When Hollywood makes a TV program aimed at older men the first two things to enter the equation are action and sex. If these two factors are combined well, then the turnover for a given show is pretty much guaranteed.
What Witchblade is, other than another facet of an already semi-successful western franchise (yes, you heard it, an anime based on a western comic), is the successful amalgamation of the above two aspects of film making. It has action. It has sex appeal thanks to the excellent and genitalia twitching character design. To polish this all off it is actually watchable (unlike the American live action show which was extremely testing) and looks fabulous, but, as usual, I will get to that later.
As with the live action show and the comic the story of this animated series revolves around a (former) female police officer and single mother, Masane Amaha. The variation appears in the setting and her situation. Not many people are generally found alive at the epicentre of a massive earthquake clutching their child, especially when the world is burning, collapsing and flooding around them. Her part in the event is suspicious as it was only moments before this event that she first encountered the Witchblade, a mystical weapon with the power to transform its female bearer into a weapon of mass destruction and all she has to remember the occasion by is a massive bout of amnesia. Nice touch eh? So not only is poor big-breasted Masane burdened with this massive responsibility and the mega-national companies who want to control its power, but she also has to deal with social services and her scarily mature daughter.
After settling down in the ruins of Tokyo and New Tokyo which has been founded on dry land nearby, Masane and her daughter Rihoko find themselves homeless, poor and starving. Moments after landing, the Social services (NSWF) organisation kidnap Rihoko to be refostered. Obviously this does not end well as Masane proceeds to chase after the social services agent in a police car. This eventually ends up with a stay in a cell and this is where things get interesting.
Masane discovers what power sleeps inside of her when the cell is broken into by a crazed mechanical madman - she transforms into what can only be described as sexy heaven for the trousers (that's the ONLY description that can be used? - sceptical Ed) and proceeds to punish her attacker in a thoroughly enjoyable manner. I like big swords, and hers is one of the biggest I have yet witnessed in an anime series.
Witchblade has a bit of reputation for being overly burdened with fanservice, and being yet another example of Gonzo’s well renowned Gratuitous Displays of Flesh (GDF). I say it isn’t.
Yes, the show has been designed in a way so that all the main female characters are basically carrying (if they existed in real life) the largest melons ever witnessed by male eyes, but that is just their style. In their defence, the breasts in Witchblade seem to be the most restrained I have ever seen in a Gonzo anime. The jiggle count is almost non existent... but that is only because the show doesn’t need that little bit of animated jiggle to get your attention. By request of my fellow reviewers here at UKA, I have kept a tally of instances in each episode where these GDFs occur:
Episode 1: 2 in Opening, 10 within the episode, 3 in Closing.
Episode 2: 2 in Opening, 11 within the episode, 3 in Closing.
Episode 3: 2 in Opening, 7 within the episode, 3 in Closing.
Episode 4: 2 in Opening, 9 within the episode, 3 in Closing.
(That's it, I'm closing the site - Ed)
In the total 1 hour and 32 minutes running time, the show has 57 GDFs. This means that on average, every 1 minute and 36 seconds you will be presented with a scene which threatens the very integrity of your underpants. Well worth £19.99 in my opinion! Admittedly these GDFs vary from single zoomed in shots of her ample buxom to 3 minute long fight scenes, but you get the idea. Gone are the days of simple panty shots to induce nosebleeds, we officially have an upgrade! Perverts of the world unite!!!
All these perverse thoughts aside I find myself presented with a quality product. As with most recent Gonzo series (which does include gems like Last Exile in its catalogue) the animation is absolutely clean and well produced. Scenes are not recycled and the character design is well thought out. Same goes with the music which is also very well composed and always fitting to the scenes in which it is placed. Even the English voice acting, which usually comes dead last when English child actors are employed, is enjoyable and actually bearable for once!
In addition to the high production values the show is also well written. Not just a monster-of-the-week style show like its American counterpart, the show so far promises a deep conspiracy filled series of sub plots of the kind that addict me within seconds. I simply cannot wait for the next volumes!
Witchblade was licensed in order to show on American television within the Adult Swim block. Frankly, I think they have absolutely found themselves a winner. The show is perfectly suited towards its target audience (juvenile and immature males) and as I discovered, thoroughly embarrassing when presented to a parental figure. I would recommend Witchblade to those who like a bit of mindless erotic violence within a high quality container but it is perhaps not for those who prefer the type of series which is more subtle, deep or more mature. At any rate, it’s definitely one to buy the first volume of simply to assist in the decision process.