Blade & Soul

December 27, 2014

The last time an anime was made out of a Korean MMORPG was Ragnarok. That was way back in 2004. Now, a decade later, another Korean MMORPG was given the anime treatment. Sorry, it wasn’t Ragnarok. Since I do not play such popular MMORPG games (because I spend all my time watching animes), I am not sure how many other of such games were turned into anime. Blade & Soul is currently gaining popularity and I guess it is no surprise that an anime had to be made. Just like how Ragnarok was. Trying to search for more information if the anime was based on some storyline in the game yielded answers I wasn’t looking for. So I concluded that the anime is something original but based on the workings of the Blade & Soul universe. To put the anime’s plot in a single sentence: A female assassin of a certain tribe goes on a journey to seek revenge for her murdered master and meets a myriad of characters along the way.

Episode 1: Path
Alka swiftly cuts the throat of her pursuers despite they have guns. A scavenger scavenges the weapons but gets killed off by this big fat guy, Ga Gante. Yoo Ran and Jin Varrel know the slit on the throat killing style belongs to the Clan of the Sword. And so the Palam Empire spreads the word around for a wanted murderer. She bears a pink butterfly mark on her shoulder. Elle Karen of Tomon Inn doesn’t want them to disrupt her customers but Jin Hazuki is eager to take the job since the bounty is huge. A couple of guys thought they could peep on this babe bathing. Masa almost got his throat slit and is so scared that he peed in his pants! Koga knows what he is dealing with and persuades her to be his bodyguard since his little village is having difficulties with Palam. They bring her back to their village as she is introduced to everyone (Masa shows off his wet pants to everyone! WTF?!) including the village leader’s daughter, Morii. She tries to test her skills and Alka’s quick reflex to point her blade at her neck scares and impresses her. As Morii guides her around the village, she explains about the flower called Heaven’s Spirit. It is said unearthly things appear when you are surrounded by its scent. They believe it gives you supernatural powers. Thus, Palam wants to buy their land and cultivate those flowers. Morii won’t hand it to them since their ancestors work hard on this land and hires Alka to protect her. Alka continues to live and hang around Morii.

One day, the Palam guys come to buy the land. Not selling. This time they point out their guns and are going to take it by force. When one of them fires, Alka cuts the bullet in half and the ricochet has the sliced bullet shoot into the forehead of the other Palam guards! Woah!!! Precision! She wanted to kill the last one but Morii orders her to stop. He sees Alka’s butterfly mark. Now that everyone has seen her ferocious killing style, they ask her if she has worked in Palam before. She doesn’t hesitate to answer she was once in their service. This has the guys discuss with Morii that Alka may be a spy and perhaps it would be wiser to sell the land. Morii will not sell this land. Okay. How about kicking Alka out? She might get them into deeper trouble. Because if they make the wrong choice, it is the same as failing their ancestors. The sole Palam guy reports back and Ganza happily volunteers to go on this excursion as he wants to try out his Heaven’s Spirit. That night, Palam launches an ambush. All the villagers are mercilessly slaughtered! I guess it’s too late to sell the land, huh? Besides, Ganza is here to kill Alka who is accused of murdering her master and since they are sheltering her, it makes them as guilty. Alka fights Ganza but despite his super strength, he blinds him first before killing him. In the aftermath, I think Morii is the only survivor. She feels guilty no one will forgive her. Alka suggests she takes revenge but Morii can’t. Alka cuts her hair and will be going to get hers.

Episode 2: Desire
Wandering in the hot desert, Alka meets Lyn the wanderer and he sells her a shoulder cloth to help her keep cool and also hide her butterfly mark. But she has no money. He suggests a nearby town where she can earn a quick buck. Also, Palam is there too. Alka enters this seemingly lawless and sin town. Guys try to persuade her to do some job but Alka ignores them. Her cloth slightly lifts when she bumps into someone and a mercenary caught glimpse of her mark. She stood in a prostitute’s place and got scolded and she too saw her mark. Hazuki thinks Alka is a fellow mercenary since she saw her staring at the wanted board. Hazuki takes a liking for her and as they go through town, they meet one of Hazuki’s buddies who happen to be an ex-soldier of Palam. Hazuki goes to her favourite spot at Tomon Inn and she starts drinking. I wonder if she has money to pay for all that. Or put it on her tabs. Alka just sitting there accompanying her. Karen begins her dance on stage that attracts lots of men. Once the inn is closed, Hazuki is still drinking. Care to pay up? Is one copper enough? Better than nothing. Better than Alka who has nothing! In that case, she’ll have her work here to pay her dues. While changing, Karen spots her mark and quickly changes her mind. Please leave. They never saw each other. She was never here. She won’t tell anybody about this and doesn’t want to get involved. As Alka walks through the dark streets, she is confronted by the prostitute. She is going to ring her in for the reward. Oh shoot. Here comes the ex-Palam soldier and mercenary too. They start arguing among each other that Alka is hers. Since they’re too busy doing that and are reaching boiling point, Alka makes the perfect move to slice the prostitute’s throat first and then have the guys shoot each other. Alka goes to the ex-soldier and wants to know his superior but he’s dead. Hazuki is about to snipe Alka but Karen gets in her way. Hazuki is not pleased but Karen warns her confidence will end up getting her killed. Outside of town, Hazuki chases Alka like a mad dog. She has some heat seeking bullets but Alka is swift enough to avoid them all. Hazuki lost when Alka has her blade at her throat. If not for Karen’s interference, she could have died. Still, Hazuki is most upset that she butted in. She could have won, you know. Oh really? She really wants the money. More than her life? Karen notes that somebody sold her out to Palam (Lyn?).

