Rags Town is the garbage dump of Japan. The place where people who want to forget their pasts run to. In this town, where the rules strictly forbid asking about the past or getting to know people, there is small detective agency called S&A Detectives.
The story revolves around Ayamana, the inseparable pair of misfit wannabe detectives, the case Manami takes on impulse, and the trouble that arises from it. On the case they find a woman who is abnormally hot, and who is being chased by a bunch of women with guns. After being dubbed Sara, the detectives try and figure out just what is going on with her. At the same time, all over town teenage girls are burning up and turning into glass. The government is covering everything up, but the detectives, as well as a nosy reporter and the local police, are determined to find out what is happening.
…you are walking down through the foggy wet night of an old badly lit neighborhood when you suddenly spot a humming neon sign on top of a brick thorn wall with a small wooden door by it. Walking steadily towards it the echoed water splashing sound caused by your steps against the water on the pavement, give place to a still stuffy mellow deep bass from inside the place. As soon as you open the door your eyes instantly loose themselves on the tick mist of smoke against the small green lamps on each table, which provides the only light to the small cramped
room. Your ears get absorbed by the slow jam so loud now that even your thoughts are difficult to reach, and your nose goes numb with the strong stench of smoke, alcohol and a faint scent of gunpowder. All your senses seem to plead you to turn back and go away, but by the time the neural impulse reaches your fingers they had already let go of the door.
On the left you spot a long dirty bar filled with broken dreams and misleading smiles on the small uncomfortable sits. A few steps where enough before the almost faded green light behind the gorgeous mistress holding a glass and inviting you to sit by her, made the blurry whisky glasses by the counter shine like stars on an empty night sky. By now you are fully aware, neither bullets nor kisses will save you, and if the green girl on the other side of the room screaming as she burns inside a huge pyre, or the two teenage girls playing with a dog casually right by her are any indication, it’s obvious what awaits you…
So, in a nutshell, this is what you should expect out of Crystal Blaze… outside the fact that this is not how the story goes. Obviously, if you are keen on specifics or my mental image simply left you absolutely clueless, please, feel free to keep reading, I will do my best to refrain from further insanity.
Story & Characters
If you are looking for cross-references there are a few, Heat Guy J, Speed Grapher and Cowboy Bebop amongst others. These come pretty close to this title in terms of development and overall feeling, with some going a bit further sharing more similarities than others. Being even remotely familiar with the genre, there is nothing out of the ordinary to be expected from Crystal Blaze. From the very first episode all the twists become obvious and the small remaining margin for originality is never reached.
Predictive as it is, this is not the major issue here. The usual beat down story of mad scientist making ultimate weapon is all there with everything that comes to be expected for such an uninspired theme, but what really hurts is the lack of urgency. One might come to Crystal Blaze expecting a thriller of some sort, but the murders we are presented to are tedious and mostly at random, the conspiracy that the plot revolves around is dull and consists of nameless entities that are nothing more than extremely convenient plot devices, and the thrive to unveil the mysteries is never interesting on its own.
The characters themselves simply put are shallow. They are somewhat well designed and seem to be interesting, but with their past never being explained thoroughly, and the interactions they go through mostly forced, we end up with badly developed arcs and difficulty to relate to their plight as consequence. This is not to say they are bad since they do play exclusively by their strengths, never trying to get out of character or doing anything not to be expected from the default role they are occupying. You, as well as I did, might end up relating to one or another based on premises and expectations alone, just don’t think they will be fully delivered by the time the curtain closes.
Animation, Art & Sound
Such is the case with such anime, as ironic as it may sound, animation it not its strongest point. All in all, despite somewhat insipid the animation does hold itself well under scrutiny for the most part, but its less than stellar quality does show some problems when the script requires over the top sequences. On the stances where we get past the somewhat awkwardly staged gunfights, with people running straight at gunshots with disregard for their own safety, and bullets making miraculous trajectories to avoid life threatening wounds, the animation is not extremely fluid, but since these are rare enough it don’t get in the way of the enjoyment.
The art is just fine, with well designed characters containing a fair amount of detail and personality, particularly the females that are gorgeous, and thankfully so since the male characters do nothing more than fill the basic traits for their roles, even if well executed. The color pallet seemed a little off putting for me from time to time, but the background is also competent and not overly used, making the city seems fairly lively and diverse.
Opening and ending themes are good and add a crucial vibe to the whole production. The background music is very competent presenting itself unobtrusively, coming off on the right moments and setting the mood while not aspiring for the spotlight. Stepping outside the music arrangements, the sound effects feel authentic without ever going too over the top, and the voice actors do a remarkably good job giving an extra tinge of originality to their characters.
