Reviews: Blassreiter

A decent anime hampered by a frustrating case of "Decoy Protagonist"

Good stuff first: The amalgam designs are awesome and unique. The CGI, while extremely blatant, and a bit spotty the first episode, soon shines and it becomes obvious it was a stylistic choice rather than corner cutting. The mysterious tension regarding Pale Rider keeps the viewers interest in the show. The transformation of a living person into an amalgam is portrayed with all the biological horror it deserves, with terrifying hallucinations.

The big issue to get past is it's protagonist, or rather, its second protagonist.

When you first watch Blassreiter, you are led to believe that the crippled racer Gerd is the main character. For me, this was the saving grace for what, at the time, looked to be shaping up to a Amalgam-Of-The-Week plot . Gerd was everything most anime protagonists aren't. He was an older man, instead of the constant teen-to-twenties age-scale we are used to. He wasn't completely selfless, enjoyed his fame, had anger issues, and his moral conflict was real and palpable. We understood the despair that drove him to take the drug that turned him into an amalgam, and we understood the fury of retribution that drove him to hunt down feral members of his own kind, and why he would crave the spotlight...

Then he gets shunted aside by the dark-trenchoat-wearing-anti-hero Joseph, who, while not actually a bad character, feels like one you've already seen many times. His theft of the main character chair is sudden, and until you get used to him and actually learn about his motives, he puts a huge strain on the experience as you keep expecting Gerd to return and reclaim the spotlight. To those of you who hated the Raiden-Snake switch, you'll probably be just as mad for the same reasons. He also has an Exposition Fairy who likes to pester him.

Ironically, the show won back my interest because of how unexpected it got. It switches between playing tropes painfully straight and averting them hard enough to cause whiplash. People and plot points you had written off as cardboard suddenly get reborn as plot changers. While its racial Aesop felt a little out of place, it doesn't ruin the plot. The ending episodes were also very well done, except for one large Ass Pull that you will nonetheless find yourself willing to forgive.

Grade: C+ (Or maybe a B-. I'm conflicted)