Otaku USA Magazine
Witchblade, Volume 3 Review

A DVD-insert interview with Witchblade‘s character designer, Makoto Uno, sums up the female aesthetic lynchpin of the series succinctly: “We added a devilish element to the physical beauty of the women and animated them with particular attention to the breasts and butt.•bCrLf He ain’t lyin’, folks.

But, amazingly, Gonzo’s Witchblade-gone-Japanese action series is much more than the sum of a few attention-laden female parts. The story continues in the four episodes here, as Masane is still attempting a delicate balance between dealing with being the chosen wielder of the blade, taking care of and supporting her little girl Rihoko, and trying not to get killed or captured in the process.

Well, one of the last two options happens in this volume and, given the choices, it’s not too difficult to guess which one. Before that, she manages to dice up another X-Con, accompany her boss out to a fancy banquet, and work her ass off to uncover the secrets behind her pursuers and the strange machinations they have at their disposal.

A lot of the initial mystery of the series has revolved around the people that contort into twisted mechanical monsters, laced with parts that breathe and undulate like patchwork nightmares. Masane aims to find out just why they appear to be human, and the answer is probably more Soylent Green than she would have liked. The best battles of the show, however, come from the NSWF Neo-Genes, the hardcore army of super-babes that are decked out with Clone Blades and ready to strip Masane of her titular weapon at any cost.

Even with the plot device involving the X-Cons and the constant threat provided by Neo-Genes, Witchblade manages to escape being an adversary-of-the-week show by executing its low-key moments with as much care as the action and detective work. Heck, the “climax•bCrLf of episode 10 consists of a vodka drinking contest between two high-powered executives looking to settle a dispute the college way.

The best feature on this disc is definitely the first part of a documentary about the comic’s transition from page to screen. It opens with the formation of Image Comics—focusing on creator interviews with Marc Silvestri and others from Top Cow Productions—and starts to go into the creative process behind Witchblade, as well as the inherent risks involved in starting a fledgling company from scratch. Seeing the rest of the interview is as good a hook as the show itself, so I’ll be looking forward to popping in volume four as soon as possible.

It wouldn’t be worth mentioning the bonus features if there wasn’t a solid show from which the audience would actually want to extract history, and Witchblade is a pretty darn good one. The first couple of volumes do a nice job of digging into the world and its cast, and the third continues by proving that it has enough strength to run for 24 episodes. It’s nice to know that even if the aforementioned lynchpin were to crack and come loose, there’s still a story to tell beyond “the breasts and butt.•bCrLf

Studio/Company: FUNimation Entertainment
Available: Now
Rating: TVMA