hot-blooded American males I love a lot of action, bloody violence, attractive female characters and conflicts that make you wonder who will live and who will die. I also like effective stories with well-written characters and cerebral twists and turns that doesn’t just rely on battles and explosions and Blassreiter, The Complete Series: Part One does just that.

Taking place in modern Germany, the story finds the country suffering from a most unusual plague that turns people into armored monsters called Demoniacs. It is because of this reason that the government has created the Xenogenesis Assault Team (or XAT) to fight these dangerous monsters. It is during a professional motorcycle race that star racer Gerd Frentzen not only gets to see a Demoniac up close but finds himself being chased by one. Then, from out of the blue, comes another armored monster on a motorcycle and it is during this chase that Gerd’s life changes.

It seems that the injuries Gerd Frentzen suffered during the chase has left him with paralyzed legs and his future as a racer down the tubes. To top it all off, not only is he fired from his own racing team but his girlfriend dumps him because she doesn’t want to deal with a cripple. His only real friend, an agent of the XAT named Hermann, tells him not to give up hope but Gerd sees it differently. Then, a beautiful woman shows up offering him a pill that will give him his life back. What it does, however, is transform Gerd into an Almalgam … a type of Demoniac that is still living.

As Gerd’s new abilities have him walking again, an unfortunate encounter with his former racing team leader and his cheating girlfriend force Gerd to lose control in his armored form. The XAT target Gerd as a threat despite Hermann being the only person who believes his friend could be saved. Then there’s the adopted brother of Hermann’s XAT partner, Amanda, who joins the public in thinking that Gerd isn’t a freak. Meanwhile, Gerd’s ex and his former boss are infected with the plague giving researchers the idea that the plague is blood-borne.

In the meantime, there’s another target that has the interest of the XAT and that is the blue rider who showed up during the race that caused Gerd to be injured. His name is Joseph but the XAT have labeled him as “Blue” and, as it turns out, he’s not exactly on the side of the Demoniacs. In fact, he is actually trying to help Gerd but, as it turns out, Gerd is beyond help. Of course, Hermann still doesn’t see it that way and – with the help of Amanda’s younger brother, Malek, they try to reach Gerd. The results are surprising … to say the least.

Meanwhile, we learn more about Malek. While his older sister is busy with her work with the XAT, Malek has become the target of bullies who have gone far enough to turn Malek’s only friend on him. The betray of his friend makes Malek even more alienated from Amanda who pulled the youth out of the orphanage. During one beating, however, Malek is saved by none other than Joseph but when a skirmish with Joseph leaves the rider badly injured it is Malek who returns the favor by saving him.

Things get really interesting when tragedy strikes and Malek is given the same opportunity by the mysterious woman who had made the same offer to Gerd. We make a startling discovery about this woman and her connection to the XAT as well as her theory of the Amalgam who will become the Blassreiter … a chosen being. When Malek shows up again, he isn’t the same weakling. What he does next is shocking and when Amanda discovers the truth her heart breaks at the thought of hunting him down.

As Joseph and Blue are being hunted down, the mystery woman is joined by a young man who knows Joseph well. Together, they set Amalgams loose on the XAT as members of the task force become infected. There’s somebody on the inside destroying the team and, in the end, the remaining agents like Hermann, Al, Brad and Amanda fight for survival.

The show is actually quite edgy and filled with bloody violence and profanity (in the English dub) that definitely earns this series its TV MA rating. It’s mature tone doesn’t mean that there’s unnecessary bloodletting just for the hell of it. There’s a good story here, although things start getting middle around the middle of Part One. The animation is amazing and the CG effects don’t look tacked on like in other series.

In the end, The Complete Series: Part One of Blassreiter is a dark, mature and riveting series that is a bloody good time. On top of that, the story is filled with various twists and surprises that will actually surprise. This isn’t your garden variety action anime series and that alone is worth checking this one out if you’ve been looking for an edgy and mature series.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B+
During a motorcycle race, a famous racer named Gerd Frentzen is infected with an unusual virus caused by an armored monster called a Demoniac. Soon, Gerd is transformed into a similar being called an Amalgam as a friend and his fellow XAT members hunt him down. It isn’t until the adopted brother of one XAT agent discovers the Amalgam power that the XAT realize that something is definitely behind this threat.

VIDEO QUALITY: A+
The animation in this series is actually quite stunning and the characters look great as well. As far as the action sequences are concerned, they look amazing and blend well with the CG effects although some Amalgams look – to borrow from Chuck Huber – too LEGO-like.

AUDIO QUALITY: B+
The English dub voices add more dimension to each character as well as more profanity compared to the Japanese voices that are excellent in their own way. The music is intense but the soundtrack that includes a rocking opening theme song by GRANRODEO and a perfect closing theme song, “Sad Rain” performed by Aki Misato.

EXTRAS: C+
Aside from the trailers and the clean opening and closing animation there’s a audio commentary track for Episode 12 with Jamie Marchi (Amanda), Eric Vale (Al), Chuck Huber (Brad) and the ADR Director, Tyler Walker. The commentary is good thanks to the Huber and Vale’s funny observations.

OVERALL: B+
Dark, edgy and ultra violent, Part One of the Complete Series of Blassreiter is a take-no-prisoners action anime series that will not fail to thrill action fans. While the series doesn’t really take off until the middle of Part One, it’ll be hard to tear your eyes away from a story that keep you wondering who will get out of this situation alive.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

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