New Season Autumn 2007 Yuri Anime: Blue Drop

October 29th, 2007

I am typing today from the airport, where from time to time the PA erupts in loud screams and ominous music. I can’t help but wonder if someone thought that was a funny idea for Halloween. Call me crazy, but I think it’s in extremely bad taste.

Yuri anime this season is very thin. There are several series with touching that can be willfully misinterpreted (Minami-ke, Shion-no-Ou) and there’s conjecture in both English-language and Japanese forums that two of the women in Dragonaut are a couple. I haven’t watched that, so I have no impression either way.

Of all the anime that I am watching this season, only one can really be thought of as being “Yuri.” I reviewed the first volume of the Blue Drop manga a while back. I never reviewed the second volume because it was fairly unpleasant. Yes, it was Yuri, in the sense that most of the relationships were between females, but since most of the relationships were non-consensual underage sex, I declined to review it…or even to own it.

Blue Drop: Tenshi-tachi no Gikyoku takes place a thousand years before the events of the Blue Drop manga.

New transfer student Mari, is introduced to class president, honor student and classic Japanese beauty Hagino, and all hell begins to break loose. Hagino strokes Mari’s face tenderly, then tries to strangle the life out of the newcomer. Clearly, something is up.

In subsequent brief touches, both Mari and Hagino are blasted with confused memories and images…that is, these are confused and disordered to Mari, but Hagino, who is not what she appears, seems to know exactly what they mean.

Hagino, as it turns out, is an alien commander of a big assTM spaceship. She appears to be content to have her ship hidden in the bay outside the school, until a bigger boss in a bigger ship pretty much demands her to appear front and center. Hagino leaves school to take her place at the helm of her ship and the plot begins.

Yuri for this series is of the infatuation/obsession sort between Hagino and Mari, an a priori tragic love, and Micchi, who is clearly writing a Mari x Hagino slashfic in her spare time. :-)

Since the moment of their initial encounter, both Hagino and Mari are obsessed by one another. Mari is, understandably, confused (and a little turned on, if you ask some fans) by Hagino’s murderous response to her handshake. The fact that she can see Hagino talking to a girl who is glowing, translucent and alien (and who calls her commander,) and giant ships is not clarifying matters much. In fine tsundere fashion, Mari claims to loathe Hagino, while always watching her. Hagino, obviously, at least knows *of* Mari and has some clue to her lost past. But she is no less obsessed by Mari, even going so far to transfer so she can be roommates with the new girl. Is it Yuri? Let’s see, a relationship built on guilt and denial? Sounds like lesbians to me. ^_^

In other news, we meet Azanael on the Major Commander’s ship, a woman who flashes back to her lover saying goodbye some time ago, assumably before the “event” of some years previous. Azanael’s lover never returns, we have already gleaned from Hagino’s guilt-ridden imagination. So, when she sees Hagino, Azanael leaps into her expected role as Psycho Lesbian. I like that we’ve skipped the relationship part of this relationship right to one lesbian dead, one psycho. Saves time in the long run, since we know that’s where we’d go anyway.

Hagino has already defied orders to save Mari, and they have touched once more – this time without complication, so most Yuri fans see this one as a done deal. I’m a bit more skeptical, as TV anime does tend to live in the realm of plausible deniability. Even with some mostly obvious Yuri in the original manga, I’m not sure how much we’re likely to get in this series. (I tend to begin watching anime with some skepticism, so that I can be pleasantly surprised, rather that beginning with expectations and being disappointed.)

I have no doubt that Hagino will go above and beyond (and probably against) her duty to be Mari’s savior. And I have no doubt that in the ensuing events, the two of them will bond and grow close. Will there be something like love? Probably. Will there be something like a lover’s relationship? That remains to be seen.

Ratings:

Art – 7
Story – 7
Characters – 7, except for Micchi who is clearly us – 8
Yuri – 4
Service – a mercifully low 1

Overall – 7, with hope that it will get better.

Oh, and for special for me there’s Yanki girl Nakajima Akane, with classic banchou-style ever-present stick in her mouth. I so hope that that character type gets popular once more. ^_^

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25 Responses

  1. bystrouska says:

    Great review, as always! Been watching Blue Drop myself (ep.1-3 so far, so I haven’t seen the EP part in Azanael’s EPL character yet, lol) and enjoying it so far, especially the… soundtrack. :)

    Hope you’ll excuse me for not actually having much to comment on (I’ve just finished a 2-day marathon of Simoun [mindblowing!] and it’s wayyy past bedtime in the part of the world I inhabit, so it’s kind of tough trying to find anything even remotely intelligent to say)… but I just wanted to answer your lovecall regarding the resident tomboy: I for one am already completely smitten with her, and I know I’m not the only one. :) I sure hope we’ll see more of her in the future. As of now, I don’t think I’ve even recovered from her chef stint in ep.3 yet – I wish someone had warned me beforehand about how hot a woman in a chef’s attire could be…

  2. Chilipop says:

    I always love your reviews.

