As a Blazblue fan, I always wanted to know what happened before the events of the games. This only gives me a taste, but luckily, this is a prequel to the true prequel series to the games. Let's cover this one since a lot of you who end up glancing at this review certainly haven't read it. TL;DR version is that while I wouldn't truly recommend it to newcomers since it doesn't truly give you a grasp of the series as a whole, this is a great book you should read once you know some of the Blazblue Lore; aka, play the game's first, then
pick this one up. Now, why all this? Well, let's find out, shall we?
It has been 6 years since an Eldridge abomination known as the Black Beast ravaged the land, and it's still causing destruction. Now, we meet the book's protagonist, Celica, as she finds a damaged and amnesiac man named Ragna. For some reason his right eye and right arm aren't functional when she's around (which the book explains). They go to Japan because Crlica wants to see if her father's still alive, and Ragna can't leave her alone, otherwise, she'll probably travel to Africa by mistake due to her horrible direction sense. They meet characters like Mitsuyoshi and Nine who are a part of these legendary "Six Heroes" Ragna speaks of, and with some mishaps aside, arrive first in Japan, then the manor of a man named Clavis Alucard for some much needed exposition about Ragna and Mitsuyoshi, and finally back to Japan. Sure, the pacing does kinda drag at times, especially towards the beginning and middle, but at the final half, when they arrive at their destination, things pick up suspensefully, emotionally, and explosively, and I'll leave it at that. Sure, some of you experienced Blazblue fans already know what happens and what this leads to, but I can't spoil it here like usual because more people should probably read this book. It's even better once you can pull things from the games thematically, particularly in chapter 7.
Celica is literally one of the most naïve, innocent, and stubborn people I've seen in fiction, and while this garners her some hate amongst the community, particularly in the games, I feel that her emotional range is done rather well here along with everything else. It's also nigh-heartbreaking to see her cry due to certain spoilery circumstances. Next, is Ragna. He has amnesia, and has no access to a large chunk of his right half. However, that doesn't stop him from being both a badass and a smartass. He'll bury out quips as fast as he can slack a sword or sense an attack. Plus, he's surprisingly empathetic and moral given his almost delinquent demeanor. The rest of the cast is pretty colorful, and if you played the games, you'll know that most of them are kind of the same here despite different circumstances. The only one to really talk about that some people may not know about (which means they haven't watched the shortened version of this in game 3) is Nine. She's violent, and an asshole; moreso than Ragna. She's also very overprotective of Celica and hateful of her father (not that she doesn't have her reasons). For those new here to Blazblue reading this review, Jubei is a badass beastkin cat with a sword who's pretty mature yet nonchalant, and Trinity is often a calm and beautiful voice of reason to the calamity around her. I'd speak about the Clavis household, but the only one with importance to this particular book is Clavis, a nice old man vampire who gives the proper exposition about Ragna and Mistuyoshi. His daughter Rachel, will be more important later, and if you played the games, and know about chapter 7, you'd know just how valid that statement is. Same goes for Valkenheim.
For the few bits of art spread around each chapter (this IS a novel after all), they are all drawn very well, and while not exactly the most akin to Blazblue's general character art, this is still impressive. The characters still look right, the background look nicely done, and without any color, they still give pictures that perfectly convey the situations surrounding them, even if there are only like 12 of them.
Like I said, this book gets rather slow at times, which is usually for either exposition or slow burn, which can hinder a bit of enjoyment for those like myself, but the latter half in particular makes up for it in spades. I can't spoil what makes the second half great, but believe me; you might feel your heart strings getting tugged a bit, especially if you're already a Blazblue fan. The emotional moments really stick out, and Ragna's actions and those of Nine and Celica play a drastic role in that. The beginning was also a bit humorous and nice, so there's definitely a good reason to tough it out until the second half where things pick up. It's only 8 chapters after all, so it's not like this is a very long book.
OVERALL: 8/10 RAW SCORE: 79/100
This is definitely a lovely book for fans who want to know what happened before the events of the game. This may not explain everything (hell, the Phase Shift books that came after fill in the rest of the gaps), but it's certainly a rewarding read in the long run. Like I said, I recommend you get acquainted with the story of Blazblue first, but when you do, then I'd easily recommend reading this novel for yourself. It's definitely worth it, especially for the second half. With all that said, I bid you adieu.