Warning... there may be a few minor spoilers in my review, if I just can't help myself. But I won't spoil anything substantial. I'm also going to assume that people have at least read the plot synopsis and are familiar with the gist of the series.
Witchblade was one of the first anime series that I watched in full, and it was one of the reasons that I have since become more involved in anime as a hobby. Witchblade has its flaws, and I know that a lot of people seem to dislike the studio (Gonzo) and disdain anything to do with fanservice, but as a noobie I'm completely oblivious to that stuff. There is some fanservice, although no outright nudity, so if that bothers you, then this probably isn't the series for you.
STORY - 8/10
Witchblade has some fairly major plot holes. And it leaves a lot of questions unanswered - mostly to do with the history of the Witchblade, and the two major organizations that are fighting over its control. There is literally a scene where one of the characters states that he won't bore Masane with the history of the Witchblade, but as a viewer I very much wanted to be bored with that history. There are also a number of battle scenes that often seem more like filler than anything else. And there is, of course, an obligatory "Let's go to the beach" episode so that we can see Masane in a bikini (not that it's any more revealing than her Witchblade transformation), but that doesn't really further the story much. And, lastly, there's a lot of weird stuff going on with the NSWF organization that seems very forced - as though it only exists to try and give Masane and Doji Corporation an enemy. That plot just feels detached and like it doesn't really belong.
But all of that aside, Witchblade essentially boils down to being the story of a mother and her daughter. The core of the show is that relationship, and everything else is peripheral and serves only to influence that core relationship. And from that sense, Witchblade does a fantastic job. They really hammer home the love that is shared between Masane and her daugher, Rihoko. And because that relationship is so well-executed, I can forgive some of those previously-mentioned flaws. The relationship just feels so naturally genuine, that I was emotionally moved when the series took a turn for the serious over the last 3-4 episodes. Coming into Witchblade, I was just expecting a fun action romp, and instead I felt a real connection to the two main characters.
ANIMATION - 7.5/10
I've come to expect a high level of quality presentation-wise from anything that is put out in English by Funimation. I know that some people might question the content of their publishing choices, but I don't think anyone can deny that their series always look very polished. That said, the series is about 7 years old, and a lot of the newer Funimation series look a bit better. But I think I can definitely say that Witchblade is a visually attractive series.
My only big qualm was that the battle scenes seemed a little lacking in their animation. They were often short, which I know is partly to emphasise the power of the participants (be it Masane as the Witchblade, or one of the neo-genes with their Clone Blades). A few fancy moves during the fight scenes would have upped this score a point or so.
SOUND - 9.5/10
Continuing the notion that Funimation goes all out presentation-wise, I was greatly impressed by the voice acting in the series (I have yet to see a Funimation series that doesn't have excellent voice acting). I know that some people don't like dubbing, but I just can't figure that out. It's not the 1980's anymore, where dubbing was generally horrible. Voice acting is a big business these days in industries like video games and anime. If you don't understand Japanese, and you're just reading words off the bottom of the screen, then I think that you're missing out on a huge aspect of a show - being able to hear the tones and inflections of the characers goes a long way to adding depth to those characters that can't be conveyed in any other way. I don't think that I would have found the characters nearly as compelling without the strong voice acting.
Jamie Marchi was a perfect choice for Masane, and her voice just complements the character's personality so well - it added a whole other layer to the character. Most of the other voices weren't quite as perfect, but all were good.
The score was solid, though not amazing. It was touching in the emotional portions, and it pumped me up in the action sequences, but I won't be rushing out to buy the soundtrack or anything.
CHARACTERS - 8/10
To me, Masane and Rihoko were extremely well done. And as they are the centre of the show, that accounts for the high score. Masane is forced into many difficult choices, and proves to be a strong, resilient woman. She has her character flaws, which gives her added depth, and every choice that she makes is weighed heavily on how it will impact Rihoko. In the first episode alone, she is forced through a series of difficult emotional choices, trying to balance what she wants against what is best for her daughter.
I'm often annoyed by child actors on many shows. So I was pleasantly surprised when I found Rihoko to be a charming, likeable young girl. The writers might be stretching believability a little with all of the things that Rihoko is able to do, and the emotional choices that she herself is able to make, at the age of six years old. But they build up the character well enough that it works.
Of the secondary characters, I felt that only Takayama and Tozawa were fleshed out sufficiently. Most of the others ended up just falling into cliche archetypes. I have no problem with cliche if it's well-executed, but there were just too many minor characters who didn't receive enough time to be anything but bland. I think that this is a result of the writers being overly ambitious, rather than simply lazy - they just wrote in so many minor characters that it would be impossible to give them all substantial attention without taking away from the main plot and relationships.
