Well I’m sure no one is waiting for this post to come, but I’d nonetheless like to share my thoughts on the last 3 episodes, and the series as a whole. BlazBlue Alter Memory is many things and very few of them positive. Its a prime example of how to not animate a series, how to not adapt a complex story of two games, how to not pace and write a 12 episode series, and its also a huge disappointment to any fan of the franchise. I’m sure anyone who watched this series has long since checked out anyway, so in a sense I’m preaching to the choir.
Having said that, what makes BlazBlue Alter Memory such a heart break is the hidden potential the series had and the random glimmers of greatness that sometimes would shine from it.
The first instance of this is when we see the battle at the beginning of episode 10, where Ragna and Jin battle, for a few seconds presents one of those glimmers of hope that torture us fans. Ragna’s attacks finally get animated nicely, and we also see Jin use some his distinct distortion drive attacks. And then there’s the big moment of Terumi finally breaking Noel, which is for all intents and purposes not bad.
The issue with Noel’s big breakdown is that isn’t quite earned. Again, that’s to do with the episode length of this series, and the lack of development for everyone involved, but Noel breaks down for the wrong reasons. Hazama/Terumi ends up using his series exclusive vision powers to show Noel how she sent Tsubaki into despair, before throwing Makoto off a cliff.
Yes, losing her friends is part of the reason, but the other reason that Noel breaks down is because her entire existence is undermined. She’s called a fake, a doll, a person that shouldn’t exist. Its something Ragna already knows (a stark contrast from the source material)
Of course, its episode 11 where the true travesty occurs. Episode 11’s first scene is one huge info dump, curtesy of Hazama/Terumi. And no, as much as I love Yuuichi Nakamura’s performance as Terumi, it doesn’t excuse the writers basically explaining the entire plot and idea behind BlazBlue’s world in one big moment of exposition.
Everything about the Boundary, about The Tamagahara, And event stuff about Sithr and the Master Unit is all explained in a measly 4 minutes. Did the writers even remotely expect the audience to follow this? Or even bother to? For those who’ve played the games, this is old news. Its also a scene that doesn’t occur in the games, so this is the one “fix” that the anime staff and writers invented to explain everything.
In the games, these revelations mean something truly big, and are pieced together through playing through all the various characters’ story paths. In the series its a massive 4-minute info dump that would probably fly over anyone’s head. If anything, this information comes in waaay too late and in too much of a chunk. It would’ve been better to have developed the world throughout the series (as is generally the way to go about these sorts of things).
I’m not even going to try to explain the explanation that Terumi gave, because even I had trouble following it and I knew all this stuff. I will apologize to those that actually got spoiled by my earlier posts, because I did kind of reveal ideas about the boundary and stuff a bit earlier than the series did. If I ruined this big moment for you, then I am sorry. Also… seriously? XD
The one thing that this series did, that I feel was actually better than the games, was the whole scene between Ragna and Nu, and how it bled into her protecting him and giving him the idea engine. In essence, its Ragna’s soft nature, his acts of kindness that end up not only saving him, but give him the power to do the impossible. Its one of the story’s great moments, and I’m glad that it was kept in tact, for whatever that’s worth at this point.
And despite how badly its animated, its nice to see Ragna finish Hazama off with his distortion drive. Sadly, We never really got to see any of the beautiful special moves from the game animated well, but I think I’ve harped enough on that as is.
And of course, Rachel’s capture in episode 10 that kind of bleeds into 11 is pretty sad as well. In the games, it goes without saying but Hakumen, Rachel and Valkenhyn attack Hazama together, and are all owned. Hazama not only is able to keep three of the strongest characters in the BlazBlue universe at bay, but he manages to trick and trap Rachel, not the Imperitor. And I’ll get to that Imperitor in a bit.
The other difference from the games is, that when Ragna arrives in the area right outside the master unit, Jin and Hakumen have both been pushed back and nearly defeated.
Ragna and Jin do not team up at this point, and it makes no sense for Jin and Ragna to randomly team up after all the bad blood between them. It makes sense that the anime staff wanted to give Jin more of a role in this series, since he’s literally saved by Ragna at this point in the games.
