Alka is an assassin for the Clan of the Sword. She's on a journey to find the woman Jin Valel, who killed her master Hon without feeling—not unlike how Alka has learned to kill in her work as an assassin. On her journey, Alka encounters three strange women, each a great warrior in her own right and grapples with her slain master's wish that she leaves the life of an assassin behind.
When it comes to video game adaptations, there’s an incentive when it comes to please fans. Blade & Soul is a good example based off a game and one that failed to live up to any expectations. Based off a Korean MMORPG game produced by NC Soft, there’s a truckload of problems I find that didn’t do well when adapting such a genre. But really, Blade & Soul isn’t anything special especially when the main characters are generic to the core. It’s soulless per se.
For starters, we get a fantasy setting with beautiful landscapes and the feeling that you’re actually in a fictional world. That’s
the initial impression the show first makes but it quickly loses its praise when we are introduced to its cast of characters – beautiful women wearing skimpy outfits. One such character is named Alka, with a very cold personality and a thirst for vengeance. From the beginning, we find out that she’s on a quest, to deliver vengeance as a way of revenge as result of someone that killed her master. Although the premise sounds promising, it derides itself with its setup when most of Alka’s persona is setup as solely being a warrior. As the titular character, she wields a dangerous blade along with a tattoo for a gimmick. And if that wasn’t cliché enough, she is hunted down as a bounty that countries has set up to claim her head on a plate.
Throughout the series, Alka suffers not just from characterization but also value, a sense that makes people underappreciate what she is doing. In the beginning, she is chased by some soldiers with guns (yes, guns in a series when blades are a prominent feature). But of course, she is able to avoid death with superhuman feats. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it all happens far too fast and makes the audience wonder what this purpose is. Really, a girl with a soulless personality wielding a blade and on a quest for vengeance should deliver more than just showing off her moves. The only hint we do get is some of the flashbacks we see between Alka and her master. Unfortunately, it feels subtle and lacking compassion because we don’t feel attached to their relationship. And speaking of relationships, Alka is on a sinking ship when it comes to forming one with any character. Literally, almost every character she meets during her quest dies. In retrospect, she is walking death flag that triggers your fate of doom.
As refined as the premise may be, the show feels less more of an adventure or quest but more like a cat and mouse game. From the first episode, it’s clear that many people want Alka’s head on a plate. Although she hunts Jin Varel (her master’s murderer), Alka becomes the hunted nearly every episode with pursuers. For a girl with such a cold personality, she doesn’t hesitate to defend herself and draws out meaningless fights. The action itself feels lifeless and solely seems to function as a way to show that Alka needs to survive in order to carry out her revenge. In short, Alka is a character that is hard to get attached to or sympathize about. In fact, many people in this show suffered more than she has so why does she get any more special acclaim?
The rest of the cast members doesn’t do much well with their characterization either. For instance, there’s Dan Roana who serves as the leader of the Pleasure Gang, a group that opposes the Palam Empire. While their motivations are different, its goal is the same as Alka; to carry out revenge for what they did in the past. Cliché as it sounds, the show also neglects any development as the premise of revenge is delivered with a lack of emotional attachment. Similarly, most characters seems to have mental breakdowns or suffered some sort of grim past. The key failure here is not just a lack of attachment the audience will feel distanced from but their characterization. Almost nothing is explained by some of the characters’ motivations and their stale influence towards Alka’s adventures is hardly memorable. Similarly, antagonists are generic with stereotypical inspirations and in general, a lack of focus in their persona. On the other hand, there’s some character development but not on Alka. Instead, they only come and then soon goes away like the wind as characters are killed by this show’s shenanigans.