Whatever reasons someone might have to start watching a series, be it the advertisement surrounding it, be it interest in the plot, be it a friend’s recommendation or simply out of curiosity, one thing is certain, a much greater effort is necessary to put it away after you got sucked into the plot and started to relate to the characters.
Being the average anime it is, after you get into the plot, albeit not an incredibly interesting one, after you get to know the characters, albeit not particularly well developed ones, after you get into the mood of the show, albeit not very climatic one… well, after you get yourself into the trap it won’t present you any major flaw to break away the immersion.
What this particularly pessimistic painting of the twelve episode series is trying to present itself as, is simply that Crystal Blaze comes pretty clear with its premises, and even while not reaching out for anything beyond that, for fans of this specific type of anime or people just interested by its plot, characters or setting, I can’t build a strong enough case not to recommend it. Even if it won’t take the center spot into anyone’s shelf, it can be a valiant effort into giving one some diversity, just drop your high expectations outside the room before you give it a shot.
It's the atmosphere that really makes this show a gem. The artists and writers really made the setting pop -- it really feels like a gritty, sexy, noir, near-future world. The story is just OK, but the characters are varied and interesting, and combined with such an incredibly realized setting, it is a great show to immerse yourself in for 4 hours.
This anime has flaws, no doubt about it. However, the flaws are easily overlooked, and do not detract from being able to thoroughly enjoy this show. A highly recommended miniseries.
This was a pretty good anime overall. The plot is interesting, and the story doesn't drag on like some other anime's. They could have made the plot a little bit more complex, but they didn't.
The characters are alright, but they don't really go into detail on their lives, like some other series out there that only focus on characterization and no plot. But it is an "action" anime so that is understandable. There's a couple "extra" characters in it that are really useless but the series isn't long enough for them to get on your nerves. I personally liked the nurse and doctor the
most out of this series. The rest were space fillers lol.
The animation is pretty good, since it's not such an old series. The opening and endings aren't all that bad if you don't mind jazz sounds.
What can one expect out of a pure action/sci-fi, such as we have here in Cystal Blaze? Good fights, interesting technologies, and the same things we've come to expect out of basically any anime: good characters, plot, and in some cases, a great soundtrack. With these as our guidelines, how effective is Crystal Blaze at presenting its story and themes? Well, like attempting to use Earthquake on a Flying-type Pokemon, its not effective at all, except under very specific circumstances.
Let's start off with the basics in what Crystal Blaze does well. Its not all that much, but if you're looking for something with
action, you can probably enjoy this series. Don't misunderstand me though, for this is not the pinnacle of Action Mountain. For a huge fan of such a series, Crystal Blaze is an adequate anime. Its one that you'd be able to spend your time on without thinking afterwards that you'd have been better off throwing your time down the garbage disposal. Its soundtrack isn't exactly stellar, but it gets the job done without actively detracting from the events that are unfolding. While not commendable, it does what its supposed to do and doesn't get in the way, so it's impossible to fault it there. The story with the animation is much of the same.
This, however, is where the praises must end, for Crystal Blaze does not warrant any more positive feedback than its already received. Other than its okay action sequences and passable soundtrack and animation, Crystal Blaze doesn't have much else going for it. Primary amongst these faults is, unfortunately, the plot. In regards to both its Sci-Fi aspect and its general storytelling aspect, Crystal Blaze falls flatter than the paper the storyboards were written on. Folks looking for a decent Sci-Fi should look further, as even this primary building block of the series fell into poor management. The secrets that the viewer wonders about since the beginning of the series are never properly answered, save a few vague "explanations" that only really serve to add more questions to the blazing fire that is the viewer's curiosity.
The characters are, somehow, even more mismanaged than these facets. Here, we have "Rags Town", a place where people go to forget their pasts. One expecting well-developed characters with strong backstories should turn away and run now, or otherwise attempt to tackle this monstrosity. With such a setting in "Rags Town", Crystal Blaze is perfectly set up to give not one, but all of its characters wonderfully moving or tragic backstories--and can be, in a way, expected to do so. What motivates these people? Why are the here, and why do they stay? In the end...we never know. Any such backstory is shoved into one montage at the end of a middle episode, and even then, it only really gives a basic, barebones backstory for one character. Even with such a setting, Crystal Blaze proceeds to completely abandon any promise for developing its characters, leaving them as action-character stereotypes to further along its weak, cliche-filled plotline.
So in the end, is it worth watching Crystal Blaze? The hard truth is...probably not. If you're a fan of action series in general, you could give this a shot and you may find it entertaining. Its not a gem, but you may enjoy it. If you're just looking for a quality, well-made anime with strong core elements, I'm afraid you'll need to keep looking. Overall, its not a complete loss if its got exactly what you're looking for...but don't expect to be blown away.