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The final episode of BlazBlue: Alter Memory is a disappointing end to a disappointing anime.  I suppose this should have been expected, though.

The episode begins with people actually explaining things to Ragna for once.  Rachel and Kokonoe both tell him that Noel has to be killed or she’ll destroy the world if she goes into the Cauldron.  Of course, Ragna being Ragna, he doesn’t listen.  The nice thing about this is that things are actually being explained to him for once, rather than everyone simply assuming he’ll listen to them.

Throughout the fight between Jin, Ragna, and Kusanagi/Noel, Ragna seems to genuinely care about Jin’s well-being and vice versa, which seems strange and perhaps a bit out of character.  Sure, they’re brothers, but Jin and Ranga have had massive grudges against one another for years and basically hate one another (although this hatred has never been fully explained in the anime).  Does Ragna truly care about his well-being, or does he only care because they have a common enemy at the moment in Kusanagi?

While Ragna is attempting to talk Kusanagi/Noel down and bring her back to her senses, we learn that Takama-ga-hara wants to gain control of the Azure (although it’s never really explained why).  They apparently also want the world to end on the Day of Ruin.  As they watch Ragna bringing Noel back to herself, Terumi infiltrates their plane of existence and unleashes a virus created by Phantom in order to stop them.  He wants to keep things moving toward the Day of Ruin though, too, so I’m not completely clear on why he wants Takama-ga-hara out of the way.  Rachel later points out that Terumi shouldn’t be able to exist without being observed by Takama-ga-hara, which adds just another question into the mix: how is he still around?

The Imperator shows up while Terumi is gloating to Ragna and company, and we learn that the Imperator of the NOL is apparently Saya.  There’s absolutely no explanation for any of this, so don’t go looking for one.  Ragna simply sees her and exclaims that she’s Saya (although she really doesn’t look all that much like Saya in my opinion).  Things end with seemingly two factions: the Imperator’s group of Terumi, Phantom, Relius Clover, Litchi, and Tusbaki against Ragna’s group of himself, Jin, Hakumen, Rachel, and Noel.  It seems as though a big fight might break out, but the Imperator and her group simply disappear to go back and keep things moving toward the Day of Ruin.

Why?  Well, who knows?  There’s no explanation as to why the Imperator/Saya might want everything to end.  There’s no explanation of anything, really.  The only resolution we have in this series is Ragna managing to save Noel.  Other than that, there’s virtually nothing.  Nothing is explained, nothing else is resolved (unless you count the fact that Takama-ga-hara is gone and things can’t just keep playing over and over anymore), and even more questions are introduced to seemingly never be explained.

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Final Thoughts

At the end of the first episode of BlazBlue: Alter Memory was an end card saying something to the effect of “let’s erase the jinx on anime based on fighting games!”  It seemed like a good start, knowing the producers were aware of the fact that anime based on fighting games are usually executed poorly.  I had high hopes for this series because of that fact.

How wrong I was.

BlazBlue: Alter Memory falls into the same traps as most anime based on fighting games, but perhaps to a greater extent.  Because the source material itself is so utterly confusing (several people I know who have played the games admit to studying wiki sites based on them in order to understand everything that happens and understand the entire plot), the anime doesn’t explain much very clearly.  I literally have dozens of lingering questions about the plot, the characters, the direction the series is going, and more, and I’ve played two of the games before.

The anime glazes over several characters who, admittedly, are side characters, but still play relatively important roles in the overall plot of the games.  Carl Clover appears for basically one scene and then disappears completely, never discussed again.  We get literally no indication that he has any connection to Relius Clover (who, yes, is his father) except the fact that they both have puppets with them.  Bang Shishigami gets an episode, sure, but he has much more character development in the games.  Litchi Faye-Ling and Arakune aren’t really explained that much; not their relationship, not their pasts, not what brings both of them to the 13th Hierarchical City of Kagutsuchi, not what their goals are and why.  It’s never explained who Hakumen is (and I won’t spoil it for you if you don’t know) and how he came to become what he is now.

Even some of the characters that have gotten a lot of attention in the anime aren’t really explained.  Hazama/Terumi is an incredibly confusing character.  What exactly is he?  Is he working at the Imperator’s bidding, or is he in charge?  Why is he doing everything he’s done in the series?  Why exactly did he go after Ragna, Jin, and Saya in the past?  Why exactly is Jin so darn bipolar?  And what about the bombshell that Saya is the Imperator?  How exactly did that happen?  What exactly does it mean?

The only real redeeming qualities of this anime are the sound and music.  Using the same voice actors as the game is a definite plus.  The music does a decent job of setting the mood throughout the series.  The OP and ED songs are about average.  But that’s really all this series has going for it.

As I’ve already mentioned, the plot is confusing for people who are familiar with the games; I imagine it’s even worse for someone completely unfamiliar with them.  I would definitely not recommend this to anyone who hasn’t played the games, because the little cameos (Jubei, for instance, Carl Clover, or Valkenhayn) are one of the only bearable parts of this series amidst all the confusion.

The sad thing is, I really wanted to like this anime.  I’ve been saying for a long time that there should be a BlazBlue anime, and I was excited when I heard it was actually going to happen.  Perhaps the fact that I was so looking forward to it makes its patheticness that much more upsetting.

With so many unanswered questions, and indeed new questions introduced in the final episode, the series ends on a note that sets it up for a second season (or for the most recent game, I suppose), but I can’t say for sure if I’ll watch another season of BlazBlue: Alter Memory.  I would need proof that questions would be answered before watching another season, at any rate.

BlazBlue: Alter Memory Season 2 Set-up

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