As an adventurous series, the story is also plagued with weak direction and senseless action. There’s little purpose to what most of the characters do throughout each episode. For delivering a series about survival and revenge, there’s a lackluster development in any sense for Alka. It genuinely dismiss any sort of change with her character because her soulless personality. Even when the show tries to deliver some charisma such as Jin Hazuki’s bounty hunting ways, it ultimately fails to achieve its general purpose. It’s just the basic face value of the hunter and the hunted. Only the strongest survive and the weak perish. It’s generic and lacks melancholy from a series that could be potentially thought tearing. You won’t be shedding tears during Alka’s quest of revenge but rather confusion and despair, the action of shaking your head and wonder where this all goes to in the end. And speaking of endings, the show functions like a time bomb that explodes with destructive results, almost laughable by the conclusive episode.
The only hopes saving this show is its world concept and civilization. Its landscapes are beautiful and the world this show takes place in has a diverse population, especially in terms of races. Unfortunately, none of that really becomes a focus because the majority of the show focuses on Alka and her adventure. With a lack of world building and character dynamics, the only other noticeable feature I can say for this show would be the action. Because it adapts a serious tone with minimal comedy, the action can be a hit and miss. On some scenarios, it is honest with integrity and well-coordinated movements. The way Alka fights proves credibility of her worth and the violence itself is explicitly true to this show’s grim atmosphere. Otherwise, it can feel forceful and devoid of attractiveness when it feels repetitive. Some action scenes are also motivated by a lack of focus in its writing and to be honest, this show just fails to deliver its intentions. Hey, it even tries to do that with some terminology overview at the end of each episode. The key word here is ‘try’ because for whatever reason, they are usually left out from the main story. Shrug.
As a fantasy series, the production studio Gonzo focuses primarily on bringing this show’s world to life. And based on visuals, it does live up to its promise when it comes to artistic values and artwork. The world is decorated with thought provoking imagery and beautiful landscapes. Many of its structures also brings the feel of a fantasy to home. Character designs are also flamboyant and crafted to fit with the show’s premise. On the other hand, fan service is present throughout every episode whether it’s the camera angles, revealing outfits, or female character designs that makes them look more voluptuous than they should be. Oh and violence always become a centerpiece at every angle in the show so expect blood pouring like rice.
Soundtrack is hardly noticeable and the only time they seem to hold any promise is during action scenes when climatic events happen. The OST just seems to fade in the background with little emotional value because the way direction characters are drawn out. The cries and agony of despair can only be sympathized when we feel attached to the characters so most of their portrayals feels hollow. The scream of pain and despair feels empty with thoughtlessness. For Alka, her voice is hardly memorable as nearly every conversation she has with others feels monotonous and lacks feeling. The only credit I can give to the soundtrack would be the ED song for its symbolism, style (with the decorative dancing), and catchy tone. Otherwise, it’s nothing special.
Blade & Soul is a disappointment and a show that you should not come in with high expectations. What you get is an emotionless girl that I doubt anyone will feel attached to. Her quest feels hollow with little value besides to deliver her vengeance. Mindless entertainment is what you get from this show’s fragile story and incoherent developments. Forget the majority of the characters because none of them really stands out for more than an episode besides Alka. And while technical visual aspects saves the show from total destruction, it’s still hard to salvage from its own delivery. Such a shame too with a beautiful fantasy world at hand but everything that ultimately delivered is just a big ball of broken gadgets. Be aware.
At first, this series seemed to be extremely intriguing. I liked the premise of the story, and the art/animation style is gorgeous. But unfortunately, for a majority of the series, that's the only thing that I could say positive.
Alka is an assassin for the Clan of the Sword. She's on a journey to find Jin Varrel, who killed her master Hon. Jin is a demon-like woman who controls the Energy of Chaos and kills without feeling, which is similar to how Alka has learned to kill in her work as an assassin. On her journey, Alka meets three gorgeous, strange women, each a great
warrior in her own right and grapples with her slain master's wish that she leave the life of an assassin behind.
Sounds promising right? This series has great potential. But, it develops far too slowly for me. The action, when it does show, is very exciting. But does not occur frequently enough. Like most series, there are flashbacks and back stories that are needed to be shown. Unfortunately, I feel as if it took way too much time, and deviated from the primary plot too often.
