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Witchblade
Witchblade Poster.jpg
Promotional poster for the Witchblade anime adaptation.
ウィッチブレイド
(Witchibureido)
Genre Action, Supernatural, Sci-fi, Thriller
TV anime
Director Yoshimitsu Ohashi
Studio Gonzo
Licensor Japan Sony Pictures Entertainment
United States Canada FUNimation Entertainment
United Kingdom MVM Films
Australia New Zealand Madman Entertainment
Republic of China Proware Multimedia
Network Japan TBS United States IFC Philippines TV5
Original run 16 April 200620 September 2006
Episodes 24 (List of episodes)
Anime and Manga Portal

Witchblade (ウィッチブレイド Uitchibureido?) is an anime series based on the American comic book by the same name. Instead of an adaptation of the original story, the producers decided to create an entire new setup, with all new characters. This co-production between Japanese studio Gonzo and American publisher Top Cow, who owns the rights for the Witchblade franchise, is already licensed to release in the United States. The English dub premiered on the US cable network IFC in January 2008. The show is currently on Tuesday/Early Wednesdays at 3:30 AM ET, and the series finale aired on June 13, 2008 on IFC. The show is also available on a purchase-to-download system on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. The series is priced at 160 Microsoft Points and $1.99 per episode. The first twelve episodes are also available for download via Amazon's Unbox service.

As of December 2008, in the USA and Canada there are 6 Volumes on DVD sets available, with Vol. 1 having been released in September 2007. There is also a full boxed set containing all 24 episodes and an extra disc with special features. A Blu-ray box set is set to be released on November 3, 2009.

The anime was directed by Yoshimitsu Ohashi, who directed Galaxy Angel and Galaxy Angel Z, and the characters were designed by Uno Makoto, the character designer for Stellvia and Love Hina.

Contents

Story

"Sought by the greed of men since the dawn of human kind, but only bestowed upon the women whose fate it forever scars... The Witchblade. Is it the righteous sword of God? Or 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."-Anime prologue for each episode.[1]

In this new approach to the Witchblade universe, the lead character (and blade wielder) is Masane Amaha, a kind-hearted woman who, despite her good intentions, is fairly clumsy and not good around the house. She lost her memory during an unknown catastrophic event that ravaged Tokyo and, curiously, Masane was found unscathed in the phenomenon's ground zero, holding a baby in her arms. Six years later, she returns to Tokyo with the child, now called Rihoko, and for whom she cares as a daughter, where she discovers that the mysterious jewel attached to her right wrist is actually the legendary artifact known as the Witchblade. Since then Masane got herself involved in the struggle for power between a huge corporation and a government agency, while trying to live her life peacefully with her daughter.

