Retro Gonzo Mecha Anime: Does It Stand the Test of Time?

Jun 03, 2023

Retro Gonzo Mecha Anime: Does It Stand the Test of Time?

With its anime, Gonzo has gained a reputation over the years. They're known for releasing mecha series like Full Metal Panic and Bokurano. But one anime classic has slipped under anime audiences' radars: Blue Submarine No. 6. This post-apocalyptic OVA series was released between 1998 and 2000 in four parts; most Americans watched it on Cartoon Network's Toonami block in November 2000.

Unfortunately, BSN6 does show some signs of its age. Although some elements don't work by the standards of the time it was produced, it's hard to say that the series doesn't hold up. At the very least, it's worth looking at as one of Gonzo's first major projects.

Is Blue Submarine No. 6 Any Good?

Retro Gonzo Mecha Anime: Does It Stand the Test of Time?

Blue Submarine No. 6 is set in a far-off future where scientist Zorndyke has flooded the Earth, and the plot follows Pilot Tetsu Hayami and Mayumi Kino aboard Blue 6 as they battle against Zorndyke's half-animal hybrids to save what remains of humanity. While it cannot be classified as groundbreaking, the storyline portrays humans fighting against a non-human force to exhibit the absurdity of human actions and horrors of war – a concept that was already present in works from even two decades ago. It serves its purpose as a military anime without exploring further depths or complexities beyond that.

The CG in this series may be one of the most noticeable aspects for modern audiences, and it is often compared to a "PlayStation cutscene." However, it has been surpassed by the high-quality CG seen in more recent anime like Demon Slayer or Dorohedoro. Those looking for a military/mecha twist might enjoy Macross Delta's visuals. Despite its outdated appearance today, it was an important stepping stone for Gonzo's future mecha animations in 2D, 3D, or both. Interestingly enough, some scenes of hand-to-hand combat depicted through 2D animation still hold up well even by current standards thanks to their fluidity and motion. It could be argued that relying more on the 2D style would have helped its longevity. For those interested in animation as a whole though, there is still plenty to appreciate about this series.

Is Blue Submarine No. 6 Worth Watching?

Retro Gonzo Mecha Anime: Does It Stand the Test of Time?

For a number of reasons, Blue Submarine No. 6 comes off as just another anime. The characters are shallow, the 3D action is hard to follow, and what it does well has already been done better by other series. It would not have been watched by many people in the US if it hadn't aired on Toonami.

While there are some negative aspects to the series, there are some positive ones, too. The design of everything is pretty cool. The atmosphere can vary from bombastic and action-packed to quiet and slow-paced. Finally, the CG was impressive for the time and medium.

If you're an anime fan, you won't miss out on this series, but it's still worth watching nostalgically. There are only four episodes in this series, which is about the length of a movie. Those who watched it on Toonami in 2000 will attest to its value and recommend watching it. Though the opinion is primarily nostalgic, it is still worth finding out if it is able to evoke those same feelings in a modern audience.

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