Movie Monday: BLACKFOX

November 4, 2019

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Plot

As the daughter of a world-renowned scientist and the granddaughter of a traditional ninja, Isurugi Rikka must use aspects from both of her family’s lifestyles to avenger her murdered family and eventually bring corporate corruption to light.

 

The Good

To start, 3hz (the studio behind this movie and other anime such as Sword Art Online) did a relatively good job with the animation here. Characters are all distinctly designed, with Rikka’s design incorporating nods to traditional ninja design within her more modern outfit, and for the most part the action flows well. Story-wise, the idea of tradition clashing with advancement took more of a back seat to a larger theme of learning from your past to define who you are going towards the future and I was fine with that. Rikka’s constant internal struggle of trying to balance the more die-hard ninja tenets with her father’s more forgiving philosophy was a nice fold thrown into her character and the animal drones, which represent her father’s philosophies and passed-down lessons, had fun banter that always snapped Rikka back. On the topic of the animal drones, they were an inventive way to allow Rikka to perform more traditional ninja arts with the help of technology. Things like long-distance surveillance and “shadow clones,” for example, were all a clever result of her use of technology. All in all, it was fun watching most of the action unfold and seeing technology allow for a modern/post-modern ninja.

 

The Bad

I started the last section by saying that 3hz did a relatively good job with animation, so I’ll start this section by explaining that statement (since I mean for it in this review to be more of a negative). The movie opens with a very well-choreographed and animated fight scene for sure, but the rest of the movie never lives up to that standard. The CG, though limited to early-movie b-roll, is painfully obvious, the mid-movie fight scene starts of well but quickly turn into a mess of super powers, and the final fight scene takes the issues of the mid-movie fight and ramps them up. Yes, there are some cool moments in each fight, but as a whole they are hard to follow, chunks of animation seem missing (in part because the characters are supposed to be moving so fast), and the motion blur animated in mixed with the lighting and lightning effects makes everything seem like a smudge. Animation quality aside, the story itself is a pretty cookie-cutter revenge tale and the characters in it make some of the worst, most “anime good guy” mistakes I’ve seen in a movie in a while. Did an evil dad just try to kill your friend? Do you openly want to stop your dad’s evil? Are you in hiding from your evil dad? If you answered yes to all of those questions, then, according to this movie’s logic, the best move would be to call said evil dad and let him know where you and your friend are hiding out because you can DEFINITELY trust his apology. Did you and your friend just defeat said evil dad? Why not go up to check on him, cradle him in your arms, and give him a big old hug? Moments like these really blew me back because of the wasted potential. I don’t expect every character to be a genius and I understand that certain circumstances might make those choices sound like a good idea, but the way that decisions were framed and the pacing of them really took me out of the movie. A final thought on the story, too: At the end, it is left so open-ended that it felt like one big “episode 0” for an anime that might never come out. Note to studios: Don’t do that. I don’t like that.

 

The Conclusion

When I first saw BLACKFOX pop up on Crunchyroll, I thought that it was a new series for the season. Having watched BLACKFOX, it should have been and should be. The exposition was rushed, character development felt hollow, and the story’s ending left a lot to be desired. Make no mistake, this wasn’t a terrible move despite my trashing of it earlier, but in a world of high-budget and engaging works, this felt more mid-tier than anything I’ve seen I a while. I mean, when my thoughts while watching a movie are about how I’ve seen better weekly series, something is wrong here. If you have an hour and a half to spare and you really don’t have anything else going on the sure, give it a try. If you even have one episode of a weekly series left to watch, do that instead.

 

Rating:           Skip It          Backlog it          Watch it ASAP

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