Masane Amaha and her daughter Rihoko are on the run from a government child welfare agency that wants to take Rihoko away from her mother. They are caught and Rihoko is taken away. Meanwhile, Masane is attacked by an advanced weapon that can disguise itself as a human being. When faced with the danger, a strange light emits from her wrist and she transforms into a powerful being. She destroys the weapon and consequently becomes involved in a power struggle between powerful organizations, with her at the center of their attention. Because she holds the greatest power of them all, the legendary Witchblade.
I don't know how many times I looked at this page only to run away five seconds later. For some reason I just refused to watch this, but I can't even remember why anymore.
Witchblade was a nice surprise. Considering it is based off an American comic of the same name that is known for being very sexual and violent, I was expecting a perverted ecchi mess. Her costume certainly doesn't leave much to be desired and the ecchi factor is certainly there, but miraculously it doesn't become the focus of the story. Don't worry boys, you'll all have plenty to drool over. But there's
something there for us story lovers too. The main story is simpler then the synopsis lets on. It's about a mother who would do anything to protect her daughter. The greedy organizations, insane scientists and terrifying weapons just add that extra something every plot needs to get on its feet. There are still some hints to this being related to its darker American comic, but they're subtle and younger viewers might not even pick up on them. Otherwise this anime stands alone.
The pacing of the show moves along nicely. It felt a bit slow at times only to suddenly spring this emotional roller coaster at you towards to the end. Some people feel that the ending was rushed and I would have to disagree. Predictable? Absolutely. But that's what they were aiming for and they definitely achieved something with the ending. It might almost feel anti-climatic at first, but after thinking about it I wouldn't think of this a flaw so much as a quirk considering the circumstances. It all depends on how you take it.
The characters moved this show along, the main character Masane particularly. Everything would have fallen apart without her growth. But she wasn't alone; all of the side characters were wonderful and had unique personalities that changed over time. Her daughter, Rihoko was a particular favorite. For one of those anime children that's randomly mature and good at everything, she was one of the few that didn't make me want to punch things.
The character designs seem strange at first. It's like all of the characters are different...but wait that's a good thing! After years of seeing anime girls with the exact same body type it was refreshing to see characters that completely differ in all those. A lot of the girls still had boobs bigger then their heads, but that's to be expected. The action was very fluid and the fight scenes will probably be a favorite of our resident echhi lovers.
The soundtrack was so-so. I always skipped over both EDs, but I adored the first opening. Then they suddenly switch to that terrible second opening half way through and my heart broke. Besides that horrible opening song, the music wasn't really a dominant factor in this show.
Overall Witchblade was a very enjoyable experience. It started off kind of slow as far as character development, but don't give up right away. It's there, you just can't see it. When the plot starts moving along things really pick up, characters stop being idiots and suddenly you won't be able to look away. Don't randomly run away from this show like I did. Witchblade is a show worthy of being given a chance.
"When I saw the pictures and the explanation of the story, I thought it was a coarser, scarier and darker anime. But once we started, I realized it had less violence and more heart." - Mie Sonozaki
Before anything else, you need to understand the following: Witchblade is, first and foremost, a character-driven drama, rather than an action series. It has some fighting, yes, but the vast majority of the episodes are spent focusing on character development. Everything else comes a distant second. At first the suggestion is that it's going to be a The Devil Lady, 'monster of the week' type, and that is simply
Marketing Witchblade as a violent, fan-service heavy title was foolish. Taking the title of a popular American comic and then creating an entirely different story, with an all-new cast, was not exactly the wisest of moves. By attempting to pass-off a slow-paced, heartfelt and very human drama as a generic action title with added boobs, all Gonzo achieved was getting the wrong type of viewers; pushing away people more likely to appreciate a family drama about a mother loving her daughter with all of her heart and being willing to do anything for her.
Judging the series based on the revealing Witchblade forms and boob sizes, it's hard not to expect an utterly tasteless anime. But you know what? Sex only occurs ONCE during the entire series, and NOTHING gets shown--the two involved kiss and then it's the morning after. That pretty much sums Witchblade up: there's a lot of cleavage but, that aside, Witchblade is surprisingly tasteful. In truth, there isn't even a huge amount of action once series gets past the introduction period.
:: Story :: 6/10
Six years prior to the start of Witchblade, Tokyo had been left devastated by a catastrophic earthquake. Two people were found alive at the ground zero of the quake: a 17-year-old woman (later named Masane; her having lost all of her pre-disaster memories) and a baby (Rihoko). Only the maternity diary held by the woman pointed towards them being related...
