Given that the BlazBlue anime has finally arrived, I thought I’d share my impressions on the first episode of the anime. If like me, you’re a massive BlazBlue fan, then it’s hard not to be excited about this one. In making BlazBlue, Arc System Works created a world and a roster of fighters that is uniquely rich in detail and character.
No other fighting game comes close in this respect. Fact is, there are very few JRPG’s that can match it. Particularly when it comes to characters that are genuinely unique, charismatic – more to the point, memorable – both in their design, play style and backstory.
In the game, BlazBlue’s epic story is told though reams and reams of text and character skits – visual novel style. Some of it, oftentimes, nonsensical. Often long-winded. Frequently hilarious (in a good way) and, depending on your patience and taste for such things, I’ve always found it compelling.
I can think of no other game better deserving of its own anime series. And it’s finally here.
For the uninitiated (and without spoiling things too much) BlazBlue is, at it’s core, about a never-ending time loop. An event in the future triggers a catastrophic event in the distant past – and the events in between are doomed to repeat themselves, unless change can be brought about by competing factions and sinsiter observers.
The result is a hugely complex tale – and I think I can speak for all BlazBlue fans when I say I was… worried about how such a story would be handled.
It’s early days obviously – you can’t tell much from one episode – but I thought the first episode worked quite nicely and found myself satisfied overall.
Firstly, the quality of the animation is pretty decent – we’re not talking super high production values either, but the characters are nicely drawn, decently animated and the backgrounds are fairly rich. You do get a little sense of Kagutsuchi here – and I expect that will develop nicely as the series progresses.
My biggest fear of a BlazBlue anime was just how difficult it would be to convey the characters stories in such a way as it wouldn’t feel contrived – with endless amounts of cringe-worthy exposition. I’m heartened by how it’s handled here – with the first episode introducing the key characters of Jin, Noel and Ragna elegantly (via a couple of dialogue exchanges and flashbacks) while also managing to give Jubei, Rachel and Hazama a sufficiently mysterious outing as well.
Tao also appears briefly and, well… Tao is Taokaka! 😉
I think what’s really hard to gauge with this is how the anime appears to someone who has no knowledge of the series. Does it work if you haven’t already come to the party with three years worth of BlazBlue backstory knowledge? I’m not so sure – I’d love to hear from someone in the comments section below about that point of view!
Voice acting is also pretty decent. I think it really helps that the original Japanese cast have reprised their roles. Given how much they’re used in Arc System Work’s promotional activities in Japan, the fact they’ve been voicing these characters for a long time really shows – and that in itself gives it an air of competency.
Overall I’m just relieved it didn’t turn out to be shit. That was essentially my number one fear. That it would ruin BlazBlue for me somehow. I don’t think I have to worry about that now – and there’s something really rather special about seeing characters I’ve loved for a long time, come to life in an anime we’ve all waited so long to see become a reality.
As ever, I would love to know what you all think BlazBlue fan or not, in the comments below.
Until next time,
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