Blade and Soul: Episode 1

Duh-nuhm….duh-nuhm-duh-nuhm…dundundundundun~…

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Can you feel it, Rookie? That scent in the air…a threat to your sanity like you wouldn’t believe. Laugh, laugh it up now. But soon, Rookie, soon…

Spring is coming…and with it horrible fanservicey shows like this one is destined to be.

Kidding aside, I did not think that this pilot was all bad. That ALL bad, it isn’t. Yet.  Some intrigue and world building (sort of) that I will at least be creatively entertained as a writer. I’m sure there is going to be some poignant imagery here that sets my brain off on another tangent.  And for all the flaws here the art is not one of them.  But again, my art standards are silly low (and art is not choreography).

But the big question that remains to be seen is will the rules of the universe be explained, or are we assumed to have played the game?  Ah, that will be what determines if this “universe building” was anything of the kind.

We open on DRAMATIC ESCAPE! A white-haired woman is running from faceless goons.  Naturally, the woman whose face we can see is a ninja and fights with blades, while the dirty soldiers use guns like cowards that stir ire in our prideful Japanese sensibilities.  Don’t worry, she kills them all righteously.  How do I know? This show is not trying to be deep enough that she MIGHT have a checkered past.

We are then treated to a civilian (we can tell because he’s wetting himself) being killed by a…Andre the Giant? He uses this red-ethereal…wolf thing to just decay and destroy the poor sap.

That…that was pretty cool. Horrific, and mysterious.  But again, this is where that “if they bother to explain it to the layman later” thing comes in. By the end of this series I want to look at this scene and understand exactly what happened, you know, within reason.  If I am still as confused, well, that’s writing quality worthy of Machine Doll.

The big guy is chastized, sort of, by some woman in an outfit that screams “Ooo I’m femme fatale, BE IMPRESSED.”

She’s shushed though by someone in charge, apparently their commander.  Her voice is nice, very serious, yet that hint of being tired of watching children with monster powers all day. They’re inspecting the dead bodies from before.  I guess the guy who just got…devoured? was a witness and we couldn’t have those? Even though all he saw was dead soldiers?  Or maybe they assumed him guilty and killed him without trial. I AM THE LAW!

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We cut to credits.  This song is…okay.  It’s rather white noise to me.  The visuals are….weird.  They are obviously trying to do a big battle ballad style opening, but the music isn’t quite up to task, and the animation itself feels kind of…uninspired.  Like they didn’t really care about the action itself as an art form, if that makes sense.

After credits in a bar…brothel…inn? Ah, fuck it, if Warcraft has taught me anything about MMOs they’re all the same thing.

Soldiers bust in on a rowdy night.  But as they draw attention, I wager soldiers don’t frequent this place for whatever reason. They announce they’re on business from the Param Empire.

I admit I like the innkeeper here.  Not her outfit, but I love HER.  Some patron starts to drunkenly draw attention to himself and comes THIS close to insulting the femme-fatale lady from before, and the innkeeper here just casually beats him unconscious.  You see her juggling the role of middle-man here, trying not to get noticed by the authorities and being as diplomatic as possible.  I’m pretty sure she’s a stock character but it was effective stock. And Blade and Soul needs all the help it can get.

The soldiers get to business, opening a scroll with a butterfly on it.  The woman from before will be recognized by this mark.

…Holy shit.  I’m sorry but…do you know how long it’s been since a fantasy-historical series realized they didn’t just make portraits of everyone before photography?  Point awarded, Blade and Soul…well done.

They announce the woman has a sizable bounty for killing “a master”, whatever that is.  This merely exists to draw us to a girl who I know from the previews will be a significant character later on.

Our ninja is bathing, because of course she is.  And some poor sap is spying on her, because he’s dead meat.

Though we are treated to an interesting scene…a memory? Symbolic? The imagery is pretty stirring.

I have to say, so far, while the fanservicey aspects are on display, I’m generally impressed with how things have been handled. We’re about 1/4 of the way in, and my kidding aside, things have been pretty promising.

So the ninja girl jumps her peeping tom, to be met by his brother.  Before she’s even released him, the brother offers to hire her for her services.  He needs muscle against the Param empire.

