Story I have mixed feelings about the plot of Mirage of Blaze. As far as originality, two thumbs up. I have never seen a series or movie that deals with reincarnated souls who exorcise warlords of the past, who still battle in the present for territory. In addition, the whole thing is done under a very dark mood and atmosphere.
However, the plot isn't consistent. At first you think the plot is based around one warlord that wants power... and several episodes are based on the person. Then suddenly, the focus changes to a whole different plotline, which doesn't work well for a series of only 13 episodes. Suddenly the big bad guy of the first episodes is gone, and you never see him again. One of his cohorts is still around, HELPING the main characters now! This inconsistency also leaves for a pretty unsatisfying ending.
The other problem is that there are so many names (of people, clans, places) that you get it mixed up. I still am confused about a lot of things in the series, and who was related to who. I felt like I paid attention, so I just don't know.
The major theme is the character relationships, but rather than discuss that here, I'll do it in the character section below. In addition, this is yet another series claimed to be "yaoi", when it IS NOT. If anything, shounen-ai. There is no sex, and only one attempted kissing scene. Come on, people.. stop boycotting series because you are homophobic! There is nothing questionable about this series (besides one character who is male obviously in love with another)... so get over it!
Animation Absolutely beautiful animation, in the vein of X TV. Overwhelmingly dark colors are used the entire time, with a soft tone, giving it a unique look. Most other colors used tended to be related to sunsets or backgrounds. I can't say enough how much I loved the look of the characters in this. The shading is very different than most series, and gives everyone a very noble or serious look. Special effects for spells and such were good, though cheesy when they put up protection bubbles (it looked like film on bubbles... iridescent and a bit fake).
Sound Truly amazing music.. some of the best I've heard in a series. The same few tracks were used mostly, but they were amazing. Very haunting and beautiful, orchestral in nature. The cry of a violin sings in the background during emotional moments. I might actually download the soundtrack, that's how much I enjoyed it!
Voice actors sound deep, thoughtful, and moody, which fits VERY well with the tone of the series, and with the character roles.
Characters The characters and their interactions are easily the focal point of this series, regardless of what other plots are going on in the background. Namely, between Kagetora and Naoe, two reincarnated souls with a very heavy and dark history together. This is where the "yaoi" (as people call it) comes into play... since there are some very deep feelings going on with certain people. But again, there is no actual yaoi, so don't let that make you afraid of watching the series. Without a doubt, you are drawn into the characters' fates and hardships. People's pasts are explained well, and you have a good feel of the relationships between all the reincarnated people. Unfortunately some of the lesser characters don't get as much time in the limelight, but that's to be expected.
Overall The animation, music, and character development give this series high marks, with slightly poorer marks for the plot department (because of confusion and inconsistency). All in all, a great watch, and somewhat unheard of, I think. Just remember, it isn't yaoi. If you want something dark and interesting, this is for you!
For rewatching purposes, I might watch it again to try to understand the plot a bit more, and maybe if I want a dark watch. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't watch it again, though I feel that way about most series. Once was enough.
Thank you for this review. I liked the serie a lot, A LOT. I hope the manga was avaible here.
Many of the things you found confusing were answered throughout the episodes, why the main bad guy isn't around, why the enemy is now helping our heros and so forth, but then even more seems to come out that is confusing.
I think the series was very solid through the first 7 episodes then they tried to add too much into it, maybe thinking they would have a second series but then having to wrap it up very quickly.