Anime review: Bayonetta: Bloody Fate

Adapting the first game in the Bayonetta saga to one hour-and-a-half anime film, Bayonetta: Bloody Fate does surprisingly well to cater to fans of Platinum Games’ signature sense of sleek style and over-the-top action. Bloody Fate maintains much of the wacky humor of the game, though its limited runtime does see a notable favoritism toward the ludicrous shoot-‘em-up fight sequences and battles against gargantuan angels. Obviously a large portion of the original Bayonetta experience had to be trimmed or cut out entirely to cater to the constraints of the anime, both in terms of its length and the change in entertainment medium, but Bloody Fate excels at keeping in focus the essence of what makes Bayonetta such a standout entry in the action gaming genre.

Much like in the video game, Bloody Fate performs a handful of brief jumps back from the present to the ancient end days of the Umbran witch clan. Viewers are quickly familiarized with Bayonetta’s lack of any real memory as to who she is, as well as given a crash-course on Luka’s vendetta stemming from his belief that Bayonetta’s awakening at the bottom of a lake was to blame for his father’s untimely death. Rodin is cool and collected as ever, though he serves more as plot device than fully realized character in this interpretation of Bayonetta’s journey of self-discovery. Enzo, on the other hand, is absent almost entirely, while precedence is given to both Jeanne and little Cereza, the former being a witch who shares some connections and powers to Bayonetta, while the latter is a young girl who clings to Bayonetta, claiming the witch is her ‘mummy’, much to the surprise and disbelief of the titular protagonist.

While the earliest of fights within a chapel sees Bayonetta perform insane acrobatics that defy the laws of physics thanks to her Umbran magic, things only grow in scale, silliness, and fun from there. Slender limbs swing out in fast-paced shootouts, while motorized vehicles ride up walls in hot pursuit of the witch that has everyone talking. Bayonetta is entertaining as ever, as she beams confidence but displays little mercy to her enemies. She revels in the fight, taunting angels and going out of her way to ensure they suffer at the hands of her most powerful demonic summons. The English cast of the video game returns to reprise each of their roles, which is a real treat, as they handle their respective performances masterfully – the Bayonetta experience just wouldn’t feel the same without Hellena Taylor at the helm.

In the same fashion as its video game counterpart, Bayonetta: Bloody Fate is unapologetic about what it wants to be and how it wants to go about crafting a tale of a witch out of her own time. Its action is bonkers, while its leading lady displays a brilliant culmination of character traits smart, sexy, and powerful. Despite its relatively short runtime, Bayonetta: Bloody Fate is a wonderful translation of the original action game that is considered by many to be a modern classic. This anime fires on all cylinders from start to finish, setting aside sufficient time to explain the important plot points and character connections, but never straying from the magical elements or raucous combat long enough to wane viewers' interest.

My rating: 9.25 (out of 10)

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