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BlazBlue: Alter Memory Complete Collection UK Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read

Blazblue UK CoverGood job I played the game…

What They Say:
I’m gonna do what I didn’t the first time to change everything! Catch all your favourite BlazBlue characters in action in this thrilling anime based on the popular fighting game franchise!

Long ago, an insidious black beast sought to obliterate the human race, but the monster was defeated by a valiant Band of Heroes wielding the power of Ars Magus: a potent combo of magic and technology. Now, a roguish outlaw known as Ragna the Bloodedge seeks to wreak havoc upon the Librarium, a clandestine organization that governs Ars Magus. Armed with the mighty Azure Grimoire, Ragna quickly becomes the target of vigilantes, scientists, vampires, and Librarium foot soldiers. As he spirals toward a violent showdown with the maniacal Hazama, Ragna will discover just how closely his fate is tied to the future of our world!

Discover the story behind gamings deadliest moves in this series from the animation studio behind the BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasm cutscenes!

Contains the complete series on Blu-Ray with both the English dub and the original Japanese track with English subtitles.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio has a 2.0 release in English and a 2.0 in Japanese – I watched the disc in English because am a huge fan of the English dub of the videogame and am happy to say that they got all the actors and actresses from the game for the anime (Patrick Seitz as Ragna and Cristina Vee as Noel/Nu/Lambda in particular are high favourites) –, there were no other issues regarding sound quality, echoing, synching with subtitles, etc – the quality is high overall, but you always wish for the 5.1 for what it could have been, especially for the dub considering the most recent game didn’t get one….

Video:
Similar with the audio, the video is set in full screen format via NTSC transfer to PAL format with the show combining animation and CGI – however as has been documented the animation for the anime is a bit off key at times – whilst the colours are heavy and vibrant and transfer well to Blu-Ray, there are several instances where the animations seems poorly defined leading to quite a few unintentional humorous moments, which is incredibly noticeable even if you haven’t played the game before, as well as using some repeated footage during fights. The sound synching in either language, no pause lag or in general, is still fine (though a couple of lip lock instances when watching the dub) but you really wish what good have been considering the quality of the video game releases.

Packaging:
There was no packing for this test release.

Menu:
The menu shows clips of the anime on a border screen with your options on a lower toolbar with the cauldron in the background – options are Play All, Episodes, Set Up and on disc 2 extras. Like most Blu-Rays it has the pop-up menu option in-show, so you can easily return to the main menu without delay and no slowdown when selecting options. Standard but it works.

Extras:
The only extras are on disc 2, with two versions of the clean opening, the cleaning ending, the US trailer and trailers for the following shows; Ping Pong The Animation, Fairy Tail, Soul Eater Not, Noragami, Michiko + Hatchan, D-Frag, Hack and Nobungun.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Blazblue: Alter Memory is the anime released based on the heavily anime influenced video game of the same name. Released in 2013, it got…interesting reviews to say the least. The animation was the main cause of it as mentioned and you really need to be a fan of the game as well to watch it, because a lot of the lore isn’t explained and can get really confusing if you have. So this review is based on the fact that I do play the game and am aware of the things going on, but straight honest, if you haven’t played the game it is very hard to recommend.

And even those who have may also have to second guess themselves….that said though…

The first 2 and a bit episodes for example are basically the main plot of the first game Calamity Trigger, and like a lot of adaptations do cut a lot of things out – so certain characters throughout the anime won’t get much screen time as others which will get to. However the start is basically referring to a time loop that appears to continue involving one Ragna The Bloodedge, who is in a fight with a robotic like warrior named Nu. Alongside this we have the NOL, the government who rules over the area Kagatsuchi, with three figures prominent even here – Jin Kisaragi, who has some very creepy intent towards Ragna, Noel Vermillion, the cute young woman who is a bit of a fish out of water, and Captain Hazama, the over-the-top intelligence agent who will give most of the viewers the most fun due to being such a ham of a villain…

Anyway, they are being observed by the potential deus ex machina Rachel Alucard, a vampiric girl who can only ‘observe’ but clearly knows and has helped out Ragna in the past. In this loop, what is supposed to happen is Nu killing Ragna and dragging him into the cauldron which caused the loop and continuum shift – however this time like in the games with the true ending, Noel saves him which leads to where the 2nd game begins. So Noel and Ragna are in cahoots but also can’t get along which leads to separation, Jin is searching for Ragna whilst injured, and the NOL specifically Hazama begin to pull the strings of other people, such as Tsubaki, Noel’s best friend and Jin’s potential love interest (this isn’t mentioned well in the anime so unless you’re familiar with the game this may not be obvious).

There are other parties involved as well – the most prominent being Kokonoe, who has a similar system named Lambda to what Nu was in the shift – so with time flowing again, she is determined to stop Hazama, albeit she isn’t the nicest person either. She has a giant bodyguard that does her dirty work named Tager, as well as a mole in the NOL – my favourite non Hazama scenery stealing character, named Makoto, a squirrel/human hybrid known as a beastkin who doesn’t give a crap about the politics of either said – you hurt Noel or Tsubaki and your rear is going down….

