Blade and Soul Anime Review


By Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

Life. So complex and so many unknowns. And that begins from the moment of our births. Some are born into lives of luxury and wealth, others born into lives of poverty and struggle, with little hope of moving up in a world which is continually becoming more and more divided in terms of class. Then there are others who embrace the lives they are given, make the most out of their situations and work to become the best they can be. But within each life, each line of work, are struggles and stresses, and how we deal with the consequences of our actions determines who we become. Such is the basis for the latest anime from studio Gonzo: Blade & Soul.

The Clan of the Sword was known across the land. They were a group of assassins hired out to kill whoever it may be, from a person owing a debt to rulers and monarchs. The brightest, and most efficient of the assassins was Alka. After the death of her master Hon by the female assassin, Jin Varel, Alka made it her mission seek revenge for her slain master. But the Clan of the Sword, known for their butterfly markings, are now hunted for the bounties on their heads. While searching for Jin Varel, Alka meets various people along her journey, each imparting new lessons on life and reflections on her past and future. Will Alka be able to find, and defeat, Jin Varel and leave her past behind (as her master wanted), or will she be overcome by the ghosts of her past and continue to wander the world covered in a cloak of despair?

Blade & Soul has a fairly generic plot, seen numerous times in films and other anime. The master or leader is killed and a top student vows revenge. So what makes Blade & Soul different? It really comes down to the characters, the relationships, and a reflection on life and what it means to be human and to deal with pain and struggle. Being an assassin, Alka has murdered many people throughout her life, and never really stopped to ask why she was killing these people. Like many of us, it isn’t until later down he road when we can sit and reflect, or when we learn new things we didn’t know at the time, that we realize mistakes we made and how our actions affected the lives of so many others. Dropping a small pebble into a still lake causes ripples far and wide. We also learn that, people tend to want the best for us, and it isn’t until later on, as we experience life, that we’re able to reflect and see that others had good intentions for us even if we didn’t believe it at the time. Blade & Soul provides an opportunity for the viewer to reflect on their own lives in the midst of a revenge storyline.

Speaking on the element of revenge, it is probably safe to say that everyone has been wronged by another at some point in their lives. And it’s probably safe to say that we have each wanted to have some sort of revenge, to get back at that person. Blade & Soul looks at this element through the eyes of various characters and asks, if you have the opportunity to take revenge, will it make anything better? Will it bring back what you once lost? Will those who love and care for you be happy for you? Or would those involved want you to lower yourself to that level? And taking revenge, what will that do to those around the person you are taking it from? If there’s an eye for an eye, in the end, both people lose their sight. While Blade & Soul has a high action element, it also delves into deeper philosophical issues that were more prevalent in the time of the sword than it is today.

Blade & Soul isn’t anything new in terms of storytelling, but the way the story is told and the questions it poses to the viewer set it aside from the others in the genre. You won’t walk away from the anime remembering every character’s name nor discussing specific battle sequences, but you will walk away with a reflection on your own life and possibly a new way of living going forward. Blade & Soul won’t be for everyone, and at times it won’t seem to have a distinct through story, while at other times it may leave you scratching your head. But it may also give you some new perspective into life and that’s where true value lies.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars



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