For a change of pace now, instead of reviewing an anime series based off a popular manga series, I’m going to review an anime series based off an American comic. After seeing one episode of this anime re-imagination of the original comic – the main character, location and plotting has been changed – I wanted to love the show. It really felt like something I could enjoy; unfortunately as I kept watching I felt less inclined to keep watching.
It all starts with a cataclysmic event (as happens so often in anime) which is scored with this really creepy child-chant music thing. Six years later Masane Amaha and her daughter Rihoko (nicknamed Riko) are on the run from the government agency, the National Scientific Welfare Foundation (NSWF). The NSWF has a mandate to protect all children that can’t be protected normally – due largely to the cataclysmic event previously mentioned – either because of neglect or lack of proper environment to live in. Masane and Riko get caught and separated from each other with Riko being placed into foster services and Masane being taken into custody and also being declared unfit to be Riko’s mother. While imprisoned, the Witchblade activates on her arm to protect her from an Ex-Con, a renegade Humanoid weapon that was developed by Douji Group Industries (DGI) that supposedly got loose (surprise, surprise) during the event six years ago.
DGI manage to get their hands Masane and coerce her into cleaning the renegade Ex-Con mess up, while the NSWF unleashes other weapons like the Witchblade onto the streets to get back the original Witchblade that Masane has. Lots of conspiracies abound, lots of near naked ladies fighting with the Witchblade weaponry and in the end I just felt annoyed. It had a really cool idea at the start with Masane and Riko on the run from the government, and they could have continued that for a number of episodes. However, by dropping that thread of the story what feels like two episodes into the series, I felt kind of cheated. It didn’t go with my expectations from the first episode to go from “on the run” to “save the day” so quickly.
In terms of character I liked how the adult Masane was less responsible than Riko who did all the cooking cleaning and acted more like a mother to Masane. The animation is of a high standard and is what I have come to expect from Studio Gonzo in that department, however when it comes down to design do we really have to have that much skin on display from the Witchbladed Masane? Yes, I know that the franchise has a fine history of near nakedness in its design of battle armor but I’m just sick of this idea that we have to have top heavy female warriors in barely anything. The Witchblade armour makes Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop look like she’s wrapped up in a burka.
I really wanted to love Witchblade. The first episode was one of the best first episodes of anime that I have seen in the past year. It had so much promise to it. What I ended with at the finish of my experience with Witchblade was disappointment. If the concept interests you, try to borrow a copy of the first volume in the series. Maybe you’ll have a different experience than me if you aren’t too concerned about a change in direction from what would’ve been an interesting way to go.