OVERALL - 8/10
I readily admit that I may be bumping this rating up a small bit because of the nostalgic impact that it has for me. But I genuinely feel that this is an example of a show that has a very strong core, and a far less strong periphery. The primary flaw I see is that they just tried to cram too much into their 24 episodes. For example, once the Reina arc played out, I just didn't see why they had to keep pushing the NSWF storyline - Father was a boring character, and Maria (who essentially replaced Reina as the face of NSWF in the series) was even worse. The ending to that storyline felt forced and rushed.
But overall, if you enjoy strong character relationships, lots of action, and a fair bit of humour, then I would recommend this series. And I would definitely recommend watching the English dub.
Masane Amaha only wants one thing: to find a place where she and her daughter Rihoko can live in peace. Ever since the catastrophic earthquake that left virtually sank Tokyo and left Amaha with no recollection of her past and a mysterious bracelet around her wrist, trouble seems to pursue them relentlessly. Desperate for a job and with child wellfare hot on her heels, things are looking grim until Amaha meets two men who inform her that what she thought was merely a bracelet is actually a legendary weapon known only as the Witchblade, granting its wearer incredible power at a price.
Angry women in skimpy clothing who have the innate ability to kick your ass seems to be a staple plot line and sadly, Witchblade does not stray far from that standard. I found myself more than once groaning inwardly as a potentially interesting plot development gave way to huge boobs battling each other. Oops, I'm sorry. I mean women with huge boobs battling each other. Based on an American comic by the same name, the anime fastforwards to future Tokyo but the boobs...they remain.
Breast size aside, what I found particularly disappointing about Witchblade was that it shapes up to be an interesting story and collapses like a flan in a cupboard. I blame the boobs. Who is Amaha? When will she get her memories back? How is she connected with all this? Why did the Witchblade choose her? I found myself sincerely anticipating the answers to these questions. Unfortunately, Witchblade is stingy in the information department.
The story seems to zigzag like a drunken horse who, every now and then, regains enough composure to jump over a hurdle only to start weaving back and forth again. The end result is confusing, difficult to follow, and it goes without saying completely unbelievable. Don't get me wrong. I don't need a realistic story but there are more holes in this story than swiss cheese. And so it is no wonder that the finish line seemed to rush towards me as though the writers were completely out of ideas by the end and, being out of time (and possibly money) said, "This seems like a good stoppiong point".
The character designs are sleek and sexy but are ruined by the ridiculously enormous breasts. Not just Masana, but every woman here has a back-breaking set of jugs to the point where I experienced a sort of "Boobie Overload". Too much of a good thing is a bad thing, guys.
Needless to say, the fanservice in Witchblade reaches damn near critical levels and I don't mean just the breasts. Well, they count of course. But the wardrobes in Witchblade are revealing and not just in the chest area.
The animation is not all that impressive and the fight scenes are cliche, short and boring.
Overall, Witchblade left me feeling a little disappointed as I often feel when a story has potential but falls short by several miles. Witchblade gets a 4 out of 10 for effort, though.
Recommended Audience: Older teens and up. Witchblade is violent, the language is bad, and there are more than enough sexual connotations. And there's enough fanservice to have otakus locked in their lairs for several weeks. Not only that, but the big baddies prey on women (go figure) who die very grisly deaths 98% of the time.
Witchblade, based on an American comic of the same name is, to summarize its premise, about some weird bracelet thing that doesnt come off, gives the wearer a lot of power, makes people attracted to that power, and slowly kills the wearer.
However, interestingly enough, the story is not actually based on revealing on the sci-fi portion of the premise at all but on the characters instead, namely Aname and her daughter Rihoko. In that way, the story progress into a much more indearing type of series rather that action, ecchi, or sci-fi about a mother working to protect her daughter. While the Witchblade still plays an important role in advancing the plot with its numerous related futuristic plot elements, it is not the prime focus.
The anime is pretty good and the ecchi in my opinion is well received; it has low significance but doesnt take away from the anime unless you are the type to judge stories based on things like that (which is strange but whatever floats your boat).
The openings and ending suck and the music is fairly bland.
This anime is pretty shounen due to its art style but it should be interesting for everyone.
- Animated by studio GONZO, which automatically means it’s going to suck.
- Directed by Oohashi Yoshimitsu, who has produced nothing but bullshit shows.
- Based on a western comic book character by Top Cow Productions.
