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…