I know, I know. I haven’t post anything in a while, but alas stuff happens and now I’ve returned. There are some spoilers below, but nevertheless here we go!

Blade & Soul originates from a video game and I asked myself should I play the game before watching the anime? Well, before I delve into that I realize there are some people who apply this same logic when dealing with manga and anime. So, at least for me I simply don’t read manga because I don’t have time to do so. I don’t mind going into anime without reading the manga AKA the source material. I like being completely in the dark with what to expect. Why read spoilers right?

Anyway back to the subject, I never played Blade & Soul, but I still watched the anime and for the most part I enjoyed watching it. Despite not playing the game I decided to check out some gameplay and do some research. I concluded that the Korean fantasy martial-arts MMORP deserved the anime adaptation. The game looks amazing and I like the combo mechanics too since I play fighting games. The open world looks fun and imaginative with unique characters to interact with. Of course fans can customize their character and go above and beyond in order to create their ideal warrior. The warrior class options are Assassin, Blade Master, Destroyer, Force Master, Kung-fu Master, and Summoner. You can choose your race and become a Gon, Jin, Kun, and Lyn which further adds to the customization options. The game’s story features the power of chi and like Star Wars there are two sides to this power. Impure Chi is the dark side of the force while Divine Chi is the light side of the force. Overall I was impressed with how the game wants players to feel immersed in the world of Blade & Soul which translates pretty well into the anime.

I should mention that the game is still in development for the West, but no released date has been confirmed.

Now, onto the anime.

The video above is the intro to Blade & Soul as Hiroshi Hamasaki and Hiroshi Takeuchi directed the anime at studio Gonzo. The scripts are brought to us by Atsuhiro Tomioka and Eri Nagata was the producer. The entire staff who made Blade & Soul into an anime deserve praise because they actually used character designs from the game. Hyung-Tae Kim’s character designs are my favorite thing about Blade & Soul and each character in the anime looks amazing. Despite the drops in animation quality I still appreciate how the characters look.

The actual story revolves around a female assassin/swordswoman named Alka and she’s wandering the land. She lives life by adhering to a strict code. The code dictates that Alka must seek the person responsible for her master’s murder and exact vengeance. However, her master leaves this world with one wish which is—Alka should leave behind the life of an assassin.

Alka follows the bloody path of the sword as the fire rises.

Without too much spoilers since generally my reflections are looking back at the anime and not actually reviewing it I will say Alka’s path of the sword is gritty and fun to watch. She’s the strong silent type and her actions speak louder than her words. What comes across in the course of let’s say 12 episodes is that revenge comes with a price. Alka kills targets for a living and as a result lives an empty life without emotions. Alka was made into a killer and her life as an assassin/swordswoman revolves around having no emotions. Emotions only serve to dull the blade and Alka must not feel anything when she kills someone. In order to obtain vengeance Alka must slay Jin Varrel. Jin Varrel uses impurity to strike fear throughout the land and she leads the Flower Monks who harvest the power of impurity.

However, what happens to Alka once she obtains vengeance becomes a roller coaster ride of death and turmoil that pushes Alka to her limits. Literally everyone Alka comes in contact with dies and that reveals a harsh truth. Alka does not have to kill people in order to be responsible for the deaths of those around her.

Is Alka a harbinger of death? Is it certain that once you live by the sword your destined to die by the sword? These questions continue to make Alka’s journey an emotional one and in order find fulfillment she must leave behind the life of an assassin. She has to learn the true meaning of how to feel. I like how each character connects to Alka and they bring out her emotions. Whether it’s one character who serves as a rival or another who secretly wants to make Alka suffer in order to exact vengeance; one thing is certain. Blade & Soul attempts to give Alka everything she needs in order to transform from coldhearted killer into a compassionate savior.

The unknown ceiling of what happens after obtaining vengeance serves as a constant theme. The anime gives the audience the question of: What do you live for once you have obtained vengeance? Is revenge really worth it is up to the audience to decide.

