15 CommentsBreak Blade / By Scamp /

Break Blade episode 6 (finale)

After 6 episodes, 50 minutes each of grizzled mechs duking it out in a desert, sprinkled with high council drama and Queen Sigyn’s radiant ass, Break Blade reaches its thrilling conclusion. Except not really, for this is a non-ending. The manga is still ongoing, so if you want to see what happens next, you have to watch static mechas where every move is brought across using speed lines and big words proclaiming WHOOSH.

I may come off as irritable in this review, so here’s where I attempt to lighten the complaints by kicking off the post with some sort of compliment. Break Blade’s battles are still as awesome as ever. In fact, probably even more so in this episode, seeing as the entire thing was made up of mecha battles. We didn’t even get to see Queen Sigyn’s glorious bottom except in a flashback, which struck me as cheating. The art direction was great, as usual. The shots of battered robots, swinging swords cumbersomely yet unstoppably, still look fantastic. Even the little things, like the flashbacks to the town when it was peaceful, or how Rygart never leant on dull narration to explain why Girge’s death affected him so much. Well directed, fantastic battle sequence, blah de blah typical Break Blade. Problem is, this is all for what? I can’t even remember why is Rygart is fighting anymore. Wasn’t it originally to prevent Hodr from dying? What about the main conflict between himself and Zess that was the driving force behind the drama? Zess has been chilling away with his family for the past 3 episodes, so all Rygart fights for is because…well, because he’s in the army I guess. Which isn’t a story they’ve bothered developing.

So why does this story matter if we’re just here for the mecha battles? Because they form a framing device to get us emotionally invested in events. Without that, these are just a whole bunch of pretty colours. Yes, they are very pretty colours, but one where I don’t care about the outcome. Without that, each choreographed move is only appreciated on a choreography mode and not what it means for the characters inside. Who the fuck is Borcuse? No seriously, he’s been around for 3 episodes and all I know about him is that he’s a generic evil prick. He was the sole person apparently fuelling this conflict, judging by the fact the entire force retreated when he died. Yes, it was cool to see Rygart smash him into a rather obscene amount of blood with a shuriken on the end of a rope, but it’s a fleeting glee that leaves no lasting impression.  Maybe they’re trying to push a camaraderie angle here, what with soldiers sticking up for each other and all that. If so, they didn’t spend nearly enough time on it. Each of the side characters didn’t get enough screen time to explain their motivations enough for us to care about them. None of their stories reached some sort of satisfying development or conclusion, and now we’re down to the meat of the problem.

I know the Break Blade manga is still ongoing, and these movies were really just an advertisement for them. But I don’t want to read the friggen manga. The story of Break Blade is crap. Even in the earlier episodes where I actually cared about some of the characters, I’d only call the story ‘decent’. It’s the directing and robot battles I’m here for. These won’t look, and will never look as good on the printed page because they’re restricted by lack of movement. Maybe I lack the brain capacity compared to the elite manga reading corps, but I can’t figure out what is going on in the action scenes of a battle manga. It’s not that I’ve never tried. I have 3 volumes of Claymore at home and I can’t figure out whether Clare is decapitating a demon or just transformed her upper body into a steering wheel. At least stuff like Full Metal Alchemist or D Gray Man have the bonus of most of the fights being what sort of crazy move the person used, but without the actual movement, it’s difficult to tell what the move actually entails. Deciphering the squiggly lines of manga is like explaining a joke in that it ruins the original intent.

What this does is leave a whole bunch of plot threads dangling with fuck all closure to the series. Rygart’s brother randomly appears at the end, for what? I guess it was to suddenly ground Rygart after becoming the beast in battle who had lost all motivations to become nothing more than a soulless killer which made him rather difficult to connect with I must say, but for what? It didn’t lead to anything. Or Chloe discovering that the people of Amestria aren’t baby eaters after all, but for what? It never leads to anything. I suppose there could be a sequel, but I don’t think it sold well enough to warrant one. Or I could read the manga…

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  1. mcm38
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Hehe, he didn’t get to be together with Sigyn.

  2. Posted August 5, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Yes, stop being an obstinate idiot and read the manga. It’s not a lack of brain capacity for picturing movement where there is none, it’s the lack of motivation to do so.

