Bayonetta: Bloody Fate DVD review

Bayonetta Bloody Fate (4)

Bayonetta: Bloody Fate manages to retain the over-the-top nature of the videogame with a lot of action, crazy lines and fun references (yes, we do see her start up a motorcycle in that way).

From Gonzo and director Fuminori Kizaki of Afro Samurai, Bloody Fate is a somewhat loose adaptation of Platinum Games’ videogame, which was released back in 2009, as the Umbran witch Bayonetta awakens after 500 years to retrieve her lost memories. Opening with a necessary prologue explaining the history between Umbra Witches and the Lumen Sages (squeezed inside two minutes), Bayonetta battles angels to unravel the mysterious about her past. Her search sees her cross paths with Luka, a journalist who holds Bayonetta responsible for the death of his father; Jeanne, a white haired witch who seems to know a lot about Bayonetta; and Cereza, a little girl who considers Bayonetta to be her mother.

Those starting out playing the newly released Bayonetta 2 on the Nintendo Wii U may consider watching the anime as a way to get acquainted with the Umbran witch, especially if they haven’t already played the original game. However, newcomers to Bayonetta that view the anime are likely to come away from Bloody Fate feeling confused and that they’re still missing out on something. As an example, the character Enzo appears in Bloody Fate, but there is little explanation as to what his association is with Bayonetta. Basically, there’s only so much that can be crammed into 90 minutes and the end result comes across as an edited ‘best-bits’ package.

Even with some plot elements cut, condensed or alluded to with references, Bloody Fate generally follows the same path as the videogame. This also means that the same issues have been carried over. The story in the videogame was noted for being outlandish and nonsensical. Gonzo were probably worried that if they strayed too far from the source material with Bloody Fate then it would only end up being criticised for not being a faithful adaptation.

Bayonetta Bloody Fate (5)There are a lot of action scenes, most of which are fairly random, particularly when angels just happen to turn up (a trait carried over from the videogame). Although the action looks impressive enough, in some cases we don’t really know much about Bayonetta’s situation or her opponents to warrant any emotional investment or worry about what exactly is at stake. Also, while there are instances of Bayonetta using torture attacks and wicked weaves, they are just too few and far between. Wicked weave attacks could have looked amazing had they been included in an action scene where Bayonetta performs a combo. Nevertheless, it is still pretty cool seeing some of the more iconic weapons making an appearance.

The animation from Gonzo is beautiful. The character designs, from the main characters to the numerous angels are all pleasing to the eye. The soundtrack is great too, with a few songs from the videogame thrown into the mix, such as One of a Kind and Mysterious Destiny.

For fans, viewing Bloody Fate with the English dub would be the preferred choice here since it includes a majority of the voice cast from the original videogame. Hellena Taylor is flawless as she returns to voice Bayonetta in Received Pronunciation, with Grey Griffin as Jeanne, Yuri Lowenthal as Luka and Dave Fennoy as the demon weapons dealer Rodin.

Extras are rather thin, with a commentary track that features ADR director Jonathan Klein and Hellena Taylor, storyboards and a trailer. The commentary track is a good listen, as Klein talks about the difficulties in tracking down the original voice cast from the videogame and getting them to reprise their roles. Because the commentary was recorded at Shepperton Studios, weirdly Taylor feels the need to explain a bit about the history of the studio. Thankfully she also talks about the audition process when she landed the role of Bayonetta for the videogame (“I literally got the lines a minute before I recorded the thing”) and seeing how the character has become a role model to others. Taylor had also already worked on Bayonetta 2 during the recording of this commentary and speaks a bit about that too.

Bayonetta Bloody Fate (9)Bayonetta: Bloody Fate is a gorgeous looking adaptation of the videogame, albeit a condensed one that doesn’t really offer anything new to fans. It’s a shame, for the potential was there to tell a side story with Bayonetta in a different setting, or even one that bridges the gap between the two games, which would have been far more appealing. Maybe that’s something we can hope to see in the future. While this retelling is certainly worth a watch (particularly for fans of the game), one can’t help but feel that Bayonetta: Bloody Fate has missed an opportunity to really expand on the universe and the characters by delving into a new story.

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