BlazBlue: Alter Memory: Episode 1 – “The Red Rebel”

BlazBlue: Alter Memory is an anime based on the BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger video game. The anime is produced by teamKG and Hoods Entertainment, and is directed by Hideki Tachibana. As of this writing, the series is simulcasting on FUNimation’s website on Tuesdays.

The main character of BlazBlue: Alter Memory is Ragna the Bloodedge, who is also known as The Grim Reaper. He has a reputation for destroying NOL branch offices, which we see him do very early on in the episode. Because of this, he has a high bounty on his head.

After this, we suddenly jump to Ragna being in some kind of forest, and a blond girl in a dress suddenly appears and lands on his head. The girl tells him to go to Kagutsuchi, which he reluctantly agrees to do. After this, we jump to someplace that’s pitch black, and the blond girl appears there. A green-haired man is there, and he watched what just went down. The man makes a comment about having time to kill since things keep repeating over and over again.

Then we jump to a NOL branch office, where a young woman named Noel Vermillion, who serves as a Second Lieutenant, delivering a classified document to Major Kisaragi. As the Major reads it, he discovers that it’s about Ragna; he gets a twisted grin on his face and starts laughing. And then he suddenly bolts out of the room.

When Ragna gets to Kagutsuchi, he encounters a hungry bounty hunter named Tao that wears a cat mask and a cloak. Ragna takes her to a restaurant and discovers that Tao isn’t a very bright bounty hunter, because she’s looking for Ragna but doesn’t recognize him. The audience also learns that no one is supposed to grab at Ragna’s right arm, and that on his right arm is an artifact called the Azure Grimoire.

Meanwhile, Noel and the green-haired man from earlier arrive at Kagutsuchi by boat; we learn the green-haired man is Captain Hazama, and he’s part of the Intelligence Department. They are there to search for Major Kisaragi and take him into custody. As Noel looks around, she stumbles upon a sleeping Ragna, who is having a nightmare. She tries to help Ragna when he wakes up, but he pushes her away after she touches his right arm.

Ragna goes to the NOL branch office in Kagutsuchi, but he’s very surprised by what he finds there, and the episode reaches its climax in the branch office.

When I started watching this episode, I was feeling a bit lost and confused because no real exposition was being given. At first, I assumed that the director expected that the audience watching the show would already be familiar with the game and didn’t bother to put effort into the explanations. However, around the halfway point of the episode, information started to become revealed, and this helped me at least start to figure out what’s going on.

From dialogue said by two or three characters in this episode, it appears that they’re all stuck in some kind of a time loop. Some of the characters seem to realize this time loop is going on, while others don’t; so far, it appears the blond girl in the dress and Captain Hazama are aware of the time loop, and that Ragna and Noel aren’t, even though Noel makes a comment about something happening again but then wondering why because this is the first time she’s met the person she was referring to.

The whole concept of being stuck in a time loop is bringing back bad memories of the “Endless Eight” story arc from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya; however, it appears that this story will only focus on one time through the loop, rather than repeating the same loop over and over again.

Unfortunately, my reception to BlazBlue: Alter Memory was rather lukewarm after this first episode; between being confused and lost for roughly half the episode, and then realizing the story features a time loop, I found I had a hard time getting into this. I will give this series another chance, though; now that I have a little better idea of the concept and have started to learn about the characters, perhaps I’ll have a better appreciation for episode two.

Additional posts about BlazBlue: Alter Memory:

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