Episode 3: Revenge
The Pleasure Gang led by Dan Loana raids a tomb filled with treasures. Another bandit tries to usurp them but got wiped out. Hazuki’s battle with Alka continues but only to be interrupted by Pleasure Gang. Loana brings Alka back to her base as her men eat, drink and be merry. They are on her side since they are against Palam too. Loana knows that Alka is a wanted person. She asks if she knows her master’s murderer. Only their face. Loana reveals the person who spread the posters was the captain of Flower Monks, Jin Varrel, an Impurity user. That unsettling power of darkness may be the one who killed her master. Calling their meeting fate, seems Loana was the one who sold out Alka’s whereabouts (via Lyn) to Palam to use her as bait to lure them here. They want revenge against Palam for killing their comrades. Yeah, talking about this just made the guys cry… Talking more to Alka, seems she wants to take revenge for her master based on their Code. This has Loana question what is her master to her. She asserts it is the Code and her job. Loana adds that she is taking revenge because of her deep feelings for her men. They could have lived better lives. But for Alka, it feels like she is dead inside. So is she really human? She is just like another person she knows: Jin Varrel. Jin Varrel’s entourage finally arrives. Alka is forbade to fight them and kept out of their sight. The Pleasure Gang is willing to hand over Alka but on a condition that Jin Varrel must come get her alone. Of course they won’t either. Since negotiations break down, it’s time to fight. Let’s say that almost everyone got slaughtered. Oh, the big difference in their power… No chance. Once Alka sees Jin Varrel, she jumps down to fight her. However she got hit by her Impurity. The amazing thing is that although she is in pain, she can still get up and move. Anybody hit by it would have died instantly. Conveniently she falls off the ledge and into the river below. This is thanks to the sniping shot by Hazuki. She would have wanted to snipe Jin Varrel too but since she put on that scary look, better take your leave now.

Episode 4: Sword
A short flashback about the Code and the reason why the Clan of the Sword exist. Alka’s master, Hon Dougen asked her what does the sword mean to her. A couple of kids, Seto and Pia took Alka in. She looks like in pain. Her butterfly mark is black. Needing more food, Seto had to go to town and steal. Yeah, always pick on the same owner. For the umpteenth time already this kid got the better of him. Alka awakes for a while but even so, she has temporarily lost her sight. Loana is alive and in Karen’s care. Only 2 of her men survived. Seto needs to find a faster way to make money. He thinks of selling Alka’s blade since she has 2 of them. On his way, he sees a bandit killing others to rob them. Seto is about to meet his same fate but uses the sword to stab him. He then steals his spoils and trades them for loads of food. Alka dreams of Hon teaching her the meaning of the butterfly symbol. She was also taught about Heaven’s Spirits. They were used to connect with demons coming from the dark. They confuse and deceive the mind. As the Clan of the Sword does not poison people with poison, they poison their minds with impossible visions. The same can be said by the sword. It is not only for striking. It can also be used to live. She is also warned not to use the sword to kill and for her own purpose. Because if so, when the sword dies, she will also perish with it. When Seto comes back with more food than before, Alka could tell he is misusing the sword and doesn’t want him to use it for his own purpose. Seto doesn’t listen. By showing this, everyone obeys him and gives him what he wants. What is so bad about making a living like this? He thinks she does the same and tries to cut her but she stops it with her hand. Loana talks to Hazuki about that Impurity. It is an evil power that corrupts men. Alka and Jin Varrel are not human because they have no emotions. The Pleasure Gang report they saw a kid holding Alka’s sword. Soon, Karen’s men report a kid has attacked a contingent of Sedel. Alka’s vision and mark looks better now as Seto returns. Examining the products he stole, it is a load of Heaven’s Spirit. This isn’t going to make them money. Of course the men have surrounded the house. Seto tries to be a hero but gets shot. Alka did not lose her touch and slits them all. Hazuki investigates the scene in the aftermath and relishes that Alka is still alive. Pia and Alka pray at Seto’s grave. Pia wants to follow her but Alka won’t allow it. She then goes to Karen’s place and pleads for a job. She accepts. Alka remembers Hon’s word of living by the sword if she chooses to use it. Since she has the symbol, she must renounce the fact she was born into the sword.

Episode 5: Flower
Malna, the maid for the mayor wakes up in the middle of the night and sees Alka killing all the bodyguards outside the house! Next day, this guy whom I shall call Justice sees the mayor and seems he has hired Alka to do that as warning. He views Heaven’s Spirit as evil and wants this town purge of it but the mayor argues that the economy has been revitalized thanks to it and this puts food on their table. Can he do it? He tries to get Malna’s opinion but she feels scared and sides with the mayor. Justice leaves and knows this isn’t the end of it and wants Alka to protect him knowing the mayor will send men after him. That night, Karen arrives and sees the mayor. He requests for more soldiers. Karen hears out Malna who describes how Alka killed the bodyguards. Then she wants to see the bodies so the men have to dig them up. Once she sees the slash wounds, time to bury them back. WTF. Better do what she says because she’s the big boss around. Hazuki is also here and is going to make her move after spotting Alka. Justice goes to talk to Malna. It’s like he’s trying to make her feel bad and she knows what she is doing is wrong. Although scared, she thinks it is because of the mayor she gets to have decent meals and sleep. He assures her he can help her find a job if she leaves this village. Malna notes the only thing he thinks is what is right or just. Justice has Malna explain who Karen is. She owns this village and hired the mayor. Justice views her as the source of evil. Malna wants him to spare the villagers because they were saved by Heaven’s Spirit. Justice doesn’t believe this kind of fake peace.

