Blue Remains (2000) – By Duane L. Martin

1999 and 2000 were exciting years for the emerging technology behind full length CGI animated films. Final Fantasy was pretty much the crowning achievement of this era of CGI, but there were several other lesser known CGI animated films from Japan that each have a look and a style all their own. Blue Remains is another great example of the state of the technology at the time and what the very talented CGI artists were doing with it.

This particular story takes place in the future. The people of the Earth have wiped out all life on the surface of the planet with nuclear war. Only a pair of environmental physicists and their young daughter Amamiku, who were out in space at the time of the war, have the ability to bring life back to the planet. Unfortunately, when they returned, the radiation levels were still far too high, and they had no choice but to land their ship in a relatively safe part of the ocean, where it rested on the bottom for over ninety years.

Amamiku’s parents had become poisoned by the radiation, so they put her in stasis along with the Seeds of Life, until such a time as the radiation had subsided and the Earth was ready to be brought back to life once more.

Once she had awoken, the ship’s computer Mayzamik raised and educated her, and a little dog-like robot named Pyron was her friend and companion. Other than that, she was all alone…or so she thought.

A race of brain creatures that were formerly humans was living in a sanctuary beneath the sea as well, and one of them by the name of Glyptophane has taken it upon himself to be the giver of the ultimate law and make sure that what was left of the human race was completely eradicated from the planet so that never again would they have the chance to destroy it. The other brain creatures opposed this and sent a small team of the only remaining humans to help Amamiku to complete her mission and to stop Glyptophane.

Artistically, Blue Remains is highly imaginative and beautifully executed. Some of the artwork is just gorgeous and the submarine the humans helping Amamiku used was an incredibly inventive piece of work, complete with six individual “fins” for lack of a better word, on each side of the ship that worked in unison to help propel it along. The brain creatures were like something out of an H.R. Giger nightmare. Part mechanical, part real, they were very creepy indeed. The robotic dolphin that worked for the humans and aided them in rescuing Amamiku was also impressive at times, and in some scenes looked quite realistic.

What didn’t look realistic however was the people. The human characters in this film looked like nothing more than dolls or puppets and had no sense of realism to them at all. They were stiff when they moved and didn’t express emotion well at all. It baffles me why a studio that took so much time to make everything else in the film look so awesome would slack off so much on creating the human characters.

The story in this film wasn’t overly engaging, but it wasn’t horrible either. I think better animated human characters that moved more fluidly and showed more emotion in their facial expressions could have really brought it to life. As it is, it’s almost like watching a puppet show when the humans are on screen. Another problem with the story is that it did nothing to explain the brain creatures or why they had humans working for them. A little back story could have really helped to flesh everything out nicely.

Unfortunately, one other thing that was a little distracting in this film was the lack of totally smooth frame rates. The animation seems as though it’s running at close to realtime, but not quite. Basically the animation lacks the smoothness that today’s CGI animators can produce with modern equipment and software. This isn’t unsual for a film of this era though, and it’s not a real serious problem, but it is a little annoying. It’s one of those things that once you notice it, you can’t stop noticing it.

The disc has both an English dubbed version and the original Japanese version with English subtitles. I tried watching the English version with English subtitles, and the dialogue from the characters didn’t match the subtitles all that well. I finally switched over to the Japanese dialogue with English subtitles and found that to be a far more pleasureable viewing experience. The Japanese dialogue is far more “animated” so to speak, and only having the subtitles to read made everything seem far more coherent. I usually prefer watching the original language with subtitles anyway, but now and then I get lazy and just switch over to English. In this case, the Japanese audio was far preferable.

This disc from ArtsmagicDVD has several special features, including an interview with the director, trailers, and bios & filmographies. The sound and visual quality of the disc is excellent, and overall I found Blue Remains to be an enjoyable viewing experience.

If you’d like to pick up this disc, or check out some of ArtsmagicDVD’s other releases you can check out their website at http://www.artsmagicdvd.com.