This show starts in a bit different way than the usual butt-kicking chicks with superpowers. The lead woman is actually a mother and does not turn into some tsundere that loses her mind over some indecisive lead. She is also fighting to get her daughter back from some evil organization that wants to get her superpowers. Great premise so far. What else is there?
Nothing; that is all you get hereafter because this is a GONZO anime. The story is simple and sluggish, with fan service and braindead action in each episode just to fill the duration of the show with anything other than a plot. But it is much worse than that as not even the filler time (fan service and braindead action) is that good to keep you interested. Not extreme, not abundant, not with great production values. Half of it is boob gags without ever showing too much nude.
As for its useful duration (the scenes with her daughter and the scheming organization) all that felt like they could fit in a nice 90 minute action / drama movie. Scattering all that in a full season show eventually watered down the importance of it. They even threw in some poorly written plot-twists in an attempt to keep you interested (the amnesia routine and her daughter not exactly being simply that) but even those are not enough to cover for the rest of the almost 90% useless duration.
Going back to the idea of a movie, the whole series is like watching the first DBZ movie. You know, the one called Dead Zone? The one where the hero’s child gets kidnapped by villains, and off he goes to save it? Well as boring as that movie was in overall, it still had more dense plot and action than the whole Witchblade anime altogether. The production values are of course better and there are lots of huge boobs giggling in front of you but that is nothing but fireworks above a sewer. Plus the heroine is practically the average shonen superhero, albeit with huge boobs. And the villains are just stock material cardboards, most of which aren’t even threatening or that powerful. Yes, it was that bad.
I do not recommend this anime to anyone. Just like most GONZO productions, it is nothing but fluff that has nothing interesting to offer in the long run.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 5/10
Analysis: General Artwork 1/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 1/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 1/2
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 2/4, Sound Effects 2/3
STORY SECTION: 4/10
Analysis: Premise 1/2, Pacing 1/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 0/2, Conclusion 1/2
CHARACTER SECTION: 4/10
Analysis: Presence 1/2, Personality 1/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 0/2, Catharsis 1/2
VALUE SECTION: 1/10
Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 0/3, Memorability 1/4
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10
Analysis: Art 0/1, Sound 0/2, Story 0/3, Characters 1/4
Critic’s Log - Earthdate: March 29, 2014. Review #82: Witchblade.
If you have been checking my reviews and wonder why it has been taking long for me to get a new review going. I have been busy lately. It is that time of year again.
As current events are concerned, On the Easter Weekend. I attend my local anime convention which is a big one in Seattle called Sakura-con. I personally find it to be a blast to go to and I really enjoy going to that convention. At the time I am posting this review. It is the weekend of Emerald City Comicon 2014 and I think it is only fitting that I am doing a review of this certain anime just in time. I also had to do some research with this one because of its somewhat “history”. Like it would mean a damn because this is Witchblade I’m talking about.
In 22nd-Century Japan, There was a catastrophic earthquake that took a number of lives. Masane Amaha happened to survive the disaster that destroyed Tokyo and she becomes the latest in an ancient line of women-only warriors to wield the mysterious sentient weapon known only throughout history as "the Witchblade". Hellbent on protecting her daughter, she will face her worst fear.
To be technical, this is a Studio GONZO production and...drumroll please. *drumroll*. it’s not that bad compared to what GONZO had made before. Out of all the studios in the anime industry. I have always had special criticism towards Studio GONZO. I have seen a number of GONZO’s titles and some of them never gave me much of an impression. I may have said this before in an earlier review but the things that irritate me with Studio GONZO is that they are inconsistent whether it be on direction, storytelling, and even animation. But the major thing that turns me off in an anime that they sometimes do is throw in their infamous 3D animation mixed in with the modern traditional animation style seen in anime today . Much to my surprise, the Witchblade anime does not have GONZO’s awkward 3D animation. The only use of the GONZO’s infamous trademark animation is during the first closing theme and that is only shown briefly. In comparison to what came before it, this is a relief. In all due respect, the animation is actually not that bad despite that Studio GONZO is behind this. However, it isn’t perfect. There are some dully animated moments and I take it that the budget was limited in this show. It still looks good but the direction of animation is a bit questionable. If you saw pictures or even covers of this show, the designs make it blatantly clear that there will be some fanservice in it. Speaking of which, I am completely excusing any fanservice that Witchblade contains because it actually fits in this anime. Even though it’s not explained, It may appear obvious that the Witchblade and Cloneblade wielders appear like Succubi, and the fanservice is fitting because of this. If you don’t know what a Succubus is, then google it. But here’s the problem. The animation is sometimes rather dull in its presentation. The use of color had great potential because of its obvious expected fanservice. but the way the fanservice is used in the show is also not presented well either.. Another huge disappointment are the fighting scenes which the animation is sometimes not too great at presenting and the fight scenes are a little boring to look at sometimes. I will say that this was an honest effort by Studio GONZO since this is one of the few shows they made that doesn’t use cheap looking 3D animation. In comparison to what GONZO made before the Witchblade anime. The animation in this one exceeded my low expectations. “Benefit of a doubt”, I guess.
