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Broken Blade: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

February 18, 2012 by  



“Broken Blade: The Complete Series” is definitely one of the better mecha anime series to come out in the last decade.  All six films are included in this DVD collection and for any anime fan who loves mecha, will surely enjoy this series!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © Yunosuke Yoshinaga, Flex Comic/BBPC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Broken Blade: The Complete Series

TV EPISODE RELEASE: 2010

DURATION: 6 Episodes (300 minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV 14V

RELEASED: February 21, 2012

Original Creator: Yunosuke Yoshinaga

Chief Director: Tetsuro Amino

Director: Nobuyoshi Habara

Screenplay: Masashi Sogo

Music: Yoshihisa Hirano

Character Design by Takushige Norita

Art Director: Toshihiro Kohama

Mechanical Design: Takayuki Yanase

Anime Production: Production I.G., Xebec

Featuring the following voice talent:

Souichiro Hoshi/Greg Ayres as Rygart Arrow

Chiwa Saito/Emily Neves as Sigyn Erster

Hideyuki Umezu as Elekt

Hiroshi Kamiya/Leraldo Anzaldua as Zess

Kana Hanazawa/Brittney Karbowski as Cleo Saburafu

Kazuya Nakai as Borcuse

Kenichi Ogata as General Tool

Kenji Takahashi as Argass

Kikuko Inoue as Greta

Kousuke Toriumi as Girge

Marina Inoue/Shelley Calene-Black as Narvi Stryze (Narvi Stryza)

Masashi Sugawara/Chris Ayres as General Bard (General True)

Masumi Asano/Larry Christian as Legatz (Regatz)

Minoru Shiraishi/Dylan Godwin as Nair Stryze (Nile Stryze)

Nanaho Katsuragi/Luci Christian as Sakura

Ryoko Shiraishi as Nike

Takaya Hashi as Loquis

Takuma Terashima as Io

Tomoya Kawai/David Gorgritz as Logen G. Garf Ensance

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.

In 2007, mangaka (manga illustrator/writer) Yunosuke Yoshinaga would create his manga series “Break Blade”.  The manga would be published via Flex Comic and is currently ongoing in Japan, with a total of ten volumes having been printed.

In 2010, anime studio Production I.G. and Xebec would go on to create an anime adaptation which was directed by Nobuyoshi Habara (“Jankenman”, “Kikaider”, “Sorcerer Hunters”) and screenplay by Masashi Sogo (Fairy Tail”, “Gantz”, “Shadow Skill”).  Music is by Yoshihisa Hirano (“Air Master”, “Beyblade”, “Maria Watches Over Us”), character design by Takushige Norita (“Lagrange – The flower of Rin-ne”), art direction by Toshihiro Kohama (“The Big O”, “Heroic Age”, “Saikano”, “Solty Rei”, “Spice and Wolf”) and mechanical direction by Takuya Matsumura (“Love Hina”, “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”, “Fullmetal Alchemist”).

A total of six animated films were created and featured the theme song “Fate” by Kokia and ending themes “SERIOUS-AGE” by Faylan” and “Nageki no Oto” by Kokia.  The films are based on the manga but because the story is ongoing, the ending of the sixth film had to deviate and add a sense of closure.

And now all six films will be released as “Broken Blade: The Complete Series” on Blu-ray and DVD in the United States courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

“Broken Blade” takes place during a time where all people are born with the abilities to control and empower quartz and can use magic, may it be to levitate, operate machiner or ride the giant mecha robots for the military known as “Golems”.

But rarely is one born without magic abilities, one such person is Rygart Arrow.  Born as un-sorcerer with no magic abilities as with his younger brother.  Both were raised on a farm by their father and raised them to be strong, knowing that society would look at them as outcasts.

Rygart’s father took out loans in order for his son to attend the Assam military school where he became good friends with Zess, Hodr and Sigyn and their group was known as the “four problem children of Assam’s Military School”.

Fast forward to the future, Rygart is now 25-years-old and he is invited to Binonten, the capital city of Krisna where his friend Hodr is now the King of Krishna and is married to Sigyn, Queen of Krishna.

Both Hodr and Sigyn wonder why Rygart didn’t attend their wedding, as they are very close friends but as the three try to make up time lost, Rygart learns bad news from his good friend.

The nation of Assam has fallen because of a coup d’etat by the Athens Commonwealth and now, this group has their sights on Krishna.  A small Golem taskforce has been sent to the city, which surprises Rygart.  But even more surprising, the attack is being led by their good friend Zess.

Rygart can’t believe that one of their friends would be involved in such a terrible thing and prefers if no one goes into war.  Hodr tells him that he doesn’t want to fight either and can surrender.  Rygart wants his friend to do just that, so there would not be any additional bloodshed.

But Hodr tells him that under the terms of the surrender set by the Athens Commonwealth, the royal family…he and Sigyn would have to be executed.  Which shocks and upsets Rygart.  In no way, does he want his good friends being killed.

Meanwhile, Hodr shows Rygart a top secret mine where an ancient mysterious Golem was found.  But no one knows how to operate or pilot it.

And as the two talk, Zess and the golems begin their attack on Binonten to capture Hodr and force him to surrender.  As everyone is escaping from the mine, Rygart ends up falling inside the ancient Golem cockpit and immediately is able to take control of it.

