Blue Submarine No. 6

Blue Submarine No. 6Type: OVA
Episode Count: 4
Genre: Sci-Fi / Action
Vintage: 1998

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 07 Aug 2006

Grade: C

You don’t need to go to space to find another world… there’s one right below the ocean surface.

Plot Summary
The surface world of Earth is in ruin as a race of underwater creatures wages war against the humans. Mayumi Kino of the Blue Submarine fleet has gone to try and convince former crew member Tetsu Hayami to rejoin in this battle of survival.

The Review
Explosions. Lots and lots of explosions. And something about saving the world. Blue Submarine No. 6 is a series that could have been great, but instead gets caught up in showing how cool things look when they blow up underwater. There is a story here, but it only scratches the surface… had Blue Sub been given 13 episodes to work with, I could probably forgive it for all the explosions. As it stands, Blue Sub No. 6 is a flawed work, but there are still some good things to say about it.

This is a series that aims for realism, and does so pretty successfully with its use of CG. Blending CG and cel animation has been done with varying degrees of success before and since this show debuted, and this is one of the better examples. With a series taking place almost exclusively at or under the sea, having a believable setting is a must, and in this respect, Blue Sub No. 6 passes with flying colors. Also, when the action is aboard one of the ships, the feeling of claustrophobia is conveyed pretty well… it is easy to tell that there isn’t a whole lot of room to move around on the ship. Visually, Blue Sub No. 6 doesn’t disappoint, but unfortunately, I found the series to hurt where it counts the most… characterization and plot.

I went into watching this series with reasonable expectations. I didn’t know a whole lot about it other than the characters were designed by Range Murata, it took place underwater, and there was a submarine involved, so I was open to whatever it had to offer. It started out promising, and for most of the first episode I liked where it was going, but then towards the end of the first episode and into the second, something troubling began to happen. Development slowed way down in favor of showing how many ways something could be destroyed underwater. Then when the enemy was introduced, they came across as not much more than stock villains bent on destroying anything in their path. Their side of the story was eventually explained, but it was too little too late, and it never had any real bearing on what was going on anyway.

Characterization overall was pretty light, except for Mayumi, Tetsu, and the captain of the Blue 6. Also pretty well explained is one of the creatures on the enemy’s side that gets caught in the middle of the conflict, despite being a nonspeaking character.

I believe that if Blue Submarine No. 6 focused more on the characters instead of the plot, it would have been a much stronger story. It’s a good series if you want an action fix, so if you are a bigger action fan than I, it’ll probably deliver for you. I really wanted to like this series more, but it just fell short for me.

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