It is with a great deal of reluctance that I state this, but I guess BlazBlue is kind of getting better? Can it undo the damage of the first two episodes from here on out? Its doubtful, but at least its bearable to watch for really hardcore fans of the franchise. If nothing else, this anime series should at least reward the die hard fans of this franchise, and uptil now, it was doing anything but.
At this point, if you’re still watching this series, you’re either really curious about this series, or just a huge fan. I fall into the latter category myself, and I’ve simply accepted the fact that this anime series is not going to be great. Its a sad tragedy that a franchise that was so made and set for being adapted into an anime series, one that could potentially span multiple series and seasons, is going to go down in history as a bust.
So from here on out, I guess I’m just looking to see how the anime producers choose to tell the BlazBlue story. The first two episodes basically went through the entire first game’s worth of events, with bits of the second kind of thrown in. This decision is perplexing, but I suspect its because the staff was really just trying to make it somehow make sense in the time frame and budget they’ve been allotted.
BlazBlue Alter Memory, you see, is less than a one-cour series (12 episodes). Instead of trying to make the series end on a cliffhanger, which would be totally acceptable in this weird case, the anime staff chose to cramm everything they could into these 12 episodes. This is a horrible decision IMO, as BlazBlue is the one franchise that can stand to have a cliffhanger. If the anime had been strong, it could’ve led more people to play the games, and the popularity could’ve led to more anime stuff as well.
Sadly, that’s not the case, and we’ve got what we got. So with that in mind, how was episode 3 slightly better? Well, for one thing, it slowed down a little bit. There was time to breath, and there were more low key scenes that helped flesh out some of the story. There was virtually no new content from the games yet, but at least nothing important was messed with this time.
The sore sticking point for me, is definitely the relationship between Ragna and Noel. As a few people mentioned in the comments last week, that whole relationship has been the first real sacrifice that this series has made to try and condense its story. From a story stand point, there was a bit of backpedaling this week, as a sort of rift between Ragna and Noel was artificially put in. While Ragna brushes Noel off for noble reasons, its really Noel’s way of looking at things that is most troubling.
As fans of the games know, Noel doesn’t immediatly like Ragna. In fact, Ragna and Noel are pretty much at odds through most of the second game (which is where this episode kind of quasi picks up). Noel, however, is shown as a love stricken puppy in this series, with none of her spunk or confidence at all being presented. Noel hass definitely got a cutesy weak side to her, but its “a” side. She’s far from the damsel in distress that the series is making her out to be.
The scene where Ragna tells her to get lost, lets just say she wouldn’t take that sitting down. XD
Anyone who played as Noel in the original Calamity Trigger will attest to how brokenly strong she is as a character as well XD
That said, not all of it was bad though. The plot building and story actually worked for the most part. Seems like the anime staff is a huge fan of Hazama/Terumi, as they actually really nailed every aspect of him. Even his attacks looked pretty close to their game counterpart, which is a big honor in this series. If only Ragna and Jin were so lucky XD
Terumi’s plan and origins are even being given some real serious smart attention here. The whole thing about Terumi and Hazama was something that took ages to really “get” in the games. The way the series is actually presenting him will make a lot more sense later down the line, and for once, some of the shifting around they’re doing actually makes a lot of sense.
Of course, it makes a lot of sense to me, a person who’s played the games and actually knows where this all leads. I’m sure casual watchers are just as overloaded and confused as they were in the last two episodes. Sadly, its become pretty obvious at this point that this series really doesn’t care for newcomers at all.
None the less, I’ll give credit where credit is due. The talk between Terumi/Hazama and Rovius Clover was pretty well done, and more improtantly low key. Hazama’s schemes were also presented in a rather easy to understand way. I’m kind of really surprised how plainly they’re revealing what Hazama’s plans for Noel are, since the games took their sweet time and had you infer these details rather than spell them out the way the anime series is doing.