Once the series gets going, the two are heading back to Tokyo on the run; desperate to stay together and not be separated by the child welfare organization (created after the quake, to 'help' children). As jobless Masane struggles to keep Rihoko, she encounters the 'monster' responsible for a string of nasty murders, and that's when what had been sleeping within her for six years awakens--the power of the 'Witchblade'; something that has existed since the beginning of time, selecting its (female) hosts and forcing its hosts to give into their lust and destructive urges. Masane then gets caught between two organizations who seek the Witchblade, ending up working for one (Douji: a major weapons supplier) to support her life with Rihoko and hunted by the other (NSWF: in charge of the child welfare organization and with links to genetic research).
I'll be honest here: the story of Witchblade is full of anime silliness, ranging from fat men disguised as killer microwaves, genetic experiments, and women who use 'Cloneblades'--lesser, copied versions of the ever mysterious Witchblade. It's never explained why the weapons Masane hunts target random females, or why the Witchblade only selects women as 'hosts'... or what the Witchblade actually is. And I couldn't help but see most of the twists coming in advance; the writers actually intentionally spelling out how the series would end in order to impact on the viewers' feelings progressively rather than shock them.
While it does have a B-movie sort of entertainment factor in its favour, if I were to score Witchblade based only on its story, it wouldn't be very flattering... But this is where the negative ends because, like I've already pointed out at the start, the characters are where it's at. The story is no more than a means to an end; the backdrop for lots of excellent drama.
:: Characterisation :: 9.5/10
Masane (nicknamed 'Melonie' because of her boob size!), the lead of the story, has nothing going for her apart from her six-year-old daughter, Rihoko. She isn't incredibly sharp, has no skills of note and, really, only has her love for her daughter. The child welfare organization try to separate them; Masane's ability to transform into a scantily-clad, sexulized version of herself (thanks to the mysterious Witchblade attached to her wrist) puts her in danger and powerful corporations involve her in their troubles, but, no matter what stands in her way, she fights to protect and give a better life to the one she loves the most.
Loud, simple-minded, direct type of characters tend to be hard to like and easy to hate, but Masane is very endearing. There are many simple things that made her into a likable character, such as when she went into a blind panic after learning that her daughter had been hurt; Masane ending up running out of her apartment barefoot. She's often called a primate by her 'boss', Takayama, because of how she acts without thinking and says what's on her mind, but that's what's so lovable about her: her honesty, maternal instincts and selflessness. It's little surprise that she eventually wins over even Takayama with her natural personality as the series progresses - she's just impossible to not like and respect.
The supporting cast backing up Masane aren't too shabby, either. Rihoko basically 'mothers' her own mother by shopping, cooking and caring for the more absent-minded Masane, and her being so mature at such a young age makes her have instant likability. Takayama plays the role of Masane's stern and somewhat awkward middle-aged boss, giving her orders to hunt down rogue 'weapons' for money, and it's his banter with her that provides much of the comic relief--the two later also becoming much closer; the writers doing a wonderful job of humanizing him and showing his softer, caring side as the series progresses. The rest of the cast are less developed and involved than the main three but all play important roles; the residents where Masane and Rihoko live, though never getting much time individually, are responsible for the 'family atmosphere' always being in the air during the more relaxing periods, for example.
:: Art / Animation + Sound:: 8/10
The first thing that made me think, 'Wow, Witchblade might not be so horrible, despite the title and fan-service!' was its opening. I watched/listened to the opening by chance, and as soon as I heard the fast-paced, exciting beat and saw the visuals that accompanied the music, which included a close-up of Masane's eye and a tear coming out of it, I just knew I had to watch it. The first opening is THAT good--even the 'GIVE ME YOUR XTC!!!' lyrics going with the show itself. Gonzo went on to regret changing it halfway through since they replaced the far less impressive second opening with the first for the final episode.
In terms of the overall art and animation, the best word to use when describing it is consistent. Why? Because Gonzo are known for running out of budget and forgetting to animate towards the end. That wasn't the case with Witchblade, though, since the final episode featured fluid animation; Gonzo not being reduced to showing movement through lines on the screen and actually showing the characters running. Aside from a few instances of laziness where there wasn't animation and a few stills were linked, it was great to watch. Even Japan's obsession with breast jiggling got attention throughout! And, though I can't say Masane's HUGE, could-suffocate-with-ease breasts appealed to me personally, overall the art did look pleasing.
