This movie is an introduction to a wannabe long running series that failed to be satisfying on its own.
Story and Adaptation Problems
This movie is the adaptation of Burn the Witch and in some ways also of the Burn the Witch Pilot. During this movie a lot of things didn't make sense and in order to write this review I went and read both of the manga afterwards. I should also mention that I have no knowledge of Bleach in any way and this review will only consider this show on its own merit.
The movie manages to both deliver obnoxious exposition for half of the run time while not giving us critical information about what is going on. Here's an example: There is a scene in both the anime and manga in which they explain the "Dragon Interaction Law" which states that anyone that touches a dragon without permission is to be sentenced to 100 years in jail or executed. A critical problem arises right here from the adaptation. In the manga this is explained in text boxes on the side of the page which makes sense and works perfectly fine. But in the anime Noel says it out loud. She has no reason to explain any of that, those are basic informations of the setting that literally everyone in the show knows. In fact, she's not even explaining to someone really, she just suddenly starts to explain stuff to the benefit of the viewer even if there is no motivation for her to do so. Another example of this is when she says to Ninnie: "Our duty as Pipers is to take dragons to pasture and harvest from them". Can you imagine suddenly telling your colleague (senior colleague in fact!) what your job description is for no reason?
Despite the heavy handed exposition the world building is still a mess. In the show they tell us the Dragon Law as I reported but then in the same scene we see Balgo do that exact same thing, touching a dragon. This is never explained. We can assume that this is because Balgo is a Dragonclad right? But what is a Dragonclad? The anime never clearly states it, the only thing it says about them is that they attract Dragons.
And here the problems start to derive from the source material. While this movie adapts both the manga and its pilot, these two actually contradict themselves. In the Pilot the Dragon Law exists for the vague "benefit of everyone"and Balgo became a Dragonclad only because he was in contact with a dragon for 10 years and was a special case. But then in the following manga they say that everyone that comes in contact with dragons becomes a Dragonclad, and don't bother explaining then Balgo backstory in any way. Why did he not get imprisoned or executed? Why is he special?
The show then goes even further, it doesn't explain neither why the Dragon Law exists nor what is a Dragonclad.
Oh and, spoiler warning, the only time we see someone break this "extremely important law" guess what happens? They obviously don't get punished or killed at all but instead recruited in the group. Why authors make laws and rules importance when they don't give a fuck about following them I will never understand...
The problem of a "future long running series"
Other than contradictions the main problem with the show it's the sheer overconfidence that this will be a long running series. When in an hour long show with a tight runtime I see them wasting time showing of a council of some sort and present EIGHT DIFFERENT COUNCIL MEMBERS when only a single one is in any way relevant to the story told in this installment I can't help but roll my eyes. The show oozes a "I don't need to explain anything right now, I can always do it later" attitude. What is Balgo backstory? Find out next time! Who are all those characters that played a role in the story? Find out next time! Why exactly is the Dragon Law in place? Find out next time! Etcetera Etcetera.
As it is right now, with this one entry the story is extremely weak. We focus half the runtime on character we don't really learn anything about. And the actual story was forcibly resolved by story elements that are gonna be relevant in the future. All these problems wouldn't exist if this was what is was supposed to be, the first 3 episodes of a show. This is what this is, it's the only thing that makes sense. And I would have been satisfied with a new seasonal that started off this way. But since they packaged it a movie they are forcing me to judge it as such. And on its own it's terrible.
The up-and-coming Studio Colorido did a good job considering the material they had to work with. The animations are really well made. The colors pop of the screen and the characters design are even more visually striking than in the manga. The only small problem I had with the technical side was with the OST being a bit bland and generic. But other than that this was a solid adaptation.
This movie was unsatisfying on so many aspects. The second biggest fight ended with an off screen attack, as in we see the character that was fighting attack but not the attack landing. And the final fight ended with an off-scene attack, as in the fight was won by a character that was somewhere else and just walked in, won the fight in a single hit, and then left.
Balgo gets a random power out of nowhere that never gets explained but guess what the show expects of you? That's right, shut up and wait.
But I have to say that the biggest disappointment is how little the two supposed main characters of Noel and Ninnie actually mattered. Sure they were on screen and had some action scenes, but as far as the story is concerned Balgo, Bruno, Macy and arguably even the Chief were a lot more important. Don't market a story about two characters if you don't intend do write a story about them.
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"I should also mention that I have no knowledge of Bleach in any way and this review will only consider this show on its own merit."
This annoyed me also, so I googled it. Apparently the only connection is they exist in the same universe. That is all. There are some vague similarities between concept, if you really wanna go looking for them, but essentially these connections exist only if you believe they do.
wow this review was bad and awful