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Book 1: The Time of Awakening

 

Review by Xavier Dumoulin

February 12, 2012

 

Summary

 

In the continent of Cruzon, inside the territory of the Kingdom of Krisna, an Athens Artemis piloted by Cleo Sabraf is fighting three of Krisna’s Golems and a couple of soldiers. She charges ahead to fight one of the Golems. Somewhere else in the desert, General Baldr is travelling on a four-wheeled motorcycle and dodges an incoming fox. Cleo blocks the first attack of Krisna’s Golem. As she pulls his lance away, she tries to shoot him with her pressure gun, but the opponent knocks it with his shield. One of the pilots of the other Golem tells his comrade that he is in his line of fire. He moves to the right and they start opening fire on Cleo. She jumps back with the Artemis to retreat. In the desert, 25-years-old Rygart Arrow is walking with a wooden stick. In the continent of Cruzon, there is no oil to be found. People of this land are all born with a certain ability: the ability to freely control quartz. They refine quartz with high flexibility and create ligaments that can expand and contract at will. The ligaments control the movement of vehicles, make wheels spin and push pistons for compressing air and firing bullets. People of varying strengths hold the power to control quartz. People refer to their ability as magic. Back in the fight, Cleo is still dodging the bullets from the two Golems and the soldiers. The third Golem charges in with his lance, but Cleo blocks it with the bayonet attached to her pressure gun. She takes another shot at the Golem, but it only blows a part of his left shoulder and he knocks her down. Baldr stops his motorcycle and looks farther away with his field glasses and notices a silhouette falling on the ground. He gets back on his motorcycle and goes towards Rygart. While being barely conscious, Rygart flashes back to his childhood. He's holding a piece of quartz in his palm while everybody around him is holding theirs in the air. He looks at his dad, who's asking if there isn’t any lighter quartz. A man tells him that even two-year-olds can levitate the quartz. He proceeds to tell him that if at five-years-old Rygart can’t do it, then he’s a unsorcerer. At his farm, Rygart receives a letter from the royal court of Krisna. He runs in his house and his little brother, Regarz, asks him what he is up to. Rygart runs away from his house and his brother chases after him. Rygart tells him that he’ll bring him a nice souvenir from the capital. His brother then says that nothing good is waiting for him. As Rygart is regaining conscious in the desert, Baldr arrives with his motorcycle. Baldr asks if he’s in fact Rygart Arrow and tells him that King Hodr has summoned him. Rygart only asks for some water. Baldr says that he’s surprised to have found him collapsed in the desert. Rygart then replies that he can’t use anything that moves with magic and that it’s probably why Hodr figured he would be around here. Baldr is even more surprised and says that he’s shocked to find out that it wasn’t a myth and that Rygart can’t use magic. Rygart replies nonchalantly that he’s sorry. Baldr tells him that it’s because it’s his first time meeting a unsorcerer and he apologizes. Rygart says that he’s used to it and proceeds to ask who he is. Baldr introduces himself as one of the generals of the Krisna.

 

In the canyon, a Golem charges Cleo and knocks her to the ground. As he’s about to finish her, he gets sniped three times by another Artemis. The other two Golems fire back and a second one gets hit two times. The last one tries to shoot him, but he can’t reach him. He charges in to get closer to him. Zess points his pressure gun towards the Golem and kills him with a single bullet. The soldiers on the ground start to retreat. Zess asks Cleo if she’s alright, and she replies that she’s doing fine and apologizes. Three other Artemises show up, and Lee tells Cleo to get up and she says that she was about to as she picks up her pressure gun. Lee is surprised to see that Krisna only brought three archaic Golems when they are already a fair way into their Kingdom. Elekt says that it wouldn’t matter because their nation is five times as powerful and that they probably focused their units on their capital’s border wall. Zess orders the team to move out. Meanwhile, Rygart and Baldr arrive at Binonten, Krisna’s capital. While inside the city, Baldr asks if it’s Rygart’s first time in the capital and Rygart replies that he came here once with his dad. Inside Krisna’s Golem Workshop, Queen Sigyn Erster is testing a claymore on a Golem.  As she answers the questions of an engineer, she sees Rygart passing the entrance. She calls him out and points a gun on him. She proceeds to ask him why he didn’t come to Hodr’s and her wedding, and he replies that he was busy with stuff. She’s asking him if it’s because he hates them, but Rygart says that it’s not the case. She hugs him and says that she’s really happy to see him. Above on the rampart, Narvi Stryze, Nile Stryze and Logen G. Garf Ensance are wondering who Rygart might be. Baldr brings Rygart to Hodr’s throne, but he’s sitting near the window on a chair. Rygart asks Sigyn if it’s alright for the King to not like his throne. Hodr says that Rygart will be punished with his life for insulting the King. Rygart says that he didn’t walk five days to get this sort of welcome by his friend. Both of them look at each other with a smile. Rygart notices Hodr’s howl, Gram, and sees that he has gotten bigger. He proceeds to ask him why he would summon him to the capital. He mentions that only Zess is missing to complete their quartet from the Academy and wonders if Hodr called him too. Sigyn tells to Rygart that a month ago there was a coup d’état in Assam. Both Orland and Athens made armed interventions and Athens emerged victorious, making Assam not neutral anymore. Rygart is surprised that the neighboring countries were at war and that he never heard about it. Hodr then explains that the Krisnan Army and the Athens Commonwealth are already fighting at the city border and that there was a report mentioning a small platoon led by Zess that has broken through the grand canyon in the north. Rygart says it’s impossible because despite being from Athens and being a prodigy pilot, Zess hated war more than anyone. He says that he enlightened in the army to stop his older brother, the Commander of Athens. Hodr says that the Mizoram Stronghold is holding out well but it’s just a matter of time before they break through it.

