To newcomers that wonder just what the challenge is the rules are very simple. We all watch an anime that is suggested by AnimeFanatika. Every week, on Monday, we give you the episodes you must watch. All you do is then watch the episodes. The challenge is just for all of us to maybe explore and anime we have not seen, or an old favourite that we are revisiting. The challenge is just about having fun!
This month’s challenge is the Anime Blade and Soul. The anime tells the tale of Alka, an assassin for the Clan of the Sword. She is on a self-imposed quest to find a woman named Jin Valel, the woman who killed Alka’s master, Hon. On her journey she also encounters three strange women, each a formidable warrior herself. The anime focuses on the futility of vengeance, as well as the stubbornness that envelops one when you know better but instead follows down the darker path.
Blade and Soul is a Japanese anime adaptation of a Korean fantasy martial-arts mmorpg which was developed by NCSOFT (Team Bloodlust). The anime aired from April to June 2014 and was directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki and Hiroshi Takeuchi, scripts was written by Atsuhiro Hamasaki. Production was done at Studio Gonzo.
Week 1 - 07 - 13 May
Episodes to Watch: 1 to 3
In the anime Blade & Soul Aika, our main character is the last surviving member of the Clan of the Sword. She is on a quest to avenge the murder of her master. She is an assassin with immense strength and agility, a force to be reckoned with. Characters such as her, vengeance-driven main characters, are not new to those who are passionate about anime.
Chances are that you have seen the anime Naruto where one of its main characters Sasuke Uchiha is also driven by revenge. He is one of the surviving members of the Uchiha Clan. During the Naruto anime we see him striving to become stronger to fight his older brother Itachi, who murdered their parents as well as the entire Uchiha clan. Sasuke got his wish in the end, but vengeance has a price, was his vengeance worth the cost?
Another great example is the character Kurapika From Hunter x Hunter. On the surface he looks harmless and may come off as gentle, but his heart pumps more hatred than blood. He is the only survivor of the red-eyed Kurta tribe, who was slaughtered when he was very young. He swore vengeance against the Phantom Troupe, the murderers of his people and will not rest until they are eradicated entirely.
Lastly there is the anime Jigoku Shōjo: Girl from Hell which focuses on a supernatural system of sorts which allows people that are motivated by revenge to summon her through the internet to send the people that wronged them to hell. The Jigoku Shōjo, Enma Ai and her assistants relentlessly hunt down the client’s enemy and the subject matter of this anime is dark since revenge, injustice, hatred, the dark depths of human nature are fully explored throughout the series. To quote Enma Ai herself:
“You’ve summoned me. My name is Enma Ai. (She hands a straw doll to the person seeking revenge) Take this. If you truly wish revenge, just untie the scarlet thread from his neck. Pulling the thread binds you into a covenant with me. I will ferry the soul of your tormentor straight into the depths of Hell….however, once vengeance has been served, you will have to deliver your end of the bargain. There always has to be a price. When you die, your soul will also belong to Hell. You will never know the joys of Heaven; you will be left to wander through a world made of pain and agony for all of eternity.”
There are more anime that focuses on vengeance. Here are a few honourable mentions: Guts From Berserk, Ciel Phantomhive From Black Butler, Clare From Claymore and Lucy From Elfen Lied. As you join with us in this month challenge, we hope you enjoy the anime with us. This anime is not for the faint of heart. Vengeance is never pretty. It is dark, messy and no-one wins.
Week 2 - 14 - 20 May
Episodes to Watch: 4 to 6
It is week 2 of our Blade & Soul Anime challenge and last week we watched episode 1 to 3. Episode 1, titled “The Path” is a very accurate name for the episode as it reflects in a sense, on the path Alka has taken, the path of vengeance, but due to events in this episode it shows a new path emerging for the character Morii in the narrative, as Morii’s way of life is drastically changed.
We see in the anime a scene that flirts with the viewer. Alka is being watched as she bathes in a river and immediately we think that it may be bandits that think she is an easy target. A hilarious scene enfolds after which we learn that the gentlemen are actually villagers seeking help from a mercenary or strong warrior. They tell Alka that they need to hire her to help defend their village and after getting her dressed they set off to their village to meet with Morii, their chieftain’s daughter.