…Aaaaand you’ve killed it show.  This is…it’s…have you ever seen a moment of television so contrived, you don’t even feel anything? No disgust, or boredom, or anger, just…that was convenient.  I suppose I should be fair, the Param seem to be pervasive in this universe.  But if they were so ubiquitous why would you share you’re on their shortlist to a random stranger who would most likely be employed by them?

So we have Koga and Masa, they’re from a small farming village.  We learn our ninja’s name is Alka.

We’re now treated to “rural town acting rural”.  This is to give you a sense of how they are a COMMUNITY and enrage you when it’s eventually burned to the ground.

Aruka and I are in agreement about this crap. She basically just looks around for something to interest her rather than pay these people any attention.

Now we meet the leader. She’s about 20, little less, and female, and has lines on her face for detail, so we know she isn’t a background character.  Impressed with Alka’s skills, she introduces herself as Mori.   I don’t like Mori.  She has potential, but right now something just rubs me the wrong way about her.

The search for clothes for Alka (hers stained in blood and abandoned) is fruitless. But that’s okay, because Mori will just give Alka some of hers.  Which even I am calling bullshit on, Mori is like six inches shorter and CONSIDERABLY flatter than Alka.  Nah, she just happened to have a top with form-fitting DD-cups.  Maybe she was planning ahead as an overly optimistic 12 year old or something.

Of course, being based on an MMO, the joke could be at my expense how all clothing fits regardless of race or gender.

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Mori shares with Alka the reasons the bad guys are going to destroy this place.  She “officially” hires Alka to be her bodyguard.   And I do like Alka acting professionally.  She’s probably trained to tail and protect diplomats, generals, and kings.  But Mori just doesn’t have the faintest clue what that world is like, so she just brushes it off as Alka’s eccentricity. In this we see she is woefully prepared to handle the negotiations with Param.

And how. The Param soldiers open fire on them when Mori refuses to sell the land.  Luckily, Alka is here to block the bullets and kill two of the soldiers. The third escapes, but not before noticably-noticing Alka’s tattoo.

So everyone’s cheering Alka, as you damn sure cheer on your guild’s carry DPS.  But Koga, THANK GOD FOR US, is suspicious, questioning if Alka had been to Param.  His voice is all accusatory here.

DIPSHIT! YOU SAW HER BLOODY CLOTHES AND SAID NOTHING.

He even goes to the point of saying that the soldier’s expressions changed, and having Alka here might be putting them in jeopardy.

Yes. More jeopardy than when they decided to open fire on your leader BEFORE they knew you had an assassin.  Tell me, how DO you get in deeper than “murder them if they resist even slightly”?

At this point, Blade and Soul has lost my goodwill.  This is really the last straw.  Suddenly everyone is against Alka.  Your rural affections just go to whatever dick is waving in your faces.  Because the answer is clear! Exile her. Exile the only fighter in the village when Param has made it clear military force is an option.  AND DO IT NAO! NAAAAAAOOOOOO!

So Param sends a fighter after Alka, and as part of the military that is…!

Yes, burning the rural town to the ground.  Did you expect anything less?

He drinks a potion that makes him all…blue crystal veiny…And he quickly kills all the male members of the cast so far, leaving Alka and Mori.  Alka kills him rather quickly in a rather bland fight.  Nothing as visually enthralling as the red-mist-skull thingy.  Leaving Mori and Alka all alone, vowing revenge.  Oh, right. Alka finally talks, and tells us she was framed. Told you she wasn’t going to have layers.

Yeah, this is gonna be awful, but we knew that going in.

There is interesting stuff here, and I pray I can find some -element- I am drawn to (most likely candidate being commander lady, I mean look at that third image!).  I’m curious about the Param, they seem powerful but how ubiquitous are they that the capital is one day’s travel from this tiny village they haven’t conquered yet? Is it less Roman and more Athenian in its Empire-ness?

Like I said, we’re keeping our expectations low, but hopefully there is SOMETHING redeemable about this nonsense down the road.  On the plus side, there is juuuuuuuust enough attempt at competence that I can probably approach this as another Machine Doll. You know, point out how a writing student could have done better, so simply.

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