Mirage of Blaze Anime Review

When I started this review, I had intended to review the anime series Gatekeepers. That will have to come in a later review. Instead, I am ending up reviewing Mirage of Blaze, basically because I pulled it off the shelf and started watching it rather than Gatekeepers.

Mirage of Blaze is a four-DVD set told in 13 episodes. It primarily is the story of two characters: Takaya Ohgi and Nobutsuna Naoe. Takaya is a 17-year old high school student from a broken family with a rather big chip on his shoulder. However, he cares deeply for his best friend Yuiko Takeda. Naoe is an older man that has been spending his time searching for Takaya. Rather, he has been searching for the spirit that has entered Takaya?s body, for Naoe believes that Takaya is the reincarnation of Lord Kagetora, the son of a warlord that Naoe has been charged with protecting.

Naoe, also a reincarnated being, is part of a special guard that exorcises evil spirits from the world. He has been kept busy due to the sudden uprising of the Feudal Underworld, the spiritual world of dead soldiers and samurai that is rising again to try to regain power. Upon finding Takaya, Naoe tries to convince him that he is actually Lord Kagetora, and attempts to enlist his help in exorcising the evil spirits.

Takaya will have none of this, for he has forgotten being Lord Kagetora. As far as he is concerned, he is a 17-year old high school student. Naoe is both relieved and frustrated by the fact that Takaya can?t remember his former self. He is relieved because Naoe and Kagetora have a rather complicated past that wasn?t always pleasant, though Naoe deeply loves Kagetora (and his current incarnation Takaya, for that matter). Naoe is frustrated because he cannot count on Kagetora?s immense power, something he needs to help put down the feudal uprising threatening to erupt into underworld-civil war.

Several clans are also trying to find Lord Kagetora and kill or control him once and for all. These clans are striving to come out on top in the Feudal Underworld and need Kagetora eliminated in order to ensure their success.

As you can tell from the story, it?s all rather complicated. The story packs an awful lot into 13 episodes, and so you really have to pay attention as you are watching. There are many characters, some never appearing on screen, but nevertheless having influence on the behaviour of the characters you do see. Since this is a tale of tribal warfare, there are many political alliances and shifting factions that influence the story.

There is the love story as well, making this anime fall into the shonen-ai category. Although there is an obvious love interest from Naoe to Takaya, there is also a more subtle one between Takaya and his best friend Yuiko. Both young men are bishonen (Japanese ?beautiful boys?), which helps attract a certain audience to this film.

Overall the story is well done, but suffers from the pace of the storytelling. Much commentary is needed to fill in blanks for the viewer, and so the viewer sometimes is overloaded with information, attempting to decipher the dealings and plots. This is the third time I?ve watched Mirage of Blaze and I am now starting to appreciate all the storylines going on. However, this complexity may turn some people off from watching the show.

The animation is reasonable, though some of the scenes with a lot of commentary have faces with only moving lips. This can rob a little bit of life from the anime if overused.

There are stellar parts too, though. The scene where Takaya breaks down emotionally is extremely moving, and you completely forget that you are watching anime. Rather, you are watching a young man that has been pushed to the limit and can no longer be what he was. You can?t help but be moved by this. When you forget what you are watching, and personify the characters you know you are watching a good production.

The soundtrack is well done, though the opening song is uncharacteristically pop-ish for the type of story Mirage is. Perhaps this is to attract a younger audience, but I would have preferred something else.

All-in-all, Mirage of Blaze is a good production worth watching. You may have to watch it a couple of times to get the most out if it.