As for the soundtrack, I have to say: it's excellent, as expected when the same composer did Claymore. One track that stands out is one used for action quite frequently; a track with an eerie edge and... a woman breathing in an 'erotic' manner in the background - the track having an action-oriented beat. I was ALWAYS pumped for the action - my attention focused - simply because of the music. Towards the end, I recall the intense beat of a track after what had been a nice 'family life' sort of episode, and I just knew some sweet action would be coming my way. If a soundtrack is good enough, it can make something great into something even greater, and that's the case with Witchblade.
:: Overall :: 9/10
Witchblade has its flaws: the story isn't anything special, Gonzo appeared to run out of ideas at the death and just ended it, and the near enough naked girl-on-girl battles might be off-putting for some. However, the good by far outweighs the bad, and the characterization is at such a level that, if you're anything like me, you won't give a toss. Once the introduction was over and time had been given for attachment to the characters to form, I was too engrossed in their struggles to concern myself with negative thoughts about a robotic monster with the head of a bug and the like.
To sum it all up: If you go into Witchblade expecting nothing, you might just get everything in return. It's always rewarding to find a gem, and in my eyes Witchblade is a gem that deserves to have more people look at it. Do yourself a favour and watch it!
Last Wednesday I caught the Flu, I worked through the first two days and took friday off. Wow, three day weekend of misery. So, after calling in friday morning I go back to bed, early saturday afternoon I awake, soar, hurting, miserable and bored. Now you know the state of my mind, and body, as I watched a 26ep Witchblade marathon!
Okay, let me get it out of the way early, it's a good series. It didn't wow me, it didn't bore me. It kept me engaged for two days of coughing and fever.
So we have a story set in the near future of an amnesiac
.... woman name Masane, in post...... disaster ........Tokyo, with a way too mature for her age daughter and a whole host of formulaic characters. Uh, yeah, sound pretty bad huh? Well, Masane has big... Huge Boobs! hmmm, doesn't help any, does it?
Remember, I still say this is a good series, worth watching once you get past it's shortcomings.
What's good about it you ask? Well, the animation is good, it done by Gonzo and is as good as anything you might see from Production IG or their like. The music is okay, nothing really stood out, but that can be a good thing. Voice acting is excellent in the subed version. Technically is a quality product, polished and professional.
The characters? Well there is no real growth, but you do get to know each character pretty well. Yes, many are overly simplistic, of course I personally know many overly simplistic people in real life! Even being simple and formulaic, the are not grotesque stereotypes. I guess they do have some depth. Even the most insane characters have enough history to explain their problems.
Character relationships feel natural, especially the bond between Masane and her daughter Rihoko. Not only that, but the "family" of characters that surround Masane, well they bond, but not instantly. Things take a little time and yes, in time there is a love interest. It won't surprise you when it happens, which is another good thing.
I guess what really shines about this anime is the pacing of it all. There is drama, but it doesn't take up an entire episode. There is action packed combat and it never takes more the fifteen minutes to finish a fight, compared to dozens of episodes in some shows. Every episode gives you some drama, humor, action and fanservice. Everything is very well balanced and not rushed.
So, yes, the series is good. I would never say that I loved it, but it did satisfy my need for anime entertainment.
I stumbled across this anime at Funimation's Anime Selects On Demand channel and was pleasantly surprised. Lately it seems like anime has become stale and formulaic, but Witchblade brings some American energy into the mix with this US/Japanese co-production.
The characters were energetically imaginary but with enough reality mixed in to further endear them to the viewer. I've known several people like Masane - flighty and incapable of holding down a real job, but with enough heart and love to do what ever it takes to raise their kids. Rihoko is the mandatory kawaii injection that just about every Japanese production seems to require, and
her cuteness is a bit overpowering but it doesn't detract from the story. The rest of the gang is fairly well scripted, the good guys being Noir good, meaning there's enough bad in them to make it interesting, and the bad guys are really bad.
What also engaged me is that the story is not solely focused on the action and the fight scenes. Like truly great anime, like Neon Genesis Evangelon or Full Metal Alchemist, the story focuses on the bigger story; how the characters got to the point where they're at and how the current situation is effecting their lives. And all is done without long, boring, confusing flash backs that make you wonder if you're still watching the same anime like Tenjou Tenge. The action is there like frosting on a cake; not too much or it will get boring - sort of like Bleach's 4 episode long fight scenes. This action is well animated and exciting to watch.
One of the best points, like any good story, not everything is wrapped up in one tidy package at the end of the story. Life isn't like that, and even though you may be able to see how it's going to play out several episodes from the end, the final scenes are satisfying, but Witchblade still leaves plenty of threads dangling for one to savor and ponder long after the show is done. It's a fan fiction authors God-send.
I highly recommend this one - kick back and enjoy. It's good viewing.