All right, my first full review. Surprisingly there’s only one big chunk that cries out for spoiler protection. There may very well be a slew of spoilers in the ungaurded bits, but not major series changing ‘I can’t believe you told me that early’ spoilers. Read at your own risk those who have not watched.
This series is pretty good. It’s interesting, has complex and believable characters. It also has a lot of three other things which might affect the viewing pleasure of different viewers. It has a fair amount of religion, it has a lot of racism (intentionally – it’s sort of a theme), and a whole lot of character death. If you want to know just how much character death we’re talking about…below are the 16 characters in the series, at the end there are exactly 2 of them still alive…and Elia, who is technically not a living being to begin with.
I just about watched this series in one sitting so I’d say it held my attention. It had a pretty involving plot. Trouble is the writers seemed confused at either end.
The idea is that Sasha was working on some nano machine medicine that would make children invulnerable to disease, very altruistic. Then Victor hijacked her research and turned it into a sort of super soldier program…for the church…whatever. Then he made a really bad choice and gave it to Xargin who went insane and decided to kill everyone. Beatrice explained that the nano machines sort of hyper-evolve humans, so what everyone thinks are monsters are really just us of the future…like X-men. That seems a little odd but willing suspension of disbelief holds up okay. Then they tell us two things which to me don’t make any sense in the previous context. First the Blassreiter is an amalgam that will rise above the others and gain superpowers and be like god. Why? Is “like god” in our evolution scheme somewhere, for one person, that most definitely will come to exist at that specific hyper-evolution time? They also tell us that the transformation between human and amalgam is triggered by extreme negative emotion such as anger, fear, or sorrow. Happy people don’t evolve. This is why Joseph is able to switch between the two forms so well, he has absolute mastery of his emotions, however it prevents him from being the best amalgam he can be because when you control the raging beast it doesn’t rage so well. Also for some reason hyper-evolution works pretty well on corpses…why?
Okay, that out of the way, here’s why I say they’re confused at either end.
We start off focusing entirely on Gerd and the XAT and by the XAT I should mean Amanda, Hermann, Al, Brad, Mei Fong, Wolf, and kind of Victor…but at the beginning XAT really just means Amanda and Hermann. Gerd becomes paralyzed from the waist down after being caught between Joseph and a psycho evil amalgam while fighting. Being a big shot racer who can no longer race with a really lousy girlfriend who just “isn’t brave enough” to be with a wheel-chair bound person, Gerd is miserable. Then Beatrice shows up to give him a magic pill that will make it all better or kill him….or make him all better and turn him into an amalgam. Gerd now has the power to get his life back on track and decides to fight the big bad monster amalgams. We litterally spend the entirety of two episodes with Gerd and then a fair amount of four more. Joseph, our honest to goodness hero of the series, doesn’t even speak until the end of episode 2. Also, Joseph, who at any other time is capable of beating (and really killing) any other Amalgam besides Beatrice and Xargin in 2 minutes or less fails to kill the one he’s fighting in the first episode. And when I say he beats every other amalgam that fast I’m not exagerating. When he fights Gerd he has him at the end of his sword in practically no time, and only fails to kill him because the XAT appear on the scene to make him back off.
Then we have the other end which I have more problems with technically speaking.
The good guys are trying to power Joseph up by making him a ball of rage…makes sense…but it backfires, because everybody could see that coming. So Joseph goes on a rampage, tries to kill people, and generally is out of control. How do we fix this problem? Well not by having his sister talk him down with the power of love, which is what I expected. No, Blassreiter is a series that feels the need to introduce a new sympathetic character to sooth the savage beast. Normally I’m all for introducing new characters when necessary but here it didn’t really seem necessary and it came within the last like, 5 episodes. So now we have Snow, but we don’t really have enough time for her to develop character and emotional relevance before the series ends. On top of that, she showed up so that she could die saving Joseph. That’s right, Snow came in for a brief introduction and a heroic death. A heroic death that could easily have been written out completely, either by not having Snow at all and having Sasha or even Amanda talk him down, or by just not killing Snow in the process. I guess they got to this point, saw that the body count was sitting at around 50 and needed another death. That 50 is including non-named characters and is probably drastically low.
Then it turns out that Zwolf (the organization headed by Victor to fight the amalgams) at some point was making an anti nano machine agent but quit because….they didn’t really make that clear. Now that things aren’t going well and it looks like Joseph can’t hack it they decide to reopen the project. As soon as the anti-nano machine pill is completed Joseph heads off to face Xargin and takes the pill, allowing it to catalyze and become effective. So our final fight ends up being ‘can Joseph not die long enough for the pill to take effect’. That’s not climactic at all! But of course Joseph isn’t strong enough to beat Xargin because he hasn’t powered up at all. After getting stomped for a while Joseph almost dies. But for some reason Gerd and Hermann, who died killing Beatrice a little earlier, are hanging around in purgatory and hop into Joseph’s body to buy him some time. Why are Gerd and Hermann there? Why isn’t Snow, she was an amalgam, she died, she loved Joseph…she ought to be body stealing too but she isn’t. And once Xargin has stomped on their collective ass Joseph is back up and suddenly he has become the Blassreiter…for no real reason. But now that Joseph can beat him…he doesn’t want to fight. I think there was supposed to be a moral in there but I can’t help but feel there was no point in Joseph killing his once best friend through battle when they’re both about to die from the pill. Lo and behold…it works.
I’m okay with this ending aside from the wonky body-snatching bit…but we get a time lapse and the 2 characters who are still alive meet up. And then we get some shiny cop-out ending. Suddenly all of the dead people appear in semi-transparent to show how happy they are and give encouraging messages about the value of life…or something. I kinda stopped paying attention here because this was just lame. Some series can get away with this kind of thing…but this one can’t. This is a series that killed off almost the entire cast and didn’t hesitate to kill children regularly…there isn’t supposed to be a happy sappy “and it’s all okay” shoved at the end. This series spends a lot of time making things happen right. Every named character that died went on their own terms (except the bad guys I guess). So having them come back means nothing because you know they were okay when they died. Also since this series pushes the religious theme, we can sort of assume that their souls are in a better place within the continuity of the series. Having them come back is cheap and disappointing. It killed the end. So if you do watch this, and I still think you should give it a try if you haven’t yet, just turn it off when remaining character A meets up with remaining character B…there rest is pointless.
I feel kind of awkward at the end of my first full review because it ended up sounding like a rant about all of the flaws. You’d almost think I didn’t like the series and I really did. The trouble is there isn’t really any shining moment of awesome that I can point to and say “this part was amazing” so I end up spending a lot of time on the other side, the point where “this was kinda lame”. I guess I can say that I really liked the fact every ‘good guy’ died on their terms. There was never any “oh I got shot/stabbed/strangled by total surprise…they all managed to die for something. It was “I got stabbed/shot/strangled with full knowledge that I was able to protect something important to me. I don’t really like character death generally but the way it was handled in Blassreiter really forced me to accept each one. And in the end I did really like this series. I recommend giving it a try. Even if you’re not heavy into religion don’t use that as an excuse to avoid this. It is a heavy theme and important to the general goings on, but that’s really because this is a series where everyone honestly believes in god and therefore believe they are acting in his service. Somehow it seemed like a mild heavy theme, if that makes any sense. And the action is good too.
I guess that’s the end.