I'm going to say it flat out; I'm new to reading Manga- alright? So shoot me if I liked something that doesn't seem too well known or popular with the masses. So what I had the guts to say it's one of the best stories, let alone Mechas, I've ever read. That's my own damn opinion and I'm sticking to it. Evangelion or Gundam fanboys telling me otherwise can all go to hell.
Alright! *Takes a deep breath* Sorry about that to anyone who may have gotten the wrong impression. This isn't the only website I'm a member of...(Though I'm glad to say it now is.) In fact, I'm brand spankin' new here and this is my first review. (Though I assure you that this review is brand new for this website.) Anyways, I've had literally a dozen arguments with fanboys blindly downgrading (unnecessarily I might add) what I see to be one of the best mechas of the last few years. However, I've already a greater amount of arguments in regards to this manga/anime then I would like to admit. Most of them boil down to one thing though, fanboyism.
I swear, Fanboyism is going to be the end of me. Why is it so hard for people to objectively judge a product by its own merits instead of constantly downgrading it because there was also -another- good/awesome mecha that they just so happened to like more. When the heck did it become wrong to have two amazing mechas? Okay sure, you liked Gundam 00 more. That's great. You just forgot one little detail: They are completely and utterly different from each other.
Now let me say this clearly and right off the bat, Break Blade and any of the other popular Mecha shows/manga are comparable when speaking strictly in terms of quality. In fact, Break Blade may even be weaker, depending on how you connect with the main characters. The sole reason why I hold Break Blade in a much higher regard to anything else out there is because of how unique of a product it is. That's it. Granted, I connected with the characters. I loved every one of them. I loved the story. I loved the pacing. I loved the plot. (As simple as it may be...) More on those things later. Let's start with the most important part of this entire review; what exactly makes Break Blade unique and how it might be just what so many of us have been looking for.
Break Blade is what got me reading again. I hadn't read a single book in over six months. I was an avid reader of regular novels for over four years throughout middle school and my freshman year of high school. However, then sophmore year came. School, Cars, Sports. You name it...I was involved in it. Think of the typical busy high school experience. Forced school readings for my English Honors of just about -the worst- books on Earth just about killed a passion of mine that I had had for years. However, just when all hope was lost is when I came across Break Blade. Don't ask me just how I first discovered it; because I don't honestly remember. I hazily recall that I was just browsing the recommended anime listings off Amazon. I saw a few screenshots, did a quick google search. Least to say, I was hooked before the show even started.
I saw the Anime adaptation first, and loved every second all the way up until... the end. (*Spits in disgust.*) The ending- like a goddamn trademark, sucked. I really must ask, because I really want to know, what the hell is it with anime these days and crap endings. Just about every other anime I actually enjoy watching usually has the worst ending possible. Whether it be cliffhangers, (which almost never have sequels.) or something's altered, or it's a total mindf**k, or it's inconsistent with the rest of the series. Gosh man, maybe we should send some contemporary writers or directors over to Japan to teach them how to end a goddamn story. Every time I see a sh*t ending in an anime that I otherwise love- I feel a baby dying in Africa. Seriously, I feel like a piece of my soul gets sucked right out of my body. It's absolutely devastating.
Thankfully, Manga doesn't seem to share this same problem. So disgusted was I with the ending of the Anime, that I literally googled Break Blade's Manga and read the entire 55 or so chapters in about a four hour period. Oh gosh, thank the heavens I did. The Manga, like the Anime, was so enthralling, but better. I'm not sure how hand-drawn panels could out perform a beautifully animated show in terms of depicting (essentially the same) story, but it did. (And what a massively entertaining experience it was!) Here's the one reason why you should stop what you are doing and read (or watch) Break Blade; there is absolutely nothing else like it. Really, honest to god, you will never find anything else ANYWHERE that is quite like Break Blade. Why? The answer is very simple. It is a FANTASY MECHA! (And a relatively believeable one, too.) Combine Claymore or any other popular Fantasy work and combine it with any of your favorite Gundam series (Such as Gundam Wing or Seed) and you get Break Blade.