The music by Masanori Takumi doesn’t really stand out so much despite it fits the show just fine. There are certain themes you’ll be hearing A LOT in this show and it gets old pretty fast. The soundtrack did not leave much of an impression on me because it is rather limited and there are not that many themes that encompass the 24 episodes in this anime. It does fit the series, but I personally found it forgettable. In all honesty, I don’t have much to say about Takumi-san’s composition in the soundtrack. The first opening “XTC” is alright and a decent opening at that, but that’s all I can pretty much say about it. The first closing “Ashita no Te” is okay I guess. But the Witchblade anime contains one of the most useless and abominable anime openings I have ever heard and seen. I am referring to the second opening theme “Dear Bob”. I assume that the genre used is Reggae, that’s fine and dandy. here’s the problem. This opening is used in the second half of the show where the song does not fit whatsoever for the tone that this opening is used around. To add insult to disappointment, the visuals for the opening is completely fucking lazy. Not only does the song not fit, but the visuals are snippets of the first 12 episodes. The first opening has its own visuals to foreshadow the series. This second opening is boring. I cannot believe an opening like this exists and in my opinion, It is one of the worst anime openings I have ever witnessed. The second closing theme “Kutsu Himo” doesn’t leave much of an impression on me but it fits. I find the music area of the Witchblade anime to be severely lacking. but it gets WORSE.
But before I get there, I must point out the voice acting first. Mamiko Noto is alright as Masane, and I could say the same for Akemi Kanda as Rihoko, but that’s pretty much it for the Japanese casting despite it has a memorable name like Rikiya Koyama being in it. The Japanese cast is not bad, it does sound boring at times. This is where the English Dub does have some slight advantages. Jamie Marchi’s take on Masane is a little sketchy for some and I thought she was okay for the most part. She isn’t perfect on the role but she is somehow listenable. Carrie Savage is not too bad as Rihoko despite that she is a 6 year old character. She does well for the role. Mark Stoddard is not too bad as Takayama. Both Subbed and Dubbed Versions do not have an all-star cast and for an anime like this, but I am content with that. The Japanese cast isn’t terrible and neither is the English Dub. I could say you can’t go wrong with either one but the Dub cast does have some fun with the roles given to them and they actually put more effort in the performance to not make it too boring. The ADR direction does have some adaptive changes for the English script since there is an obvious translation difference that is much different than the original Japanese script. Some purists may be pissed over the fact that in the Japanese version, Masane was nicknamed “Masamune” which apparently means “undefeatable breasts”, don’t quote me on that. Whereas in the dub, she is nicknamed “Melony” because Tozawa refers Masane’s breasts to melons. This doesn’t bother me too much and I can see some anime purists getting a little worked up over this, but since I am not an anime purist since I do watch both Subs and Dubs of anime, this is something I am not going to stress too much about. Honestly, if the dub did have the “Masamune” nickname, people wouldn’t get the reference. As far as adaptive scripts go for the English language, I don’t have a problem with the “Melony” nickname. Both casts play their parts pretty well and that’s all I can say about the casting on both sides.
Unfortunately, even with the casting choices on both sides. The characters lose all distances of disbelief and I can’t believe this anime got away with the stupidity that some of you probably could not stand. Masane is by far the most questionable character in the Witchblade anime. Let’s see. She is chosen to wield the Witchblade whether she likes it or not. Her Witchblade form may be cool, but her personality and quirks really threw me off because Rihoko is the most mature 6 year old when it comes to characters and it doesn’t make any damn sense. She cooks for her mother, does the laundry, she even does her own shopping and makes housing arrangements by making a few phone calls. I do find it important as a viewer to distance my disbelief in regards to something that really shouldn’t be taken seriously. But what Rihoko does in the entire show makes this impossible to not take it seriously. These two leads are completely mixed up. Masane is immature, while Rihoko acts like a mature adult. What about the others characters? Don’t they stand out? No, not really. Maybe except Takayama. He at least is decent in the show. The characters are mostly forgettable in this show and they don’t even leave an impression. In fact, there are even some useless characters in this show. Naomi may be shy but she doesn’t do much to contribute to the plot despite she actually plays some part in the show. Michael is another character that doesn’t do much in the series. There are two characters I actually thought were okay, which was Reina and the person that the Neogenes call “Father”. Because of spoiler reasons. This show made me quickly hate a specific character introduced much later in the series. With the way the characters are played out, I could not believe the writing was this bad.