Since this confuses Malna, Justice is going to correct this himself as he makes Alka watch Malna. She talks to Alka and wishes to be like her since she has no emotions. She thinks she won’t be in so much pain if she restrains them. This village took her in and she has nowhere to go. She feels dead although she is alive. Those words sound familiar? Loana, huh? She wonders if she can trust Justice. Alka’s respond: You must decide yourself. Justice confronts the mayor and is going to burn the Heaven’s Spirit fields. Luckily Karen shoots the torch out of his hands. Then Malna restrains him and feels she can’t let him destroy this village. She owes the mayor her life since he saved him. That’s why she is alive now. Justice loses all senses of rationality and is in rage. He wants to kill everyone and orders Alka to do it. Since she doesn’t move, he’ll do it himself. He is going to pick the mayor off first but Malna protects him. So now he is blaming everything and everyone although he is the one who stabbed her?! WTF. Since he is just screaming and raging like an asshole, Karen uses her hairpin to stab him. That should shut him up. Hazuki sees this and is in shock. She loses the mood to go after Alka. The mayor pleads for Malna to be saved but Alka just stood there.

Episode 6: Dream
Yuu is recruited into a rebel force fighting against Palam. The Flower Monks have their base next to theirs because Palam borders the Kulum Kingdom as well. They receive some of Palam military men for help but they’re not putting much hope on them. Jin Varrel orders the attack to be at dawn. That night, the rebel leader rallies his force by introducing Yuu who was a student on Hon and also they will receive reinforcements from Kulum. They’re going to destroy Palam and get their revenge. Later Yuu sees the rebel leader in cohorts with someone from Palam. He confronts him about this and is told they need all the help they can get. If Palam betrays them, they’ll pull one over them in the end. Easy talk. Yuu is reluctant to fight and didn’t want to be part of the war so the rebel leader says that although he came from a neutral country, it is naïve to think that nobody will end up fighting. His presence alone brings everyone together and he plays a vital role in their rebellion. So how? Yuu goes to speak to Jin Varrel! He warns her that the rebels will attack before dawn and wants Palam to withdraw since they aren’t open to reasoning and crying for blood. Jin Varrel will not listen and will proceed with their attack. I guess negotiations failed so they attack Yuu. Though injured, he manages to escape. Jin Varrel announces a change in plans but the military men accuse Yoo Ran of secretly exchanging message with someone as one of the men saw. Jin Varrel tells Yoo Ran to stay back. Jin Varrel leads her men to attack. The military men turn on her army since they have orders to eliminate anything suspicious in Palam. So they think they can best her? Well, all Jin Varrel needs to do is imagine those blokes as her other self and she kills them without ease. All the rebels don’t even stand a chance. Yeah. I suppose the rebel leader got the worst one because Jin Varrel imagines him as Alka! On the other side, Yoo Ran and Ga Gante dispose the advancing Kulum army. Piece of cake. Heck, not even enough for them. When Yuu returns to the base, it is already a ghost town. Yeah. Everybody has died. Flower Monks return to Palam and threaten the guy who sent his military men to finish them. Loana leaves Tomon Inn and her men have recruited several new guys. She also tried recruiting Hazuki since their target is the same. Alka is after Jin Varrel and vice versa. Find one of them and you’ll definitely find the other. I’m not sure if Hazuki really joins Pleasure Gang or just travelling with them. Because hell she isn’t going to wear those spike costumes that she deems silly. Karen notes revenge is a useless thing. Finally for the first time this episode, we see Alka. She’s traversing the dangerous cliffs till she reaches the seaside.

Episode 7: Time
Look who is back? Remember Morii? What’s with that knife throwing greeting to test if Alka still has her edge? Currently she is living in a small secluded place called Boat of Cleansing. Learning she is still on her revenge mission, she wants Alka to meet Mother and hopes her wisdom will do her some good. There are a handful of family members in this place as Morii pleads to Mother to save Alka. Mother sees Alka for the first time and calls her impure. She would like to cleanse them. Lyn makes his stop to sell things and sees Alka. Rumours of Alka’s whereabouts also reach Karen’s ears. Loana and her Pleasure Gang have found a new base. The new members do not know who Jin Varrel is and thought there would be easy money in grave robbing instead of revenge. Hazuki suddenly attacks them just to prove to Loana that they are useless. They can’t even hold a weapon properly. Morii talks to Alka that revenge is a bad thing and hopes she will change. The cleansing ritual begins when Mother rings a bell. The cacophony sound sends Alka in pain before collapsing. When she wakes up, she finds herself tied up and Mother gives Morii the honours to kill Alka. So this is requiem for salvation? If you don’t know it by now, Boat of Cleansing is some weirdo cult. Everybody goes crazy. Morii goes crazy. But before she can kill Alka, a rain of Molotov cocktails barrages the place. Alka uses this chance to break free and escape. She meets Lyn on her way and it seems he was the one responsible for setting the bombardment. He’s not doing it for free, though. What’s with this miserly pay? Not even a word of thanks. Thanks, girl. Pleasure doing business with you. But now Alka has another business to attend to. Morii is still bent on killing her and blames her for turning her life upside down ever since they met. Alka is still weak and cannot do much. Karen comes to her aid while warning what Morii will do makes her the same as Alka. Murder is murder no matter what logic you use. Revenge is a silly thing. But Morii is mad. Can she do it? Nope. She keeps stabbing the sand as she descends into insanity. Karen wants to confirm something from Alka. From the way it is hinted, it seems Alka was the one responsible for some assassination 3 years ago.