Characters

Main characters

  • Masane Amaha (天羽 雅音 Amaha Masane?) age 23
Voiced by: Mamiko Noto (Japanese), Jamie Marchi (English)
The primary protagonist of the series. A jobless single mother who loves her only daughter very much. She is the bearer of the Witchblade. She seems to have become the Witchblade bearer during an event that destroyed most of Tokyo 6 years before the beginning of the series. She has very big breasts and is also somewhat tomboyish, not giving much care for her disposition or appearance. Masane is the caring mother of Rihoko Amaha. Although she is "Riko's" mother, Masane seems to be a little ditsy at times, making Rihoko seem like she is the responsible one. She has a very deep attachment to her daughter. However, the NSWF's Child Welfare Division wants to take Rihoko from Masane because Masane doesn't have any means of income for taking care of Rihoko and the possibility that Masane may not be the actual mother. It is then revealed at the end of episode 12 that Masane is not Rihoko's mother, but still wants to be her mother.
As the bearer of the Witchblade, while fighting she gains superhuman capabilities such as enhanced regenerative abilities, speed, endurance and strength, but her normal personality is eclipsed by that of a berserker which derives an almost erotic pleasure from combat and bloodshed (though she gradually learns to control herself as the series progresses). While inactive, the Witchblade appears as a silver bracelet with a red jewel in a heart-like-shaped frame on her right wrist which she can never remove. While active, the blade produces a black, maroon, and silver armor that covers her body and gives her an extendable blade on her right arm as well as the ability to sprout blades on the rest of her body. In this state, her hair color changes to red and grows longer, capable of whipping out and piercing her opponents. After Masane unlocks the full power of the Witchblade the armor changes to red and purple, and gives her two blades on both arms. In this state, her hair color becomes white and she seems to be able to use it in more offensive ways, shown when she uses it to destroy a police car.
Towards the end of the series, as the Witchblade's power begins to break down Masane's body, her hair color changes from red to white while in an "enhanced" state. Masane is doomed from the very beginning of the series: as the wielder of the Witchblade she cannot remove it without cutting her own arm, and while using the power of the monstrous artifact, her body starts to give in and crumble (to the point of her senses becoming dulled and, in the case of taste, disappearing completely). Knowing that after her death the Witchblade would seek her daughter, as Masane herself is nothing but a temporary host, she chooses death, and so dies in the end of the last episode, obliterating herself, seemingly the Witchblade, and the huge army of I-weapons that came to destroy her. What remains of her is just a shell given to her by her daughter as a gift, which is given to Rihoko, carried by one of the many stardust-like particles created in the aftermath of Masane's sacrifice.
  • Rihoko Amaha (天羽 梨穂子 Amaha Rihoko?) age 6
Voiced by: Akemi Kanda (Japanese), Carrie Savage (English)
Masane Amaha's daughter. She is nicknamed Riko. Although she is Masane's daughter, she acts like the mother, responsibility-wise. Rihoko does the shopping, cooking, cleaning, and so forth, although she does not mind doing these things at all. Riko cares for her mother deeply and wants to be with Masane. The NSWF's Child Welfare Division wants to take Rihoko because Masane has no way of taking care of her in the event of illness or emergencies. She is frequently praised for her good cooking capabilities. It is later revealed that Rihoko's true biological mother is Reina Soho and her biological father is Takayama. Also, Rihoko is apparently more compatible with the Witchblade than anyone else, and it was she who was responsible for Reina's initial high compatibility rating (because she was pregnant with Rihoko at the time). She is last seen standing at the foot of the ruins caused by the great quake, alongside Takayama receiving the shell she gave Masane, from the star-like flakes falling from the sky after Masane's death. She is now more than likely living with Takayama.
  • Yuusuke Tozawa (斗沢 祐介 Tōzawa Yūsuke?) age 26
Voiced by: Masaya Matsukaze (Japanese), Robert McCollum (English)
Yuusuke Tozawa is a free-lance photographer. From past experiences, he prefers to use regular cameras rather than digital cameras. He first becomes interested in the number of serial murders taking place in the city and investigates the matter, which leads him to the Witchblade. Tozawa then continues his investigations, but this time, to find out who or what the "Witchblade" is. He is among the first ones to nickname Masane "Masamune" (*Melony* in the English dub), referring to her huge chest ("masa-mune" meaning "undefeatable breasts", and "Melony" referring to her breasts as melons ). This is carried over in the anime, to the point that Tozawa only refers to Masane with this nickname. While at first he appears as the archetype of the freelance reporter, willing to do everything for a scoop, he later shows a deep concern for Masane, firmly believing in her humanity, regardless of the physical appearance, even criticizing a reporter for calling her a monster.