That is why the Witchblade anime really falls low. I know I may sound a bit picky during this review but I can’t help but stress how ridiculous the Witchblade anime is to me. I already commend GONZO for the honest effort in its animation as well as avoiding the usage of their craptastic 3D animation. The soundtrack may have not fared out so well, but its ridiculousness lies in its characters and the entire story. Here is one of my major problems with the anime as a whole. The Witchblade anime is inconsistent. The soundtrack doesn’t involve this and the animation isn’t affected too much. The first half of the show is where most of the flaws lie. The first half sort of has a monster of the week formula tied in with some twists and turns that really aren’t that impressive to begin with. The halfway point is where things actually start getting somewhere but that card is played late in the game. The second half is somewhat tolerable but because of spoiler reasons, the tolerable parts lead into a conclusion that without a doubt felt forced and that is another major problem with the Witchblade anime. It felt extremely forced and the direction is terrible at this and Yoshimitsu Ohashi doesn’t really direct much in anime..At first, I had low expectations and I didn’t mind if this show wasn’t meant to be taken seriously from the get-go. But guess what? The somewhat emotional moments in the Witchblade anime are supposed to make the viewer take it seriously. The Mother/Daughter relationship may have been touching at some parts but the direction made it difficult for me to see it as the anime’s saving grace. I will say that Witchblade does have some history. This anime is a loose adaptation of the comic book series of the same name which was published by Image Comics and currently published by Top Cow Productions. I have read a bit of the source material and I can see why some people like it for the artwork, which I believe is obvious. I’ve read a number of issues/chapters and found the Witchblade comic nice to look at but the story isn’t all that noteworthy and even the characters aren’t noteworthy either, what the comic got right was that Sara Pezzini is not immature for a main lead. Another interesting piece of Witchblade history is that the anime was not the only TV show based on the comic. There was a live-action TV series back in 2001 that somehow was critically acclaimed and popular with audiences but it was short-lived due to its cancellation. But the big question of the Witchblade anime is this. Is it an abomination compared to its source material? I’ll let you be the judge of that yourself, but personally… I will say “No”. The attempt of making the mother/daughter relationship touching does come from an honest place despite bad writing but the characters and story aren’t really noteworthy and the source material is more tolerable but it’s not Grade A material in terms of characters and story. The Witchblade comics are stylized with average substance. The Witchblade anime may not fare well with everybody but whether you like it, hate it, or are neutral towards the Witchblade anime. I can say that it would not hurt to watch it. The ridiculousness of this anime baffles me and it always made me wonder how the hell anyone thought the guys behind this adaptation thought the ideas were good for this anime. It is flawed for sure and I am content that this isn’t a masterpiece. I have seen adaptations FAR WORSE, Dragonball: Evolution anyone? M.Night Shyamalan’s Last Airbender movie anyone? Even though I am not in favor of this anime. I would not take it against you if you enjoyed this one. This is an anime that can be seen as a guilty pleasure under certain circumstances. But if you need to know anything from me before viewing this one. Don’t hold your expectations high on this one. I can say that Studio GONZO has made worse, their adaptation of Witchblade is not the absolute worst.
The Witchblade Anime is available from Funimation. A manga adaptation known as Witchblade Takeru written by Yasuko Kobayashi and illustrated by Kazuasa Sumita and it was going to be released by Bandai Entertainment but that plan was scrapped because Bandai Entertainment went under. It is currently unavailable in the U.S. A Japanese novel called Witchblade Ao no Shojo was never released in the U.S. The Television Show adaptation that originally aired on TNT is available from Warner Home Video. The original source material being the Witchblade Comic Book Series is available from both Image Comics and Top Cow Productions.
With all that said, The Witchblade anime offers something for a change by Studio GONZO in regards to animation. The soundtrack fits, but it is forgettable in the long run. The Witchblade anime suffers with poorly written characters with a badly written plot. The animation is a decent effort by Studio GONZO but if you like comics books so much while viewing this with low expectations, I could recommend this. If this doesn’t work for you, go for the source material instead. If the source material doesn’t do it for you, then look for something else to keep your mind occupied.
I give the Witchblade anime a 3.4 out of 10, it is WEAK!
Feel free to leave a comment