Broken Blade Episode 6
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Series Premise: Broken Blade, or Break Blade, is a six-part Original Video Animation, with the first episode premiering in May 2010 and the final episode in July 2011, based on an ongoing manga series. Set in a fantasy world where everyone has the power to manipulate quartz as their only source of energy. Rygart Arrow is unique as an “Un-Sorcerer”, unable to use quartz — but this lack of ability also makes him uniquely qualified to pilot a special, ancient “golem” mecha-robot. Called to duty by his old friends Hodr and Sigyn, now king and queen of Krisna, he must help defend his land against a superior invading army, which includes his old friend Zess.
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ep. tl;dr review: Huge climactic battle for Binonten; Whew, I’m exhausted!
Episode Summary: Baldr carries a despondent Rygart and his Delphine golem back to Binonten, trying to reach the city before the big battle. Narvi also rushes back in a damaged golem. Back in Binonten, Sigyn is furiously working on a secret weapon, expecting Rygart’s return. When General Borcuse’s superior forces arrive at dawn, he immediately attacks the city, dividing his forces to overwhelm the gates. As the battle rages on, Rygart waits for his Delphine to recharge. Cleo escapes, with Sigyn’s tacit approval. The battle for Binonten continues throughout the city, as various golems face off, sometimes with personal grudges to bear. Ultimately, Rygart comes face-to-face with Borcuse just as Sigyn delivers her completed weapon, a giant four-pointed shuriken at the end of a rope, and in a close-fought battle Rygart emerges victorious. The enemy forces withdraw, the ravaged city is saved, and Rygart is reunited with Hodr and Sigyn, and much to his surprise his younger brother Regatz as well.
My Impressions: I’ve been putting off this review because it has been a bit difficult really determining whether I like Broken Blade, or dislike it. For a show that started out so strongly, I have been enduring it as the plot got lost in the weeds and muddled up by a whole army of side characters.
Mostly this episode was nothing more than one big, huge, massive, knock-down-drag-out fight with various giant mechanized robots bludgeoning each other for the better part of an hour. Sometimes you could tell who was fighting who, but for the most part it was just one golem bashing another without fully understanding what was going on. The Fog of War and all, I guess, but after a while it devolved into a haze of chunks of quartz armor flying off and people dying, lots of noise and movement and quite well animated, but just a confusing mess.
The good news, however, is that much of what has been clunking around for the past five episodes finally came full circle, as everyone returns back to Binonten…where it all began. Not that there was any surprise in that, since it was largely “fated” that Rygart would return when he promised Hodr and Sigyn a few episodes back (feels like forever, though). But the final battle between Rygart and Borcuse was not exactly the most amazing thing in the world — after all, we’ve seen Rygart face off against the baddied in extended melees before. This time, Rygart is given a sooper-seekrit weapon from his sweetheart, which is supposedly enough to turn the tide of battle in his favor. And the weapon they’ve been slaving away night and day turns out to be…a huge throwing star attached to a string. Seriously. If that’s all it takes for Rygart to defeat the enemy’s leader, then I’m thinking he might not be as bad-ass as he first appears. Bleah.
As I had mentioned elsewhere, I was disillusioned with Broken Blade as the story seems to have lost sight of itself. Ultimately it started as a story of an anti-hero forced to fight for his country, the only person who can save his country and his friends, but ultimately his biggest battle is against his own personal doubts. And then the show started piling on the characters, each on vying for attention from the main cast. Many of them were larger-than-life figures, superhuman in their abilities as well as their own egos. What made Rygart special, his “un-sorcerer” non-ability, was largely ignored, then forgotten completely. Forces at play greater than the individual characters eclipsed the smaller battles as political machinations came into play — except this larger world was never well explained in the anime. Nor was the world itself they lived in, a broken-down planet devoid of metals and electricity, for that matter.
But the final episode seems to have returned back to the show’s roots, after a fashion. Thank god. Hodr remains largely a stoic wallflower (as he has always been), but Sigyn (who has had nothing more than a token for the past two episodes) mans up and provides support for Rygart. And Rygart breaks out of his navel-gazing funk and charges into battle as the only one who can save the city (oh, drama!) The city (and the country) survive to fight another day, everyone’s favorite overendowed underaged enemy also escapes to fight another day. And thankfully (from my perspective) lots of the side characters are killed off so we don’t have to worry about them muddling up the story further. Meanwhile, Zess, one of the major characters in the first half of the series, is resting comfortably in a country far away…also to fight another day.
I’ve made it no secret that I have a strong dislike of the “giant robot” genre of Japanese anime, mainly because I find the whole concept of massive anthropomorphic fighting robots somewhere between juvenile and ridiculous. But if I *had* to make a giant robot show, it would be closer to Broken Blade, as in the grim-and-gritty reality of it all, imperfect machines that break apart when attacked, pieces of quartz armor all over the place.
The verdict: – better than the previous three episodes.
FINAL SERIES GRADE: B. Broken Blade started out strong, and I was pretty well awed by the first episode. But the following episodes were increasing frustrating as the plot got muddied and confused as side characters took the spotlight away from the protagonist. Yet throughout it all, the artwork was wonderful, the animation strong (especially the fight scenes, and there were plenty), and the background music excellent. And in the end, the series did pull through and provide a resolution…of sorts.
By that, I mean that this is not the end of Broken Blade. More like, it’s the end of the first story arc. We’ve only seen the first major battle, and there are plenty of loose ends to clear up. It was a satisfying conclusion of the storyline, but definitely not an end to the over-arching story itself. Will there be more of Broken Blade (in animated form)? Perhaps. For now, the story continues in manga form.
For more information:
- My review of the first episode from August 2010
- My review of the second episode from September 2010
- My review of the third episode from July 2011
- My review of the fourth episode from August 13th
- My review of the fifth episode from August 26th
- Info resources: My Anime List, Anime News Network, and AniDB
- Episode 5 Video Preview: on Youtube
Sampling of Online Reviews:
- “In fact, “satisfying without ever pushing over into the outright spectacular” pretty much sums up the entirety of Break Blade – it has plenty of decent, fleshed out characters who you can either get behind or at least by fascinated by, with plenty of rivalries and the like to go with it, but once again it’s the mecha that make this series.” – Hanners’ Anime Blog
- “On each second of action having meaning, they are very beautiful. The techniques of the most skilled or driven pilots is well thought out. Those who fight for what they care for do not know how to go down. The detail place in every golem is one reason this anime only comes out once a month. Grade: Excellent.” – Mediabeast
- “I still can’t shake the feeling that it lacks a sense of closure. It wasn’t all that unexpected given that the manga doesn’t conclude where the movies did, but it does leave something to be desired when Rygart, Zess, Hodr, and Sigyn’s backstory is left completely open-ended. To me, their friendship is the core of the story and the war between Athens and Krisna is merely a setting for it, so things should ultimately come down to an ending that resolves things between them.” – Random Curiosity
- “My only complaint is that I wish it were longer. It had a satisfying conclusion, but I feel like there are more unanswered questions. Cleo especially was kind of left as a cliffhanger, and Rygart’s rival just kind of disappeared. It definitely deserves a sequel, but I doubt we’ll get one, at least not in the immediate future. Grade: 9/10.” – Draggle’s Anime Blog
- “I know the Break Blade manga is still ongoing, and these movies were really just an advertisement for them. But I don’t want to read the friggen manga. The story of Break Blade is crap. Even in the earlier episodes where I actually cared about some of the characters, I’d only call the story ‘decent’. It’s the directing and robot battles I’m here for.” – The Cart Driver