Episode 8: Sky
Alka remembers Hon telling her she is like a cup filled with water. She might not be empty but easily disturbed. It is difficult to remain static if she is filled with emotions. However he doesn’t want her to be empty because that is his wish. Yuu finds Alka and wants her to take him to Hon. However he is still infected with Impurity and passes out. Alka takes him and thankfully with Karen nearby, they take refuge in Pleasure Gang’s hideout (thank Lyn for the info). Hazuki wants to shoot Alka but Karen stops her. Not today. As Yuu recuperates, he tells the ladies of his encounter with Jin Varrel. He is still alive even though he got hit by her Impurity because he uses his spirit energy to hold it back. That’s why he wants to see Hon to heal it completely. As he was Hon’s disciple before he left to teach somebody from the Clan of the Sword, the reason why Yuu seeks Alka. However she says Hon is dead. Jin Varrel got them all. Based on the Code, she will exact revenge. Yuu is not pleased because if it’s not for the Code, it’s like she doesn’t care about him. As for if Hon taught her how to defend against the Impurity, she was told to think about it. She’s still thinking about it… Later Alka talks to Yuu and wants to know about Hon. Ironically she was with him all the time and knew nothing. Alka notices he is filled but yet remains undisturbed. Yuu was also taught the same thing. He imparts to Alka that if she only thinks of 1 thing, you forget yourself. Just think about that 1 thing and nothing else. Alka senses Jin Varrel nearby and she goes to fight her. She gets hit by her Impurity but Yuu uses his spirit energy to drive it out. He vows to protect her. They both cooperate to fight her but Jin Varrel views him as a nuisance and blasts him with her Impurity. I guess his body has taken in too much of it. Alka becomes mad when she sees this. The fight continues and she manages to stab Jin Varrel. She turns white before disappearing into Impurity. Yuu knows his time is up and wants Alka to kill him as he doesn’t want to die via Impurity’s corruption. But Alka can’t do it. Is she feeling pity for him? Well, she won’t have to. He’s gone.

Episode 9: Moon
After Alka buries Yuu, she goes off herself instead of staying with Pleasure Gang. It’s going to be hard for Hazuki to find her now. As she wanders, there is an old guy who wants her to take up his request. However she refuses and this had him unleash his scathing comment that as a Clan of the Sword, she will do anything as long as she receives appropriate compensation. Refusing so means she has lost her way and is useless. While she is bumming around, Karen picks her up and lets her work at Tomon Inn to take her mind off things. Well, she’s not so hard to find now but I suppose Hazuki is too drunk to be in the hunting mood. Pia and Miharu are assigned to teach Alka. Looks like she has a lot to learn. Miharu is glad someone like Alka came. She was alone like her too. Miharu was being chased before since she has killed. Karen saved her and took her in. She advises Alka not to give up on living just because she killed. Miharu promises to protect her and in return she will protect her as well. One night, Karen calls Alka to her room and narrates her story about the person she loved. She met an injured wanted man while selling flowers in the streets. She took him in and in no time they fell in love with each other. Together they constructed Tomon Inn and he gave this establishment to her. Despite having a bounty on his head, they continue to honeymoon together. He even jokes if he dies, he can cut and keep any parts of him. She quips back if that happens, she’ll destroy that which his killer loves most. And he did die.

When Alka sees the picture of her late husband, suddenly she is overcome with panic. Have you ever seen Alka frightened so much before? This is the man she killed 3 years ago. Karen shows her a box in which she keeps his parts and comments on the worthlessness of revenge against somebody who doesn’t have anything worth taking revenge for. She lied about it. Alka feels so sick that she can’t even walk straight! Miharu could sense something amiss and calms her down. But that night will be the last time Alka sees her. Next morning, her body is found murdered outside the establishment. When Karen notes people who kill will receive their just eventually, it’s that panicky feeling for Alka once more. She runs away from Tomon Inn and as she wonders, she starts hallucinating that the dead start killing her. The pain feels real. Is she going crazy? I guess to keep her sanity, she decides to take up the old man’s request to go kill somebody. I think Alka must have lost it. Because she came charging to her target screaming! Of course the target is ready for her and even knows her style of slitting throats. The target turns out to be Karen in disguise. She wore a metal plate around her neck. Karen beats up Alka who is looking very much like a useless chick. She notes that when she was in despair, Alka was the void. That’s why she was not worth taking revenge. But now that she has changed and has emotions, she won’t kill her and make her suffer. She will continue to feel painful feelings. This is the revenge she has decided. Karen leaves feeling victorious while laughing like maniac.