After Alka’s skills being tested by Morii, Alka learns that she has to defend Morii against a possible attack when Morii meets with agents of the Param Empire. The Param Empire wants to buy the village and its lands, since the soil in the area is very fertile, and Morii expects that since she and the villagers do not plan to sell, the forces of the Param Empire will resort to murder ‘for the good of the Empire’.
Later the emissaries of the Empire turn up, armed to the teeth, and they demand that the village must be sold to the empire at once. Morii refuses and she and her posse are surrounded by the Empire soldiers, who initiate an attack… The rest of the episode is filled with great action and also sets up a few important plot points but we do not want to spoil it for those of you who have not seen the episode yet. Watching episode 1 – 3 was epic, and if you want to join in the challenge, we recommend you watch those episodes and join us!
Be warned however, that there are multiple scenes of violence and and scenes of nudity in the anime. Viewer’s discretion is advised. Enjoy this week’s challenge and have a super sugoi week!!!
Week 3 - 21 - 27 May
Episodes to Watch: 7 to 9
Welcome to week 3 of our May Anime Challenge where we all watch Blade & Soul together. Last week’s challenge was episode 4 to 6. Let us take a look at what happened in Episode 4 titled ‘Ken’ (Sword).
Alka, being wounded and shot after the big ambush in episode 3 finds herself nursed back to health by two orphans, who are street urchins that steal food from shops just to survive. Throughout this episode whenever Alka sleeps, she dreams of her past and we learn more about her master as well as the secret behind the butterfly symbol on her arm.
When Alka wakes up the first time, she meets the orphans, siblings called Pia and Seto. A big part of this episode’s story-line starts when Seto ‘borrows’ Alka’s sword while she is asleep. He goes out and uses the sword to attack a bandit, and by sheer luck kills the bandit and takes the bandit’s loot. Soon he starts to rob people for their goods as he gets greedy because of the new found power he feels using Alka’s sword.
We also get to catch up on the Pleasure gang when we see their wounded leader; Loana wakes up in the Tomon Inn. The proprietor of the Inn, Elle Karen saved her and only two of her men after their and Alka’s battle with the enemy.
This episode teaches us about consequences. If you decide to live by the sword, you can find yourself overcome by it, especially if your intentions are not right. Living by the sword can be a gift but can also curse you with darkness.
What happens to the orphans and to Loana and her gang? Well if you did not watch last week’s episodes, jump in and find out!!!
Week 4 - 28 May - 01 April
Episodes to Watch: 10 to 13
We have reached the fourth and final week of the Blade & Soul challenge. Last week, in Episode 7 we caught up with Morii from episode 1. She has changed a lot since the first episode. She joined a cult called the ‘Boat of Cleaning’. We meet up with her when she and Alka meet each other while both are walking on the beach. As with their first meeting she attack Alka and then they exchange pleasantries and she invites Alka to the Boat of Cleansing’s farmstead. The two arrive at the cult’s farmstead and Morii walks off to speak to the cult leaded called ‘Mother’ to set up a meeting between Alka and her. A little while later Alka and Mother meets and mother rings a bell that causes Alka to faint…
When Alka wakes up she finds herself tied down and the whole cult is gathered around her. Mother gets a dark look on her face and orders Morii to cut out Alka’s heart, because only that way Morii will be free… We will not spoil the episode for those who have not watched it yet.
As with the whole series so far, the anime shows us the darkness of several mindsets. We have seen how revenge can lead to emptiness, regret, hatred and abandonment. This episode focuses on the dangers of joining cults. Morii, after losing everyone she held dear, joined a cult to fill the emptiness of that loss inside her. The creators of the Blade & Soul game as well as anime must have researched a lot to do this story line as true history is filled with cults and the heinous crimes they did in the name of ‘enlightenment’ such as Charles Manson and his ‘Manson Family’ as an example. The anime is dark but its subject matter will always be relevant as long as we do not learn from its core teachings, that if you give in to negativity you will sow negativity. If you have not watched Blade & Soul yet, you are welcome to still jump in and watch the rest of the challenge with us. Have a super sugoi week!