Page 1 of 3
Here we go with another Viz Media series, where we may or may not get the whole show before they pack it in. Blue Dragon sees Shu start down a path that will no doubt see him saving the world at some point. I just hope we get to see it...
After the recent abortive releases of Megaman Starforce and MÄR, you'll forgive a little suspicion when another long-running Viz series hits the streets. Blue Dragon runs for a total of 51 episodes, and is still being released in the US - although in its favour, the dub for the series does appear to be complete, so there's hope that it'll all get released. There's an added incentive to picking up the UK release, too - while the US is having to make do with the edited-for-TV version of the show (and it's heavily edited - Blue Dragon is surprisingly heavy on the fanservice for what's clearly a kids' show), we get the uncut release. Go us. So what's it all about, I hear you ask?
Shu's a young boy with big plans - he wants to be a Knight Master, the strongest of fighters, so that he can fight against the Grankingdom - the evil organisation led by Lord Nene that's bringing so much destruction to the world. If he's to follow through on his dream, though, he needs someone to learn from - just as well that there's a Knight Master in his village, then. It takes Shu a while to track her down, and to his amazement, she's simply not interested in taking him on. Until, during a Grankingdom attack on the village, he lets his true power show.
Yup, it's another "boy with remarkable powers" show, and with more that a few similarities to the aforementioned MÄR - swap Shadows for ÄRMs, replace the Chess Pieces with the Grankingdom, and you're sorted. Where MÄR quickly got stuck in a rut, though, Blue Dragon gets a little daring in an effort to keep the attention of its audience.
Before we talk about that, though, let's meet the characters. Shu is your typical anime lead - he's got a strong sense of justice, a desire to do what's right, a burning need to be stronger than he is - and, naturally, the ability to call forth fighting powers far more powerful than he is, in the form of his Shadow. Shadows represent the forces of good and evil in this world, and Shu's is more powerful than most.
Zola and Jiro are the pair that Shu joins up with - Zola is a powerful Knight Master, who long ago mastered the ability to control her Shadow (a skill she now has to teach Shu), while Jiro is her apprentice who is, frankly, a bit of an arsehole. Self-centred and prone to jealousy, he's a long way from being a likeable character. Also unlikeable is Marumaro, a perverted little imp who likes nothing better than to letch over half-naked women and who somehow finds himself added to the gang. Add in Shu's childhood friend and potential love-interest Kluke, and clumsy ex-waitress Bouquet, and our gang of heroes is complete.
Now, about that fanservice. Between Shu and Marumaro, there are plenty of opportunities for peeking on the girls that rarely get passed up. By episode 4, we have Kluke's pantsu removed from their rightful place and run up a flagpole. Bouquet is a ten-year-old with the rack of someone twice her age, and the ability to turn invisible - which requires her to get her kit off first. All these scenes received a digital touchup and tonedown for the TV edit version of the show, but for this release they're left untouched. While none of them really show you much in the way of flesh - bear in mind the target audience here - I have to admit to being a little iffy about the prevalence of the fanservice. I normally revel in such things, but when it's being done by a cast of 10-year-olds, you do begin to wonder a bit.
As for the rest of the show... It's actually got a half-decent sense of humour, and I did find myself supressing a giggle from time to time, but for the most part it's a shonen fighting show, much like any other shonen fighting show, and without much (other that the fanservice aspect) to use as a unique selling point. Blue Dragon is okay as far as it goes - mildly enjoyable without being anything special. One to try before you buy.
For full episode summaries and screenshots, check pages 2-3 of this review.