 

Rygart thanks Hodr for the valuable information and that he’ll be running away in the mountain with his little brother before Krisna becomes a battlefield. Hodr asks Rygart to follow him for a moment. Baldr asks Sigyn who Rygart is really and she replies that he’s a friend from back when they were students. On the way, Hodr asks Rygart how his father’s doing and Rygart replies that he died last year. Hodr is shocked and wonders why he wasn’t invited to the funeral. Rygart says that no one would have come because he raised two unsorcerers and he went into debt putting him through military school. Hodr says that his father was admirable because he picked a fight against destiny while he himself couldn’t. Outside the city’s wall, Hodr shows to Rygart a Golem covered in quartz buried underground that is suspected to be a millennium old, an Under-Golem. Meanwhile, Zess’ platoon is getting closer to Binonten. Hodr tells him that the ancient found in the Golem didn’t have a trace of ever controlling quartz and that the Golem doesn’t mobilize with magic. None of Krisna’s soldiers were able to activate it and that the theory is that the ancients didn’t have magic and were using a different method to pilot Golems. Hodr asks Rygart to help investigate this Golem as he thinks they may be able to strengthen their own Golems by analyzing this one. Rygart tells Hodr that he should surrender to Athens since they are no match for them, and Hodr answers that he would agree to the idea of surrendering. Near the gates, an Artemis snipes a Golem in the head. Hodr says that Athens proposed a peace treaty under the conditions of surrendering the entire territory to Athens and the divestment of all noble ranks. As they are being attacked, the soldiers close the border gates. Rygart says that those conditions are nothing, but Hodr reveals the last condition: the execution of Krisnan royal family, which includes Sigyn even though she wasn’t born a royal. Hodr asks Rygart what should he do. Outside, the Artemises are pinning down Krisna’s Golems. Hodr says that the last condition wasn’t written and that the messenger told him in person. Rygart says that they can’t fulfill that stupid condition. At this moment, the soldiers up above the well tell Hodr that they are under attack. An Artemis shows up and snipes the only Golem. The shock of the impact crushes the bridge where Rygart is and he reaches out to the Golem. He tells Hodr to get out of here. The soldiers promise to rescue Rygart after putting Hodr into safety. Rygart then activates by luck the cockpit hatch to the Golem and gets thrown in it. Up above, Lee finishes off the Golem. When Hodr reaches the surface with his guards, all the soldiers have already been killed by Lee. Rygart tries to figure out the control panel, but it’s written in a language he doesn’t understand. He activates the registration button and the Golem starts to activate. It proceeds to jump out of the well and breaks its prison of quartz. As he pulls one lever, Rygart lands on Lee’s pressure gun. He stands up and Lee aims at him. She fires at him, but she forgot to change her bullets to anti-Golem mode.