Episode 10: Sin
Assassins are chasing after Alka who is cracking up a sweat trying to fend them off. She continues to run and hide from them. Feeling miserable? Yeah, the wolves are also gunning for her ass. She’s breaking into cold sweat just fighting them and even takes some damage. She finds refuge in a cabin belonging to a couple in the snowy mountains. The husband doesn’t trust Alka but the wife treats her good. Then he sees the butterfly mark. They remember 3 years ago their daughter Yuuri was killed by the person with this mark. Although the husband wants to get revenge and kill her, the wife is more level headed. Don’t you see how scared Alka is? Why, even accidentally dropping and breaking a glass bottle freaks her out! The husband believes they should avenge Yuuri but the wife again stays reasonable. Nobody asked them to do that. If he does, he will turn into a monster then. Would Yuuri be happy with what he did? Killing her won’t bring her back. The wife gives Alka a jewel made of glass shards from that broken bottle that her husband made. As Alka calms down and opens up, the more things she does, the more it reminds them of Yuuri. The wife invites her to stay if she has nowhere to go. Alka ponders about Hon’s words about finding her own path. The husband is still having it hard. He doesn’t know if he could forgive the person who killed Yuuri. Alka heard this. Now she is back to scaredy girl. She runs away and her abnormal breathing I thought if I close my eyes, I’d imagine something kinky… They catch up to her and the wife forgives her. Alka is fine after hearing that. Now the husband has something grand to say too. You can fix something broken but not fix a lost life. That is why killing is a sin. Since the sword is her life, if she wants to atone herself, throw it away before Yuuri’s grave. He thinks this is the best when his jewel cracks… Meanwhile Karen is burning her personal things at her summer villa. I guess it must be bored back at Tomon Inn so Hazuki and Loana pay her a visit. I suppose Alka is not here so Hazuki vents her anger on her because she doesn’t know what she is thinking and hiding in her mind. So what’s the problem? Why care so much for her? The husband believes Yuuri is signalling to him she won’t forgive him if he doesn’t avenge her. So here he is aiming a sniping shot at Alka as she prepares to throw her swords off the cliff. The wife doesn’t think she should do it and stops her. In the right timing, she walks into the path of his shot and dies an instant death. Oh no! What have you done! He is so remorseful that his beloved wife is dead, he turns on the gun himself! Well, this only traumatizes Alka further. She’s going crazy. Meanwhile Jin Varrel is almost close to resurrection courtesy of Yoo Ran.

Episode 11: Punishment
Is Alka back in her groove slitting throats of her targets?! Oh… Just a reminiscent of her past. Here she is sitting solemnly in some dead town that even the old flower lady notices she has been sitting in that same spot for 3 days! Alka’s heart stirs when she hears her say how everyone died and she is the only one left. She is given flowers but it’s not going to be free. Alka takes this chance to trade her swords. She has grown so pathetic that the assassins don’t think it’s her! I mean, the Clan of the Sword without her weapons? She must be some homeless girl trying her luck to have someone take her home! Well, it spared her life if you think about it. Meanwhile Jin Varrel is resurrected but since she is on some mindless killing spree, Yoo Ran kills her and repeats the resurrection process. And I’m not sure what is happening since Jin Varrel is like in some trauma killing her other pale self. And then when it’s done, she bursts out with so much Impurity and escapes the facility. Alka is at a mansion (like the one in the flashback). There is the flower lady again. She mentions the master of this place received his punishment for dealing with lots of Heaven’s Spirit. Yeah. Alka was the one who killed him. The lady gives back her weapons since she has no use for it. Karen, Hazuki and Loana are on their way to the Clan of the Sword’s village. How sure is Karen that Alka will be here? Where else is there to go? True enough, she is standing in the midst of the field of Heaven’s Spirit. The sight of Karen sends Alka scared and running! WTF?! Hazuki is going to shoot her but to her surprise, Alka tells her to kill her. Hazuki obliges but Karen pushes Alka down. Hazuki lost interest in her seeing the person who kills is asking to be killed. Where’s the worth in that? The person she is gunning for is gone. Karen is here to see how much she suffered as part of her revenge. Loana is kinder. She is here to thank her for what she did for her men. While they burn the field, Karen asks Alka what her sword means to her. The same words Hon said to her. Karen starts attacking and beating her up and Alka is reduced to dodging. In the end, Alka takes out her sword to block. So is she back? Karen says her past does not disappear and will shoulder it for the rest of her life. Loana’s advice for Alka is that she doesn’t need to wait for someone’s order. She just needs to figure out what she wants to do. But here comes Jin Varrel on her steed. Surprised that she’s alive? She’s a monster now and is going to have her revenge. Oh, the poor horse died so she could have a grand landing. WTF.