    I actually read some of Blue Drop, and although I didn’t really enjoy it either, I decided to start this series to see if anything stellar happens.

    I’ve found that the first three episodes are very slow- I have a friend who is watching it too, and they have already given up on it, but I WILL have patience.

    Hopefully the show gets better. Some of the scenes in it are visually awesome- I loved the seagulls flying around Hagino, for example.

    Enough rambling. Btw:

    “Hagino, as it turns out, is an alien commander of a big ass spaceship.”

    My new favourite quote. I am so quoting it out of context.

    Cheers

  3. chilipop – thanks for the kind words!

    bystrouka – I never said Azanael was an EPL, just a PL :-)

  4. Robert Basiewicz says:

    Yay, happy to see some news on Blue Drop on Okazu:p
    I kinda agree with everything what you wrote Erica, thought you missed mentioning music. I really enjoyed both OP&ED. Both are good, however ED is livier than OP and it feels a bit strange when listening to both of them, means, when there’s not much time in between. Myself i think it’s better when OP is livier:p

    –>chilipop
    Maybe it’s just me but i think that slow pace fits this series ( well action scenes, if they’re gonna be there, ofc should be faster and stuff ). Kinda reminds me of MariMite which was rather slow paced too.

  5. Haruchin says:

    “Oh, and for special for me there’s Yanki girl Nakajima Akane, with classic bancho-style ever-present stick in her mouth. I so hope that that character type gets popular once more.”

    Yes. Yes please. Seconded. :)

    Spotted her in the flyover in the first episode, and have been watching with ever-growing happiness as we see more and more of her in the following eps. Seems there’s some interesting character development to go on there as well – some odd looks at the (frankly bizarre) principal indicate some kind of past history that we’ve not got into yet…

    Oh, and you’re so right about Micchi, on all counts. Definitely writing a Mari/Hagino slashfic. Definitely us. :) I love how she’s given a special place in the OP sequence – we scan over various cast members, shrouded in darkness, and then the music swells, and Micchi comes into focus, fully lit, lovingly rendered. Beautiful stuff.

    Thanks for the review, as always – you’ve got a way of making these things far more fun than they have any right to be. :)

  6. Robert – I can’t say I agree I’ve found the music uninspired, which is why I didn’t think to comment. But that’s okay – I’m glad someone likes it. :-)

  7. Anonymous says:

    What is it with that stick, anyways? I mean, it’s not like I mind it being there, but I just can’t help but wonder… why?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t realize there was a sequel to the original Blue Drop manga. Also, do you know anything about the current version of the manga that’s being released?

    As for the anime, I’ve only seen the first two eps so far but it looks interesting so far. And did anyone else get the feeling after watching ep 2 that if Hiroko had been thinner there would have already been people insisting that she and Akane were in a relationship?

  9. Kieli says:

    You always manage to make me crack up with your ever-present quips…big ass ship indeed *LOL*

    I know so many people are whinging about the slow pace but I really do find it refreshing. For once it’s not meet–>conflict–>love–>death all within a space of a few episodes. There’s much more of a buildup here (and although I liked the first Blue Drop manga, the serialised version in Champion Red leaves me oh so frosty *_* ). Micchi is quite adorable and the poor girl must be confused as hell…who to lust after the most? The volatile Mari or the composed Hagino? Ahh, choices choices.

    Akane’s and Mari’s bickering cracked me up. I had to rewind back to it and their fight scene with the really lame yakuza wannabes. I was a bit shocked that Mari could hold her own. Micchi didn’t even have time to swoon over two hotties fighting to protect her. ;-)

  10. The version I found so appalling *is* the new serialized BD manga.

  11. Kieli says:

    I wasn’t disagreeing with you, Erica. Perhaps I wasn’t being clear :-(

    @anonymous: Trust me, stay very very far away from Blue Drop: Tenshi no Bokura, the serialised version in the shounen mag, Champion Red that Erica refers to. IMHO, it’s painful and may scar you for life. *shudder*

  12. Kielie – My comment about the sequel was directed at anon, not you. :-)

  13. Kieli says:

    > Kielie – My comment about the sequel was directed at anon, not you. :-)

    Ooooh, my apologies for misunderstanding.

  14. quex says:

    I mostly agree with what you said, especially the slash part.While watching the show, I did wonder about how many Mari/Higinos would probably sprout out of BD, particularly if it doesn’t get as explicit as expected.
    On the other hand, I am really enjoying it. It’s very classy and sensitive, and a world apart of cliches and stereotypes. Personally, I can’t stand mecha, but they managed to fit it so well in the story that for me is barely noticeable and surprisingly not annoying at all.
    Mari can hold her own quite well, and even Micchi manages to have substance, way beyond her *fragility*
    The characters seem to be building up to be complex beyond good and bad and the pace, with the flashbacks blending nicely into the plot hints to a multifaceted story.
    Let’s see what happens next.

