Rikka is the heir to the Isuragi Ninja clan, although she wants to be a scientist like her father. Then, when her father is murdered so that a rival can steal his research, the choice is made for her!
What did you watch?
So, it’s the start of the Fall anime season and I was looking to see what new shows were launching. I like to be surprised so tend to avoid the announcements and happened across a title called Blackfox. It was an episode zero teaser, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Well, the teaser was a full twenty-four-minute episode and I loved it. Then, when I searched for more information, I discovered that it was actually a movie and not a series. Part of me was a little disappointed as I was ready to settle in for another twelve to twenty-four episodes. Anyhow, the movie was released and I had to watch it. The first twenty-four minutes was the teaser I had already watched, but that’s fine, it was a lot of fun so I didn’t mind watching it again. With all that out of the way, let’s talk about Blackfox. There will be spoilers, ninjas, and robots…
The movie opens with a young Rikka creeping through a building pursued by a ninja with a black fox mask. She hides in a box in the attic, but he finds her and a battle ensues. Rikka is not nearly as helpless as she looks. After blowing a hole in the roof and the floor, the masked ninja finally gets the better of Rikka. Her grandfather removes his mask and tells her she still has a lot to learn. With lots of cleaning up to do, Rikka runs off to see her father, a robotics scientist who has developed aid robots in the form of a dog, an eagle, and a flying squirrel.
Rikka reveals to her father that she wants to be a scientist like him, but is worried how her grandfather will take the news as he is currently the head of the Isuragi Ninja Clan. He explains that her grandfather will be happy with whatever she chooses and remarks that there is no hurry. Several years later, Rikka is on her way home having passed the entrance exam to go to the same university her father did, but when she gets there a hit squad has stormed her home and is looking to steal her father’s research by any means necessary.
What did you think?
I really enjoyed this movie. It’s hard to fit movies into my current schedule, but every now and then I like to make an exception and I’m really glad I did for Blackfox. It was a great blend of action and intrigue and my only real criticism is that it wasn’t a full season. There needs to be more of this and I hope we get it. It played out like an origin story for a superhero but started out as a revenge flick. I loved the style of the animation and the fluidity of the fights. It was loads of fun and, of course, ninjas! If in doubt add ninjas, you can never fail.
What was your favourite moment?
So, there were a couple of moments that really stood out to me. The first was the ending of the teaser episode and was just after Rikka’s father and grandfather had been murdered and the robotic helpers escaped with her. She was mad and understandably so. At that moment, she decided to throw away everything she’d been planning to get her revenge. It worked so well as an ending for an episode and just as well as the end of the first act in the movie. You could feel Rikka’s rage and emotions.
After that, there was a moment at her old family home where she was battling against the now telekinetically powered scientist, Lauren and things were looking bleak. Rikka fell into the ruins and came across a message from her father and grandfather that they had prepared before their death. When the heartfelt message ending a secret compartment opened and revealed a new Blackfox suit incorporating the ninja and science backgrounds. Rikka returned to the fight like a cross between Batman and Iron Man and it was excellent. I really do hope we get much more.
What was your least favourite moment?
I know that I said my only criticism was the length and for the most part that is true. There were a couple of moments that registered as annoying and they were Mia continuing to trust her father and allowing him to get close enough to put the mind-control collar on her. I know he’s your father, but come on, that was a dumb move.
Other than that, the introduction of Brad Ingram, the president of Gradsheim, the company that employed Lauren and mayor of the newly renamed Brad City… Seriously, Brad City. That was just a really stupid moment and it would have made more sense for it to be Gradsheim. It was a real head-shaking moment and it kind of brought down the tone of the ending.
Who was your favourite character?
I thought Rikka was a great character and I really enjoyed her struggle with getting her revenge and not becoming a murderer. It played into the talks she had had with her father about becoming a ninja. One thing that really helped Rikka, or three things, were the robot aids. Seriously, she was a ninja with a robot dog, eagle, and flying squirrel to help her. It sounds a little too Sunday morning cartoony, but it really worked and they were fun characters on their own.
Who was your least favourite character?
Lauren, the scientist that used to work with Rikka’s father and orchestrated his murder was a little too much the crazed scientist. It would have been nice to see the progression to him losing his sanity and humanity rather than throwing him at Rikka as a fully developed evil villain. Seeing his experiments on his own daughter was particularly troubling and I think they would have had even more impact if we’d seen the development of that a little more. I would have liked to see him struggle with the ideas before resorting to using her as a test subject.
Would you like some more?
I think I’ve made my position pretty clear. This was a great start to what will hopefully be a continuing story and the way that we left things it was pretty clear that more is to come. You can’t leave it at the Brad City moment! In typical superhero fashion, Rikka was joined by Mia and Melissa who also turned out to be a robot similar to Oboro, the dog, Madara, the flying squirrel, and Kasumi, the eagle. There were several moments that reminded me of Ghost in the Shell with the camouflaged attack units. This story has a lot of potential and I hope they fully realise that.
What have you learnt?
You can forget pumpkin spice because what you really need is ninjas. Ninjas go with everything. You want to make a story better, throw in some ninjas. Seriously, just try it. Pick any story and change something so that ninjas are involved. Take Pride and Prejudice for example. It’s boring but has intricate and well-developed dialogue. Add ninjas. Now it’s awesome. I would go so far as to make Emily and her sisters ninjas. I’m sure that’s what Jane Austen would have done if she’d thought of it.