Last week, I shared the first half of my list of personal favorite playable characters from the BlazBlue games, which have quietly been taking fighting games to new heights both in terms of complex storytelling and in creative gameplay mechanics for the last half decade, showing there’s plenty more life left in the genre.
This week I’m breaking hearts and revealing the second half of my top ten. I say that because they probably aren’t who you think they are and that’s part of what I love about this series: you throw out the awesome gameplay, inventive attacks, incredible finishing moves, great maps, unlockable fanservice bonanzas, and even the impressively convoluted plot and you’ve still got one of the strongest casts of characters of any franchise from any entertainment medium in recent memory.
It’s such a diverse bunch that narrowing the cast to ten favorites is still a challenge with so much charm, style, and general badassery to pick from. So I’m apologizing in advance for leaving out everyone I left out, but from where I’m sitting, these are the ones that have stolen the show for me.
Along with Ragna the Bloodedge, Noel is a focal point of BlazBlue’s story. She’s one of a series of clones of Ragna’s sister and began the story as a NOL officer before fleeing once it became a puppet organization for Terumi and Relius Clover. In addition to her Nox Nyctores, Bolverk, she can command a Murakumo Unit (cybernetic battle armour) as Mu 12, so there are actually two different versions of her character available. And they’re both beasts.
Noel is one of the strongest combatants, but from her personality you’d assume she was the weakest. She suffers from social awkwardness and an extreme lack of confidence in herself, which is often used to comedic effect when other, more rambunctious characters mock her modest bust size and shy demeanor. Her overall arc is one of self-acceptance, as she is a being of tremendous power and destiny, but just wants to live a quiet life with her friends helping other people.
Noel boasts an impressive set of skills and attacks with Bolverk -twin guns which can combine and shift to several forms, including a shotgun or rocket launcher- and Chain Revolver ability, which is sort of an auto-combo mode perfect for beginners that strings a series of melee attacks together. As Mu, she can actually place auto-turrets around the screen at will to harass opponents and then either detonate them for explosion damage or send a single beam bouncing between them. With proper placement and timing, this can become a devastating combo in itself.
Kagura is a new character and major force in Chronophantasma. He’s from a noble family and holds a high rank in the NOL, which puts him in an excellent position to lead a coup from within. He’s known as “the Black Knight” and joins forces with Kokonoe’s Sector Seven in the story to gather the heroes and lead the fight against the Imperator’s genocidal plans.
Kagura’s personality and demeanor are what really set him apart in my mind. In spite of the lack of much animation in the story sections, BlazBlue always does a great job of bringing the characters to life with body language and voice acting . The Black Knight’s laid back attitude and elegant confidence speak volumes about him, although given the size of his sword one might get the idea he’s compensating for something. Still, I love the way he uses it to lean on whenever he gets a chance. His fatal flaw is a preoccupation with the female gender; and he’s particularly smitten with Noel. He’s not as obnoxious as Sanji from One Piece or anything, but he’s definitely a man who loves the ladies. Smooth operator he may be, it doesn’t always stop him from getting punched in the face.
His massive sword gives Kagura pretty good reach, but many of his attacks require the player to take a stance first with the Drive command, making him a character best left to experienced gamers. He’s only available to play as once you’ve completed the game’s story mode, or if you purchase him from PSN. Yes, they are selling a character that’s unlockable in-game.
Like Noel, Nu 13 is a clone of Ragna’s sister and commands a Murakumo unit. But while Noel is in control of her faculties, Nu is entirely under Terumi’s command and has lost all sense of self, behaving almost exclusively as a machine. She represents a reminder to Noel of what she could have been if she didn’t have her friends looking out for her.
The one exception to Nu’s lack of personality manifests when she comes into contact with Ragna, and this is where she earns her place on this list. Whenever she is around the main character, she goes full yandere in a psychotic corruption of Noel’s affection for him. Nu’s idea of an ideal romantic evening with her love is to have them kill each other again and again, becoming one in the same in mutual violence and death. Hot stuff if that’s what you’re into, I guess. I have to admit, there’s something disturbingly charming about her fixation on Ragna; the English voice actress does a really amazing job conveying both cuteness and complete insanity at the same time.
Nu is a monster in combat and a great character for beginners. She can summon energy swords from thin air, uses the blades that make up her wings in a variety of nasty attacks, and can hinder her opponents movement with gravitational fields to set up her assaults. Plus: truly epic finisher.
Platinum the Trinity
Platinum is a child inhabited by dual personalities: an obnoxious young girl named Luna and an even-tempered little boy, Sena. They carry the Nox Nyctores staff, Muchorin, which contains the spirit of Trinity Glassfille, one of the legendary Six Heroes who was murdered by Terumi. She first made her appearance in Continuum Shift as a mysterious hooded figure carrying a wrapped bundle. Imagine the shock when the hood came off revealing an honest-to-god magical girl. Continuum Shift Extend made her playable and now it just wouldn’t be BlazBlue without her.
Having three personalities with which to interact with the many characters of this universe makes Platinum a great damn character. Luna tends to take the lead, heaping abuse onto her fellows while Sena is the Silent Bob to her Jay, only chiming in every once in a while. Trinity manifests occasionally to converse with old friends and progress the plot.
In combat, Platinum uses comically childish attacks like blowing bubbles and pogoing, and Muchorin can morph into various weapons from frying pan or toy mallet to a launcher that shoots projectiles that resemble feminine Bullet Bills from the Mario games. Good times are guaranteed.
Celica A. Mercury
At this point, BlazBlue fans are possibly screaming about why Taokaka and Ragna aren’t on this list, yet I’m anchoring it with the most normal character in the series. Celica is Chronophantasma‘s title character and what makes her so cool is that she stands well apart from the rest of the cast. Kokonoe brought her back as a copy of her own aunt from a past era to use as a living key to Kushinada’s Lynchpin, a relic with the power to drastically alter the world and stop Terumi’s plans. In other words, she’s an artificial life form with a temporary shelf life. She’s also sweeter than sugar and a rare white mage.
She encounters Ragna the Bloodedge and takes an immediate liking to the gruff antihero, accompanying him throughout the story, in part because Kokonoe claims to have put a bomb in him that will detonate if he leaves her side. After charming the entire cast, we find out that she is not long for the world and was only created to serve a single sacrificial purpose. This brings the heroes to her corner to fight for her right to live, even if she wasn’t born into this era. An artificial person is still a person, just like Ragna’s artificial arm is still his arm.
Celica’s selfless unflappability and pleasant demeanor act as an anchor for the cast of wackos that make up BlazBlue. Her visual style is simple, demure, and elegant in contrast to the underboobage, overboobage, midriffage, and booty shorts of the rest of the adult female cast, she’s neither brash nor lacking in confidence; she’s a perfectly balanced individual in a sea of extremes, and that makes her damn cool. Chronophantasma Extend will feature Celica as a playable character, with her own magical abilities (healing magic in a fighting game? OP!) backed by her mechanical guardian, Minerva. Looking forward to it.