「訣別ノ路」 (Ketsubetsu no Michi)
As the last movie ended with a cliffhanger, I was hoping this time would be different (because waiting for the 3rd movie would be agonizing), and it was! Anyway, Rygart proceeds with his plan to talk to Zess, and it succeeds with a little inside “joke” of theirs. Right when that guy said he’s never seen Zess so flustered before, I just couldn’t help but think Zess was totally lusting for Rygart. That certainly made their entire conversation more interesting than it originally was, but Zess reveals he has a daughter later on, which destroyed that possible character dynamic. Then again, he never mentioned a wife, so you never know. Clearly, I have not been exposed to any other sources other than the anime, so it’s quite refreshing to actually guess what could possibly happen in the series for once.
Of course, I could still predict a couple of moves the characters make just by following the cliches, but the story unfolds so easily and nicely that I didn’t really care about the cliches, kinda like Avatar (yes, the one with the blue people). I enjoyed this series so far mostly because of those reasons. That and the fights are incredibly engaging for me. I found myself easily drawn into the fights, and became increasingly frustrated when Rygart kept fumbling around in such a high potential machine. At first I was like, “come on, slice that bot in half with your claymore already!” Then I realized I didn’t really want Lee to die, because I’m sympathetic like that. Her character didn’t really help with the sympathy though, as she’s only been shown to be pretty much a bitch. One, she was pretty psychotic in battle, with that intense hatred that still goes unexplained so far, but probably had to do with her past experience that we might never see. Two, she completely ruined Cleo’s advances on Zess (apparently Lee secretly wants him as well), and makes fun of her battle ability constantly. So when it was revealed they were actually friends, I thought, “who would’ve guessed?” It’s also hard to believe that she’s only fifteen (and Cleo is like the pedovision of a twelve year old. Would it have been that difficult to just say they were 21 and 18?). That said, I didn’t necessarily hate her character, so I was pretty surprised when she did actually die. Most stories never kill off any character worth a damn, and even though Lee was underdeveloped, at least she was a major asset to Zess’ team. A dying character so early on is a rare thing to see, and it immediately gave the show a more gritty dimension. By killing off actual characters, like in Code Geass, the audience starts to feel much more attached to them. Thus, they’re more likely to become engaged in any future conflicts for fear of other characters. Death is easy to do in a storyline and is something we all are at least a little afraid of, which makes it a pretty good plot device. Not to forget, Break Blade actually pulled out two death cards, as Dan also died. I was actually more conflicted with his death than Lee’s. This is mostly because Dan pretty much died for nothing, and had me wondering along with Rygart whether or not it was his fault. Having his wife show up later was even more painful to see, and I felt Rygart should have embraced her for a little sympathy. It felt like she was holding up a front, and that a hug would get her to let out the needed tears. His comment about Dan at least having a baby was a bit insensitive, seeing as how that baby is now going to grow up without a father. I mean, where would you be without your father, Rygart?
The Battle & Mechas
So, getting back on track, the movie patterns so far have made the show engaging since they sandwich in a long mecha fight in between the development (although that wasn’t boring either). While my inexperienced mecha viewing eyes enjoyed the battle, I’ve read complaints that it was a bit dragged out and had many typical cliches that occur in such battles. These would be the conveniently placed weapon nearby, dropping said weapon at a crucial point, and generally just wailing around with both sides making stupid moves. While I agree to a point, the problems just didn’t seem to be that glaring to me, as each cliche had their reasons. What’s more annoying is the fact that Hodr’s golems just plain suck compared to Zess’. Hodr’s golems are like putty, constantly being shot and destroyed by Zess’ forces. Of course, now they have “The Black Golem”, which dances circles around all of them, if only the one guy that could control it had a bit more skill.
Characters & Story
While it seems there’s many problems with the characters, I’m assuming most of it will be cleared up when the inevitable history of the four childhood friends comes around. From what’s been shown so far, the main driving force of the story will be their friendship and dealing with that conflicting with the directions their adulthood has taken them. This type of story is always enjoyable, and if dealt with right, can always be original in their own ways. Most of the characters are very likable (except the pathetic General True), and it seems from the preview that more may be added. I’m not so sure they can all get the necessary development, but extending the movies to longer than an hour is always an option. The Kara no Kyoukai movies certainly followed this pattern. Rygart so far is an extremely likable character and as such, it’s enjoyable watching him struggle around a world he regards as unnecessary complexities. His father has also been made out to be quite the extraordinary parent, and I found myself wishing he were still alive to see his son finally do something he spent all his money to get him to do. The misunderstandings between Zess and Rygart was like that of a stereotypical shoujo, and when they showed implications of Zess believing Rygart killed Lee, the plot started showing signs of a Shakespearean tragedy. I hope the climax and finale won’t be so similar, with one of the main characters dying because of inevitable consequences, but tragedies do make for epic tales. Sigyn, Hodr, and Rygart seem to make up some flawed love triangle, as Hodr and Sigyn don’t even act like a married couple. They’ve barely been shown together, and Hodr hasn’t shown any signs of caring. They didn’t even sleep in the same room! Looks like the road to Sigyn is just being paved for you Rygart, if only you weren’t also typically dense. However, Sigyn did seem to let him go with ease, but it seemed like this has happened once before in the past, implying she’s probably already over being depressed with an unrequited love. But since Rygart decided to stay to fight for his friends, he may trigger the Sigyn flag once more.
Besides the “controlling quartz” sounding kind of dumb in the beginning (because lol, why quartz and the idea of being born to control it when they look just like humans is just ..eh), and the whole “main character is a failure but apparently can do one thing that noone else in that world can so he is now special and awesome because of it and the entire storyline is way too normal to be of interest without him” kind of thing, Break Blade does a lot of things right. The animation is breathtaking at times, and the background art is gorgeous, but I feel the character/mecha animation pales to even TV series such as TTGL for it’s just missing that smoothness and snappy feeling. Break Blade is a lot like a B-movie. It never reaches that point where it can shine on it’s own high pedestal above the sea of mediocre anime (even though it gets pretty damn close), but it tells the story well, has some great scenes here and there, and generally entertains without feeling like a waste of time. However, the remaining 4 movies can easily push it over to a triple A title, so I’m excited to see where the story heads. If you’ve got two hours to kill, go see these two movies. The bad thing is waiting for the upcoming movies, as it’ll be quite the wait for the next one. Even though it comes out near the end of this month, that’s only in theaters. Apparently the DVD/BD will be out sometime in November.
If you haven’t noticed by now, this is Kiiragi filling in for Divine. He was rather busy with the Fall preview, and I just happened to watch the two movies. So for movie 3, he may return, but if he’s busy, I suppose I can continue. Hope you enjoyed my two cents instead. Also, since it’s a long post, I made it tl;dr friendly, so just read what interests you.