Secondary characters

  • Reina Soho (蘇峰 玲奈 Soho Reina?) age 28
Voiced by: Mie Sonozaki (Japanese), Colleen Clinkenbeard (English)
Reina Soho is a Neogene cloneblade who works as a Forensics Medicine Specialist in the NSWF (National Scientific Welfare Foundation). She is a strong and intelligent woman. Nevertheless, she is quite self-centered. Unlike most of her First-Generation counterparts, Reina has come to terms with the fact that Furumizu views her and the rest of her Neogene sisters as nothing more than tools at his disposal. By the same token, however, she feels no obligation to answer to his every beck and call. Her nickname as a Cloneblade is "Lady". In her youth, she was found to be a potential bearer for the "true" Witchblade. Eager to test the limits of her genetic potential, Reina and her assistant, Shiori Tsuzuki, attempted to forcibly remove the Witchblade from Masane. It turns out that Reina's high compatibility with the Witchblade was due to the fact that she was carrying Rihoko at the time, and after giving birth, her compatibility dropped significantly. Of all the Cloneblades, Reina was regarded as the most advanced of her Neogene sisters. As a Cloneblade, Reina bore a huge blade on her left forearm, and had wing-like appendages that could transform into robust shields from blades. Reina considered herself and everyone around her as objects to be researched. She even went so far as to seize custody of her biological daughter, Rihoko, in order to test how motherhood would affect her mentally. Much to her surprise, she began to develop maternal feelings for the girl. The full extent of her love for Rihoko is revealed when she sacrifices herself to protect her from the psychopathic Neogene, Maria. Her cloneblade armor is white and pink.
  • Maria (まりあ?) age 15
Voiced by: Nana Mizuki (Japanese), Monica Rial (English)
Maria is part of the Second generation of sisters created by Tatsuoki Furumizu and she was the first to be equipped with a Dual Cloneblade. She appears much older than she truly is which suggests that the sisters age rapidly. She is actually younger than Rihoko. She has an obsession for cats and dogs. Maria undergoes many changes throughout the series. She starts out as a hyper, mentally unstable adolescent with an extreme minority complex. While extremely strong and dangerous, she is little more than an insecure child desperate for attention and a mother to call her own. This changes when her actual mother, Reina, rejects her. After killing Reina in a rage, her personality becomes almost catatonic. She also changes her appearance to match Reina's looks. After hearing of Furumizu's plans to use her as a surrogate mother for his "perfect" clone, her disgust transforms her into a megalomaniacal psychopath who seeks power at all costs. She kills Furumizu and seizes control of the NSWF. She pledges to transform the NSWF into an army that will secure power for herself as well as the Neogene "chosen ones". In truth, however, Maria is the leader of the organization in name only. With no clear goal rather than to obtain power at all costs, Maria becomes even more secretive and reclusive than her late "father". With the exception of Aoi, cloneblades such as Asagi view her as an insecure child trying to "act tough". As Maria drifts aimlessly, Nishida effectively runs the entire organization and continues to use its resources to hunt for the Witchblade. Her Cloneblade form is not quite as heavily armored as the others. Nevertheless, it is by far the strongest. In her cloneblade form she is able to extend her fingers and impale her victims multiple times. The extent of her power can be seen when she pierces Reina's armor blades with ease. In the end, Maria met her demise while fantasizing despairingly about her mother. In her final moments, she asks the hallucination of her mother if "she still loved her". Maria barely had the chance to finish her sentence as she turned to crystal dust. Her cloneblade armor is purple and red.
  • Reiji Takayama (鷹山 澪士 Takayama Reiji?) age 34
Voiced by: Rikiya Koyama (Japanese), Mark Stoddard (English)
Reiji Takayama is the Bureau Chief of Douji Group Industries. He also is the one responsible for employing Masane to fight-off malfunctioning "Ex-cons", highly technological weapons developed by his own employers. Takayama is a stoic and very stern man who shows little to no expressions at all. He is usually accompanied by his assistant, Hiroki Segawa. Takayama seems to have a past relationship with Reina Soho, possibly a sexual one, as it is briefly discussed between himself and Masane that there is a possibility he may be Rihoko's biological father, a point which he says is possible, which he later affirmed completely in Episode 19. They both had worked together before the ground-zero event in doing research on the Witchblade. Initially Takayama appears to be cynical and cold, but as the anime progresses this proves to be completely false as his relationship with Masane deepens. He and Masane later become romantically involved in episode 19. Masane later attempts to get him and Riko closer after learning he is her real father. He is last seen standing with Riko at the site of Masane's last fight, watching on as she sacrifices her life.
  • Hiroki Segawa (瀬川 弘樹 Segawa Hiroki?) age 25
Voiced by: Kenichi Suzumura (Japanese), Christopher Bevins (English)
Segawa Hiroki is Reiji Takayama's assistant and right hand man. He is always prepared and is a very capable assistant. He is the kind of person who loves power and his loyalty lies with who ever is stronger. He describes himself as a person who loves to follow those who have power, and demonstrates it by switching sides with whoever wields the most powerful position within Dohji Industries. He is last seen standing with the Dohji recovery team on a bridge wishing Takayama good luck.

