Anime Review - Broken Blade
Based upon a manga series of the same name, Broken Blade (ブレイク ブレイド) by Yunosuke Yoshinaga is a rich and thrilling mecha series which is certainly not one for the kiddies. A series of six 50 minute features films should almost ensure a better standard of quality than the typical TV release and adding Production I.G to the mix can only spell success. In its most basic form, Broken Blade is Gundam 00. That is to say that if you liked Gundam 00, you'll love Broken Blade for its politically motivated story line, top notch art work and over the top mecha action that actually puts most Gundam series to shame. Actually, it puts ALL Gundam series to shame!
"In Cruzon, children are born with the ability to control quartz. This power allows them to levitate simple objects - or control enormous and complex mobile battle suits called Golems. But when an ancient Golem is discovered during the height of a brutal war, a young king and his beautiful queen turn to Rygart Arrow. Though an "un-sorcerer," Rygart can miraculously pilot this ancient and powerful weapon. But in war, school friends can turn into bitter enemies and allies have suspicious motives."
It is very easy to compare this series to Gundam 00, but that in itself is not giving enough credit to Broken Blade. The political elements of the series are incredibly intriguing although sometimes difficult to digest. By the time you figure out who Zess is, how he knows Rygart and who plays for what teams you will be in need of a Panadol and a lay down. The storyline, although spread across nearly 6 hours of screen time, is incredibly dense while still managing to be engaging. While teetering on the edge of complete political confusion, Broken Blade manages to reign it back in with some of the greatest and most epic mecha battle sequences you will ever see. How this release was issued with an M rating is wondrous to me, the battles are brutal, bloody and... bloody brutal!
Unlike the aforementioned Gundam series, director Tetsuro Amino and animators Production I.G (Eden of the East, Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C), have given weight to the mechanical behemoths. Instead of floating around like butterflies, the mech units in Broken Blade look and feel like they weigh TONNES! Each footfall breaks rock and each swing of their giant swords do astounding amounts of damage. While being hefty in bulk and weight, the The overall animation quality is superb, just as one should expect from consummate professionals Production I.G. Every single character is distinct from one another, both the fleshlings and mechanized warriors. Art director Toshihiro Koyama (Cowboy Bebop, Spice & Wolf) has excelled in creating a world of such beauty which just so happens to be a backdrop to a horrible and bloody war. The backgrounds play a great part in balancing the overall feeling of the films, such meticulous attention to detail resulted in some glorious landscapes of barren rock and beautiful townships. Battles generally take place in environments of basic sand and stone which helps to draw the viewers focus firmly on the wonderfully choreographed struggle. Scenes of townships, however, give a glimpse into their religion and culture visually and without dwelling on dialogue to tell that side of the story.
Madman's Blu Ray release of Broken Blade is gorgeously presented, with beautiful art and equally wonderful music by Yoshihisa Hirano (Death Note). Unfortunately the release is rather bare bones with no special features to speak of although still manages to be one of Madman's most mature and best executed releases in a long time. Broken Blade presents fantastic value for money purely through the Geek of Oz's patented "re-watch factor". With such a rich and diverse plot, Broken Blade all but demands revisiting.
Broken Blade is available from Madman now on Blu Ray and DVD.