Anime Review in a Minute:
Broken Blade Episode 1
Anime Review in a Minute: What this is all about. -- Watching all the anime shows so you don't HAVE to!
tl;dr review: Kingdom's most powerless person the only one that can pilot ancient mystery mecha; Oh noes, they're under attack!
The Skinny: In a world where everyone has a special ability to manipulate quartz crystals as an energy source, Rygart Arrow is a unique exception. Born without the ability, he is tagged as an "un-sorcerer", but despite this handicap he manages to do well enough at the military academy (where he becomes best friends with the future King Hodr and Queen Sigyn) to advance a couple of ranks before being forced to drop out due to lack of money. But as the small kingdom comes under attack, Rygart is summoned from the hinterlands for a special mission. The King and Queen have uncovered an ancient machine from ages past - a mechanical golem from the time before people could use quartz. King Hodr has a theory that Rygart, the only person who can't use quartz, is the only person in the kingdom that can operate the weapon. Suddenly the archeological site comes under attack and Rygart is forced to put theory into practice, and Rygart faces off against an elite squadron, coincidentally led by Zess, another classmate from the academy days. With the surprisingly powerful ancient mecha they are able to repel the attack, but it only buys them some time, since the enemy has superior weaponry and tactics. As the kingdom faces up against an imminent attack, Rygart faces a crash course in long-lost, untested, and unknown technology to fend off the next raid.
My Thoughts: One thing to get out of the way first: This is first and foremost a giant robot/mecha/gundam/oversized-man-toy show, so that's one big strike against it from the start.
But that's just one strike - otherwise, I give this show a big thumbs-up. First of all, the production values are spectacular -- cinematic, in fact (for good reason: it actually debuted on the big screen). The basic plot is a bit hokey (Only one person, the outcast, can save everyone due to his special ability, shock surprise!), but well done and kept me interested throughout the show. Looking forward to what happens next. Break Blade/Broken Blade is based on a six volume manga series, each book being adapted into a fifty-minute original video animation. The second episode has already appeared on the big screen, but the commercial DVD will come out in Japan later this Fall.
Two things I found unnecessarily out of place, that break the tension of the story to remind you that this is still being produced for anime fans. First, the intelligent, serious and capable Queen Sigyn is dressed in her modest royal robes throughout the show...except for a short fanservice moment where she's wearing essentially nothing in a bedroom scene. Flesh for the fans, sure, but doesn't fit in with the rest of the show. And then there's the twelve-year-old mecha pilot Cleo, who's sole defining attribute (I shit you not) is that she has unusually large breasts for her age. Score one for the loli otaku out there, I guess, but what's the relevance?
For more info:
Random Curiosity Review: http://randomc.net/2010/08/02/break-bla
Wikipedia Entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_Bla
Opening video sequence: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqYvjaa2
The tally for Summer 2010 season first episodes so far:
Passing Grade: Ookami-san, Highschool of the Dead, Mitsudomoe, The Occult Academy, Black Butler II, Kurenai OVA, Nurarihyon no Mago, Shiki, Legend of Legendary Heroes, Cat Shit One, Broken Blade
Failing grade: Amagami SS, Sekirei: Pure Engagement, Seitokai Yakuindomo, Strike Witches 2, Shukufuku no Campanella, Black Lagoon: Roberta's Blood Trail, Digimon Xros Wars, Black Rock Shooter OVA, Asobi ni Iku Yo, Sengoku Basara Two, Tono to Issho, Zettai Karen Children OVA, Kyou Koi wo Hajimemasu, Kaichu
Up Next (not necessarily in this order): Bungaku Shoujo Memoire, and then that's pretty much it for the Summer Season!