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Witchblade, Vol. 1
Witchblade Vol 1
Actor: Witchblade
Director: Yoshimitsu ‘hashi
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television, Anime & Manga, Animation
UR     2007     1hr 40min

To Kill, To Live, To Love, To Die... — The destiny of the Witchblade continues... — Based on the popular comic book by Top Cow Productions. — Masane Amaha is a woman on the fringe of society, but her strange destiny was writt...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Witchblade
Director: Yoshimitsu ‘hashi
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television, Anime & Manga, Animation
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Horror, Animation, Television, Anime & Manga, Animation
Studio: Funimation
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Animated
DVD Release Date: 09/25/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 40min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A very promising beginning!
Monty Moonlight | TX | 10/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"On the run from the Child Welfare Department that wants to take her 6-year-old daughter away from her, jobless and homeless Masane Amaha has come to Tokyo for a new start. Masane is a beautiful young woman with a tragic past. She remembers nothing of her life before a destructive earthquake hit six years earlier. When the Child Welfare Dept. catches up to her once again, she makes one final, desperate act to keep little Rihoko and lands herself in prison. While there, a confrontation with a local murderer that is more than what he appears brings out a hidden power in Masane. She has been endowed with the Witchblade, an ancient, living weapon that attaches itself to select women throughout the ages, turning them into savage warriors to satisfy its lust for violence and blood. As Masane's battle in prison allows for her escape, her clever daughter Rihoko pulls off an escape of her own with the help of a photographer with journalistic ambitions. Rihoko eventually makes her way to her mother's secret meeting place, but will Masane make it there too? She'll first have to work out an arrangement with a mysterious company that wants control of the Witchblade and whoever possesses its power.

"Witchblade" Volume 1 gives us the first 4 episodes of what seems to be an excellent 2006 Japanese animated series (Anime) based on the successful American "Top Cow" comic book series. No doubt, this animated series will get mixed responses from fans of the comics and the short-lived live-action TV series starring Yancy Butler from 2001. The reason for this, besides the fact that not everyone appreciates Anime, is that it has nothing to do with Sara Pezzini or any other Witchblade characters established in the United States. While it is my understanding that this Anime series IS considered canon, the characters and story are completely new and completely Japanese. But so what? The art is top notch for Anime, and this is coming from someone who is far more into American animation. The characters and story are engaging, and there's plenty of the traditional Anime violence and sex appeal too. While the show, thus far, doesn't have the overall darkness and grit one sees in the Top Cow comics, it's certainly not bubbly, cutesy Anime. This is definitely for the grown ups, and, after all, these are only the first four episodes. They have their sweet and colorful Ghibli-type moments, but they have their darkness too. Anime fans in general would probably love this, and for those who are less familiar with the genre, perhaps you have seen an American show called "Gargoyles?" If you enjoyed that show (probably the finest American animated series ever), you'll probably get some enjoyment out of this too.

With only the first four episodes, the Volume One DVD certainly leaves one wanting more. The episodes included are: The Beginning, Bewilderment, Defiance, and Movement. There are some nice extras included as well. The best is probably the fun tour of Top Cow Studios in Hollywood, led by owner Marc Silvestri. There's also a nice interview with lovely voice actress Mamiko Noto, who voices Masane in the original Japanese language. Yes, the DVD includes the original Japanese language, English subtitles, and English language versions. And, yes, there are differences between the Japanese and English language versions of Anime, so it's best to watch them both. One wants to see the more accurate text translations, but it's easier to enjoy the visuals fully when you don't have to try to keep up with reading the dialogue. The bonus features also include several Anime DVD trailers, video versions of the opening and closing songs, and a promotional video. The DVD is packaged with one of those cool, silvery slip covers that look great until you touch them and get your nasty fingerprints all over them. It's also the "opens like a book" kind. Plus, inside are two booklets. Okay, one is a little catalog. The other is an actual bonus. It's a booklet featuring production art and a great interview with the director, Yoshimitsu Ohashi. I highly recommend this DVD for fans of Anime, of Witchblade, of animation and comics in general, or just someone looking for a more adult kind of animated program. I'll be looking forward to future volumes!
Orrin C. Judd | Hanover, NH USA | 03/07/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"It is said, by Westerners who have lived and worked there, that Japanese culture and society are so foreign to ours that most of us can't even comprehend the differences, nevermind their causes and effects. Perhaps the one popular medium where we get some feel for the divergence is the increasingly popular Japanese anime market. Even the most accessible films--the Ghibli Studio stuff or an adaptation of classic American animation, like Little Nemo--have aspects, subplots or even large swathes of narrative that are basically incomprehensible. Take a great family film like Kiki's Delivery Service: it's not only impossible to tell where or when the story is taking place but so much of the underlying mythos is left unexplained that each step of the plot is surprising, if only because it seems so odd.

