a.k.a. Ao no Rokugo
The brilliant Dr. Zorndyke was a respected scientist… until the day he started shifting the magnetic poles of the world, melting the polar ice caps and flooding the world, killing billions and creating a habitat for his newly-bred race of amphibious mutants. Ever since that time, humanity has been losing ground against Zorndyke’s forces. Now, the elite Blue Submarine fleet, along with ex-pilot Hayami, have been assigned to a desperate gamble: finish Zorndyke and his base using nuclear weapons. As the final face-off nears, it’s up to Hayami to find another way out of this conflict, a way that won’t involve the needless destruction of both races.
summary by Griveton
Highs: Story; setting; characters; 3D work
Lows: Inconsistent animation quality; ill-fitting music; could have used more time
Based on Ozawa Satoru’s manga of the same name, Blue Submarine No. 6 bears the badge of being Gonzo’s flagship anime title, made when the company moved from outsourcing animation to anime. And quite a good one at that, despite several glaring flaws.
The story is quite appealing, to say the least, and is greatly enhanced by a cool setting. Although the themes (coexistence, war and peace, love in wartime) aren’t particularly original, they’re handled superbly, even if the story itself felt a little bit rushed. An episode or two would have helped the pacing a lot. It’s a small problem, however, since the plot is very well-elaborated and doesn’t suffer much from this. The characters don’t fall behind, either. Both humans and mutants are developed wonderfully, and thanks to that, their motives and objectives feel relevant; an essential part in making the story enjoyable.
This series noticeably strives for graphical excellence. While some landscapes look somewhat artificial and the explosions hokey, the high-res 3D CGI is incredibly detailed and fluid, especially the ships and larger mutants. This is a series that only the DVD format can do justice. The 2D animation, however, isn’t nearly as good; while the art style and character designs are great and fitting, the animation could have used more work, and often 2D and 3D animation didn’t mesh properly. The soundtrack is filled with good, catchy jazz tunes, but it works against the series since it is often played at inappropriate times. During action scenes, the events onscreen never managed to match the energy from the music, and during sad or dramatic scenes, if feels completely out of place.
Even with its flaws, Blue Submarine No.6 is a must-see series for fans of the genre. While it was impossible to recommend it in its original four-DVD release, Bandai has released a Special Edition containing the whole series, so there’s no excuse to pass this one up anymore.
Highs: Makings of a great story; good animation; marvelous character designs
Lows: Pacing and clarity issues; 2D-3D conflict
I think the reason why I keep watching Gonzo-produced anime is because I’m simultaneously fascinated by their courage to create what other companies won’t, disgusted by their numerous empty stories and characters and hoping that their great potential will churn out an awe-inspiring series. Blue Submarine No. 6 is one of their earlier and more moderate successes.
The right components for the creation of an astounding story are here; well, that’s a mild fib, but they’re all at this anime’s metaphorical fingertips. Blue Submarine No. 6 feels like a combination of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau and the movie Waterworld, but it comes together so well and so believably that such similarities are easily forgotten. But therein lies the problem: this entire story doesn’t fit well into its four-OVA format. It is like taking all six tankoubon of the Akira manga and stuffing it into a 124-minute movie. There are a plethora of characters with interesting personalities that I would love to know more about, but many of their mannerisms and even reasons behind decisions aren’t always clear. Numerous events just seem to fly by in a hailstorm of torpedoes and shrapnel without pausing for breath, and there are even transition problems because some scenes get cut short or just pop up without notice or foreshadowing.
Gonzo has long been known for their incredible animation, and this anime is no exception. The conventional artwork isn’t what I would call incredibly detailed, but there are plenty of niceties considering its age. The CGI animation, however, is superb and each use is meticulously detailed. Okay, so some of the mechanical designs are blocky and explosions tend to be globby, but it works well… until conventional art comes on-screen. The problem here is that showing 3D background or objects with characters or items that possess faux depth looks incredibly awkward and, in this case, just doesn’t mesh together well.
But you just might forget all of that once you see the character designs. The production staff included four characters designers, among which were Anime Expo 2004 guests Murata Range (Last Exile) and Murata Toshiharu (Hellsing, Mouse). The designs themselves are quite fitting and give each character an air of confidence that only comes from bitterly won or worldly experience. Whether they’re nervous, angry, worried or happy, each character is beautiful in his or her individual way.
In the end, what is here is still entertaining, and I can respect a good story that’s pressed for time. If you want an anime to pass the time or to see bridled potential, Blue Submarine No. 6 is a good option.
Blue Submarine No.6 can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.