Blade and Soul
After the death of her mentor, assassin Alka wanders the land in search of his killer. Jin Varrel is the target, but difficult to pin down as she's involved with dark arts spreading across the land.
While I'd like to think the anime industry has outgrown being the sloppy kind of terrible Blade and Soul is, well here we are again. In bits and pieces, the raw materials for a decent anime are there, but assembled in a way which shows the incompetence and laziness of the studio making it. It doesn't seem bad at first, however the sooner you realize this anime will never come together, the sooner you'll realize what a waste of time it is.
The characters absolutely cripple this show. They are so damn terrible, they must have been channeling the essence of Street Fighter anime to make them this bad. Alka is the lead character, at first annoying in that she has no personality. She's an emotionless doll adrift in the world in search of the person who killed her master (yes, the plot is really going there). It's clear the intent was to have her grow by filling the void in her heart, but when she does, she instead spends the last third of this anime wallowing in self pity. Like I was sure I couldn't dislike her more, but this anime was determined to prove me wrong. Many side characters are obnoxious, particularly this hired gun who is worthless. Actually most characters that don't die are pointless.
The exception to that is Karen, a tavern owner who has a mysterious vibe to her. If they had played her right, she could have turned this anime around. Instead the more interesting spin this story could have taken is blunted by sheer gutlessness of the story. Sort of gutless. You see, many people die in Blade and Soul because "oh, the senseless tragedy". In nearly every episode there is a new side character who is established to be a good person. Then BAM, dead. Over and over. There is also a band of villains up to no good. They spend so much time "acting evil" they hardly do anything.
I haven't even gotten to the story yet, but it basically pans out how the characters are inserted. Big bad guys doing stuff in the "big evil" backdrop plot, while Alka goes into "character growth" by encountering extra after extra who dies some gruesome death (yes, it gets gory). In one part, Jin Varrel kills her horse after riding it in a WTF way which left me confused. Was that supposed to make her seem more evil after the horse wasn't needed? Why did the horse have to die?! The deaths in this anime are monotonous, but awkward in how they don't really mesh with the story nor seem necessary.
Among the other things which might draw you in are fairly attractive designs and animation. While the world is fairly spartan, the characters do look okay... at first. Later on things become wildly inconsistent, with terrible filler frames and cheesy looking effects. Mostly it looks fine though.
My favorite part of this anime was the end of the last episode when I knew I didn't have to watch anymore. Thirteen episodes felt like an eternity to watch. If you didn't know, Blade and Soul is a Korean MMO game which has been ongoing for a few years. After people clamoring for so long for an American release, it's finally going to happen. I can't help thinking it was an appology from NCSoft: "sorry you guys only got the anime. Our game really isn't that bad, we'll release it in America to prove it".
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