  15. dsmith says:

    Been watching Blue Drop (which I really like; despite a lot of the disparaging comments about her, Mari is one of very few female leads [or male leads for that matter] that I can personally empathize with fairly easily), and came across references to the manga. Found that lililicious has done a scanlation and checked it out. And then I found the reference to your blog on it.

    What I found was that the story as translated by lililicious is almost the exact opposite of a lot of what you said about it. The aliens are killing the kids, not the resistance; Rumi didn’t take the guy Kyomi likes, that was just part of the focus on the distancing between the two; Shouko didn’t ask Misato-sensei out, it was the other way around; etc, etc.

    Obviously, not being able to read Japanese myself, not to mention not having the originals available anyway, I can’t say which is the actual correct translation. But it does introduce an element of doubt now whenever I read such a review on something. Of course there’s a tiny bit of that uncertainty no matter who does the translation; always so bothersome.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Having read the original BD manga in Japanese, I can assure you that it was indeed Erica’s mistake. As Lililicious translation says, the aliens are the bad guys (they kill the kids) and the resistance are the good ones; YUI, the protagonist, is a member of the resistance. About Rumi and Kiyomi, as well as Shouko and Misato, is all as Lililicious translation says too.

  17. I agree – I have no doubt that it was my mistake. Lilicious’ chief translator is significantly better than I am. :-)

  18. Missy says:

    Yep it’s a thin Yuri season.
    Well, at least we have Hagino’s pretty blue eyes and Konoka/Setsuna pair in a not-so-edible Negima Live Action.

  19. patrique says:

    Will there be something like love? Probably. Will there be something like a lover’s relationship? That remains to be seen.

    I don’t think there will be a lover’s relationship, since this is shown on tv. I don’t really mind though, since a subtle approach is very fine to me. Actually, I think the original Blue Drop manga was a bit too straightfoward, especially the second volume. Then again, is is still Blue Drop when all the overt lesbianism is toned down? A true dilemma…

    The episodes look lovely so far and I do like the characters. So perhaps it’s best to judge the anime by its own merits.

  20. evelgal says:

    Other than the suspense b/w the spaceship girl and the telekinetic one.. Blue Drop is quite boring..
    I just started a new site dedicated to Yuri AMVs. SO check it out and show some love. Stay cool!
    http://Yurianimeamv.wordpress.com/

  21. Nancy says:

    Greetings,erm I think it’s a bit too late to post this..kinda almost one year later..but I just recently have been able to watch the anime, I must say it’s good,really good, I’m still waiting for stories when love doesn’t have to be so tragic for girls,but I must say I find Hagino and Mari lovely, and what’s more important to me, closer to what a real life girl in love with another one is, I’m on episode 10 now,so gonna go back to it and thanks for mentioning and commenting about Yuri, oh btw and just to finish, Red Garden? Good !

  22. Anonymous says:

    I just finished the series today. Eh…and this comment is coming several months later than it *should* but what exactly was Hagino’s best pick-up line ever?? I tried looking out for something like a pick-up line but I didn’t see any (maybe it was the sub…?) Anyhow, would greatly appreciate if you can tell me what Hagino said! Thanks a million.

  23. anon – you fail, I guess. “Want to take a ride in my spaceship?” when she’s not kidding, has got to be the winner.

  24. Finished Blue Drop and I really thought we left the ‘all lesbians DIIIEEE!!’ era. And it ended just when it started to get really good.

    I would maintain, though, that the driving point of this series was the characters, because the storyline wasn’t doing it for me. I really think Blue Drop managed to pull out a good cast despite my initial thinking that they were all beaten to death with the generic stick (tsundere brat, cool, calm collected classmate, bookish, shy girl with glasses etc.) but I was gladly proven wrong. It’s just when they start really working their personalities, the show ends.

    Oh, dear sweet Hagino. What was your crime to deserve such a fate?

    I truly wonder what these animators think…

    ‘Omg, the lesbians are happy?! Quick, we need an alien invasion and a war against mankind, stat! Someone has to end this! We can’t allow them to breed!’

  25. Anonymous says:

    It’s been a while since Ive watched an anime that could make me shed a tear, or two. Blue Drop has done that. Don’t get me wrong, i mean it in a good way. From the beginning to the end, it was like i was there! In it you know!

    Greatly animated, wonderful music, great voice actors and a splendid work on this anime!

    But!

    I was disappointed about the ending. Blah! They really have to tease us don’t they?!

    A hint like Erica said in the review: Be skeptical when you start watch it!

    Heres my rating of the anime Blue Drop!

    Animation: 10
    Story: 8
    Characters: 9 but for Hagino 10 :)
    Yuri: 5 wanted “more” :(

    eh, whats Loser FanBoy? lol xD

    Overall: 8 (9) I’m a poor reviewer

    Sincerely: Maruchiru

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