It appears that because Ryart was born as an un-sorcerer, only those who don’t possess magic can pilot the ancient golem.

And now, the peaceful Rygart must do what he can to protect Hodr, Sigyn and the people of Krisna against the Athens Commonwealth and his friend Zess.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Broken Blade: The Complete Series” is presented in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen with audio in Japanese and English 5.1 Dolby Digital.  It is important to note that for anyone who wants the best version of “Broken Blade: The Complete Series”, may want to opt for the Blu-ray release as the picture quality and audio for this action-based, mecha anime film was definitely designed with HD in mind.

With that being said, when it comes to anime, Production I.G. is my top studio when it comes to production.  This studio really goes all out in ensuring wonderful backgrounds, fluid mecha battles to awesome character design and shading.  And because “Broken Blade” are “films” and not a TV series, you expect clarity and detail.

On DVD, all six films look very good but I must admit that part of me wanted to see the Blu-ray release because of the vibrant colors.  A lot of red and earthtone colors which typically means, those colors will pop on HD. But still, they look very good on DVD and for the most part, character and mechanical design for “Broken Blade” was well-done, especially when it focuses on close-up and emotions, the breaks and damage on the golems.

As for audio, the great news is that both soundtracks are in Dolby Digital 5.1.  Granted, this is one of those mecha anime films with tons of action which would sound a lot better in HD, still, the DVD doesn’t disappoint as there is a good amount of LFE and surround usage.  As for the voice acting, overall voice acting is good, the Japanese version is able to capture the emotional moments very well, but the English version was also well-done.  If anything, fans get the best of both worlds with two 5.1 soundtracks.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Broken Blade: The Complete Series” comes with the clean opening and closing animation themes plus Sentai Filmworks trailers.

Exciting and all-out mecha action, “Broken Blade” is a six-film series that will captivate you.  Featuring wonderful animation, character and mecha designs with a solid storyline, this is one of the better mecha anime storylines to come out in the last decade!

And I mean that.  Having watched many mecha anime series, I feel that within the last decade, there were too much attention trying to bring together fan service and mecha, but less on the deeper aspects of mecha and war.

Granted, perhaps the reason for that, is because studios wanted to step away from the Mobile Suit Gundam-style of storylines, and while there have been some series that stood out from the crowd such as “Gurren Lagann”, “Super Robot Wars”, “Macross Zero”, “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion” to name a few, “Broken Blade” is a series that tries to bring that feeling of an underdog that rises to the occasion to fight for the greater good.

While not as emotionally deep as “Gunbuster”, what I found enjoyable about “Broken Blade” is that the protagonist Rygart leans more to the side of pacifism.  He doesn’t want to fight, he doesn’t want to kill anyone.  He just wants to find a peaceful alternative to war.

But it’s complicated because his best friends from the Academy are fighting on both opposite sides.  And if one surrenders, chances are that they will be killed.

Throughout the series, we see how Rygart is put into a position he doesn’t want to be in.  But he knows that his friends and many people are depending on him as he is the only one that has the power to fight against the enemy.  All his life, he was called an outcast, bullied because he was born without any magical powers and was one of the rare “un-sorcerers”, yet, here is a man with hardly any fighting ability, a peaceful man who is now called to fight because he is the only one that can pilot a golem because of his lack of magic.  What a conundrum!?

But this is a series that has a lot of edge to it.  Yes, it’s rated TV 14V but it has its fair share of profanity (for the English dub) and it helps keep this anime feeling real.  There is a lot of violence in this series, as this is war, but nothing too graphic.  If I had one problem is that “Broken Blade: The Complete Series” felt that it was too good to be a six-episode film series.  It’s something that could have been a TV series, explored the war and the characters a bit more.  Especially lengthen the rivalry between Rygart and the antagonist, Borcuse.  Also, explore more about Rygart and his friends, as it is quite evident that Queen Sigyn is in love with Rygart.  But doing my research, I learned that this is explored much more in the manga series.

I haven’t read the manga series, so I don’t know how much of the actual storyline had been cut or how much had made it to the anime series but because the story is still ongoing in Japan, I understand why the creators had to create an ending for the sixth film.  If anything, the series ends quite nicely and will entertain many who have no knowledge or will not seek the manga, since we will probably never see the complete series in the US ever again(three volumes were released by DC Comics imprint CMX, before the imprint was shut down).

In the end, “Broken Blade: The Complete Series” was very exciting, it’s one of the few mecha anime series in the last decade to have a unique, deep and dramatic storyline, intriguing characters, exciting action and for mecha fans, “Broken Blade” really does deliver in mecha action.

As mentioned, “Broken Blade: The Complete Series” is also available on Blu-ray and because this Blu-ray looks great and features a lot of action, I highly recommend going for the HD version if you had a choice.  Otherwise, the DVD version is very good.    The only thing that I wished the release had was special features, especially since these are films, so there should be some featurette, Japanese premiere Q&A or something included other than clean opening and ending animation themes.  But regardless, this is still a wonderful series worth watching!

Interested in an easily accessible, mecha anime series?   Definitely give “Broken Blade: The Complete Series” a chance!  Recommended!

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