The anime does try to get everyone in and make the plot go on. The cat girl Taokaka gets some fun scenes when she initially tries to hunt down Ragna, but doesn’t recognise him and the two become friends which helps after Ragna suffers an injury after defeating another bounty hunter named Carl (who suffers the most as literally he only has one scene fighting Ragna, no story with him and his father Relius so yeah, if any Carl fans are reading, probably not worth it), the Kaka clan where Taokaka is from along with Noel and a doctor named Litchi help him heal up, before they all go their separate ways to try and destroy the NOL and also deal with Hazama, who turns out to be one of the original heroes that defeated the Black Beast named Terumi…which the Black Beast is something Ragna kind of controls through his Azure Grimoire…

And here is where the confusing part comes in. There are flashbacks to Ragna’s past, which show that Jin is in fact his brother, his sister Saya was apparently kidnapped (and has the same face as Noel and the Lamda/Nu units, causing much anger and confusion in Ragna) and Terumi was behind it all as well as cutting off Ragna’s arm. The anime does briefly mention and show bits of this, as well as Ragna with his mentor Jubei and interactions with Rachel, but it isn’t mentioned in great detail and thus, unless you are familiar with the game, all this can be easily shown as rushed. The Blazblue/Azure Grimoire mechanic is not well explained (albeit later in the anime when Hazama does explain it, it’s actually less confusing than the game oddly enough) and pretty much the focus is just on the three characters and what Noel really is – basically a catalyst to bring forth the God slaying sword Kusanagi and destroy the world….

Yeah, being a 12 episode anime, it is pretty much an abridged version of the game.

So yes, in terms of story development it is a bit of a rush job, and even myself as a fan of the games have to look at the off-animation and rush down plot, combined with characters like Carl and Platinum only get one scene, and even Arakune, a character with a huge plot related to Kokonoe and Litchi is barely in it. Litchi does do something at the end of the anime like in the game, but it again isn’t explained very well and considering she was bar Makoto probably the nicest person in the show (the hot springs episode did have a plot bar fanservice for Noel, Makoto and I guess Taokaka ^^) again, you really need to know the backstory of her and Arakune to understand. Even Relius – a professor who is on the same level as Hazama in terms of his link to the plot is pretty much only there for slow advancements – it feels this needed a 24 episode show to get everything worth it.

So is it worth getting? If not played the game, no. If you have…

Well, there are actually some good things. Some scenes are actually well written and actually do better than the game. Near the end when Hazama is explaining what the Blazblue is, he also explains a lot of the elements and how they connect far better (basically Hazama explains the connection between the Boundary, the Amaterasu Unit, the Izayoi, the Prime Fields, Takamagahara, and the Blazblue – all elements which focus in other games – how the Izayoi will become Tsubaki, how Noel becomes the ultimate weapon, etc). The scene between Ragna and Lambda when Lambda goes to first observe Ragna, is saved by him, and when Hazama laters nearly kills Ragna, Lambda was supposed to strike Hazama, but instead sacrifices her to save Ragna. This also links with how Ragna is able to almost absorb her and defeat Hazama after Hazama stopped his Blazblue.

The other thing which is worthy is Noel – she actually gets decent character development when Hazama lets her know what she is, how she breaks down, what life would be like without her, etc. But what I loved but the fact there is a good battle between Hazama and Noel/Makoto, and Makoto to this point has pretty much been her bodyguard, but when Hazama seems to actually kill her (the ending basically goes ‘she got better’ which is disappointing but up till then it was a shock as she was a fan-favourite who is alive in the games and wondered if they would go that route), that is the catalyst to make her snap. Power of friendship jokes aside, Noel getting angry shows how the girl has had to suffer and change, and she is easily the most interesting character in the show.

Jin does have his moments too – he gets to interact with the other fan favourite character Bang who sadly isn’t in his hammiest moments but instead interacts with him not on revenge but to make sure he is healed up so they can fight at full strength. Bang not getting much airtime is a crime but it is these moments which get Jin back to a much more ‘normal’ character. Granted he still has his obsession over killing his brother and sadly we don’t get many Tsubaki moments either (though the anime does at least explain her weapon and why it drains her sight) but it is passable.

But the thing that fans may take out of the anime the most as a positive? Just how over the top Hazama is. He is easily the most memorable thing about the show (especially in English) and with his strange faces combined with the animation at times with just what comes out of his mouth, almost everything he says is a pure delight. He is a hammy villain with a side of eggs and you can’t help but enjoy him considering how one-dimensional Ragna seems to be.

So yeah, it’s not exactly the best video game adaptation ever, and with the wonky animation and cut down characters, it isn’t a true representation of the video game at its best. That said, if you are a fan of the show, and want to see what’s it like, I won’t stop you because at worst, you can enjoy it solely for Hazama. At best, there are moments where it could have been great, and certainly worth a rent. But if you’re not a fan of the games or are a fan but want all the story, may wanna stay away.

In Summary:
Blazblue: Alter Memory is a case of what if. Fans had been wanting an anime of this for years and when they get it, it is loaded with problems. Animation aside, the cut down job for Carl, Bang, Arakune and Platinum means unless you are a fan of the main story, it isn’t worth it, and whilst some of the characters get their moments, it is a very rushed down job of a very in-depth game. That said, if you do like the game, it may still be worth a watch in the so bad it’s good way, as the English dub is still as superb as it was in the game, and Hazama’s soul-stealing performances will at least make you chuckle.

Features:
Textless Opening Song ”Blue Blaze”, Textless Opening Song ”Blue Blaze” Ver. 2, Textless Closing Song ”Reincarnation Blue”, Trailers

Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B-
Video Grade: C+_
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C

Released By: Funimation via Anime Ltd
Release Date: September 25th, 2017
MSRP: £34.99
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: PAL
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Review Equipment:
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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