Friday, September 7, 2012

Rating the Queen's Blade Characters - Part 2

Just to make a note: for this series of posts, I'm rating the character solely on their roles in the original Queen's Blade story, heir Rebellion roles will be rated later on with the other Rebellion characters. Also, my "overall" score is not an average of the first two scores; it's simply my choice for the overall rating, because sometimes little things matter. And with that said, let's begin with one of my personal favorite characters ...

- Story (6/10) - Most of Risty's story is told simply by her appearance and title: she is a bandit of the wilderness outside the confines of the small kingdoms spread throughout the continent; to put it simply, Risty is the Robin Hood of the QB world. However, what keeps Risty from feeling like the generic Robin Hood character found in many stories is her humanity. Risty's money is given to an old church that takes in orphans from the conflicts that occur throughout the continent, Risty once being one of them, and she truly cares about these kids and will go to great lengths to protect them, even attempting to take on the Queen outside of the tournament. She also has a large group of fellow bandits who look up to her as a great leader. Risty's psuedo-friendship with Leina which switched between master-student, friend, and "bad friend" was always interesting too see evolve. Furthermore, Risty is one of the strongest fighters in the QB world, thus making her Leina's "goal" a satisfying story element. What wasn't so satisfying, however, was the anime mainly using Risty as a plot device more than an actual character, this is especially the case in the second season where Risty is brainwashed for 95% of the story; well, despite that it was a cliche story tactic, brainwashed Risty did bring about some interesting story elements so I can't criticize it too much. In the end, Risty is a character that didn't get the spotlight much, but her presence as Leina's ultimate goal and the anti-hero to Leina's heroine role made her a likable character.

- Design (8/10) - Risty's design was the first done by Eiwa for the QB character line-up, and while it can be a bit plain, she still has a strong presence due to one critical element: her body. Risty is one of several characters whose body is more the main draw of her design than her armor/clothes. First to note is Risty's wild red hair, which goes a long way to giving her that "amazon warrior" look, and working even more towards the amazon look is Risty's very well-sculpted body. Perhaps second only to Cattleya, Risty is the most, for lack of a better term, "ripped" of the QB cast (this can be seen more in Eiwa's original art than Rin-Sin's more slender design). Risty's red color scheme and morning star weapon round out the package to give her a strong presence. A simple yet effective design.

- Overall (7/10) - Risty may not be the most memorable character in the cast, but when she's on screen, she demands attention.

- Story (5/10) - Ymir's story has a fair amount of details: she's the princess of the dwarven kingdom, her goal is to show the world that dwarven weapons are stronger than those made by the newly rising alchemy methods, she finds a rival in Cattleya, and she's much older than she actually looks. The end result is a character that may not have much bearing on the story, but does a lot to show what the world of QB is like and that it's filled with more than just humans. Ymir acts as a benefactor to Leina in the second season by giving her good advice and reforging her sword. The highlight of Ymir is easily her personality and her interactions with Leina, Cattleya, and Rana. You'll either find Ymir to be amusing or annoying; I personally love Ymir's personality. She may not be the most important character to tell, but in an alternate universe, Ymir could have been the main character of QB, on a journey to save her people and show the strength of her weapons.

- Design (7/10) - I'm not sure what Ymir's clothing is supposed to be: a maid costume, maybe? But the pink and white color scheme works very will with her platinum-blonde hair, so no complaints there. The standout factor of Ymir's design is easily her weapon and massive gauntlet. A small-bodied person using a large weapon is always cool, and Ymir makes it even cooler. Her giant red axe gives Ymir a strong presence and her huge gauntlet is just awesome looking. Ymir's design really stands out in the anime during her fight scenes; Ymir in motion looks great. However, I feel that Ymir's weapon has more presence than she, herself, does, and thus can't rate her design to high. 

- Overall (7/10) - Ymir gets a boost in score mainly due to her personality. In the anime, the manga, even the online chapters, Ymir always stands out thanks to the humor she provide; resulting in a very charming character despite having some flaws.

