Bayonetta (The Movie): Bloody Fate (Cert 18)
1 Disc DVD/Blu-ray (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 86 minutes approx
Just like Hollywood is covering up the dearth of fresh ideas for its films by raiding the comic book franchises and reboots of existing classics, anime is heading down a similar path by adapting the plots of video games. While not a new tact it has been a prominent one over the past few years and with the results being mixed at best, it does engender a certain chilling feeling when the promo material for a new release begins with the words “based on the popular video game”.
Regular readers of this site will know I am not a gamer so Bayonetta: Bloody Fate is being approached with an unbiased perspective free from any preconceived notion for comparisons to the game. The backstory is explained in an opening monologue, informing us of the existence of the Umbra Witches of Darkness and the Lumen Sages of Light in the ancient European land of Vigrid (taken from Norse mythology). They protected the world by keeping the balance between their respective affiliates the demons and the angels. However it all fell apart when a witch and a sage united and had a child of cursed blood, inflicted with the power of the Left Eye of Creation by the witches.
War broke out between the two sides over the Left Eye while the cursed child was sent away to grow up in secret, becoming a witch in the process. Five hundred years later the witch reawakened and resumed her battle against the angels. And guess who that witch was? Yup, the titular Bayonetta, who was working peacefully as a nun when her reawakening occurred.
This story is set twenty years after the reawakening as Bayonetta finds herself being pursued by a journalist Luka Redgrave, a man who believes Bayonetta killed his father, Unfortunately Bayonetta has no recollection of any of her name or location, let alone anything that happened in the previous twenty years. She is aware of her mission to fight angels so while on the road she tries to find some answers, Bayonetta encounters a silvered haired woman who appears to know more about Bayonetta than she does.
Expectations are presumably high for this title since the animation comes from famed studio Gonzo under the direction of Fuminori Kizaki, who gave us the acclaimed Afro Samurai and supplied the storyboarding for this film. Gonzo’s previous form with the likes of Hellsing and Trinity Blood shows up in the artwork here and in some of the character designs, based on the original designs from Mari Shimizaki – for example, in her nun’s habit Bayonetta recalls Sir Integra Hellsing with a touch of Abel Nightroad from Trinity Blood.
Of course this being a Japanese creation Bayonetta is no ordinary nun and once she drops that habit, her attire is typically revealing and figure hugging tight, a heaving bosom and shapely rump struggle against the tight leather material! But to help her stand out, our heroine wears glasses! In another nod to Hellsing for those not familiar with the game, Bayonetta finds with a bespoke gun called Elfin Knight while she carries an additional pair which make up the heels of her boots! Here is a woman who knows how to accessorise!
Discussion of the plot has been limited thus far because there isn’t really much to add to the above summary except to mention the appearance of a young girl named Cereza, a bespectacled lass insisting on calling Bayonetta “mummy” despite being no relation to her. Bayonetta takes her in and the child becomes immediately attached to her makeshift guardian, but where does she come from and why does she insist on calling a complete stranger “mummy”? Maybe the glasses which enable her to see angels may lead to some answers.
And that is it except for the ludicrously over-the-top finale which rewrites the book on explosive endings. A masterclass in excess and visual bombast this is something to behold even if makes as much sense as fish on a bicycle, although it needed to be since the preceding sixty minutes are chockfull of exciting if occasionally daft fight scenes it had to top for this to end on a worthwhile note. This is really where the film comes into its own and we can only assume that the reliance on spectacle was to appease fans of the game by bringing them a near as faithful representation of what they have experienced first hand during game play.
I made some comparisons earlier but one which comes through in the opening scene both in design and mood is Vampire Hunter D – Bloodlust. An almost romantic gothic aura permeates through the screen with Luka’s appearance and the church setting in the dead of night, similar to Bloodlust’s memorable opening. With such impressive visuals and top notch animation this is a hugely accessible slice of entertainment to non-fans of the game. Fuminori Kizaki’s has allowed for modern techniques to provide the highest details and depth of the artwork as possible yet the animation itself of the characters is very “old school”, harkening back to the cell drawn days.
With no point of reference to prejudice my opinion of this title Bayonetta: Bloody Fate provides 86 minutes of perfectly acceptable high octane, fantasy action with the focus largely on this aspect due to having to streamline and condense what I imagine is a sprawling story found within the original video game. If action is your bag then you are never too far away from a tussle of some sort here, making this visually appealing spectacle a perfect quick fix anime adrenaline shot.
English Language 5.1
Japanese Language 5.1
Rating – ***
Man In Black