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Witchblade the Anime

Sought by the greed of men since the dawn of humankind, but only bestowed upon the women whose fate it forever scars – the Witchblade. Is it the Righteous Sword of God, or the Hand of the Devil himself? Now a new bearer has been chosen and she must discover the answers for herself. As she stands on the brink of destiny, she is forced to seek the balance between ecstasy and ruin…

I’m not a really huge anime fan, I have to work pretty hard to find a series that actually grabs and holds my interest. One of those that succeeded recently was Witchblade. Based on the popular comic series from Top Cow, at first glance Witchblade is your typical anime action fare; busty ladies in skimpy outfits slugging it out in epic battles. If you give it a chance and take the time to look deeper, however, Witchblade is so much more.

***SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS***

Our heroine is Masane Amaha, and she is about the least likely heroine you could imagine. She has no job, no real skills and no prospects for a future as she and her six-year-old daughter Rihoko return to Tokyo, six years after an devastating earthquake destroyed much of the city. Masane was found after the quake, in fact at its very epicenter, miraculously unscathed but with no memory of how she got there, or anything else for that matter. All she had with her was a mysterious bracelet attached to her wrist, the newborn Rihoko in her arms and a maternity journal. She’s beautiful and quite curvaceous, though she pays very little attention to her appearance. She’s also quite the klutz, and her domestic skills are virtually nonexistent.

Rihoko, on the other hand, is the very epitome of precocious. At six she is already quite the gourmet, and she is constantly having to watch out for her mother, who has a tendency to get into, predicaments, such as very nearly falling overboard before they even get to Tokyo. Things only get worse once they’re in the city, when agents of the National Science Welfare Foundation take Rihoko away from Masane because they feel she is incapable of caring for the child (and they aren’t really far off the mark). In a panic, Masane breaks away and steals a police car in an attempt to get Rihoko back, which ends up with a wrecked police car and her in jail.

An attack by an escaped cybernetic weapon reveals the true nature of the gem on Masane’s wrist; it is the Witchblade, an ancient weapon of incredible power that transforms its host into a virtually indestructible warrior driven by a lust for battle. Soon after this, Masane finds herself in the clutches of the Douji Corporation, who manufactured the weapon that attacked her, and claim ownership of the Witchblade – and since it’s attached to Masane and can’t be removed, that she belongs to them as well.

Masane finds herself working for Douji under the close eye of Reiji Takayama. Her job is to round up the renegade weapons that are on the loose, and because the money they offer will at last give her the means to care for Rihoko properly, she agrees to use the Witchblade for them.

And that is where Witchblade becomes something different. It isn’t a story about this hot chick with a super power, it’s a story about a mother’s love for her daughter. Everything Masane does is motivated by one desire – to provide for and protect Rihoko.

One question runs under the surface of the tale – why did the Witchblade choose Masane? She is about as far from the kind of woman it usually chooses as one could get. Eventually it is discovered that Masane is not Rihoko’s biological mother; the child’s ‘real mother’ is Reina Soho, a scientist for the NSWF and a neogene, the product of genetic engineering and selective breeding. She also wears a cloneblade, the NSWF’s attempt to produce its own Witchblade.

Now Masane knows why the Witchblade chose her; expediency. During the chaos of the earthquake, which was caused by a struggle between Douji and the NSWF over the Witchblade, Masane encountered Reina as she tried to flee with the newborn Rihoko and the Witchblade. Masane ended up with the baby and the weapon firmly attached to her wrist, but she is only a temporary host because the person the Witchblade really wants is Rihoko.

The only problem with that is all of the Witchblade’s hosts are temporary. Once they begin using the weapon, its power begins to slowly kill them. The only way to slow done or stop her eventual death is for Masane to stop using the Witchblade, but with enemies constantly attacking her she can’t do that. She knows she was doomed from the moment the Witchblade chose her, but she isn’t about to let it have her daughter. In a final, climactic battle against literally hundreds of enemies, she unleashes her full power to destroy them, and along with them herself and the Witchblade.

The anime version of Witchblade is a story about love, and the theme of a mother’s love is explored through several of the characters. But it is, of course, revealed most fully in the love of Masane for Rihoko, and the sacrifice she willingly makes to protect her daughter. I’m not ashamed in the least to say this one had me sobbing at the end, or that I’m getting a little teary right now as I write this. It was simply an amazingly beautiful story, and I highly recommend it. (And hey, the busty babes in skimpy outfits were kinda nice too.)

3 comments to Witchblade the Anime

  • Daniel Spencer

    I agree with everything you say here, but while i also found myself fighting back the tears at the end, they were not just tears of sadness but also of frustration, as I am someone who is not keen on the “sacrifice myself for the greater good” i would of much preferred it if somehow there was a miraculus discovery at the very last second to save her even though it would have probably been very cheesey would have much preferred this to the “suicidal” end of Masane’s life… But thats just my opinion.

  • Oh I had my share of frustration too. Amidst my tears as the inevitability of the end became apparent the words, “No, please find another way!” surfaced quite often. Masane is truly a classically tragic heroine; she had her life stolen from her not once but twice, the first time being when all memory of her past as Yasuka Ohara was erased. It’s never really said in the anime, but it seems obvious to me the Witchblade was responsible for this. Why? Because it needed her to believe she was Riko’s mother.

    In the end though, several things just tugged at my heart. Masane’s strength for one, coming not from the Witchblade’s incredible power but from her own love for her child, a love she had to learn because it wasn’t born of natural maternal instinct. The way she touched others was also remarkable, notably Reiji Takayama and the photographer Tozawa. But the thing that really started the waterworks was the look on her face at the end, the quiet acceptance there as she gave her life because it was the right thing to do. And then her final word, the last thought as she faded from this life … Riko.

    Would I have preferred it if she had lived? Most definitely, because she had already lost so much that it was totally unfair that she had to sacrifice herself. That frustration doesn’t mar the beauty of the story however, not for me, and I am very proud to have this anime in my collection of DVDs now.

    I also believe the writers did leave a sliver of hope at the end. After the credits have run we are taken back to Riko and Takayama as they gaze out towards where the little balls of light, perhaps the freed souls of the I-Weapons, still dance in the air. One of them lands in Riko’s cupped palms and after it vanishes she is holding the sea shells she gave her mother before she went to face her final battle. The only explanation for this is that Masane gave them to her, that some part of her remains. I even have a fan fiction in the works that uses that finale and resurrects Masane about twenty years later. Trying to come up with a way for her to return was easy — Rihoko is in danger, and I feel confident that Masane is a woman who would come back even from the grave because her love is that powerful.

  • Daniel Spencer

    well i wish you all the luck in the world with your fan fiction because that sounds great to me, but its also great to know im not the only one feeling the way i did. I also have the dvd set now but it will take me a while before i can get enough courage to watch it again… i am someone who cannot easily forget things that influence me though yet again i wish i could. i will also admit that reading your reply nearly set me off again because it pointed out so many things i foolishly missed out. Also when you finish your fan fic do u think theres any way i could get a read?

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