The promos for Blade and Soul painted a very clear picture of a series that would be about fanservice first, action second. Yet surprisingly, the first episode was full of action and even some graphic violence, but only featured one (tasteful) nude scene and though we got a few bare butts, there wasn’t a single pantsu shot which is typically the backbone of any true ecchi series.
Gonzo has not shied from nudity in the past, they even produced the most commercially successful ecchi series of all time (Strike Witches). They’ve also produced plenty of non-nude tease type series too, and my gut feel about Blade and Soul going in was that it would resemble the sub-mediocre service heavy yet non-nude action anime Burst Angel, which was also produced by Gonzo many years ago.
I don’t think my gut feel was off by much, but so far I would say Blade and Soul actually has far less sex appeal than Burst Angel did. Which is all fine by me, I am not the world’s biggest fan of pointless tease.
In addition to the surprisingly high violence level, I was taken aback by just how bad the artwork was. The main girls get a decent amount of work put into them and they look okay, but the rest of the cast looks like it was drawn on a napkin. Not that you ever expect inbetweener art to look great, but watch this episode closely during some of the quicker moving scenes and you might wonder if literally anyone could find work in the anime biz these days.
That’s not a slight on Gonzo, a company that does excellent work when they have a good budget to work with. It’s really just more evidence of how the current business structure of the anime industry is forcing all but the very top companies to dramatically scale back their productions to avoid taking big losses in the likely event that the blu-rays will fail to sell several thousands of copies per volume.
On the plus side, this anime features the talents of Shizuka Itou, Marina Inoue, and Yuki Aoi. Inoue basically uses her male imitation type voice (which is quite good), and Itou blesses us with yet another seductive and charming performance, similar to Akeno from High School DxD.
As far as the fanservice, there wasn’t much, and it was actually kind of tastefully done for the most part. Nothing overly lecherous, except possibly when they sneak that one closeup butt shot when Aruka jumps off the wagon.
|Aruka’s bathing scene begins with an uncomfortably cropped image that conceals both her face and her nipples. Not saying this show will have nipples, but unless they have a major neck fetish, this shot makes little sense. If you aren’t going to show her boobs, you can still show her face. This makes me think there is a decent chance this shot could be expanded on blu-ray, possibly to include nipples.|
|Some subtle derriere censorship here, which feels kind of pointless given that we see her bare butt minutes later.|
|It’s very quick but we get some blank boobs here. That might signal opportunity. Though as mentioned, the inbetweener art in this show is worse than most.|
|Pointless butt shot.|
|More screen cropping?|
|Nice ass. I bet ImoCho would have found a way to censor this shot.|