Broken Blade takes place in a world where humans have the innate ability to use magic to manipulate quartz crystals. In turn, this allows them to power all sorts of 'technology' such as cars, coffee makers, and of course, giant robots. A six part movie miniseries adapted from an ongoing twelve volume manga, the tale follows Rygart Arrow, an 'un-sorceror' who has a rare affliction which prevents him from controlling magic like everyone else. As such, he is not the mover and shaker that all of his school friends have become. But, he is sucked into a war between his country and that of his best friend Zess, and co-opted by Queen Sigyn to pilot an 'ancient golem' that only he can control.
- Accessibility. You don't have to know a lot about Manga or Anime. You don't have to have a vast knowledge of the back-story. What you need to know is outlined succinctly in a brief intro, and then it's off to the races.
- Stunning. The anime, and the Manga it is from, have a very stylish visual aspect. The characters and golems are very clean, and the setting is very rich and involving. The cities have stark lines and look interesting, while being visually distinct from each other.
- Characters. From the sympathetic King Hodr to Rygart, the reluctant hero, from the cool and taciturn General Baldr to the beautiful Queen Sigyn, the cast is varied, fun and interesting. Motivations are coherent and well thought out...with a few exceptions. More on this below.
- General Borcuse. For the love of all that is good and holy, it's nice to see a straight up, honest to goodness villain. He's a bad guy. Everyone knows he's a bad guy. His subordinates respect and fear him. His enemies hate and fear him. He pilots a mech that wears a cape and has twin scorpion tails. He's a bad guy! This dude should have been in Code Geass. Heck, he should have been in Evangelion!
- Grown Ups! Rygart, Zess, Hodr, and Queen Sigyn are 25! 25! They can drink legally and be married. They can own land and vote! This is new anime terrain folks.
- Plot Threads...Awaaaay! Remember mentioned above that the Manga this was based on was ongoing? Well, see, that's a problem for a miniseries that ends. This means some plot threads which carried over from the Manga are not really addressed as they will be in the full story. Why is Athens using hyper-developed 12 year old supermodels to pilot mecha? Who really is to blame for the Assam civil war? Will Orlando aid Krisna in it's war against Athens?
- Zess. Zess is rather like Suzaku Kururugi from Code Geass. Which, if you remember my review of that from last week, means that he's annoying. You can tell the writers are trying to set him up as the same sort of sympathetic Anti-villain, but, perhaps because of Code Geass, he just seems like another fake principled traitor. At one point, he fires on Rygart under a flag of truce, using the justification that if he just kills his best friend quickly, he can put a quick end to the war. Then, when Rygart fights back and turns the tables, Zess feels betrayed and asks "What happened to him [Rygart]? Why can't he see they need to surrender?" Umm, maybe because you just tried to kill him, jerk.
- The (Love) Triangle is (Not) Nature's Strongest Shape. The love interest between Queen Sigyn and Rygart is a central plot point of the series, and much angst is shared over it. The thing that makes it not work as well as some other triangles in anime is that the third point (King Hodr) really doesn't seem to care much. Queen Sigyn has her own room and throws herself at Rygart in public, to the point where other people talk about it as a matter of course, and Hodr doesn't really seem bothered by it at all. Tacit approval is...tacit. By halfway through the movies, one begins hoping Hodr would just get a divorce and marry the painfully loyal Captain Sakura, who seemed to obviously dig him. Sure, she's not smoking hot blond Queen Sigyn, but at least she might, you know, share a bedroom with him. Also, she's not ridiculously shorter than King Hodr, as many of the other characters are. A king needs to consider these things...