Anime Review: BlazBlue: Alter Memory (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 16.09.2017 1

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BlazBlue: Alter Memory (UK Rating: 15)

Arc System Works' BlazBlue hit the scene in 2008, the same year as Street Fighter IV. This duo, along with Super Smash Bros. Brawl, gave the FG community something of a renaissance. It boasted some amazing character designs, a slamming soundtrack, and some smooth, fast combat. It also seemed the perfect candidate for an anime adaptation; after all, it already felt heavily influenced by anime and manga. However, with a huge cast and a crazy complex plot involving Groundhog Day-style time loops and multiverses, can this all possibly be squeezed into just 12 episodes? This complete collection comes courtesy of Funimation via Anime Limited and is available from 25th September.

Series protagonist, Ragna the Bloodedge, fittingly takes centre stage and he certainly looks every part the anime hero with his spiky hair, long coat, big sword, and plenty of belts. Combine his look with his tragic past, his constant brooding, and his search for revenge, and it all adds up to anime protag 101. The story of this series adapts the first two BlazBlue games, Calamity Trigger and Continuum Shift. The problem is anyone watching this without having previously played those games will be utterly lost here. The series expects the audience to be familiar with the story and absolutely speeds through the story of the first game in around two episodes, skipping over huge revelations, and then slamming to an end. There are tons of plot points never elaborated upon and even more elements of the story that are baffling without having invested a lot of time in the games.

The core of the story is based around the fact that the world of BlazBlue is stuck in a time loop with only a few people understanding they are stuck in this Groundhog Day-style system, which ends every time Ragna faces off against the artificial human, Nu-13, and one of these showdowns is the opening to the series. However, it takes numerous playthroughs of the game with different characters to truly understand this and here it's wrapped up in two episodes, with little explanation. Basically, the rest of the series plays out another loop where this time things will be different (like Roland finally returning to the tower, this time with the Horn of Gilead). This information instantly makes the series make a lot more sense, but it's something many viewers will not understand until late in the series, if at all.

Being an adaptation of a great looking series of fighters, the mess of the story would be more forgivable (although not completely) should the battles look impressive, and while the battles are plentiful, they are utterly forgettable and completely lacking in both the art and the animation. Fans of the series hoping to see some dramatic and cool adaptations of their favourite characters facing off can expect to see plenty of showdowns, but none of note, with mediocre action across the board. It regularly looks like an uninspired, low budget weekly Shonen series. On the audio front, there is both an English and a Japanese dub here, with returning voice actors from the games that at least gives some reason for series fans to watch. There are some major veteran voice actors here and they all put in some quality performances, much more so than this series deserves.

Rated 3 out of 10


Anyone not familiar with the BlazBlue videogame releases will find the story of BlazBlue: Alter Memory a confusing jumble. The storytelling jumps between the large cast of characters, dropping in on different factions and plotlines that are never explained or expanded on, meaning the audience is left thoroughly confused as to just what on Earth is going on for most of its duration. These sorts of adaptations have two aims: satisfying fans of the original and, hopefully, gaining a few new players for the source material. There is little chance this will entice new players to the games, though, and it's not even a fitting accompaniment to the console and handheld series. Basically, it is a failure in every sense.

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Dang...that bad? Smilie

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