Witchblade ReviewCynthia Leigh
Set thirty years in the future in post-apocalyptic Tokyo, Witchblade follows the story of Masane Amaha, a new wielder of the legendary weapon, the "Witchblade." Fledgling fans will note that this is not an adaptation of longtime heroine Sara Pezzini, or recent replacement Danielle Baptiste's adventures. The series is still considered canon by US creator, Top Cow Productions as similar plot changes are done throughout the comic series, and are common place in Tales of the Witchblade. With a built in audience, strong fanbase, and quality animation, the anime series seems guaranteed success. However, one dimensional characters, poorly crafted storylines, and unintentionally comedic character designs overwhelm the viewer as each episode of the anime falls short.
This is evident in the look for the series. One look at Witchblade and you won't be surprised that it was directed by Yoshimitsu Ohashi (Galaxy Angel), with character design by Uno Makoto (Love Hina). Masane, and almost every other young adult female in the series has ridiculously large "assets." This ploy would be unproblematic in an anime with a romantic or comedic theme, but is visually distracting during scenes where "jiggling boobs" cause you take the character's emotional turmoil less seriously. Add in the often unintentionally humorous dialogue of Masane's alterego and her lack of internal conflict over being a "monster for hire," and you're faced with a pseudo-Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde character that's all "Hulk Smash" and no "sad face" Bruce Banner to balance things out. One of numerous failings in the series, the storyline is no exception.
The storyline itself focuses a lot of time on building a strong bond between Masane and her daughter, Rihoko, so that the audience will relate to them as and accept their "not in Kansas anymore" circumstances. Rihoko, who follows the "adult child" archetype, is little more than a plot device for her mom who uses her as a plot driving battle cry. Couple that with Masane consistent failure to earn her daughter back from the "problem du jour" (orphanage, crazy landlady, etc) in the eyes of the viewer, and her poor parenting results in a "she's not bad, she's just drawn that way" resolution for the watcher who eventually loses confidence in the main character. Thought that doesn't end the list of writing mishaps.
The audience is also force feed highly dramatic scenes with no buffer between them (fight these monsters to the death and then answer our demands), quick resolves with no internalization ("I'm a monster! Oh, where's my kid?"), and side stories that are little more than filler (Rihoko's Great Caper). Various supporting characters, like Yusuke Tozawa, a freelance photojournalist, that exist to add humor and potentially drive the store along, consistently fall short and fail even in a "bumbling sidekick" capacity further alienating the audience.
The biggest issue with Witchblade though seems that it should be a likable series given the original material. The viewer wants Masane and Rihoko to find a place all their own, for Tozawa to get his "big scoop" that puts him on the map, and for the residents of the apartment building to keep their home. The individual character drive is there, but so heavily misguided that the series takes on a "B-Movie" feel, rather than a standalone action film leaving the series to become a "pretender" in the "Witchblade" genre.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.
"Cynthia Leigh was born from an asian elephant and an ex-hippie. She's a veteran cosplayer, avid gamer, and published writer who enjoys millinery, digital coloring, and stock photography. In her spare time she makes honey badger's care."
About the Author: Cynthia Leigh
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