Original Story and Character Design by: Yuzo Takada, based on the Graphic Series published by Takeshobo
Directed by: Jun Kamiya
Series Planning: Naruhisa Arakawa
Script Direction: Masaharu Amiya
Character Design: Kazuchika Kise and Takayuki Goto
Music: Kenji Kawai
- 13 Omake Theaters
- Character Biographies with Portrait
- Original Trailers
- Textless Opening Animation
- Scene Index
- ADV Previews
Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:
- Mild violence
- Scary monsters
- Mild panty jokes
Released by: Adv Films
Rating: suggest for 12+ (animated violence)
Anamorphic: N/A, appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Own It.
[ad#longpost]Cute, smart, clutzy Momiji Fujimiya is having a truly bad day. On her way to school, someone she doesn’t know tries to kill her, she finds out she has a twin no one ever told her about (who is now dead), an entire race of powerful demons called the Aragami want her dead (in a specific way), her school is destroyed, and to top it off, a secret government agency wants to control her life because she’s something called “the Princess Kushinada”–and intended to be a human sacrifice for the good of all Japan. It seems that the power inside the Kushinada’s blood is dangerous to the Aragami, so former Princess Kushinada’s were sacrificed to drive them back into hibernation. The Aragami, however, maybe have developed a way to remove this threat to them without endangering themselves. What it means to be the Kushinada and how to avoid her grim fate are worked out over four discs and twenty-six episodes. Blue Seed is based upon a Japanese myth of the Kushinada and the god, Susano-Oh, a story laid out in the Kojiki, the Records of Ancient Matters.
Luckily, Momiji is not alone in her plight: Daitetsu Kunakida, the head of the TAC, was Momiji’s twin sister’s adopted father and now he plans on taking care of Momiji, trying to keep her from being sacrificed by the Japanese government. Mamoru Kusanagi was once human, but was given blue seeds, or mitama, Aragami souls, by the Aragami themselves who then tasked Kusanagi with protecting Momiji. After all, if anything happens to her before they are ready to kill her themselves, they’re banished again. Kome Sawaguchi is a gun-toting blond with an attitude. Originally irritated by the young Kushinada, Kome learns to appreciate Momiji’s special powers. Ryoko Takeuchi is Kunakida’s second-in-command, and wields her pistol with skill and calm. Azusa Matsudaira, the brains in the group, is the TAC’s staff scientist; it’s her job to figure out how to kill the Aragami. Yoshiki Yaegashi, the computer specialist, is goofy and shy and also responsible for helping Matsudaira with her experiments. The last member of the TAC team is a freelance spirit-healer, the American Sakura Yamazaki, who cannot bring herself to like Momiji, the “sacrifice girl” who keeps stealing her thunder. Sakura is much more interested in becoming an idol-singer than in ridding the world of evil, but her talents with spells comes in handy more than once.
The Aragami themselves are represented by Murakamo, the king of the Aragami, the infant god Susano-oh, and Kaede, Momiji’s twin sister, who, it seems, is not quite dead after all, but nor is she any longer entirely human.
Blue Seed has something for everyone: science fiction, horror, spirituality, adventure, political intrigue, some humor, even a little romance. It asks questions of its viewers: is it ever all right to sacrifice someone for the “greater good”? What is the nature of courage? How much is too much damage to wreak upon the world and still expect to get to live on it? It tries to be something more than your average adventure Anime while still being a lot of fun and a plain old good tale. Luckily for the fans, it succeeds beatifully. Without becoming hopelessly complex or ponderously didactic, the series manages a level of philosophical complexity that even makes the goals of the “bad guys” sympathetic to the audience–a purification of Japan from the evils of modern life, from war to commerce, and a return to a purer form of life.
Blue Seed isn’t a “message piece,” but does succeed in making a few points among the explosions, cool monsters, and ancient rituals. One character says, “At some point, we started to ignore the parts of nature where our gods live.” Unfortunately for the talking monkeys of the world, Kaede and Susano-Oh’s vision of the new Japanese paradise leaves little room for good ol’ homo sapiens. Any misanthropes in the audience are cheering by now. Enter Momiji and her message of hope. While she can appreciate the call to a richer and more meaningful life and the condemnation of war and cruelty, she seems to think that humankind is not completely without value and can be redeemed. That, she claims, is the true purpose of the Kushinada.
The characters are well-written and nicely voiced. The calm, wise Matsudaira, for example, is given lines appropriate to her character and a voice that carries with it weight and elegance, from voice actor Sharon Shawnessy in the English version. The translations from the Japanese come off without a hitch, and the sound is uniformly good. The original intro theme song “Carnival Babe” might give native English speakers a bit of a giggle, as they contain such lines as “take it easy dangerous night” and “pick me up foxy night game,” but the tunes are bouncy Japanese pop–strangely appealing and unique to the series. The series also contains atmospheric mood music that helps to underscore Momiji’s peril, the grief of finding her sister in league with the enemy, and the spiritual views of various characters.
The story is adapted from Yuzo Takada’s manga almost perfectly, with the exception of Sakura, who is changed quite a bit, but not necessarily for the worse. The story of the DVD version is, if anything, even more complete, having added scenes here and there to flesh out the full twenty-sex episodes of TV Tokyo’s season. The art itself has a different look than Yuzo Takada’s original drawings in some instances, but the result is still moving, affecting, and crisp.
The features are on the whole simply average for a DVD. There are short, but interesting character bios that sometimes provide translations for the Japanese names (“Momiji,” for example, means “maple leaf,” explaining why Kusinagi likes to twirl maple leaves in his hands). The Omake Theatres are amusing if you tend to like them in general, and irritating if you don’t. The Omake on Blue Seed are perhaps a bit racier than usual, but then the series was aimed at an older audience. As always, looks behind the scenes and interviews with the artists and writers would have been greatly appreciated, as would some still shots of the original manga. A look at the roots of the Kushinada legend, important as it is to the plot, would also have been nice, even just a brief overview like one of the character bios.
While I appreciate the low cost of the set ($59.98 retail for 26 episodes as I write this), the DVD insert was also a bit disappointing–if you want to know the names of the voice actors, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The insert is a single half page that simply lists the chapter names on one side and displays the cover of the collection on the other side. This would have been a good place to print some images from the original manga. The discs themselves are even kind of neat, monochrome silver-grey and each etched with a different action shot of a Blue Seed character.
However, in an age when some anime companies like to issue DVDs with only two TV episodes on them, being able to own the entire series on in one box and for only about $60 is most welcome. The first three discs in the set contain seven episodes, leaving six episodes for the last disc. This is absolutely not an anime series that can be owned or watched in part; you really need to see all of it for the cycle to make sense and display its power.
All in all, environmental messages and philosophical ponderings are always worthwhile, particularly when packaged so attractively with humor, adventure, and interesting, well-rounded characters. Add to or start your anime collection with this gem from ADV.