Sunday, 27 February 2011

Break Blade 4: Sanka no Chi

After some initial ambivalence towards it, the third Break Blade film finally convinced me that it had what it takes to be a good anime movie series, largely on account of some absolutely nailed-on fantastic action that both saw its mecha credentials put to the test and pass with flying colours.

While that showcase battle ended with Zess injured and Cleo captured, there is of course no let-up as Sanka no Chi begins, with Krisna choosing to assemble a crack squad to counter the threat from Athens that receives their orders right from the very top of the Krisnan tree; Hodr himself.  Needless to say, Ryugart's unique abilities grants him a berth in said unit under the care of Narvi, whilst also fighting alongside her brother, another soldier in Loggin and one rather controversial choice - former prisoner and all-round nut-job Girghe.  Indeed, Girghe wastes no time in proving both his craziness and his piloting skills via an impromptu skirmish against his squad-mates which sees him take them on and beat them with ease.  That still leaves plenty of additional time for training, for Ryugart in particular, before they leave on their first mission... although not before our assumptions about Sigyn's romantic interests are confirmed.

Elsewhere, Krisna prove they aren't the only ones with an absolute nutter amongst their number, with Athens making an impressive scalp as they unexpectedly ambush and destroy General True and his unit courtesy of Nike, a twenty-five year-old midget (although don't tell her to her face) with a short temper but plenty of offensive power to match her attitude.  With True's unit out of the way, Baldr's troops are the next in the firing line, and just as this encounter looks likely to go equally pear-shaped up pops Rygart and company to save the day... minus Girghe who chickens out and proclaims himself too scared to fight in actual combat.  Surely he must be kidding?  Why yes, yes he is, as the episode closes to destructively dramatic effect.

Compared to the fantastic combat of the third movie, there wasn't quite as much to impress here overall - it felt as though the animation budget dropped a bit in places, and a lot of the encounters on show here were too one-sized to really get yourself involved in.  That said, there's still a lot to be said for the weighty, "chunky" and realistic feel of the combat which lends itself to even the most gravity-defying moments.  There certainly remains a lot to be enjoyed on the battlefield, while off it there are enough fascinating characters to keep things fresh and hold the possibility of some major twists and turns (the fifth movie looks like the place to be for such things) even if both Sigyn and Cleo seem to have been kidnapped as prisoners of fan service at the moment - in short, I still enjoyed Sanka no Chi enough to keep my interest in Break Blade renewed and in good shape.

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