- Story (5/10) - Like Ymir, Cattelya's story doesn't have much bearing on the story at all, but the little details of her story help bring the QB world into a brighter light. Cattelya was once a famous adventurer who traveled the world with her future husband, Owen. They were known as the "dragon slayers", and Cattleya alongside her giant sword became legends, until both Cattleya and Owen retired to become blacksmiths and raise their son, Rana. In an episode of the anime, Leina, in a flashback, can be seen reading a book chronicling Cattleya's adventures. It's this presence as a legend from a time long past that gives Cattleya a strong bearing in Leina's story when they meet each other. To Leina, Cattleya represents what she can become one day, as both a strong warrior and a knowledgeable person. So, while Cattelya may not have much bearing on the main story, she still has a notable presence within it. My favorite aspect of Cattelya is that she is perhaps the strongest fighter in the QB world, but because she chooses to fight with Rana, it gives her a handicap and significantly lowers her strength as a fighter; I love that detail.

- Design (6/10) - Surprised my Cattleya pic doesn't feature her massive breasts? Well that's because I find it a bit disheartening that her character has become known for just her breasts; though I can understand why considering her design doesn't have much else going for it. After all, did you recognize Cattleya right away when looking at the above pic? Anyway, Cattelya's design is meant to be a big hyperbolic symbol of motherhood: she wears an apron (with almost nothing underneath), her large breasts, she's kinda chubby, and she fights alongside her son, Rana. Cattleya's huge sword does make her look pretty cool, and the fact that Rana is just as much part of her as her sword is makes for an interesting character visually, especially in battle. Still, Cattleya's design is rather uninteresting; there's just nothing that really stands out other than her curves, which is a shame. Also, to note, I find Rin-Sin's more slender looking Cattleya design to be better than her original in the combat book.

- Overall (5/10) - Cattleya will always have a place in the QB world, whether its in her in-world legacy or her physique, but none of that really changes that her character and personality don't standout much at all. 

- Story (7/10) - So, why am I rating Rana alongside the other QB characters? Because, in the anime, this little kid was great! Right from the start, Rana acted as a catalyst for Cattelya's decisions as well as a strong moral supporter to his mother. Then in the second season, Rana came into his own as a strong little boy who stood alongside his mother in her time of grief and befriended an enemy. Rana, himself, showed some great character growth by showing a lot of courage in the dangerous world around him (pic related), and even fighting for his loved ones. Rana may have been more of a catalyst for certain plot elements, but his presence in the story was definitely known; something some of the other bitoushi cannot even say.

- Design (6/10) - He's adorable. He may not have much more going for him other than that, but it's definitely enough.

- Overall (6/10) - He may not have weapon or defeated any big foe, but he did a lot for Cattleya and Airi within the story, and the end result was a very likable character, even more-so than his own mother.

- Story (8/10) - making deals with the devil a story element found in many dark fairy tales, and Queen's Blade is no exception with the character of Aldra. The dark backstory of Aldra and her sister, both half-demons, is one filled with strife, which makes the decisions Aldra makes and the extremes she goes through feel a little sympathetic, though still not enough to make her a villain worthy of compassion. This story strikes a good balance between sympathy and hate for the character of Aldra. And while she may be redeemed at the end of the story, her goals are still not met, thus avoiding the all too common story element of a sympathetic villain being rewarded for no good reason. Aldra's main flaw is her reliance on the powers of the demon within her; as a result, we never get a really good look at what Aldra can do on her own in terms of strength.

- Design (9/10) - Aldra's design is the opposite of plain. She has so much going on in her design, that it is both a good and bad thing, but mostly good. The beauty of Aldra is in the little details, such as the many belts, the metal eye patch, and small armor pieces spread around her, as well as clothing that covers only specific parts of her body, thus making Aldra have an almost battle-damaged look to her. Her "secret weapon" is also a nice touch, despite its obvious phallic implications. Aldra's sword is also a well designed weapon that looks less like a sword and more like a sword incarnate of violence itself, with its many spikes and awkward shape and handle. I never understood the "cat-ears", perhaps an ornamental crown would have been more fitting.

- Overall (8.5/10) - A great villain with a strong presence both in terms of story and design. It's also worth noting that its very nice that the QB designers avoided making cliche story choices with her.

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