Episode 12: Soul
Why is everyone so afraid of Jin Varrel? They should be. Because everything her Impurity touches dies! Holy sh*t! Although Jin Varrel is only targeting Alka, the trio of Karen, Hazuki and Loana cooperate to fight her but is still no match. Not even when Hazuki points her gun point blank. She can dodge them and also return her bullets right back at her. Yeah. She resurrects each time she takes a hit. Did somebody leave the God cheat code on? And what the hell are you doing Alka? You still scared? When her Impurity works up, she remembers a little flashback. After she escaped from the facility, Yoo Ran and Ga Gante tracked her down. As Jin Varrel has regained her former self, Yoo Ran is going to kill her since she is nothing but a puppet, an empty vessel for Impurity. However Ga Gante felt pity and held back Yoo Ran. He gives the signal to kill them both (at least for the first time he spoke a couple of words even if that is just Jin Varrel’s name). Jin Varrel didn’t hesitate to slice them as they fall off the cliff. When Jin Varrel has had enough of the trio and is going to kill them, Alka jumps in to protect them. Now this is the Alka we know. She’s back. The super blade clashing fight goes on till Alka gets hit by her Impurity. Jin Varrel is going to kill her because when Alka killed her, she didn’t have the tranquillity of death. Suddenly Alka’s butterfly mark powers up and as it glows, it’s like giving her some God-like status. She is ready to kill Jin Varrel, something that she is going to accept but Alka stops inches before her throat. Jin Varrel is now the emo one as she pleads for her to kill her or else she will revive again if her form remains. Alka realizes she is the same as her. Alive but yet dead. But since she is alive now, she is not dead. She won’t kill her and wants her to walk her path. Her butterfly mark disappears. Jin Varrel cries out loud in frustration. Yoo Ran still lives as she reports back to her emperor that Jin Varrel cannot be used anymore. But no matter. All they need is a replacement. As for Alka, since she has become human, she is no longer a threat to them. Posters of her bounty are taken down. In the aftermath, we see flowers on the grave of all those minor characters that have died. Alka must have been here. Lastly, Lyn is now a beggar. Beaten up badly and penniless. He has nothing. Lost everything. Alka appears before him and gives him a coin. Is this payment for her shoulder cloth? Late payment charges… Just kidding. Lyn wonders what she is doing now. Living. Oh gosh. Alka’s sweet smile! Priceless!

Episode 13: God
In this very disappointing episode that could have been released as an OVA but did not because Alka is not featured here! When Hazuki wins a drinking bet, she is given a treasure map that leads to some eternal youth hotspring. Likewise, Loana and her Pleasure Gang are raiding tombs. She has no luck in finding treasures unlike her men and due to her stubbornness, she believes this treasure map she found is worth something and they should go check it out. And what do you know, Karen and Pia are also on their way there. Suddenly their boat is being attacked by fish people. This next scene is really WTF. Karen and Pia jump off to swim to the island. They literally abandoned their crew who in turn are too dumb to follow them because they stood there just to get eaten by the fish people. Oddly, why aren’t any fish people chasing Karen or Pia as they swim?! Don’t tell me they are gay?! When they reach the island, the fish people surround them and are going to attack. Karen is going to fight back when her makeshift shell bra comes undone. Instantly the fish people blush and bows down before her. She is God! WTF?! Perverts! Pia seems to understand what they say as their language is similar to her native tongue. The fish leader apologizes for their violent conduct and wants to make it up by showing them their village. Meanwhile Loana and co are lost in some underground. They realize too late above them is the ocean when conveniently they are flushed away by the current. They end up before some tiger people who take them to their village and have them clean themselves. They thought they were going to get some welcome dinner at their village but realize something amiss. All the tiger people are waiting eagerly for their meal. They are the meal!!! Time to fight back. And then Loana’s bandage bra comes undone. Oh God… Tiger people are perverts too. They worship her as a goddess. What the f*ck is wrong with these animal people?!

The fish people are having trouble bringing their live fish as food to Karen. She shows them who is boss as she cuts the fish in half. But Hazuki is inside! Saved? Apparently she was on her way here but got swallowed by this fish. It’s a miracle she is still in tip top condition. Pia heard rumours that Karen is to be married away but Karen doesn’t mind as long as they view her as pretty. Then Pia stumbles upon something sinister. The fish people were making fake copies of the map to lure women here as their species lack female. This explains why they are love big boobs. However the eternal youth hotspring is not a lie and the fish people show them there. Loana and the tiger people are also there. They won’t allow them to use this place. As you have guessed, both sides hate each other and have been fighting for ages over this hotspring. Since Loana has recruited the tiger people as part of her Pleasure Gang, she is going to fight the rest. And so all hell breaks loose with the fighting here and there. When the ladies fall into the hotspring, it seems they start seeing visions. Hazuki becomes infatuated with money and starts chasing the fish people (because their eyes look like gold coins). Karen becomes traumatic because when she was young she hated being poor while Loana starts fearing fish people because when her mother told her to eat her fish, she secretly threw it away and lied about it. WTF. And now for the saviour of them all… Alka! Finally here she is putting them out of their misery with a quick jab to the back of their neck. It is revealed the reason why the ladies saw those illusions was because the source of the hotspring water locates a field of Heaven’s Spirit. But why Alka is here? The map… In the aftermath, both sides make peace and they enjoy their island life. Don’t they even worry about going back to the main land? Oh God… So disappointed…

Specials

After all that blood and violence, it is time for some fun and laughter albeit only 2 minutes per special. Personally, these chibified specials feel like one of the most boring specials ever. No doubt the short randomness that do not have any bearings to the story are supposed to make you laugh but I have this feeling that they just let a 5 year old do the script and they just go with it. Certain scenes especially very short ones make you go WTF or what-the-heck-is-that-for instead of making you chuckle.

Special 1 – Alka introducing herself but doesn’t say much. Hazuki random shooting causes its ricochet to hit herself. Hazuki is drunk and blabbing about things as Alka tries to tease touch her while she is out. She gets caught but Hazuki is too drunk to do anything and instead invites her to drink with her.

Special 2A freaking long standoff between Alka and Jin Varrel. Nobody makes the first move. So they’re just going to stand there all day? Alka catches Jin Varrel yawning and the latter is not too pleased to know that. Alka getting caught in a sand dune. Jin Varrel asking for Alka’s name but she won’t tell. Jin Varrel misunderstood “Won’t Tell” as her name.