Minor characters

  • Rie Nishida (西田 りえ Nishida Rie?) age 28
Voiced by: Sakiko Tamagawa (Japanese), Gwendolyn Lau (English)
Dr. Nishida is a depraved researcher who is extremely obsessed with researching the capabilities of the Witchblade. She was in charge of creating the 4th generation of sisters who were going to have Maria's genes as the ultimate mother. She switches to Maria's side because she sees Furumizu as a fool and that they can gain nothing out of using his "flawed" genes. It is worth noting that this woman acknowledges nothing more than her research in her life, and this very obsession has her killed when she fails noticing an incoming iWeapon that crushes her car and herself.
  • Nora (ノーラ Nōra?) age 31
Voiced by: Saori Yumiba (Japanese), Stephanie Young (English)
Nora is a Neogene who serves as Tatsuoki Furumizu's assistant. She is one of Furimuzu's most loyal and reliable subordinates. Cooly arrogant and blunt in her interactions with others , she is very competitive with her sisters and is prone to jealousy. After watching Furimuzu reward Maria's tantrum with a trip to the toy store, Nora roughly manhandles her and confines her to a hotel room after the mentally unstable Neogene loses her temper in public. With the exception of Furumizu himself, she considers everyone and everything around her as a tool for her advancement. She is also a very powerful cloneblade. Unlike Masane and Shiori, she is able to effectively control her carnal impulses while transformed' much like Reina. Nicknamed "Spider", she has the ability to shoot needles and entrap her opponents with strands from her hair and three rapier like blades on her left arm. She battles Reina, trying to get Rihoko. She ultimately is impaled by Reina and is killed. It is worth noting that she sees Reina as her biggest rival as she was by far the most powerful Neogene and it is her personal rivalry that caused her death. Her cloneblade armor is orange and green.
  • Aoi (あおい?) age 15
Voiced by: Ryoko Ono (Japanese), Caitlin Glass (English)
Aoi is the first sparring partner that Maria does not kill. They become good friends to the point of Aoi becoming her assistant and best friend later on in the anime, where she too is equipped with a Dual Cloneblade. As a Cloneblade she is melee fighter using sickle like blades. She has small blue eyes and blond hair she wears in braids. She wears an orange dress. It is worth noting that Aoi is fanatically loyal to Maria, to the point of attacking Masane in a blind rage, for injuring Maria, later in the series. This proves to be fatal, as she is impaled and killed by Masane. Her last words were for Maria to continue her quest to obtain the Witchblade. It is also worth noting that Aoi is the only person Maria seems to care about, being her only friend, to the point of crying over her death. Her cloneblade armor is blue and orange.
  • Asagi (あさぎ?) age 18
Voiced by: Akeno Watanabe (Japanese), Clarine Harp (English)
Asagi is the sister chosen by Aoi when Maria asked her to chose a capable sister to help herself and Aoi fight and take the Witchblade from Masane. She also is equipped with the Dual Cloneblade. She acts calmly but without any interest in her role, a behavior reflected in her physical appearance as well, often questioning for what or who Maria is acting, and what she really wants, which often earns a scolding from Aoi. For this very reason, Maria kills her, impaling her. Asagi is the only Cloneblade in the entire anime that doesn't fight (she does fight some exCons, but this isn't shown). Her cloneblade armor is black and blue.
