“Maybe it makes more sense if you’ve played the video-game?”
I might have enjoyed this more, if I hadn’t recently sat through 25 episodes of basically the same plot, in Blood+. Generic anime storyline, #7: supernatural entity, trying to bring about the end of the world because… That’s what they do? In this case, there are sages and witches, who balance good and evil. 500 years ago, however, one from each side united, and the offspring was Bayonetta (Tanaka). She is now taking out angels, but there’s also a religious cult preparing for the rebirth of their saviour, a journalist who blames Bayonetta for the death of his father, and a mysterious, very whiny little girl, who keeps calling her “Mommy”. Who that turns out to be will surprise no one.
I had to piece together the above, and it’s kinda vague in some areas, I suspect largely because there’s an unspoken assumption that, if you’re watching this feature, you’ve played the video-game on which it is based. Now, that’s probably not an unfair assessment for the majority of viewers. However, any casual spectator (and I certainly fall into that category) is likely to be somewhere between confused and bored by the approach, which seems to gloss over stuff that warrants more exposition, and explains in details things that shouldn’t need it. For instance, at one point, Bayonetta is on a train, and is attacked by another woman, leading to a spectacular battle in, on and around the carriages. The attacker then vanishes from the movie for a long period, without explanation. Game players, I suspect, will know the who and why, far better than I did; to me, it just felt disjointed and badly constructed.
Which is a shame. I used the word “spectacular” in the previous paragraph, and there’s no questioning that aspect of proceedings. The look here is very stylized and elegant, especially during the numerous fight sequences, both imaginative and well-animated. in a way that reminded me, in some aspects, of the early Aeon Flux animated shorts. It’s just a pity this obvious effort wasn’t expended on a feature which provides little more than fan service, both in the storyline and a rather leering approach to its lead character, that is significantly less mature than the subject matter deserves. While I understand and accept Bayonetta herself is, to a certain extent, intended to be a parody of this kind of OTT character, the movie is probably only recommended if you’re looking for an animated superheroine who resembles Tina Fey impersonating Sarah Palin. I get the feeling that is likely to be just a little bit too much of a niche market.
Dir: Fuminori Kizaki
Star (voice): Atsuko Tanaka, Norio Wakamoto, Tesshō Genda, Mie Sonozaki