Special 3 – Loana is asked what is underneath her eye-patch and she hints death if you really want to look at it. If you really want to know… It shoots a ray beam! Boom! Turns out this is just a story she is telling to Hazuki. Loana wants Hazuki to call her as “onee-sama” but when she does, she feels disgusted. Loana believes Hazuki is catching a cold thanks to her inappropriate dressing and suggests her Pleasure Gang armoured uniform. Hazuki won’t be dead caught wearing those. Thus Loana tries to entice her with the money and lodging benefits of joining the gang. All seems good till she hears about the complimentary uniform… A trick just to get her to wear it? No way!

Special 4Yuu and Alka share manjuus but when it comes to the last one, the fight over it and Yuu wins. Just as he is about to eat it, he decides to share with her. However it is a teasing trap as he quickly devours it to leave her in depression. Alka jumps over a cliff but her landing is less than perfect. Does it hurt? Lastly, Yuu decides to share a manjuu with Alka. For real this time.

Special 5 – Karen throws her fan thinking it would ricochet and hit her enemies. However after hitting the first person, it ends there. She picks it up and throws at the second person. Alka watches a video of Karen’s dance and tries to imitate it. It starts out as some Hawaiian Aloha dance before turning into something weird and sending her into depression. Karen tries her fan throwing ricochet again. Same thing. But this time the second guy prevents her from picking up her fan. What are you going to do now? She takes out another fan and throws it at him! She has more from where that came from… In fact, a closet full of it! Drunk Hazuki is just complaining so Karen knocks her out with a pan. That should shut her up.

Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Cold
This could have been a pretty decent and grim show if not for that nonsense no-brainer final episode that somewhat ruined my sentiments for this anime overall. I know it is not right to judge and anime by its last episode only but I felt that this filler episode didn’t do justice to what this anime series is really about. Like I said, if it was released separately as an OVA by itself and from the final Blu-Ray volume whatsoever, it wouldn’t be that bad. Actually I would still condemn the silliness of it all but at least I wouldn’t have lumped it in together in one go and analyze it with the entire series. Uh huh. It was that bad. If you don’t think much about it, it would be fun but I guess despite that, this show is nothing without the emotionless cold blooded assassin Alka.

Back to the series proper, I don’t actually get the plot overall because when I think about it, the more confused I become. So the whole anime was just about Alka running about here and there to find Hon’s killer (read: random standalone episodes). And then when she did kill Jin Varrel the first time, I thought it was too early and there must be some mistake. Yeah well, I don’t know if that side distraction to turn Alka with emotions was a good thing or not. Then Jin Varrel got resurrected for the second time and a rematch was needed. And when Alka finally got the guts to ask why she killed her master, what was her reply? Because it was destiny. WTF is this kind of answer?! It would have been better for her just to not say anything and leave us pondering why the heck master Hon died in the first place. And then I would have complained about not getting a real answer. Haha!

The Heaven’s Spirit also feels somewhat underutilized and I thought they were going to be a major theme of the series. It didn’t. Because Alka and Jin Varrel already posses their own great power and don’t need to resort to such cheap tricks. Even the other side heroines don’t use them since they have their own trusted weapons they can rely on. Besides, nothing good comes out of those from those who used them. It’s like this series version of drugs in our world. Only minor characters who will be disposed of get to use them. The Code that Alka lives by also feels fleeting. A flimsy excuse for Alka to go on this revenge quest? Does she fully understand it considering she is like an emotionless being? I thought there would be some instances that will give us more about her Clan of the Sword but mostly it is just flashbacks of Alka in one of those lessons of Hon’s teachings.

Alka is a cool assassin babe. No emotions. No nonsense. Sharp. Survival material. You do not want to mess with her. So being her best friend is the best thing you want to do because you’d be safe with her blade protecting you. So don’t get on the wrong side of her. But the most disturbing part was when she started to have emotions. It doesn’t make sense. She killed countless of targets and when she remembers she killed Karen’s husband, her world came crumbling down. She became such a chicken that to see her in that state is just not worth it to kill her and get your revenge. It wasn’t the Alka I know. Like as though she has turned into an innocent girl who made her first kill. It was really the turning and defining point of the series. She’s spacing out so much, she’s terrified and she’s confused. So scared that it is just It’s like they transplanted a soul of another character into her body. Maybe it’s because she has been thinking about Hon’s words why he wanted her to leave this assassin lifestyle. So now you see the dangers of why people like her think too much? So is this emotion thingy a good thing for Alka? That depends. It is bad because of how we see her turned pathetic and defenceless. In the end it did her some good as she controlled it and is back to the cool cat we once knew. But the damage is done knowing that she was in a pathetic state for a while. Nevertheless it is great to see Alka back and who knows what path she has taken, whether she continues being an assassin or just wandering.

I don’t understand what the deal is about Jin Varrel and all that Impurity and resurrection stuff. What I can see that there is something sinister going on for Yoo Ran and the emperor of Palam. Even with Alka completing her quest, it is not like it is the end of Palam’s rule or anything. I don’t feel that they are the biggest threat to Alka since it is mostly Jin Varrel who is in hot pursuit of her and vice versa. The rest of the other ladies were just rather okay. Except perhaps for Karen who was just cool in bidding her time and her revenge plan on Alka was just perfect and devilishly sweet, Hazuki and Loana felt redundant. It’s like they are tagging along and hanging around because there is nothing else better to show. Hazuki is always obsessed in hunting down Alka’s ass and she doesn’t have another good chance after the first bout. Always interrupted or lack the mood. So what is she hanging around for besides her past time of getting drunk? Loana’s role is even more redundant. After Loana’s failed mission to get revenge on Jin Varrel for her men, I don’t see why she needs to hang around.