Also worth noting was Terumi’s whole deal with Ragna’s origin. This was something that, newcomers or people who’ve only played Calamity Trigger will find really weird. Lets just say that the whole flashback to Ragna’s past gets explored multiple times in the games, and there’s a new layer or twist to it each time. The second game adds in Terumi to the mix. The anime did a really good job of actually showing how twisted and evil Terumi really is, so props to them for that at least.
The final meeting between Tsubaki and Hazama was also pretty well done, and it was pretty awesome to actually see this scene play out. In the games, we never actually see Tsubaki get the order to kill Jin and Noel, so it was a pretty interesting note to end the episode on.
I guess, technically this was some anime original content, and it worked too. We do get the information in the games, but I daresay that the anime series actually takes a rare opportunity to flesh this whole scene out more.
The problem is of course, that this series needs to not try and improve the story of the games, but do a decent job of adapting it.
Now, here’s some more conjecture from me. I feel like the anime staff hate Ragna just as much as they love Hazama. The lack of care and attention devoted to Ragna is mind boggling, especially given that he’s kind of the main hero of the franchise and story. As a huge Ragna fan and a Ragna player (he’s my main character in the games), I’m rather disappointed at how badly he keeps being represented in this series.
For one thing, Ragna appears extremely weak in this adaption. Pathetically weak. His battle with Hakumen was cut short, which is kind of a real big deal in the game. Then his battle with Nu was also cut short, with him actually losing (hardly what happens in the actual game). On top of that, Ragna keeps getting saved by literally everyone he knows.
In the games, these events happen, but there’s some serious spacing between them, and Ragna actually ends up winning and fighting through a lot of battles before he actually tastes failure and is bailed out by his support group. I should say, Rachel is being adapted decently well, except she’s saving Ragna a bit too much, and directing him a bit too much as well.
In the games, Ragna is actually a wild card that ends up surprising Rachel quite a few times, and its his actions that motivate her to save the planet from that big satellite monster too. See, Ragna is so central to so much character development for everyone else, that the entire story hurts because of the lack of care that’s being put into him.
Ragna’s encounter with Carl Clover for example, pretty sad too. One frame in particular just made my eyes hurt with how badly it was drawn:
Added to that, Ragna basically had to make an escape, rather than school Clover like he does in the games.
Its not only the art either, his battles have so far been horribly animated. The animation in this show is just… bad. There’s no other way to put it, its just subpar quality, and makes me really wonder how small of a budget this series really got. 12 episodes, and really shitty animation to boot? That just hurts.
I think the places where this series ends up showing some potential is when the characters meet in rather low key environments. The meeting between Tao and Makoto wasn’t bad, and the meeting between Litchi and Ragna wasn’t bad either (complete with some boobie lady humor XD, taken straight from the games, but dialed up a little bit as well XD).
Honestly, I hope they space out Ragna’s time in Orient town, as this whole area could easily have been an arc in and of itself in this series.
See again, I think this was just a case of bad staff being chosen for this adaption. The director’s strength clearly lies in character drama and interpersonal dialogue a lot more than actual action and tight pacing. Its whenever the series goes into these quiet character interactions, things get marginally better.
As a whole this third episode does a better job than the second one. There’s some serious problems, but I don’t flat out hate everything about it, much like the first episode. I’m still pretty disappointed though.
In the end, I kind of wonder why Arc System works gave the okay for this adaption? It really doesn’t help them, and in fact, insults their franchise and fans. This adaption has a horribly low budget, and a very short time frame, and it feels like no one working on this adaption really cares for it, because I refuse to believe that any production staff is honestly trying their best and failing this badly.
So… where do I go from here? Well I’ll continue to blog this series. My posts are probably going to be a combination of rambles that put forward the differences between the superior games, and this series. I’ll also give props where its due, but I guess this is just a fan’s prespective on a game adaption gone horribly wrong, with random bursts of potential that really show “what could have been”.
Either way, for those reading, I’ll still be carrying on with this series, if only because I’m still curious to see how this adaption goes, and hopeful that it might fix itself. If the third episode shows anything, it shows that there is some small sliver of hope…
The story continues on, and I think we’ll be seeing more Ragna, Rachel and Noel next week. Lets see where this goes shall we?
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