And indeed, its Ragna who ends up bringing back Noel at the expense of his left arm and the Idea Engine. Sadly, the scene here is hardly as cool as it is in the actual games. The static CG scenes we get in the games really highlight the grandness of the moment, and that’s unfortunately lost here.
And the big reveal of the Imperitor actually being Jin and Ragna’s younger sister? The big twist? It’s downplayed horribly. The big thing that Continuum Shift ends on is the fact that Saya is actually the big mastermind, and that it was actually SHE who had Jin strike Ragna when they were children. On top of that, she’s also Noel’s original (i.e Noel is a clone made from Saya).
That big epic moment gets swept under the rug mostly, and loses a lot of the impact that made the ending such a tough cliffhanger to swallow. What’s sad is that its been DONE already, and most if not all the events are adapted straight from the games. Its beyond comprehension how this part of the series and story, the one that will lead right into the next game, Chrono Phantasm, is messed up.
And with that, we get an ending montage of all the characters as they prepare to take on Saya and the rest, and get stronger for the battles ahead. The cool thing that’s really nice to see at the end is where the characters all end up and who they’re paired with. Ragna ends up going with Taokaka, Noel goes with Makoto and Tager, and Kokone ends up giving Ragna another arm before going her own seperate way. And of course, Ragna and Taokaka head towards Ikaruga (if you forgot, that’s the country that Shishigami Bang is from, the one that Jin destroyed).
So yeah, in terms of quality, the last few episodes clearly disappoint. The ending butchers two major scenes that are of the utmost importance in terms of the franchise cannon. Things get shifted around, and these changes don’t improve the experience. The only thing this series ends up doing good is development of Nu and Ragna, and his getting the Idea Engine as a result. That’s a hollow victory in light of all the blunders this series makes.
As I mentioned before, BlazBlue Alter Memory is just… NOT how you do an anime adaption of a game. There’s tons of decisions for this series that simply baffle me.
Why the anime production staff decided to adapt the story of two whole games into measly 12 episode series is beyond me. If this was indeed the deal that Arc System Works got, then it would’ve been in their best interests to have declined. In general this whole production reeks of being given a budget that just simply wasn’t going to do anything for the series. If Arc System Works wanted to promote their game, and make the series serve as an advertisement, then they definitely messed it up.
Its a tragedy when the anime series ends up looking horribly worse than the original source material, and that said source material is a fighting game. The big draw of the games is the beautiful 2D Anime styled visuals, the jaw dropping special moves and the really complex bordering on convoluted story. Unfortunately, the anime series barely gets the story part done, let alone right.
The existence of this series just makes me wonder about what could’ve been. Imagine if this series was in the hands of Madhouse or even Sunrise. Even with 12 episodes, I think the series would’ve gotten some serious attention. If this series had been split into two cours, each having 12 episodes, then… well… Even better no?
As a fan of the games, it pains me to see the franchise reduced to the travesty that is BlazBlue Alter Memory… And yet, as a fan it was still nice to see the game series you like see an animated. The few moments where it did shine, mostly in the character interactions, was where there was some gold hidden underneath all the other garbage.
Not only that, but I have to commend the seiyuu, especially Tomokazu Sugita and Yuuichi Nakamura, who performed their roles as Ragna and Hazama/Terumi admirably (despite the script they were dealt). I’m not even sure how this terrible production was able to afford the talent, but the seiyuu were the reason that this production didn’t completely and utterly fail in every aspect.
In closing all I can say, is that I’m excited for the next “game” in the series coming out soon. It’ll be great to get back into the experience that made me such a fan, and I’d rather “alter” my memory to forget this series.
Maybe some day we’ll get another BlazBlue series, and hopefully if we do, it’ll actually do justice to what is definitely a very strong and exciting franchise.
And if this series even remotely sparked your fancy, I highly recommend picking up Continuum Shift Extend II for the PS Vita or 3Ds, which has the same story that this series covered, except its done 500 times better.
At the end of it all, BlazBlue Alter Memory is a huge missed opportunity. The series represented a chance for the franchise’s complex story to be distilled down into a neat linear summary. Unfortunately the changes amounted to either cutting too much content, or not editing things enough for the anime medium. Here’s hoping there’s a better adaption that this franchise deserves, someday…
Posted by setsuken
Posted on January 17, 2014 at 5:18 am
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