Saturday, August 18, 2012

Let's talk about Queen's Blade

Warning: this is basically a useless post; I just vent my thoughts on Queen's Blade at the moment.

So, a new series has been added to the Queen's Blade saga called "Queen's Blade Grimoire". And, that got me thinking: the Queen's Blade IP has lasted quite a while, covered many mediums, and doesn't look to slowdown anytime soon. So what has made QB such a successful franchise? Is it the fanservice/ecchi element? I don't think so; while it is definitely part of the series' popularity, a series can't survive on ecchi alone. Rather, I think what has made the series last is my favorite aspect of the series: the characters. Each character in the QB series is designed by a different artist, with a few exceptions like F.S and Eiwa who have designed several characters. Because of this the characters all have very distinct looks, and combine this with distinct personalities and stories for each character, and you've got a melting pot for some great character interaction. And that's where the series shines the most: the way the characters interact is superb and makes for some interesting, fun, and dramatic interactions. So, in many ways, QB's popularity works in a similar fashion to fighting games and how they become popular.

Another interesting aspect of the QB series is how it encompasses many different mediums, beginning as a combat book game alongside stories written on the main website, then an anime, then several manga series, and then videogames; and that's just the first series. But, I won't ramble much on what QB is; rather I'll just get to why I love the series (in all its forms) so much, despite being someone who usually hates fanservicey/ecchi anime/manga.

It's the characters. I love character-focused stories. From slice-of-lifes to grand personal oddyseys; I love when a stories main drive and entertainment comes from a large cast of characters, and QB's cast is one of the best I've ever come across, thanks heavily in part to all of the artists who created the characters and writers who write the stories that bring all of these characters together. The fact that the entire cast consists of women is also a big reason why I enjoy QB so much, more specifically, it's why I enjoy the character interaction so much. For you see, in mediums of entertainment, when men and women are put into the same group it is almost mandatory that romance has to occur, and often times it is full of angst and takes away from what it good about character interaction and just sours the entire experience (see The Legend of Korra). Queen's Blade has none of that. All of the character interaction in QB is golden; characters have clashing ideals, form rivalries, are sworn enemies, love each other, and fight each other. Much of the anticipation that comes from an upcoming event in the story comes from the simple fact that x is going to meet y. With such a diverse cast, the simple act of two QB character simply meeting constitutes excitement, and I love that about the series.

In all honesty, I wish the series didn't have such ecchi content to it, because then perhaps more people would watch/read it, but, then again, the fanservice probably brings in as many people as it does scare off, so I suppose it's a double-edged sword. Honestly, I don't have much of a problem with the ecchi factor, as I find it to be well executed most of the time, as it is mainly used as a way of showing physical damage on a character during battle, and the more clothes that are ripped, the more damage has been put upon a character, and if blood is actually slipped, then that brings about an even more extreme situation. I find this type of execution to battles welcome, as it allows the characters to all use weapons and fight without restraint while still keeping the show from getting very violent, thus keeping it enjoyable to watch in a Saturday morning cartoon kinda way. And that's a big reason why I love QB: it's light-hearted. The stories of some characters can get pretty dark, but it never goes too far, nor does it become so light-hearted that serious situations cannot be taken seriously. The most obvious situation to point out being the death of Shizuka, which is one of the most well handled deaths of a main character I've ever seen in anime, manga, or any other medium. Whether it was a good idea to kill off Shizuka or not is something I still think about, but the way it was executed and why it occurred were very well written and executed visually; as it is a very sad moment, and for an ecchi show to create such a moment truly convinced me that QB was not an ecchi anime, rather it was an adventure anime that happened to have ecchi in it. And I think that's how the people behind QB see it as well, because the QB series continues to expand its world setting, develop its characters, and have a pretty great plot to flow alongside the characters.

In the end, I think QB is a series that deserves respect alongside the judging glances it gets. And, you know, it actually gets both. There are many out there like myself who enjoy QB for its plot and characters, while there are those who enjoy it just for the fanservice, and I'm fine with that. I look forward to Queen's Blade's future and the characters and stories to come.