Blue Dragon Volume 1 and 2
Videogames becoming films is an increasingly popular phenomenon that was once shied away from by all major film makers after the disaster that the majority of the early adaptations, such as the Mario Brother’s film. However, it’s become apparent that with the success of Tomb Raider and the Resident Evil films that this trend is reversing, so with that in mind many companies are starting about moving impossibly popular videogames into the anime genre.
Blue Dragon is one such anime, based off of the incredibly popular Blue Dragon videogame on the Xbox 360. So for many of the fans of the videogame this anime is a must, just like Final Fantasy VII Advent of Children was for the Final Fantasy fans of the world. Yet there are many who have never played Blue Dragon and with shows being born from videogames, there’s a strong possibility that it will be nothing more than a loose storyline strung around shallow characters.
Fortunately Blue Dragon was placed into a very capable studio – Studio Peirrot of Naruto and Bleach fame. In a similar style the protagonist Shu lives in the peaceful village of Talta with his friends and dreams of becoming a Knight Master and having many adventures. During one of his many games with his friends in an attempt to battle his boredom is wanders into some travellers and accuses someone who’s significantly more powerful than him of being weak. Within minutes of this occurring Shu’s peaceful little village is being attacked by the army of Lord Nene.
Shu then goes to find these powerful travellers to help defeat this army who are simply indifferent towards him – after all, it’s not their battle. Disgusted with them Shu attempts to battle the army himself and unleashes an incredible power that he has no control of (think Ash Ketchup trying to control Charizard in early Pokémon episodes). Those travellers see that he has the incredible power and recruit him and his friends to go across the world to find a secret power to help defeat the evil King.
Shu’s group of friends then continue throughout the show with new characters being brought in and dropped off at various points and he has to do a lot of training to hone his skills to control his new power. There is clearly a good backstory to this anime and the storyline itself has been thought out pretty well. Unfortunately the execution of this anime is a little lacklustre. The characters themselves are all clichéd and very run of the mill, even the more interesting ones are just slight variants on the rest of the cast.
This is mostly due to the demographic that Blue Dragon is being aimed at; after all, it was made by those who make Naruto. Squarely targeting the young teenage male market makes it a little stale for those who have long since grown out of people powering up and lots of training scenes. This is mostly due to the videogame itself, as a RPG there’s going to be an inordinate amount of levelling grinding to perform before the characters are actually able to defeat half of the enemies and this needs to be reflected in the anime itself.
Aside from the demographic being aimed at the younger and of the market, Blue Dragon itself has been created well. The animation style is good and feels like a mix between Pokémon and Bleach or Naruto that gives it a familiar yet different feel. The colouring has been done well and the characters are all distinct with their own personalities, which do shine through.
The voice acting has been done well as well, after listening to both the Japanese and English dub there’s little to choose from so it’s just down to personal preference as it is becoming standard in many modern animes.
This is purely anime by numbers. Ticks every cliché and requirement to make prepubescent kids happy.