The action part is perhaps the main draw of the series. It doesn’t disappoint because it is violent! In the first few episodes whereby Alka was a cold blooded assassin, you will see a lot of throats being slit and blood gushing out like nobody’s business. Literally cut throat business if I should say. Because of that it makes it cool but at the same time very gruesome. So if you cannot stomach this kind of bloody scenes, go watch Sesame Street and Barney and Friends. Some ‘bloodless’ scenes like Hazuki’s gun firing bout with Alka and also the ultimate sword clash with Jin Varrel also are quite exciting. Also to reflect the melancholy of this world, in almost nearly every episode there is somebody that dies, whether it is a minor character that you couldn’t care less or a character just for that episode. You thought a young boy won’t die, right? Wrong. He’s dead. A timid girl who tries to do what she believes is right. She died believing that.

Then there is Yuu whom I thought was going to play a major role despite coming in halfway through the series. He only lasted for 2 episodes before he gets killed! WTF. And I thought with him being the main host of the next ending preview which also doubles as an information segment to explain about the workings of things (which helps a lot because for example it enlightened me why Alka’s butterfly mark was important because it can activate and withstand the Impurity, the reason why she lives after getting hit), he would be a regular. Alas, this is his only section where he gets to shine.

The art and drawing is of course heavily based on the MMORPG design. So I figure that players who are familiar with the game will find some of the character designs to be familiar. The sceneries are also not bad and the cities have this gloomy and depressing feel, which gives off a realistic setting of this wretched fantasy world. The only grouse that I have is the nose. What do I mean? Notice that every character has this light shade of grey on their nose? It feels like some sort of blemish and it makes them look weird. Makes me think that they were sneezing or rubbing it too much.

There is also some fanservice element especially when you have the main characters as sexy babes. I suppose playing the MMORPG itself has such sexy class characters. Which RPG doesn’t? Alka is already dangerous with her sword skills and it is even more dangerous that she cuts a busty figure. It is a wonder that those boobs never get in the way of her assassination. I think I figure out why dead weights like Hazuki and Loana are hanging around despite having not much roles: Fanservice! Yeah, busty babes. Hazuki’s bikini top dressing is already enough to give you a boner because it makes her seem she just jumped out of some swimsuit cover photo shoot. Karen I suppose has the biggest bust among them and the way she dresses makes them stand out even more. Then you have Jin Varrel and Yoo Ran, ladies in tight black outfits. Sexy, isn’t it? There might be a case of sexualisation of such women in such games and animes but I guess lots of us wouldn’t really bother with it since we are happy to get to see some boobs jiggle even if there are no bare tits.

I wasn’t going to bother with the voice acting since the only ones I recognized were Sayaka Ohara as Karen (Erza in Fairy Tail), Cho as Hon (Brook in One Piece) and Rina Satou as Malna (Misaki in To Aru Kagaku No Railgun). When I found out that Aoi Yuuki was the voice behind Jin Varrel, I became dumbfounded. This girl is the voice behind Jin Varrel? Senki Zesshou Symphogear’s Hibiki and Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica’s Madoka is the voice behind Jin Varrel? I never thought she would voice somebody with such a low voice. Well, that’s the bad thing when you start identifying somebody based on that single voice. Other seiyuus that I didn’t recognize but should have were Rikiya Koyama as Gagante (how could I since he was just roaring all the way), Shizuka Itou as Yoo Ran, Marina Inoue as Yuu and Ryoko Shiraishi as Lyn. Others that I am not familiar with are Yuki Takao as Alka (Nanami in Kimi No Iru Machi), Sora Amamiya as Hazuki (Akame in Akame Ga Kill), Ayahi Takagi as Loana (Henrietta in Log Horizon), Rumi Ookubo as Pia (Kazuki in Galilei Donna) and Megumi Han as Morii (Sumire in Chihayafuru S2).

The opening theme Sayonara Usotsuki by Mimimeme MIMI sounds quite epic and gets you into the pace of the series. I especially like the opening background music of the piano. It is quite exciting to hear it. The ending theme, Rainbow by Lego Big Morl doesn’t sound too bad either. A bit of a slow rock and techno mix together. Something compels me to sing along with it although I personally feel the male voice singing it sounds a little flat. Yeah. Just like mine. The only other thing odd I find in the ending credits animation is Karen’s dancing. It is so elegant, so smooth, so CGI-like…

As usual, watching this anime didn’t make me want to jump and play the actual game. I doubt any sequel will be made since there is already closure unless they make a story on another character or some other force trying to bring Alka out of retirement. If you like your fantasy shows with blood, action and macabre stuffs and don’t mind seeing sexy women (and some furry animals) taking fore, this should be a fun and entertaining watch. Yes, a fun and entertaining watch because you get boobs amidst the bloody action (if you’re a guy and love some violence kind anyway). Fanservice and gore. Not a usual combo we see every day. But I know that if I ever live in such a world, I want a person like Alka to be my bodyguard all the time. And even in the event if I do get hook in playing MMORPG, I want to choose a class called Alka. No, not just some assassin class but Alka. That’s all I need in a party.