Okay now moving onto some gripes I have with Blade & Soul.

The anime built up Alka Vs. Jin as one of the strongest attractions. These two characters are mirror images of each other. They kill without mercy and they are both emotionless. They even look alike in character design, but the point is something has to give when these two rivals clash. But, I will say their rivalry falls a bit flat and I think it’s because the anime did a poor job in explaining Jin Varrel. Also, pay special attention to Alka’s butterfly tattoo because that’s like Alka’s Identification throughout the anime since there’s a bounty on her head.

Jin Varrel uses impurity and kills anything in her path without feeling emotion.

Alka’s swag by the end of the anime.

I’m nearing the conclusion of my reflection on Blade & Soul and I have mix feelings with this one. A love & hate relationship—if that makes more sense. There are so much strong story elements and themes that drive the anime forward. Alka to me does not have to say much and yet she’s still a strong character that displays character growth. The problem I have with the anime is that it’ll leave a lot of things up to the audience to infer. It can get confusing and things just happen. I really don’t know the reason behind Yu Ran’s actions. I think Elle Karin has the most respect throughout the anime and she runs a brothel/nightclub, but none of the characters seem to acknowledge it. Jin Hazuki talks a big game, but does not really deliver. The Pleasure Gang are comic relief to some degree and get lost in the shuffle. Also, there’s fan service that can be distracting huge breasts and all, but I never thought I’d be confuse by one fan service moment.

I’m pointing at Yu Ran and Jin Varrel’s sexy hugging scene.

Do you want to talk about it?

I’m here for you!!!!!

At the end of each episode there are helpful Blade & Soul Reviews narrated by Yu. Yu’s a cool fox humanoid character with cool chi powers and he was a student of Alka’s master. I believe the master was named Hon Dōgen and that just sounds like Hadouken from Street Fighter so make what you will with that.

Anyway, Yu (who is voiced by Marina Inoue AKA Attack On Titan’s Armin) plays a vital role in Alka’s transformation, but other than that he serves to fill in the gaps. He helps you learn more about the world, characters, and powers but, I am still confused.

There is a higher authority that consists of Yu Ran and some un-named emperor with a thing for puppy dogs. They are harvesting the impurity, but I still have no idea what’s the endgame and if losing Jin actually hurts what they are trying to accomplish. I know by the end of the anime that Alka has found peace and tranquility, but she and her allies are not out of the woods. There are evil forces still plotting something involving the impurity.

Maybe if I play the game that will be explained more thoroughly? But, by my understanding the anime is it’s own story with borrowed elements from the game. Ultimately the anime leaves unanswered questions and the plot overcomplicates itself to the point where I just tuned out. I liked and focused on Alka’s journey.

Most of the hate I have for Blade & Soul stems from the drops in animation quality especially toward the home stretch. I mean it gets really bad and I had to laugh at it. But, maybe Blade & Soul and I are in an abusive relationship and I remember the good times while trying to block out the bad. I feel betrayed because everything does not come together like it should. Alka’s story comes to a reasonable or acceptable conclusion, but everyone else gets splattered onto the canvas and become hard to understand when Blade & Soul reaches its conclusion.

It will be hard to recommend this one unless you need a time killer that does have bright spots, but ultimately sputters out of control. Now, if you’re a fan of Blade & Soul and played the game then check it out. Don’t place your expectations too high because there will be disappointments and depending on your tastes those disappointments may outweigh the accomplishments.

Check out the visually stunning ending song to Blade & Soul! I’ll be back with more so subscribe if you haven’t already.

UPDATE: Blade & Soul Heads West This Winter!

Check out the Four Guardians Trailer

For More Information: http://www.bladeandsoul.com/en/news/2015/05/20/blade-n-soul-is-coming/

They even had a live stream which almost guarantees more reveals. Be sure to check them out over on Twitch too if your a fan of the game.