 

Rygart figures out how to move his Golem and tackles Lee on the canyon’s wall, knocking her out. Still trying to see how the Golem works, Rygart moves around and picks up the sword of a fallen Golem. Hodr tries to talk to Rygart, but he can’t hear him. Rygart turns around and is getting shot by Zess, which makes him fall on his back. Zess tells Hodr that he will now apprehend him and aims at Rygart. Hodr tells him that Rygart is inside that Golem, but Zess says that it’s impossible for Rygart to pilot a Golem. Inside the wall, Baldr orders all units to move out to rescue the King near the mines. Rygart shouts at Zess trying to make him realize that it’s in fact him, but he can’t hear him. Zess tries to slice off the Golem, but Rygart blocks his strike. Zess knocks Rygart, but when he’s about to shoot, Baldr’s and Sakura’s troop arrive to cover Hodr. Zess retreats after seeing the overwhelming number of opponents. Zess orders Lee to regroup with the rest while she’s regaining conscious. As they retreat, Baldr orders his troops to not engage pursuit. Rygart finally manages to get out of his Golem. Krisna is bringing back Rygart’s Golem to Sigyn’s research hangar. Sigyn meets up with Rygart and asks him to fill a report to help her with the research. Meanwhile, Cleo brings dinner to Zess and she insists that he eats it since he didn’t eat yesterday. Lee orders Cleo to take up Argath’s scouting post. Lee then discusses with Zess how she found the movements of Krisna’s Under-Golem to be quite odd, but Zess says it’s probably nothing to worry about. At night, Rygart meets up with Sigyn in her research hangar. She says that it’s impossible for them to dissemble Rygart’s Golem’s inner-frame and with their technology they would only be able to destroy it. She says that it’s really unbalanced and that with all its odd features, it looks like this Golem was built in a rush to fulfill one last duty. Sigyn asks Rygart to rewrite his report since it isn’t what she asked for, but he says that it’s perfectly fine as it is. She proceeds to ask him to basically explain what he did so she could write it down. All attempts have failed, so she asks him to redo it without drawings this time. General True enters the hangar and orders Rygart’s Golem to be thrown out, but an engineer tells him that the Queen is quite attached to it. Narvi looks at the Golem and sees it as useless, a broken blade so to speak. Upon hearing the comments of Narvi, Rygart is able to sympathize with his Golem as he sees a part of him and his brother on how they are being treated like crap. As morning rises, Zess orders his platoon to move out. He wants to annihilate 20 out of the 80 Golems of Krisna with only five Artemises to make Hodr realize his futile actions. A little bit later, an Artemis attacks Krisna’s gates and takes out two Golems. In the hangar, Rygart asks Sigyn if Zess is back and says that it’s probably certain. Rygart activates his Golem and asks Sigyn a request to talk with Zess. As he walks out, Sigyn confirms that it seems that only Rygart can use this Golem.

 

Commentary

 

So ends the first movie of Broken Blade. For a fantasy mecha series, it surely is different from Dunbine and Escaflowne. There is no main character being swapped to a parallel world; it all happens in one land with all the characters being part of it. As I am a big fan of the manga, the anime adaptation so far is quite faithful, which leaves me quite excited for the rest. Although, let me put this out quickly, I don’t think Broken Blade has the best start of all stories. It has this feeling of rushing throughout and it really feels like the author wanted to get rid of the introduction part as quickly as possible, because most mecha shows have the tendency to make it too long for the story to pace up, so it’s a welcome change with some problems nonetheless. On the character side, it’s quite a likeable cast. It’s also quite interesting how Rygart is atypical for a main character. As opposed to every single protagonist of anime that have the power and the talent, he’s got none of that; he’s the human with the less power on this land, yet manages to carve his name in history as he pilots an odd mecha compared to the rest. Zess is also quite refreshing for an opponent. He’s not a jerk, he only does his duty, although they are many questions to his motivations as he hates war apparently, yet, fights and doesn’t hesitate to kill. You might call it the SEED syndrome: friends meeting on the battlefield, but at least in Broken Blade, it’s not the central focus and it’s handled a little bit more maturely (probably thanks to the age of the main characters). Production I.G. are the ones behind the animation and it does look good for the most part. It’s not perfect, but all the action sequences are very well detailed. It also has a superb score done by Yoshihisa Hirano, who has worked on Death Note, and another mecha show, Super Robot Wars OG: Divine Wars. In brief, it’s not the typical coming of age of mecha story, but being a proper adaptation from the manga, only good things can come out of those movies. The first one is probably going to be the weakest, which is already a good thing.

 

Overall Rating

Full StarFull StarFull StarHalf StarNo Star

3.5 out of 5 stars
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