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Blue Submarine No. 6

Entry updated 3 May 2021. Tagged: TV.

Japanese Original Video Animation (OVA) (1998-2000). Original title Ao no Roku-gō. Based on the Manga by Satoru Ozawa. Gonzo. Directed by Mahiro Maeda. Written by Hiroshi Yamaguchi. Voice cast includes Hozumi Gōda, Showtaro Morikubo, Miki Nagasawa, Yukana Nogami and Takeshi Wakamatsu. Four 29- to 40-minute episodes. Colour.

Despairing of humanity's treatment of nature, Scientist Zorndyke (Wakamatsu) raises the sea-levels, killing a billion people (see Disaster). He prepares to wipe out the survivors by triggering a geomagnetic reversal, to allow his Genetically Engineered human/animal hybrids to replace humanity. The military plans to thwart him by nuking his Antarctic base, sending Blue Submarine No. 6 to the south pole. Moody ex-submarine pilot Tetsu Hayami (Gōda) reluctantly joins them: but when he battles Zorndyke's crab Mechas he compassionately returns a stranded pilot, Mutio (Nagasawa), to the sea. She later returns the favour. Many of Zorndyke's creations, led by the hybrid shark Verg (Morikubo), see this as a fight to the death; Red Spot, an intelligent, giant mutated whale, carries Tetsu and Mutio to the submarine in the hope they can broker peace, but is torpedoed and killed.

Hayami decides to confront Zorndyke, stealing a mini-sub (the Submarine's commander turns a blind eye, in the hope the nuclear strike can be abandoned). Hayami is accompanied by Mayumi Kino (Nogami), who hates Zorndyke for killing her family: they reach the base, a forest village at the South Pole. They discover Zorndyke lacks the power to operate the Machines intended to shift the poles – he's relying on the nuclear attack to provide it: "the world will not be destroyed, it will merely change", adding the alternative is for humans and hybrids to talk to each other. Hayami kills Zorndyke to prevent the reversal: the series ends with the hybrids mourning their creator, but the question of whether the two sides can live together is left open.

This was the first Anime to heavily use CGI and was warmly received when released: however, it has suffered in retrospect, the visuals becoming increasingly dated, exposing the story's flaws. Some of the animation still impresses, but much now looks low-budget. The story feels rushed, with elements unexplained and Zorndyke's intentions seeming muddled. The science is dated (doubtless owing to the age of the source manga, from 1967): it is no longer felt that ancient mass extinctions were linked to geomagnetic reversals. Nonetheless, it is still an exciting watch. Zorndyke, who might be classed as a Mad Scientist, though his deeds reflect weariness rather than mania, deliberately recalls Dr Moreau from The Island of Dr Moreau (1896) by H G Wells and Kurtz from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1899; 1902); Dr Ain from "The Last Flight of Doctor Ain" (March 1969 Galaxy) by James Tiptree Jr also comes to mind.

Subsequently two Videogames were released; a live action movie was announced in 2005, but never appeared. [SP]


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