By Tab Olsen
Broken Blade (aka Break Blade) is a unique anime that can be best described as “Medieval Mecha.” Huge human-powered combat robots called Golems, wearing capes and wielding swords, fight for their respective kingdoms. Male mecha fans will certainly like this anime, but I’m a female who isn’t normally fond of mecha and I enjoyed it too. I found the anime appealing because it includes several strong female characters, some romantic tension between a couple of characters, and the scenery is awesome.
Like most animes, Broken Blade features beautiful background artwork, which in this case resembles an Arizona landscape. They did a great job recreating the colorful sunsets and spectacular desert canyon terrain complete with little details such as lizards on rocks. There is a passing mention of the “Grand Canyon,” although the setting is actually a fictional island continent. The capital city looks like it was built atop a dormant volcano, another common geographic feature in the Southwest.
The story takes place in the Country of Krisna, where quartz stones are used as an energy source. The people who live there are born with the ability to control quartz energy for doing everything from levitating simple objects to controlling the complex mobile battle suits. But 25-year-old Rygart Arrow is one in a million – he is an “un-sorcerer,” one of the few people completely lacking the ability to utilize the power of quartz.
This status is a tremendous handicap since he is unable to drive a vehicle, use machinery, or even do simple things like lighting a lamp without aid. His father sent him to a military academy, hoping that it might awaken some power in him after all, but no such miracle occurred. Rygart has since become an outcast living on a small farm in the isolated outskirts of Krisna – but the friends he made at school, and the loyalty he has towards them, is about to change everything.
Two of Rygart’s friends, Hodr and Sigyn, now sit on the throne as King and Queen. King Hodr was destined by birth to take the position, except that he didn’t really want to. Although he wasn’t exactly interested in being king, he is a good person who truly cares about his people. Queen Sigyn acts more like a “mad scientist” than a queen. She spends most of her time overseeing the royal engineers in research and development.
Upon being summoned to the capital by his old friends, Rygart realizes just how sheltered his life has been. Krisna is in danger, war is about to break out, and the conditions for surrender put forward by the opposing side is unacceptable. To further complicate matters, an elite unit of enemy troops from Athens – led by another schoolmate named Zess – is already launching attacks on the capital.
Queen Sigyn shows Rygart an ancient Golem that has been recently unearthed. This one has abilities far superior to modern Golems, but none of the quartz-wielding people can get it to work. Rygart discovers that he can miraculously control this powerful robotic weapon, and soon gets involved in Krisna’s war in order to try and save his best friends.
Since Rygart was suddenly thrust into combat with no prior experience piloting a Golem, he was forced to develop his own unconventional fighting style. A reluctant hero, Rygart may finally have found a way to fit in with the people of Krisna. But immersed in battle, he learns that school friends can turn into bitter enemies, allies can have suspicious motives, and when his friends are on opposite sides where does that truly leave him?
Unlike many mecha animes that focus on the action rather than character development, this one has a great story. There are flashbacks in every episode that help the viewer understand the characters’ backgrounds and points of view, although the plot is hard to follow at times. And maybe it’s just me, but when they were inside the robots, I often had trouble keeping track of who were the good guys and who were the bad guys.
Each of the six episodes is a 50-minute long movie. But even though they’re twice the length of a regular anime, they don’t seem any longer because all the action makes the time go fast. Broken Blade also has enough drama and comedy to interest those who don’t just want to see a bunch of fighting. The English voice dub is quite well done and the soundtrack is excellent, with classical and choral music playing majestically during intense battle scenes.
This anime really gets the adrenaline pumping, so you can get a good workout on your exercise bike while watching. 🙂 Unfortunately, however, it contains a lot of language and violence which at times is quite graphic. 🙁 So I’d say this anime should be reserved for mature teens age 17+.