It took some time, but I finally got through my backlog of Witchblade anime. Now I have heard awful stuff about the anime, mainly from fans of the original American comic who decried the Anime-sation of their favourite comic. I can't blame them, the art direction for one is completely different - being anime and all. But one pet complaint I heard from them is pretty unsubstantiated, that being that the anime series somehow borders on softcore. Which is all bollocks if they actually watched the anime in the first place. Sure, fan service do occur plenty, but I would consider Witchblade to be pretty mild. At most I would compare Witchblade's ecchi level to that of a censored Ghost in the Shell. And it isn't like the American Witchblade had no boobies. Regardless, what is it with people who hates skins but loves violence?
The anime does start out rather slowly. We are introduced to Masane Amaha and her daughter Rihoku, who are running away from a child welfare organisation who are seeking to remove Rihoku from Masane's custody because she does not have the capabilities to raise a daughter. Eventually succeeding in keeping her daughter, Masane is hired by Reiji Takayama of Douji Group Industries, a weapons manufacture, to combat malfunctioned 'Ex-cons', a group of weapons made of human corpse. This is because she has the power of the Witchblade, whom she came to possess some six years earlier when an earthquake destroyed Tokyo. The Wicthblade has the power to provide the bearer with superhuman abilities, and Masane's reappearance has ignited a rivalry between the Douji Group and NSFW, an origination researching into creating Witchblade clones dubbed the Cloneblades wielder.
A number of important characters were established early on, but their back story weren't explained much. Many came off as two-dimensional particularly Yuusuke Tozawa, a freelance photographer, whom initially came off as someone who would do anything for a scoop, including exposing the Witchblade project. As the series progress eventually he is shown to have a deeper understanding with Masane and her daughter. The producers of the series seems to realise that the time spent working on Masane's relationship with secondary characters would do well and even dedicated an entire episode for the purpose when Masane gets a day off. Masane's relationship with her daughter is also tested when Rihoku is proven to be not her biological son and that her real mother was revealed to be a rival Cloneblade.
Disappointing to a series like this however are the action sequences themselves. Typically of any Japanese anime, these are bland and as a result we are not accustomed to seeing fast action. Fortunately fight scenes rarely occur, and even then those that do occur brief. Most of the time, the anime focuses on a number of storyline like Masane's relationship with Rihoku, Douji's internal office politics and NSFW's research into human cloning. This is why I actually continued watching Witchblade because the story keeps getting better as back story of important characters are explored further and new plotlines emerging. Towards the end it would be challenging not to feel sorry for some of the main characters. Even Masane's enemies are often portrayed in a kindly way and their deaths are usually a form of release from a terrible burden.
The quality of the animations isn't the best. I would rate it as pretty average, certainly no where near on par with The Melancholy of Haruhi Suziyama or Nana. But as a TV anime, I would say it is good enough to enjoy, though no where near the details of Top Cow's Witchblade comics and Witchblade Takeru mangas. Voice over are another matter though with the cast of Japanese voice actors giving their absolute finest here.
You can preorder a limited edition Witchblade boxset here or get the first volume here.