Reviews of yesteryear: Blue Drop: Tenshi-Tachi no Gikyoku

Welcome to the third review of yuri anime month. Well, we’ve had two comedies so far. Let’s move onto something more tragic. Adapted from the manga by Yoshitomi Akihito by Asahi production and Bestack, this is Blue Drop: Tenshi tachi no Gikyoku, which I will consistently refer to as Blue Drop for the sake of simplicity. One thing that makes Blue Drop interesting is that it’s not directly adapted from any of the Blue Drop manga, it’s a prequel to them with its own story and characters. Yoshitomi Akihito did co-write the screenplay though. Still, you have to wonder why they didn’t do a direct adaptation. Maybe they thought it was a good opportunity to expand on the manga or maybe they just didn’t think that either of the manga stories that existed at the time would make a good anime (there are three now.) I’ll try to find an interview or something to answer that during my time re-watching the series.*

We open with a girl named Mari being moved to a private school because her grandmother thinks it will benefit her to learn social skills. Like anyone needs those. Mari is upset because she’s spent all her life that she can remember with just her, her grandmother and their servants but on the way to her school she sees a girl surrounded by birds, almost like a Disney princess but with a personality beyond wanting more in life. She soon finds out that the girl, Hagino, goes to the same school as her. They meet and things instantly get off to a bad start. Why? Because there’s something strange about both of them and no, I’m not going to explain what exactly. While not a major spoiler it would be a minor one. There are actually two major focuses to Blue Drop’s story. The first is the relationship between Hagino and Mari. The second is invading aliens. I promise, it makes sense in context.

Let’s start with my problems with the story… okay problem. There’s really only one and that’s that there’s a bit of a plot contrivance, let’s just call it the spectre. If you watch the anime you’ll figure out why. Yeah, I have a few minor complaints like that the alien culture isn’t really explored much or that the short sequences in the first and last episodes set in the future are out of place, but those are things that hardly merit mentioning because, honestly, they kind of work. That being said, there’s a lot that Blue Drop does really well. Foreshadowing is used to great effect, the relationship between Mari and Hagino is really well developed with good tension that never feels forced. Then we have the ending. It’s pretty masterfully done. The first time I saw this was with my anime club and we all cried at the end. I thought that it would be less tragic when I knew what was coming, but it doesn’t lose it’s impact. I’m not ashamed to admit that the ending moved me to tears… again. It’s like Code of Hero, the impact just doesn’t diminish. It has a largely tragic element, but there’s also a sense of hope underlying the whole thing.

Let’s move on to the characters. Mari and Hagino are both really interesting characters who have small aspects of over-used tropes, the tsundere and the tortured past, that are expanded upon and developed in a unique way. Another thing that makes the tropes work is that they’re only a small part of their characters. Both of them have a lot of depth beyond the tropes. That’s what makes them interesting characters instead of the standard ones we’ve seen multiple times. One thing I really like is that Blue Drop’s major supporting characters all get their own miniature story arcs. Azanael, Tsubael, Hiroko, Akane, Michiko and Sagawara sensei, they all get an arc. That could’ve easily led to a bunch of scenes that were out of place or pointless, but it doesn’t. The writing is really spectacular. Every miniature arc is worked organically into the story and feels like an essential piece to it. Which naturally leads to a very intricate and character driven story.

The art is just magnificent. The alien tech is both otherworldly and awesome looking. The nature scenes are beautifully done. The characters, backgrounds and general settings all look really good. The way they use a bird to mimic actual human expressions, and yes there is a good reason for it, is brilliant. I do have one complaint about the art, though and that’s that the aliens’ military uniforms are ridiculous. They look like leotards with random holes poked in. Look, I hate to break it to you but that’s not going to be helpful for combat. It is going to be detrimental, actually.

The vocal cast does an excellent job in this. Particularly Sawashiro Miyuki. I’m used to her giving good performances, she’s always good, but this is the best I’ve heard from her. The music is well done. I especially like the way that most of the music is really serene except towards the end when things start going down at which point the music builds in intensity to follow the story.

And the yuri factor… It’s a little tougher in this one. Of course there’s yuri, it is a yuri anime and the romance is central to the plot. That being said, a lot of it focuses on them learning to be friends and the romance doesn’t become a major factor until the last four episodes or so. Still, the relationship between Mari and Hagino is very well done and it isn’t the only yuri. There’s also Azanael’s relationship with Onomil and Hagino’s fan girls. I’m going to say a 9/10 since it’s there and it’s canon, but it is a little down-played.

Now we move on to the final rating. You may have noticed that I did have some problems, but nothing big. As such my final rating is a 9/10. It’s got a good mix of sweet moments and tragedy, both of which are well done. The story, characters, art and voice acting are all really good. Give it a try. Now, I know my last two reviews have been anime I’ve seen and knew I liked, which can’t really be helped when you look at how much yuri I’ve seen but still, next week I’ll be looking at something new, for me anyway. So next week its Mnemosyne.

* I couldn’t find any real answer. I looked, but there wasn’t a whole lot of information about the production, not that I could find anyway.

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