  • Tatsuoki Furumizu (古水 達興 Furumizu Tatsuoki?) age 65
Voiced by: Shinji Ogawa (Japanese), R. Bruce Elliott (English)
An antagonist in the Witchblade series. Tatsuoki Furimizu is the head of the NSWF. He is affectionately known as "Father" by his Neogene "daughters" and the orphans in his care. While a brilliant scholar and administrator in his youth, Furimizu has grown increasingly reclusive and secretive with age in his quest to acquire the Witchblade. Despite exhuberating charm and paternal warmth when interacting with the public and his "children", he is rather cold-hearted and deranged in reality. He is completely single-minded in pursuit of his goals, and shows no concern for the physical and emotional well-being of those who serve him. He's later revealed to be unable to have children. Believing his father to be perfect in every way, Furumizu comes to the conclusion that his mother's genes are to blame for his malady. He attempts to create the perfect mother from his own "superior" genes which results in the creation of several genetically-enhanced women known as Neogenes. After selecting a candidate for the Witchblade among the Neogenes, Furumizu hopes to be reborn from the loins of the designated bearer as a superior being. After realizing that her "grandfather" views her as nothing more than a tool for his rebirth, a radically powerful Neogene named Maria mortally wounds Furumizu in a coup. As Furumizu chokes on his own blood, Nishida informs him that she purposefully neglected to incorporate his genes into the the newest batch of Neogene zygotes. With his life's ambitions ruined beyond repair, Furumizu succumbs to a nervous breakdown. He wails hysterically over the loss of his "mother" and begins to ingest the vials containing the genetic material for the next generation of sisters. Disgusted by his unsightly behavior, Maria finishes him off with one last blow.
  • Shiori Tsuzuki (都築 栞 Tsuzuki Shiori?) age 26
Voiced by: Shizuka Itō (Japanese), Trina Nishimura (English)
Shiori acts as the secretary and assistant of Reina. She is a lesbian and is sexually infatuated with her employer (though this is mostly cut off in the censored version aired in Japan), whom she affectionately addresses as "Sensei" (Or Doctor in the English dub). She's also a Cloneblade. She is the very first one to fight against Masane. Nicknamed "Diva", she acts arrogant and confident, but is soon revealed to have little to no control over her impulses as a Cloneblade. While in her Cloneblade form she sports a large scythe-like blade, and later gains one on both arms. She brutally beats Masane and chases her relentlessly only to be stopped by Reina herself. During her fight with Masane her Cloneblade is critically damaged. As a result, her impulses and emotion become enslaved by the carnal drive of her cloneblade. She quickly becomes a psychotic maniac, slaughtering for pure pleasure. In the end, she succeeds in unlocking the full powers of the Cloneblade albeit for a short moment. After attacking and beating Masane, she attempts to rape Takayama. However, her body crumbles into crystal dust before she is able to rape her beloved sensei's lover. It is worth noting that Shiori, while being a minor character, is one of the most sadistic and depraved characters in the anime series. Her cloneblade armor is blue and cyan, but turns to blue and red after unlocking her full power.

