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Tuesday 18th November 2014

Helen McCarthy ponders a Bloody Fate

Twenty years ago, the witch Bayonetta was hauled out of a deep lake, with no memory of her past, how she got there, or who might have hated her enough to put her there. She has in her possession half of an artefact known as the "Eyes of the World.”

Joining forces with information broker Enzo, she sets off to find and steal the other half. But powerful forces are moving against her, forces known as the Angels.

Game-based anime share common problems. The first is the difficulty of creating a story that fulfils fans' expectations without leaving them feeling left out for no longer being able to directly control the action. The second, increasingly, is to get the anime to look as good as the game. Anime budgets are tight, even at the movie end of the scale, and a top-selling game often throws far more money, time and talent at its animated cut-scenes. Moreover, games, even more than anime, are frequently made for an audience that lives and dies by fan service.

Bayonetta is a 2009 PS and XBox game that succeeds again as anime – at least for its target audience – by being no more or less than its source. A basic action game with strong visuals and comfortable stereotyping, it ports the basic plot, character and weapon sets over into anime and ditches unnecessary details: bosses, gameplay, locations. Presented as a standard cyberfantasy tale, it's clichéd, but tightly paced and enjoyable enough. Even the fan service is presented as almost ironic, as though our heroine is sending herself up. It has a 1990s vibe in both design and plot, an atmosphere enhanced by the awe-inspiring voice of Norio Wakamoto, who voices Balder in the Japanese versions of both the game and the original film. The biggest shock for game fans may be the anime's Japanese dub replacing the English voice track they're used, with Atsuko Tanaka (the voice of Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell) playing the leading role.

As befits both a combat game and a Gonzo anime, the fight scenes are the chief focus, and they're impressive. Fans of the game will find all their favourite weapons put to the uses for which they were designed in fast-paced and largely well-animated combat. The character development is minimal – memory is lost, memory is regained, people die but nothing changes and there are still enemies to fight. What Bayonetta does, and does well, is to deliver a narrative version of the game that's satisfying and fan-friendly enough to fill cinema seats and sell product. And it does so with an oddly endearing old-millennium style that took us back to the 1990s.

Bayonetta: Bloody Fate is out on UK DVD and Blu-ray from Manga Entertainment.

Buy it now


Bayonetta (the Movie): Bloody Fate

was £19.99
From the director of AFRO SAMURAI!
Based on the smash-hit videogame, Bayonetta: Bloody Fate follows the story of the witch Bayonetta, as she defeats the blood-thirsty Angels and tries to remember her past from before the time she awoke, 20 years ago.
Alongside her is a mysterious little girl who keeps calling her Mummy, a journalist that holds a personal grudge against Bayonetta and a unknown white-haired woman who seems to know more than she is willing to reveal about Bayonetta's time before her sleep.



The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

Helen McCarthy reviews Mami Sunada’s Ghibli documentary
Show, don't tell: the mantra of every writer and film-maker, and a particular challenge in documentary film. Every work has its own agenda, hidden or not: for director-writer-cinematographer-editor Mami Sunada, the challenge was immense. And she rises to it with unobtrusive magnificence.

Naruto Cosplay: Gaara

Paul Jacques snaps another anime costumer
Thomas Napier strikes a mean pose as Gaara from Naruto, a dangerous ninja from Sunagakure.

Anime's answer to James Bond

Helen McCarthy is holding out for a hero
I got quite excited when I found the clip online. "James Bond, aka Bondo (agent 007), the suave superspy who…" Alas, my delight was premature. It was a fan animation starring a green-eyed, spiky-haired pretty boy who looked as likely to bed the villain as shoot him - a quantum of solace, undoubtedly, but no help on my mission: find anime's answer to Bond.

Men Creating Women

Andrew Osmond on anime’s gender gap…
Miyazaki said that women “who are striving for their independence” despise such fantasy females. “They feel this ideal is a one-sided attack on the part of men who are trying to fit women into a mold.
We've been in Tokyo over the last couple of weeks. We saw so many incredible things and thought we'd share our favourite photos from the trip here for you to enjoy!
Welcome back, in part two we'll be spending more time at Anime Japan 2016 and sharing with you some photos of cosplayers from the event.

Cosplay: Yu-Gi-Oh

Paul Jacques snaps more anime costumers
Yugioh Yami and Dark Magician Girl spring into life in the forms of Stephanie Budden and Carla Rice.

Assassin's Creed: The Manga

What's been added to the Black Flag spin-off comic?
You can never go wrong with pirates. There’s the romance of the open sea, and the rebellion of taking what you want, and the adventure of looking for buried treasure. And in the Japanese magazine Monthly JumpX, there is the massive marketing synergy of being able to put Assassin’s Creed IV on the cover.
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