    While the movies show that the issue in the invasion is a closed thing, in the manga it’s still an ever-evolving situation. Frankly Borcuse’s death only seemed to stall the situation for the moment, since the OTHER neighboring country (a theocracy with a prepubescent girl as a figurehead) seems to have designs of its own on the country as a whole.

  3. Posted August 5, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    You basically hit on every reason I wanted to give Break Blade a good score as a whole but couldn’t totally justify it. Really super pretty to look at and watch unfold, but when you’re done with it, it’s just empty calories. Yeah, I could read the manga to see what happens after the movies, but why would I want to when I could not have given less of a shit about the story or characters by the end? It barely even bothered me that Zess had been essentially taking a story vacation for half the series, because the story was not worth caring about on the whole.

    Kind of sad. I mean, that scene with Rygart’s brother at the end SHOULD be something painful and ironic, but I can’t just snap on at a whim and feel something about a story and characters I’ve felt nothing about for a long while.

  4. Posted August 5, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Guise everyone knows there is only one reason you will ever need to read the manga. More Sigyn and Narvi Fanservice. There is even a beach epi*cough* eh i mean beach chapter! What more reason do you need?

    • Scamp
      Posted August 5, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Well…shit, I think you may have won me over

      • Mr. Anon
        Posted August 5, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        The beach chapter really brought out the best of Sigyn’s radiant ass.

        I’m up to date on the manga, and indeed the battles are quite hard to follow. That’s not really a flaw in manga in general, it’s mostly the lack of distinctive looking mechs and overuse of weird camera angles in this particular manga.

        Even in general manga battles can be hard to follow, but that skill comes with experience, when you get used to how manga artists tend to represent things.

        The story in the break blade manga is a lot easier to follow, since you’re not required to keep up the pace of the anime, and the manga has more exposition and dialogue. The anime changed some plot points too, mostly streamlining and improving things, but at the cost of not dealing with Girghe’s stuff too well.

  5. luffyluffy
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Is it even worth it to watch the last episode? I lost interest back in episoide 4 really.

    • Posted August 6, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      That mostly depends on how much you like the pretty pictures. I lost interest in the story around that time, but I liked the mecha battles and stuff enough to keep going.

      • luffyluffy
        Posted August 6, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        I finished it. It was balls.

        I’m off to go watch Thundercats.

        Hey Scamp, you should blog Thundercats. That’d be fucking awesome.

      • Scamp
        Posted August 6, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        I’m not a furry

        I don’t have a TV and I don’t know where I’d watch it. I have no previous experience with the franchise either so I don’t have a pressing reason to watch it

      • luffyluffy
        Posted August 6, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Permalink


        Even if you don’t have previous experiance, it’s a complete reboot so you don’t need any.

        C’mon, it’s animated by Studio 4°C. There’s only two episodes out as well :)

  6. Numbers and Space
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Well, it’s not the lack of movement that’s limiting the manga, it’s really the author itself that is limiting it. Good fights are more than possible in manga (you can’t really compare it… but I really like the battles in Negima), it’s just not possible in this one.

  7. Posted August 5, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    Break Blade lost steam after episode 3. And even those first three were just “good.” The last three gave off an aura of not caring. And as you mentioned, the last episode in particular threw caution to the wind and focused on trying to make the battles look as cool as possible.

    That last screencap makes me think of season 1 of Higurashi.

  8. Omisyth
    Posted August 6, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    I’m an action junkie so like a lot of people I loved the battle scenes in the show, but I was watching it for the story line as well. The episodes not fresh in my mind (hell neither is the series, but that’s mostly due to poor memory on my part) but I was totally invested in the characters, the storyline and the world. I can’t really explain it, but everything had a real weight to it.

    I was going to argue but since I stopped blogging I stopped analysing shows as well so I’d need to rewatch the series to form a concrete argument. Which is unlikely due to me having shite internet.

  9. h~
    Posted August 7, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    I agree with your points on the story being lacking and there being literally no closure, but I have to say it was great to see another great looking mecha show. I personally really enjoyed it despite its flaws and cliches…seeing the classic mecha storyline adapted with modern animation was great. Being a mecha fan there hasn’t been much for us in the past few years so we have to take what we can get. At least it’s not like IS which was 90% harem bullshit and 10% mecha action (even that shitty CGI mecha action).

    I guess the only thing all us mecha fans can look forward to now is Gundam Age which doesn’t look good at all and will probably make me hate modern Gundam even more.

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