Urobuchi December: Blassreiter

It’s time for some Urobuchi December and it is starting with the only anime on my selected list that I have never watched before until now. Yeah Blassreiter. An anime created by studio Gonzo and directed by Ichiro Itano of the Itano Circus fame. To be honest, Gen Urobuchi is not as involved with this anime as much as other series because he has only written some episodes. Still, I think that his involvement is enough to at least to qualify it here because the show just has to have his name somewhere on the production side. It’s too late to turn back, so it’s Blassreiter time! Yay! Woo. Yeah, those are all false expressions. I just…yeah. This is a show that unfortunately exists.

To get down into brass-tacks, Blassreiter is initially about a group of special cops on motorcycles by the name of XAT fighting against of plague turning people into monsters called Amalgam. It takes place in Germany technically and Amalgam are demons who can take over and possess machines like cars and bikes to take over some kind of power. The problem being that they are mindless in their killing. Very few people can take that power and control it which is why the force has to work hard to make sure they don’t get near civilian society. Unless you are the one sad emo boy named Joseph who can. All of this is told by the point of view of Amanda, one of the XAT members, who is the best character.

The first episodes of this show were pretty good. One of the most well executed first episodes that really played with a lot of the themes in ways that I didn’t expect. It was also a big fake out opening focusing on a cast that eventually gets replaced with the real cast, but that is what was so interesting about it. With no spoilers mentioned, it really was a great way to capture the stakes of this world and the spreading of this virus by giving it to people who you would think would stay with it longer. Too bad it doesn’t because the show becomes more and more insane over time in ways that don’t work.

So yeah, Blassreiter is an anime series that certainly has a lot of ideas. It felt like it wanted to conquer or discuss a lot of different things. On top of the opening episode, Joseph’s appearance causing all sorts of problems in this city of Germany and XAT, it also wants to say something about discriminated people and turning over the next cheek through Amanda’s adopted brother Malek, and bullying through the worst bullies that ever existed. All of these ideas combined together to eventually mean nothing or at least feel like they meant nothing. This is a very scatterbrained show that threw out ideas as it went along.

It was been interesting to spend time on a show that could have been a solid standard super hero and cop procedural together with this infection going on. In fact, the most interesting parts were in the opening where an Amalgam presence would occur, XAT would show up and do what they can, and then Joseph came in and actually solve it while eventually being chased himself. There is enough material in that to last this show’s two cours by itself. But suddenly, a random hot lady would give people this virus to random people while working with XAT and pushing buttons wherever she could. If that was controlled, it would have been fine. Too bad that control and thought is not in this show’s playbook. Or if it was, it feels like an accident.

It gets worse when characters that the show didn’t spend more then three or four minutes with each episode suddenly started to pass away too. Or just seeing Amanda’s brother getting involved in the conflict in his own way through an infection he acquires. That amount of time that the brother spent with Joseph discussing concepts like not being fighting bullies and learning control happened while these bullies were out in the streets getting people murdered. That’s too extreme for what this show was going for. Blassreiter kept building stakes it didn’t need to in such an unnatural manner which felt unearned. One thing did not lead to another thing which lead to another thing in a good progression. They just kept building up for reasons unknown.

The middle portion of Blassreiter is what I would consider the best portion of it. That was the part where Blassreiter was open and wanted to actually discuss its themes. Amanda has always been a great character because she is the most relatable and heavily emphatic character who works the hardest and cares the most. She’s also hot and one of the best motorcycle drivers as well. So, having her spending time with anime sad boy Joseph about his own backstory that lead to the conflict that is happening was strong stuff. I loved that chapter of this story a lot because it had a lot of meaning behind it. I felt for Joseph who wasn’t a human anymore. All of that was wasted in the second half that really just stepped on the gas again.

After all of this stuff, the second half of Blassreiter is truly where the show went off the deep end. Blassreiter has always had some mecha dna in it and XAT were given mecha towards the end of its first half. Still, it’s just crazy. Finally, the UN wants to come in and handle the growing infection. Same with Amanda ending up working for Zwolf, an underground Knights of Templar with mecha now. The one real elite team that can defeat the growing Amalgam threat formed from some of the people in Joseph’s backstory. There is barely anytime in this section too because this show really doesn’t believe in things developing or characters actually having relationships with each other.

For instance, Amanda is thrown into the Zwolf and is tested to be a pilot and passes. She even places the XAT logo on her own mecha. A good gesture if we ever cared about most of the cast involved into that situation. Amanda barely spends anytime as a mecha pilot for Zwolf before the Amalgam leader starts attacking. Amanda always does her own thing and nothing is keeping her in check. There are no episodes of her ever-spending time working as a team with these other pilots, merely a minute or two here and there. It’s like this show really doesn’t like building any real relationships and instead half ass a love triangle like thing the show that was some obvious and doomed to fail. Yes, I am frustrated while writing this. Can’t you tell? Can you feel the emotions that I have through text I’m writing?

It gets worse though because the writing of this show is on the encyclopedia of bad anime writing. For instance, there was a character that actually died in Joseph’s flashback that was brought back to life with little to no explanation at all and with no weight behind it. They are alive now and that’s all that matters. Same with the international plot just leading to the US being jerks again and starting a nuclear strike because they can. So yeah, the war with the Amalgam and the fall of Zwolf wasn’t enough. There had to be a major international thing that occurred with the US being the US once again. That’s why that whole UN thing was brought up. This show does establish things it wants to discuss, but it doesn’t do any of it that well.

And all of that work goes into the character designs or something. Yeah, they are very good and show the entire legitimate culture that people are from in general or have some of the coolest detail possible here. Even the concept of characters combining people and motorcycles together in a cool way. The mecha themselves are pretty cool as well. So yeah, there is some cool concepts in the designs in the Dirty Germanic streets, but its studio Gonzo who loves CG. The show looks like a lot of hodge podge cg that doesn’t look good at all even if this was the late 2000’s. The intent of the shots the show has are shown and it would be hard to draw this in hand drawn animation, but it still looks really bad. Jeez yeah. Don’t watch Blassreiter. It’s just bad.

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