Break Blade 1: Kakusei no Toki
Released Year : May 29, 2010 to ????
No of Episodes : 1
Genre : Action,Fantasy,Mecha,Military,Shounen
Plot : In the continent of Cruzon, an impending war between the Kingdom of Krisna and the nation of Athens is brimming. The people of this land are able to use quartz for whatever purpose they desire. Yet one person, Rygart Arrow, is not. He is an "un-sorcerer," a person unable to use quartz. But this characteristic will enable him to pilot an ancient Golem, one strong enough to put up a fight against the invading army of Athens.
Our Review : "It's like a Broken Blade"
Break Blade, or to be more accurate, Broken Blade is a very interesting start to this 6 part movie franchise. Yunosuke Yoshinaga is probably not the most well known mangaka out there having only two manga to his name (Rampage and of course Broken Blade) and to be honest I had never even heard of the manga until a very good friend of mine happened to point it out to me. Looking at Broken Blade's story, it isn't exactly what most people would call "hot property" and there isn't really much that can be said about it other than what's in the synopsis.
To be frank, the story is baggy. At no point does it seem to want to stop and explain to you just what's going on and it seems to have a case of mistaken identity, looking at it you'd think that its set in some sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland and there are times when that seems to be the case; judging from how the archaic mechs of the Kingdom of Krisna seem to fare in battle you'd be forgiven into thinking that this is another post-apocalyptic mecha. Apparently that's not the case. In an interesting move, the story mixes magic into the fray and integrates what little backstory we get on it quite well, for one thing, magic seems to be the only thing that can operate pretty much anything in the world including the Golems (Broken Blades mech).
However that's all we get on this interesting move. Nothing else in the movie is used to explain anything about how magic works or how indeed people were so easily able to develop a grasp of it, or what's so important about an "Un-sorcerer" (sounds stupid I know bear with it) given the time the movie runs for its understandable that some corners were cut and maybe in future instalments the issues regarding magic will be explained in more detail, I'd definitely like to see it.
However a baggy story doesn't always mean a bad one and what Broken Blade has it deals with quite well, the fact that all four of the main characters have met in the past and each have mixed emotions for each other was, I thought, a refreshing change to a formula that's already been well established in other anime. In a matter of personal opinion I'm looking forward to the development of Rygart and Sigyn to how they feel about each other. Rygart and Zess's interactions will also be very interesting as well, although many people will probably be too quick to shout "Suzaku and Lelouch!" "Kira and Athrun!" I'm willing to give these two a chance and hopefully add them to that list.
Story issues aside, Broken Blade definitely is one hell of a looker. Gorgeous is an understatement, this anime is an absolutely beautiful site to behold. Production I.G really pulled through when making Broken Blade and there's just so much to take in in terms of visuals. From the way the field that Rygart farms looks to the designs of the mechs, it seems as if Production I.G really had a blast when making this anime. The simple (and young, how the heck am I supposed to accept that Rygart is 25 when he looks like that?) looking Character designs also translate fluidly to the screen as well, movement looks smooth and realistic and don't get me started on the battle scenes, fast paced, intense, and beautiful to look at. It's very hard to find flaws with the artwork and if there is one minor noticeable one, its that the obnoxious CG used to show the ice encasing Rygart's Golem looks out of place when compared to the more subtle uses of CG throughout the film. A minor flaw yes, but its a noticeable blemish on an outstanding looking film.
There's a lot of great voice talent on show in Broken Blade, the two star roles being taken by the awesome Souichirou Hoshi, and the outstanding Hiroshi Kamiya, with other roles being taken by Yuuichi Nakamura, Chiwa Saito and the hilarious Kenichi Ogata to name a few. There isn't really much in terms of music that's worth listening too here apart from the opening theme Fate done by Kokia.
I'll be honest, I was a little sceptical on hearing Souichirou Hoshi doing a role that was outside the crazy roles I've seen him do in the past like Keiichi Maebara, Tomoki Sakurai and Yukimura Sanada and more recently Lio Shirazumi, but then I remembered that, this is Souichirou Hoshi! The same Souichirou Hoshi that was able to pull off Makoto Oogami from Ghost Hound, and with this in mind I took in his performance as Rygart and I came away satisfied, my fears had been put to rest, now I can't imagine another person voicing Rygart aside from him.
As mentioned the outstanding Hiroshi Kamiya also stars as well, and although he unfortunately doesn't get as much screen time as Zess as I would have liked, when he is on, he does it well. Broken Blade also reminded me of why I found the voices of Takashi Natsume and Yuuta Takemoto to be so endearing in the first place, Kamiya is truly one of the best voice actors in anime.
However great voice talent aside, the characters are very stereotypical archetypes here, farmboy hero? Check. Experienced enemy/friend pilot/rival? Check. Love interest who's with another man but obviously loves the main character? Check. and of course the loli girl with a particularly large chest size? Check and checkmate. All the typical roles are filled here and its disappointing that Broken Blade doesn't try anything new with the characters considering its baggy story. They aren't bad characters by any stretch of the imagination, but all these characters have been done to death a million times before in anime that had much better stories to back up there lacklustre cast.
Broken Blade is at least enjoyable even with its story and character issues, many a time did this anime borderline on a 7 with me and its really the outstanding art and great voice cast that saved this anime from a lower score, I realise that being the first in a series of movies means that there's still a lot to build on here but its just a shame that the story has a lot of potential with its magic idea that seems to be wasted here.
I suppose a sense of irony comes from the quote at the start of this review, Broken Blade is indeed a Broken Blade in a world of anime where just having mechs and magic in at the same time doesn't always mean instant success in a market that relies primarily on moe here. It is not by any stretch of the imagination a bad anime, it just doesn't do anything new enough to make it a truly great one. Here's hoping that the rest of the movies improve on the story issues here.