Blue Submarine No.6 - Waves of Emotion

by Aaron Bynum

One of the most interesting ways get a story moving in a feature-length film or anime series is to create a set of conflicts between the characters. Despite its simplicity, it forces characters, each with their own concrete ideals, to experience events simultaneously. This creates a dynamic interaction, giving the audience a glimpse of the true identity of each character. In other words, when a director or writer infuses their characters with a very authentic set of human emotions, chances are the result will be an animated feature capable of resonating levels upon levels of emotions within its viewers, regardless of whether or not those emotions dictate a positive or a negative influence. Blue Submarine Number Six is one such anime.

Even though the anime incarnation of Blue Submarine Number Six is remarkably different from its shounen comic form created decades ago, what it brings to the animation industry, aside from its groundbreaking visuals, is a clever display of human conflict through the most fundamental human emotions. This is what attracted me to the series, as a fan of anime that seeks to develop beyond a back-cover blurb: I found that Blue Submarine Number Six is a magnificent display of what humanity is consciously capable of - and what it is afraid to be capable of.

Taking place in the not too distant future, the premise of the four-part anime is simple: the earth's poles are shifting, the oceans are rising, coastal cities are submerged underwater, and the man behind it all, Professor Zorndyke, must be stopped at all costs. With a base artistically nestled in Antarctica, only a team of the world's finest submariners would be accomplished enough to tackle such a mission. In addition, these mariners must also face a naval fleet of genetically engineered, walking, talking and slightly psychotic animals. In any case, the blue submarine six happens to be one of the underwater ships of said operation; its crew battles to save the world from complete destruction, while each crewmember tries to coexist with the others.

The two main characters of the anime are a dynamic young woman, Mayumi Kino, and a brash, slightly presumptuous man named Tetsu Hayami. Kino is the type of girl who, knowing that the cards may be stacked against her, still feels that she has the responsibility and the obligation to make the effort. Almost wishing to always turn back the clock and make the world as it used to be (which was supposedly better than it is now), her idealism is quite a sharp contrast to her fellow worker. Hayami is the type of guy that lives his life based on a system of infrequent justices; he doesn't seek reconciliation, yet he often tries to fix problems without much-needed help. He values the lives of others, but sometimes does not treasure his own. When these two seemingly different people are housed in the same submarine, the anime's creators decide to open the minds and hearts of the characters, as opposed to say, opening up a Pandora's Box instead.

Blue Submarine Number Six uses Kino and Hayami as prime examples of what a relationship between any two people in the real world may be like. When these two personalities come together, the audience gets to dive into the mind of a person that appears to be without responsibility, and into the heart of an individual that personalizes events so often that the individual can almost be accused of having a somewhat ridiculous optimism. That is what makes this anime so special to me and so many other fans: it's able to take the most common personalities and behaviors, extrapolate those aspects and evolve towards a more significant purpose for those emotions.

It is easy to say that one person dependent upon his or her ability to reason with others will not get along with a person whom holds no esteem for anyone else, but is it so difficult to believe that these two social renegades might compliment one another? Is it so difficult to even for a moment slip outside one's idiosyncratic way of thinking to just consider the consequences of one's point of view? Ironic or not, for some people, it is.

I'm not just referring to the characters of the anime Blue Submarine Number Six here, but also to those of us wandering around reality never seeking to understand the atypical and always figuring that tomorrow will be a better day to combat common insecurities. Unless one finds a way to approach the opposite of his own virtue, he will never be able to clearly see all that is real.

One such meetings comes at the expense of Hayami and his confrontation with another character that is overtly assiduous. Although at first appearing as a sudden outburst of anger and resentment, the discussion between former naval academy friends Yuri and Tetsu, the discussion of which is quite enthralling; Yuri furiously whispers, "You've always made me sick, you know that? It's not because you always had to show off how goddamned brilliant you were. But because you have no sense of responsibility or concern for anyone! Just once, can't you think of others, or about what we're trying to accomplish?!" ('Pilots', ep. 2) Initially amused at his comrades' high level of irritability, Tetsu Hayami's mood suddenly changes when he realizes that for the first time in a long time that such a lack of responsibility on his part may not just affect "other people," but also those he may have a serious emotional attachment to... and thus, to make a long story short, Hayami's perspective changes.

Despite Yuri's addiction to dependability and conscientiousness, and he tends to force his view on others, even though Yuri's persona is the pure opposite of Hayami's, he still manages to bring about an alteration of the point of view of his acquaintance. (To say that they "bring out the best in each other" would be a far too primitive generalization.)

Blue Submarine Number Six is an anime that seizes and meshes the personalities of people whose lives are dictated by optimism, intuition, responsibility, anger, sentience, faithfulness, and the quest to find the purpose of the intangible among others. Interestingly enough, without the innovative computer graphics and the revolutionary digital imaging techniques employed throughout this series, it would still manage to draw attention with its unique and impressive way of exposing the effects and consequences of the most fundamental human emotions.

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