A review of Witchblade, the Anime series. A surprisingly moving emotional drama disguised as an over-the-top action series.
Note: This is a review of the Witchblade anime series. For my review of the Witchblade television series, go here
The Witchblade anime is a 24-episode series based on the Witchblade comic book by Top Cow. Now before getting into it, there are a few things I want to address for fans of the comic and live action television series. First off, this anime is not really an adaptation of the comic or TV show; it is a new story that only borrows a few elements from the source material. However, the anime (as well as the manga), IS considered canon…somehow. It takes place in a future Japan.
A second point is that this is a true anime. The series is rife with anime tropes, anime pacing, anime-like storytelling and humor (including gratuitous amounts of fan service). So if you are not a fan of anime, then this might not be for you. If you’re a fan of the Witchblade comic, this series might throw you off a bit as it is nothing like the story of Sara Pezzini.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about this anime.
The Witchblade anime tells the story of Masane Amaha and her precocious daughter Rihoko. Six years before the start of the show, Masane survives a devastating earthquake. She is an amnesiac with no memories of her life before the earthquake. She was found with her infant child and a gemmed bracelet around her arm.
At the start of the first episode, she and her daughter arrive in Tokyo looking to start a new life and stay low from the child welfare service. Once they arrive, things start happening. A visit from the child welfare folks leads to them taking Rihoko from her mother. Both of them end up on the run. After the Witchblade activates, Masane is found and put to work by a shady corporation that claims ownership of the Witchblade that Masane is in possession of. They tell her they can help her reunite with her daughter if she is willing to work for them. Action ensues.
At first, I didn’t like it. The show came off as so much been-there, done-that anime fare. It had all the trappings that you would expect and are probably tired of. Huge breasted heroine, check. Plucky, bright and very adult kid, check. Lecherous old man, check. You know, typical stuff.
However, something odd happened. The moment when I realized that I liked the Witchblade anime was a little surprising. At some point, I realized that I cared for the characters. It took a while, but I think the creators did a good job of building up the human relationships in the story. At one point, it’s like whatever, and then suddenly, you care about the interactions between the characters and what’s going on with them.
The relationship between Masane and her daughter is beautiful and well played over the course of the series. The interaction between the main character and the rest of the cast also grows over time. The amount of real emotion I felt when things started getting more intense later on surprised me as well.
In this story, the Witchblade is still a mysterious object that grants the female user immense power. When using the Witchblade, Masane’s looks change and so does her outfit…yes, this is where much the fan service comes into play.
There are inferior clones of the Witchblade as well which the antagonists of the series use. The Cloneblades, much like the Witchblade, also transform the female users into their skimpy battle gear. So, we get many intense action sequences consisting or damn near naked women trying to slice one another in half.
Oddly though, the action sequences tend towards brevity. They are frequent, but they don’t make up for much of the overall series. If you are into story and character development, this is good. If you are into action, action and more action…this might leave you a little upset.
As a fan of action anime, I was a little disappointed, especially since I expected a mostly action driven series. But as a lover of a good, character driven story, this show worked for me. In fact, I would say the action part of this anime plays a secondary role to the story of the main character trying to be there for her daughter and build a future for her.
I think it’s that emotional story that will draw people to this series that would not otherwise watch this type of thing. Especially Rihoko’s part in the story, she’s just so adorable! She plays the perfect child-adult foil to Masane’s adult-child version of mothering.
There’s a lot to like about this series. As usual, I am leaving out a LOT of plot and story information to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible. I will say this though. You may see a scene of half-naked women fighting or an image of the hugely breasted Masane (there’s a reason that some affectionately term it Milfblade.
But don’t let the imagery fool you. The wrapping promises action and fan service, and there is a lot of that, but the real story here is very emotional and adult. It’s the story of a mother showing, proving and sacrificing in the name of the overwhelming love that she has for her daughter.
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