Pretty much every individual aspect besides the initial premise is standard operating procedure. Cliche characters that fit archtypical roles? Check. Stereotypical internal/external conflicts? Check. Standard character progressionr? Check. But you know what, who gives a damn. (*Throws clipboard out window.*) Every plot point is executed beyond expectation...Regardless of the fact I could sumrise just what the likely outcome was, I found myself sweating and on the edge of my seat to see the particular details of its execution. Questions such as: Who would die? Would the main character seriously go through with something like this? What would the ultimate consequences and lasting effects be as a result of X character's actions, particularly on the rest of the characters? The characters are all stereotypical, sure, but they are presented in such a way that I always found myself rooting for them. All of them. There are no annoying or helpless characters here. Heck, I even chuckled at the sort of inside joke the author pulled at some point early on in the manga. (Minor spoilers ahead.) You see the main character, Rygart, at the begining of the manga jumps up upon recieving a letter and flat-out leaves his little brother hanging to do all the farm work while he goes and becomes a badass mecha pilot. We smirk and grin at the early humor, but it soon becomes all too real as, what started out as a humorous inside joke at leaving his brother behind, quickly becomes a crisis for Rygart as enemy forces move to massacre Rygart's village. The resulting events of this crisis have a lasting effect on both Rygart and the rest of the characters for the rest of the story. (And this is merely one example.) The way the author/illustartor pull these sorts of situations off is extremely remarkable. I appluad them for their ingenuity.
In addition, the action is cherographed perfectly...Despite the terribad ending, I felt compelled to support the franchise and promptly purchased the blu-ray collection containing all six movies. I checked out some of the better action scenes and man, do they look good! The entire basis for the show sets up for some of the best Mecha action scenes I've yet seen. On a divided continent known as Cruzon, a relatively smaller country finds itself at war with one of the largest kingdoms on the continent, Athens, who wishes to bring the country back under its control following a revolt sponsored by its primary enemy- Orlando. (Who they seperately beat back earlier whilst fighting in the fourth and final major country, Assam.) For fighting, the country's employ mechanical fighting machines (mechas) made of Quartz. Specialized pilots with powerful magical ability are able to command and maniuplate quartz, and as a result we have the perfect set up. The main character, Rygart, is an unsorrcerer, and is completely unable to maniuplate Quartz on any level. (The first of his kind born in years.) For that reason, he is outcasted. To help his son, Rygart's father sends him to a neutral yet highly prestigious military academy. Despite his handicap, Rygart proves to be a capable leader- and is even able to link together in friendship two opposing princes of two opposing nations.
This is all background information on some of the main characters. The real story begins years later. Rygart's father eventually ran out of money and Rygart departs from the academy. Years after that, we see Zess, one of Rygart's childhood friends from the academy and younger prince of the mighty Athens- personally lead a direct invasion into the much-smaller Krisna. Kirsna's king and other childhood friend of Rygart, former prince Hodr- naturally calls Rygart in to help convince Zess to stop his endevour. The action scenes are tense, with a much greater focus on smaller-scale engagements and conflicts. We see up close a normally small group of pilots do battle each other, much of the time with devastating results.
Characters act perfectly. (Regardless of the fact they are acting stereotypically.) The world seemed to stop for Rygart the moment he left the Academy. However, the world had changed and left him behind. Both Zess and Hodr are both no longer high school friends and now took up major responsibility for their respective kingdoms. Due to Rygart's sudden and abrupt departure, his young love Sigyn ends up marrying Hodr and becoming his queen. We see Rygart transform and become engulfed into the conflicts and politicking of the opossing nations. Despite not necessarily wanting to, he is able to control an unearthed and ancient, albiet extremely advanced, mechanical mecha. (The only one of its kind in the entire show.) Turns out, Rygart is also one of the best and naturally-talented pilots of the entire continent.
The show really takes advantage of the fact that this show takes place in a fantastical world. Beautiful scenes and shots of Quartz mechas doing battle in a healthy range of natural environments (Desert warfare, anyone?) works to keep the reader/viewer hooked all the way to the ultimate climax were we see Rygart and friends battle desperately in Krisna's very own capital city. (Castle siege with mechas? Yes please!) It's a wild ride that goes on to the last couple minutes...Then, well, you know....(But, great news! The manga is different and continues well past the end of the anime.) Is it the best animation and action scenes I've ever seen? No, of course not- but it's up there. Again, the actions scenes in both the manga and anime (More so the latter then the former) were great and I never once felt disinterested. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Again I was always at the edge of my seat sweating in anticipiation.
Overall, this story is a story of many firsts, especially for me. I feel I owe a lot to this story, and for that reason alone I feel compelled to recommend it to anyone and everyone. However, having read hundreds of works of fiction (Many of them in the fantasy genre, but also including a huge amount of literary classics.) I can say, with confidence, that this story is a good one that will not disappoint.
Overall: 8.8 out of 10 - Solidly Great.
Recommended to anyone interested in Mechas, Action/Adventure, Romance, or just anyone wanting a great show/ manga in general.