Monday, 30 December 2013

Anime REVIEW: Blazblue Alter Memory

Blazblue Alter Memory

Video games are something I wish I still had the time and money for. My healthy love affair with the Nintendo 3DS aside, the world of work, action figures and other worldly commitments has made a dent in my relationship in console based gaming. Blazblue is just one of the many gaming franchises I've wanted to try for a while now (I know there's a 3DS version, but it looks more like a game best enjoyed on a console) - a wonderful 2D fighting game with unique and great-looking characters. However with a lot of time passing and still not finding the time, I (along with many actual fans of the franchise) was excited to hear that Blazblue would finally be receiving the anime treatment. Even better news for me was that the series, Blazblue Alter Memory, would be following the game's plot line and thus serve as a good entry point to the franchise. Surely a fool-proof plan right?

Blazblue Alter Memory Ragna the Bloodedge
Vash the Stampede Ragna the Bloodedge

Blazblue Alter Memory loosely follows the story of the first game, mostly from the perspective of main character Ragna the Bloodedge. The year is 2199, and humanity is awaiting the dawn of a new century following the end of a series of magic-based wars.Word spreads that Ragna the Bloodedge, an SS-class rebel with the highest ever bounty on his head and a powerful form of Ars Magus known as the "Azure Grimoire", has appeared in the 13th Hierarchical City of Kagutsuchi. To collect the bounty and his Azure Grimoire, a motley array of fighters converge on Kagutsuchi. Not only are bounty hunters after him, but soldiers of the Novus Orbis Librarium - the multinational task force Ragna has been charged with trying to destroy. Among those after him is a lieutenant named Noel Vermillion, a woman who not only gets sucked into the world of Ragna the Bloodedge, but has a much more sinister purpose in the world that even she is unaware of...

Blazblue Alter Memory Noel Vermillion
Noel the tits and ass

At least that's what I think the plot of Blazblue Alter Memory is, because the truth is unless you have any knowledge of the games you will struggle to know what the hell is going on here. The show doesn't really explain ANYTHING during its 12 episode run, introducing more characters and convoluted plot points to confuse you before you've even wrapped your head around the last ones to be introduced. Characters have barely any introduction so are memorable for their traits rather than names, although so few have any real focus its only worth remembering the few that matter anyway. After watching every episode and attempting to read episode summaries online, I'm still not entirely sure what I watched and I'll be damned if I'm going to watch it again to find out.

Blazblue Alter Memory Rachel Alucard
Rachel the character you won't fully understand unless you play the games

So the story sucks, but surely being based on a fighting game it has some pretty awesome fight sequences right? Wrong. The series was animated by virtually unknown studios TeamKG and Hoods Entertainment (the latter responsible for a lot of in-between animation on more well-known series) and is about as generic as it comes. Credit where it is due the Blazblue cast have some great designs (although that's more credit to the game than the show) which look great on screen, but in motion everything is rather bland and certainly not worthy of such a popular game.

One thing the anime DOES do right is bring back all of the game's voice cast for their respective roles, which is something even a newcomer to the franchise would be able to appreciate. It means everyone's already comfortable in their roles, and even if the dialogue their spouting is nonsense at least they sound quite good doing it.

Blazblue Alter Memory Tao
Tao the best character

Considering the Blazblue game franchise looks like it was born to be a fully-fledged anime, it's painful to say that Blazblue Alter Memory is one of the worst anime series I have ever had the misfortune to watch (beating out Maken-Ki!, which is a pretty impressive feat). I have absolutely no idea who this series is aimed at - it is in no way an entry point for newcomers and long-time fans are (from what I gather) being presented with a storyline they've already seen with subpar animation and minimal action. Anyone who is thinking of picking this up as a quick and effortless way to get into the franchise needs to avoid this as much as possible, because it'll only serve to put you off it. Stick with the games, and try to forget this sorry excuse for an anime even exists.

No comments: