It seems like I am digging back into the Toonami vault to bring back yet another anime classic to the fore front. Yes, Blue Submarine No. 6 is yet another series from Toonami from which I’ve forgotten almost everything about it. Unlike with The Big O, I can’t make the memory joke considering that memories are a part of that show’s plot. No, I just literally forgot everything about this show despite possibly even seeing this more lately then that? My mind just can’t hold anything about these four episodes in my head on any sort of level besides “the visuals are definitely what they are”. I watched this show again because it was on the RetroCrush app like Diebuster and I just had the urge to watch it again. So, spoiler warnings. Not that you need it, because you might forget everything that I’ve told you a day or two after reading this.
Blue Sub takes place in the far, distance future. A future where the oceans have risen and have flooded tons of land masses. Also, there are all levels and types of half-animal hybrid creatures out there seeking to destroy humanity due to some conflict. So you know, sort of topical on one of many things that are causing chaos in this world and such. The scientist by the name of Zorndyke caused the flooding to happen killing billions of humans. He also created the half-animal hybrids too so he’s a very busy person in his scheme to change the world for some reason. War is happening with the blue fleet and a very specific sub no. 6 in order to stop Zorndyke from doing anything to the South Pole to eliminate humanity completely.
So yeah, that’s a lot of backstory for this short, four-episode ova series. That should tell you what kind of pacing the show has. Very rushed with enough time to establish settings and plot while pushing characterization to the way side. We only get some characterization of two of them. One of the main characters is Kayumi Kino. An 18-year-old girl who is all into revenge against Zorndyke and his creations because of the death of her family. On the other end is the floating around veteran, Tetsu Hayami, who is done with this conflict and just accepts the death of humanity. You know, until he seeks a peaceful way while Kino constantly challenges it.
The first episode of where they meet is the most interesting one out of this four-episode series because it’s the explosive, world building one. Afterwards, the series settles down with ok-ness. It was the most intense, visually striking, and it gave you the whole conflict right in front of your eyes instead of pushing it away. Blue Submarine No. 6 was at dock, we saw a slowly sinking city, Kino and crew made their way to Hayami to recruit him by walking through the streets and see his house. Hayami refuses at first, but joins in later when the sub is having trouble. Then in a very gundam like fashion, metalic monstrosities appeared from the ocean to attack human kind and crowds of people are running everywhere to escape. If there is a way of establishing the threat and conflict of the situation at hand, this was it. Well executed and everything
The rest of the series is a little too fast for its own good. There is some world building, some fleet battles, planning for the final conflict, some positive meetings with animal-hybrids, then the final episode with encounters with Zorndyke and an ending that is unique but not very memorable. It’s one that left a sequel kind of open but never done or anything at all. It’s a solid, classic science fiction story telling but there isn’t anything that unique about how this ova is written to attract you to it or make you remember it. The fish people and other sea monsters are unique, but they handle everything in an intelligent human like manner that animals wouldn’t honestly. Some even get emotional and full of rage. We spent enough time to know how unique they are, but not enough to know what separates one species from another that well. This series would have been something if it wasn’t crammed together in a four-episode package. Forced peace from humanities creations. How original. Maybe that’s the point? It’s hard to tell honestly.
The designs of the monsters, human characters, and machines in question are where Blue Sub is a massive winner. Like, the monster designs are pretty great and are given enough character animation to make them feel realistically alive. Like, every single species that shows up in Blue Sub moves and talks in a very different way which is very consistent with out their mouths and facial structures were created from different animals to it. It’s the character animation, not the writing, which differentiates them. The human character designs themselves were pretty distinct too. There was a collection of people from different countries and continents on the Blue Sub. Each person is well designed and will really make you feel like the world is trying to stop this catastrophe from happening. That and the sinking cities and the ocean environments are amazing. Such a huge surprise, honestly. There isn’t enough attention paid to the character animation because of the cg.
Speaking of the CG, it’s not bad for 1999 standards. Very Beast Wars in that way I suppose. Still, I’m just going to say that right out here. The cg is very singular layered, metallic like, but doesn’t look like someone throwing up on a screen so that’s good. I’m pretty glad that the cg stuck with the machines because it helps give the other worldly nature to them so they pop out of nowhere and don’t belong. I won’t lie when I say that the first episode having these cg monstrosities pop out of the ocean really added to the appeal of how different they were because they don’t fit with the world. After that though, things don’t look as good. Like, you can see and tell what the Blue Submarine fleet vs the animal-hybrid fleet is doing to very good degree. Mainly because their designs are unique from each other and the sub fight choreography is good. It just doesn’t look as exciting as these submarine fights would look with modern animation or even modern cg like from Studio Orange. Once you get used to it, the cg gets pretty blah and uninteresting.
If you ever wanted a dose of nostalgia again or get a feeling of what Toonami was like back in the day, then give Blue Submarine No. 6 a watch. I mean it is short, action packed, and is just really cool. Just know that that it’s ok. Generally exciting, but nothing to write back to home about if you catch my drift. It does has the feeling of Toonami from the early 2000’s because of what that block was going for when going with a unified feel and tone, but that’s all that is special about it. That’s not even attached to the anime itself. I watched it subbed, but the visuals and storytelling alone brought me back to that time where I first started watching anime. Now I am a bit more cynical of a person who has watched too much anime so I can analyse things a little more. So basically, I can see the flaws of Blue Submarine No. 6 with my own eyes and it kind of hurts. I felt old by watching this ova series.