With over 500 anime series and 200 other anime items watched, picking good anime that I haven’t seen for me for this Secret Santa Project is a tougher-then-average task if you’re not a super-completionist who’s gone back and watched everything or a longer term anime fan that can pick older titles that I’ve missed. (Especially given the restrictions on length of series.) So, it wasn’t a surprise when I received my Secret Santa recommendations back in November that I wasn’t floored by the three choices: Break Blade movie 1, Darker than Black S1, and Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo?.
I had some passing familiarity with all three. Break Blade movie 1 was the first movie of a multi-movie project which probably meant I would need to watch all 7 for the story to be finished. Darker than Black came from Bones and, as I’ve said during my 12 Days of Christmas post, Bones and I have had rocky relationship. Without spoiling myself, which I didn’t want to do, I didn’t want to sink the time into something that would disappoint me at the end and I didn’t want to write a negative review for this project. The third choice, which must have some cute why to shorten the title, was a very recent show that did not interest me in the slightest when it aired and I didn’t remember reading anything that changed this opinion.
After giving it some thought I decided on Darker than Black with the other series as back-up if I had to bail on the first. Before I could implement this plan I had to go to the dentist to have a tooth pulled and 10 days later I had another tooth pulled. This meant November was filled with eating restrictions and pain and discomfort and, thanks to a certain duck, worrying about getting dry socket. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to give any of these three picks a fair shot, which was a problem because I always watch and write-up my secret Santa reviews in November.
Decembers are busy so Christmas got nearer and nearer and I still hadn’t found the chance to get to Darker than Black. Finally, a week before Christmas, I realized that if I didn’t watch Break Blade, I might not get anything watched before Christmas.
So, here we are.
In a world without oil and the other fossil fuels, humanity learned how to manipulate quartz as if by magic and built an industrial civilization around quartz. Break Blade opens as one of the world’s major powers begins it’s invasion of a much smaller neighboring country. The king of the smaller nation is willing to capitulate, except the belligerent nation is demanding the death of the entire royal family and the king does not want to see his wife killed. So, he decides to fight; but, all hope looks lost until a strange weapon from an ancient era appears.
Thoughts and impressions
As I feared, the story for Break Blade doesn’t even get past the introductions before the first movie ends.
It’s difficult to review something this quickly; instead, this feels like I should be writing a first impressions post because that better fits my thoughts.
My first impression of the Break Blade is generally positive. The animation is pretty good, though some of the CG is lacking. The world building involves an unusual idea – the lack of fossil fuels – that could make this a very fascinating series. Having a mech’s ability to do something as simple as firing a gun and how far that bullet can go be based on the strength of the pilot’s ability to manipulate quartz was a pleasant change of pace to see. The characters pass the initial scrutiny for depth and potential interest. The inter-character dynamics seem compelling enough that a good story could be built around them. Will it, is a question the later movies can answer.
Like I said, generally positive first impression. There were a few flags thrown-up that temper my expectations of the future movies. The first is the one female soldier who was told the only extraordinary thing about her is the large size of her chest at only 12 years of age. WTF?!? There are so many things wrong with that. I dearly hope the creators explain why there has to be a 12 year old female soldier who’s best quality seems to be the ability to grow a large chest at such an early age. The second is the very questionable lack of rifled barrels for the guns used by the mechs in Break Blade. The series makes a specific point to show the limited range and accuracy that guns have as a problem armies face. Why have rifled barrels not been hit upon as a result? Once again, I hope they explain this because, right now, it seems more like ignorance on the part of the creators then anything. A third thing that potentially worries me is how they will explain the power source behind the ancient mech that was recovered.
I also understand that the creators want to do something different by creating the world they did but they also have to take into account that they’re straining credibility by leaving a number of things out. There’s gunpowder, it’s not a fossil fuel, and steam power, the ancient Greeks and Egyptians were playing around with it, and seige engines like trebuchets, all they need is rope and wood and muscle power – to name three things off the top of my head. I’m willing, for now, to give the creators the benefit of the doubt in the interests of seeing something different but I don’t have much more spare credibility that I can give this anime before it’s too much.
On that less then positive note, I’ll close this review by saying that I do intend to continue watching the rest of the Break Blade movies. I hope they knock my socks off but I have the feeling that Break Blade will fail to raise to the same level of greatness that I’ve seen in my other Secret Santa Project series from years past. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, I still plan on getting to Darker then Black but it won’t be for awhile.
Final Score: 9/12 A-
Animation: 3/5 – Good
This review was part of Reverse Thieves’ 2013 Secret Santa Project.