This adaptation of the American comic book Witchblade is kind of like a Miyazaki film in ways both bad and good. On the plus side, the animation is terrific, pretty nearly Disney worthy, making it easy to watch. The voice work and translation is good too, so the extent anything makes sense we can follow it, which isn't always the case with Asian imports. This is a high quality art work.

The setting is the typical -- for anime -- post-apocalyptic world of big corporations and dubious government agencies combined with supernatural/metaphysical weirdness that beggars comprehension. A young woman who has survived whatever destruction is supposed to have occurred came out of the blast with a child and, at opportune moments, the titular witchblade, a metallic prosthetic hand which appears as she changes into some kind of magical being. Well-endowed to begin with, she loses a significant amount of clothing in the transition and becomes an erotic killing machine.

It all makes for great-looking eye candy, but the literary merits are debatable and it's hard to be either profound or emotionally-moving when you're challenging the viewer just to try and figure out what's going on."
A quality expansion on the Witchblade storyline in Anime for
NecroComicon | The Inn at Innsmouth | 11/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The seperate Witchblade storyline that starts in this series is surprisingly well written and engaging despite being a bit removed from its source material. The mother and daughter team that are thrown into a War with the powers that be is the stuff that any good anime is made of, the artwork is above average and the animation could be a little more fluid but it is standard for this genre. I would have loved an animated adaptation of the original Witchblade comic series done in a more lush fashion but this is an excellent substitute and could prove popular with non anime fans if they ever gave it a shot. The DVD is nicely packaged in a platinum slip case and their are a couple of worthy extras M. Choi's cover art looks killer and the interview with Silverstri is intersting for fans. Original language options are nice for those who prefer subtitles although the english voice work is above average. This disc is the first four episodes and clocks in at roughly 99 mins."
Great introduction to a very adult series
Terry Mesnard | Bellevue, NE | 10/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I didn't quite know what I was getting myself into when I started watching The Witchblade. My only introduction to The Witchblade comes in the form of her character's (from the comic book) cross-over into The Darkness, another comic produced by Top Cow Productions. This Witchblade stars Ara Pezzini, a "tough as nails" NYPD detective who comes into contact with the sentient artifact called The Witchblade when she is mortally wounded and the blade chooses her as its next in line of users. This particular DVD series, an anime licenses from Top Cow, is completely different. While I had done some initial research to see what, exactly, the comic book series was about (thinking the anime would simply be a Japanese take on the series), none of what I found really fits in with the DVD.

This particular edition of The Witchblade details the story of Masane Amaha who, during a catastrophe in Tokyo, ends losing her memory and discovers a mysterious jewel attached to her wrist and a baby who she names Rihoko in her arms. Six years later, and Masane realizes the jewel attached to her wrist is actually The Witchblade that has chosen her as its new wielder. The series details her travails as she's caught between a huge corporation and the government when all she wants to do is take care of her child and live in peace. This is the bigger, over-arching story of The Witchblade anime.

Volume One contains the first three episodes which basically sets up the action that will follow. They introduce the National Scientific Welfare Foundation (NSWF) and Reina Soho who want to take Rihoko from Masane because Masane does not have a job and, according to the NSWF, can't take care of Rihoko. Additional characters are introduced, like Reiji Takayama, the Bureau Chief of Douji Group Industries, who wants to hire Masane. The main conflict is between the NSWF and Masane for these beginning episodes.

Obviously this isn't the entire season, unfortunately, so it's merely a taste of what's to come. I'm impressed, though, already and am curious to see where the story will go from here. The art style is very interesting, taking a cue from the original Top Cow comics and adding a Japanese flair to the proceedings. It's a pretty vicious and dark anime and this unrated cut apparently recolors the costume and skin color of Masane. One of the side effects of using the Witchblade, apparently, is losing one's clothes and in the TV version of this show, some of the skin was darkened in black to avoid excessive nudity. The coloring has been restored for this edition. Additionally, the presentation is great and cleaned up from the television series.

Audio is always tricky on US imports of anime. The voice actors chosen for the English voices usually tend to ruin the experience. While I've heard much, much worse translations, the English dubbing isn't the way to go. Overall, this is a great start to a new take on The Witchblade. While it's merely a taste, there's a hook in it that I'm willing to let drag me onward. Here's hoping more volumes are forthcoming soon."