I feel as if the series relied too often on the bombshell beauties' looks to maintain the viewers attention. Yes, the female characters are gorgeous. But that can only take a series so far. That being said, the animation style used is outstanding. I thought the colors used really conveyed to the mood of each situation/episode. Same could be said of the music.
Overall, a wonderfully animated series with some great characters. Some great action. But far too much emphasis on the gorgeous (big breasted) characters looks.The series was very slow to develop, and was boring at times.
Blade and Soul seemed promising, but then it lied to you...
STORY: If you don't already know, Blade and Soul is based off an MMORPG. The story is based around a girl named Alka, who belongs to the infamous Sword clan. A clan known for being extremely dangerous and are usually hired assassins. At first it seems like something promising, then the next episode disappoints you, and then the next and then the next.
ART: The art in this anime isn't something that should be talked about. As they only focused on the female characters and left all the male characters looking like an awful,
half-ass, middle of class drawing. And of course the only thing that gets great detail are the boobs.
SOUND: Its your typical BGM for the anime. Nothing really stood out, especially the ending, which I found embarrassing to watch for reasons that I don't fully understand yet.
CHARACTER: The characters seemed promising, until everyone else besides the Main Character developed throughout the anime. Of course the only time the Main Character develops into a decent human being isn't until the end. But before that, she's your typical anime character who is full of nothing and has/shows any emotions. Then you got your side characters who are all over the place.
ENJOYMENT: Its not really much to watch, but its something to watch when you have nothing to watch.
Perhaps a thing of note is that Blade and Soul does not look nor feel like a video game (as one might have expected), just your standard fantasy fare with the magics, totally not loli/shota/furries and stuffs. Blade and Soul is essentially another Queen's Blade... You know, as in, lots of sword wielding women and... stuffs. Though, it's nowhere near as sexually rampant as Queen's Blade. Instead, in it's place, Blade and Soul can manage to be more retarded. Whatever semblance of an actual story there may have been has surely been bastardized; but to what extent has it been butchered I wouldn't know. And
it seems like I will never know for certain either since NCsoft will never make an English release of the damn game. In any case, what we have here are heavy handed conflict and resolutions, and a plethora of awkward brief as well as irrelevant flashbacks (except perhaps the flashbacks we see between Alka and her master) that happen for something the show is entirely alien to. A thing called "emotion".
But that's not to say that Blade and Soul is particularly painful to watch. No, you'll be able to marathon this with relative ease. You will at least not feel like your mind is being relentlessly cut to tiny pieces by an utterly shat-upon pacing and heaps and mountains of contrivances. It still pretty much has every other problem that typically plagues a video-game anime-adaption, though.
Which now brings us to the characters. One loli, three or four shotas, a wannabee cutesy stubborn drunk girl who suddenly turns to psycho bitch and back, a lady bar owner whose not afraid to get her hands dirty and is supposed to play the wise old hag yet is nothing of the sort.... Ugh, why am I even trying? One of the bad guys is a muscle bound oaf that does nothing but grunt! Everyone here changes whatever semblance of a personality they have as the plot demands it, particularly in the case of the obnoxious drunk girl and bar owner to jarring effect. And especially in the case with our dear lead Alka, she plays the role of the done-to-death assassin. One whose apparently supposed to be cool precisely because she's humorless and cold to the point where she might as well be holding a giant poster sign saying, "Please ask me the following question: 'are you even human?', thanks!". Only in her case, someone else would clearly have to write even THAT for her. She may be likable only in the sense that she might one day stop injecting herself with fifteen-hundred different tranquilizers on a daily basis.
The only real positive thing that came out of this mess was the ending theme. Which, curiously enough, is in stark contrast to the content of the show. That is to say, it has a lot of flow and emotion to it. Whatever the story was aiming for at the end of each episode, "RAINBOW" by LEGO BIG MORL took that trash and turned it into something that might make you think you're actually getting emotionally invested in.
Not recommended. Unless you're in the mood to see nothing more than some boobs along with some silly sword action.
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