Misc.

  • Witchblade
An ancient artifact of unimaginable power. It has been the leading cause of many wars fought by those who sought to control it. It eventually wound up in the possession of the Douji Group who sought to use the item to benefit themselves. It was taken from them by Reina Soho, a member of the NSWF. She took the blade and rather than turn it over to the NSWF, ran into hiding. During an attempt by the NSWF and Douji Group to take it from her, the blade released a massive surge of power and triggered what was later known as the "Great Quake". For some reason it then chose a young woman named Masane Amaha to become its bearer.
  • Cloneblade
During the time the blade was being studied the NSWF used their research to create a biological copy of the Witchblade dubbed a Cloneblade. They possess the same powers as the Witchblade but in truth are just cheap imitations of the original. Known cloneblade sisters are Reina Soho, Shiori Tsuzuki, and Nora. Proof showing that a human is equipped with a cloneblade is a silver bracelet with a blue jewel on their left wrist. Later research lead to the creation of Dual Cloneblades, two Cloneblades being wielded at once by the same person, which are much stronger. Besides its more complex design from the single blade the jewel it has is purple. Known Dual Clonebalde sisters are, from the second generation only, Maria, Aoi, and Asagi. Proof showing that a human is equipped with a Dual Cloneblade is a silver bracelet with a purple jewel on both wrist. Wado of the Douji Group, in an attempt to upstage Takayama secretly developed what he called an Ultimateblade which could be wielded by a man. Unlike the other copies of the Witchblade, the Ultimateblade's weapon is bullets that are fired from their wrists. The only known Ultimateblade wielder so far was Wado's assisstant Yagi. Though they proved to be almost more powerful than the original it was prone to an accelerated breakdown point giving the weilder a short time to live.
  • Ex-cons
Ex-Cons are mechanical monsters manufactured by the Douji Group that Masane fights during the first half of the series. During the cataclysm known as "the Great Quake" they were all accidentally released and have been wandering around ever since. They take on human form, but when they sense power emanating from the Witchblade or a Cloneblade, they transform into their real forms. Similar to the Witchblade and Cloneblades, the Ex-cons draw satisfaction from combat. Almost no two are alike and each possess a different method of fighting. It is later revealed that Ex-cons were created using corpses that were signed over to Douji. An Ex-con Masane once fought showed signs of trying to resist the urge to kill. Unlike the others, it seemed to still have some of its humanity which it showed when it, in human form, befriended Riko. It is highly possible that they, like the Cloneblades, were derived from the Witchblade as their human forms all have an inactive Cloneblade-like bracelet on the upper part of their arm.
  • Neogenes
Neogenes are genetically predisposed humans created to wield the cloneblade and were given the name "Cloneblade Sisters". The neogenes, once they have undergone training, are equipped with a cloneblade, all have different armor and wield either an extendable weapon or a certain type of blade in a certain shape. It is later revealed that the Neogenes were created using the genetics of Tatsuoki Furumizu and either a superior female speciman or a previous generation Neogene. Neogenes that are born in the same generation call themselves 'sisters'. Several of the first generation sisters are mothers of the second, one example of this is that Reina is Maria's mother. They were created for the sole purpose of giving Furumizu the "perfect mother" so he could be reborn as a perfected human.
  • iWeapons
iWeapons are the second generation of weapons created by the Douji Group. They resemble tanks and have an array of missles and a mounted cannon. Unlike there predecessors, the Ex-cons, they respond to controls by humans and have built in safeguards to prevent them from going berserk when sensing the Witchblade, however the safeguards cannot handle the spike in power after the Witchblade transforms. Like the Ex-Cons, the iWeapons are also made from corpses, which gives them their ghostly energy in the final episodes.
  • Ultimateblade
The Ultimateblade was the weapon Waddo, Takayama's old rival, and Douji Group's bio-division created mainly to outsell the iWeapons of Takayama's division as a mostly personal competition. Although it was developed under the name "Project Witchblade", it was designed to fuse to only men. It proved unstable and drove its first user, Waddo's own assistant, insane and homicidal.

Episodes

Staff

  • Planning: Arthur Smith (GDH), Kenji Shimizu (Sky Perfect Well Think), Naotsugu Katō (CBC), Taitō Okiura (Gonzo)
  • Executive producer: Koji Kajita
  • Original story: Top Cow Productions
  • Series composition: Yasuko Kobayashi
  • Character design: Makoto Uno
  • Conceptual design & setting research: Shinya Ogura
  • Design works: Kazuyuki Matsubara
  • Art director: Junichi Higashi
  • Color design: Yūko Satō
  • Editing: Kiyoshi Hirose
  • Music: Kazunori Miyake, Masanori Takumi
  • Sound direction: Jin Aketagawa
  • Sound effects: Katsuhiro Nakano (Soundbox), Naoto Yamatani (Soundbox)
  • Producers: Osamu Nagai (GDH), Shin Hieda (SKY Perfect Well Think), Tsuyoshi Okazaki (CBC)
  • Director: Yoshimitsu Ohashi
  • Animation production: Gonzo
  • Production: Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting (CBC), SKY Perfect Well Think, GDH

Differences in the DVD and TV versions

Due to the original version of the witchblade costume showing far too much skin, the series recolored most of the said areas into black for broadcast in Japan. These blackened portions were returned to the original coloring for the DVD release of the series. (The DVD version is what IFC is showing on cable TV.) The DVDs also contain many instances where the animation is cleaned up compared to the TV broadcast and in some cases whole frames are completely redrawn. The TV episodes are rated TV-MA in the United States.

Theme songs

Opening themes
  • "XTC", by Psychic Lover (episodes 1-13, 24)
  • "Dear Bob", by Koologi (episodes 14-23)
Ending themes
  • "Ashita no Te" (あしたの手), by Mamiko Noto (episodes 1-12)
  • "Kutsuhimo" (靴ひも), by Asami Yamamoto (episodes 13-23)
  • "Kodō -get closer-" (鼓動 -get closer-), by Psychic Lover (episode 24)

References

  1. ^ Closed captioning for episode #1

External links








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