animefringe september 2003 / feature
Animefringe Coverage:
Mirage of Blaze - Some Battles Never End

Mirage of Blaze presents an interesting theological scenario. Typically, when a person dies, his or her spirit is cleansed of its earthly impurities before reentering the cycle of life and rebirth. However, sometimes, strong emotions force them to choose another path. When spirits aren't ready to go into the underworld, they linger on earth until a suitable host body appears, entering it to be reborn when they are able.

While modern Japan can be seen as an advanced nation with remarkably low levels of violence and crime, the Japan of 400 years ago was drastically different. Engulfed in a series of civil wars destined to determine the fate of the nation - at the time a collection of separate feudal territories - violence and death was a terribly common ingredient of the daily lives of Japanese people of centuries past.

Frequently, shifting loyalties could cause one neighboring town to fall prey to another, despite a previously established peace between the two. Sides were sometimes chosen based upon morality but more often simply out of practicality, causing the deaths of thousands of people, warriors and peasants alike.

It is no wonder that such a time would have been filled with lingering spirits, dissatisfied with their deaths at one bloody battle or another.

One leader from the time, Lord Uesugi Kenshin, fought following the principles of justice and morality. He didn't kill to advance his own selfish ambitions but to protect his people from further bloodshed. With the aid of his loyal advisor and servant, he did much to hold off the forces of one of the less noble warlords, Shingen Takeda.

Takeda craved power, and his warriors were eager to snatch it for him. Along with the support of his wife, Lady Sanjyo, he terrorized the populace of Japan until he was finally defeated, ending his bloody reign.

However, it was merely a temporary pause.

His servants were eventually reborn, and they dutifully searched for a proper host to contain the spirit of their defeated leader. Centuries later, they decide that Yuzuru Narita's the lucky host.

Ironically enough, Yuzuru's best friend turns out to be the reincarnation of Shingen's worst foe, Kenshin Uesugi. Thus, in modern Japan, a new war is about to break out, only this time, it is between the spirits of the past and the inhabitants of the present.

Mirage of Blaze is an interesting take on the samurai action genre, and it reminds me of a far prettier less campy Samurai Troopers. The series is filled to the brim with bishonen (guys that are so good looking, they look like beautiful women) and magic to catch the attention of the ladies out there, but then it also has a good deal of fighting to keep us guys interested. While the general premise has been at least partially done before in some shape or fashion, this is a fun show so far and may go in an pleasantly unpredictable direction.

This is yet another series that has the first volume available either separately or in a collector's box, and as usual, I grabbed the box. It is of higher quality than most of ADV's thin cardboard boxes (Evangelion, Najica Blitz Tactics) and is actually rather interesting because it has an additional sleeve that slides over the entire package, enclosing the discs within completely. Such a unique design stands out nicely in anyone's collection, and it's great for box fiends like myself.

The show was produced rather recently, which is obvious thanks to the amount of CGI used in the series, but thus far, it's more plot and character driven than pretty object (i.e. explosion and panty shot) driven. There's a lot of promise here, and I'm hoping the series will fulfill its potential!