by Timothy Georgi
Nearly five hundred years have passed. Back then, a bloody civil war took over the landscape of the proud Inca Empire. The battle runs long and hard, but eventually, as is always true in situations like these, one group gets the upper hand. In desperation, the losing side decides to release the overwhelming power of a mystical weapon, a weapon that nearly destroys the entire planet.
Our story begins in present day Japan. Kyoji Miura is an energetic high school student who spends his spare time practicing the art of Kendo, a form of Japanese sword fighting. His friend and teacher, Masanari Tate is a Kendo master and starts off the first episode in a Kendo tournament. On his way to the tournament, Kyoji runs into (literally) Tate's fiancee, Yuka Kiritake, a freelance journalist who later turns out to be a bit more than she seems. Both Kyoji and Yuka end up at the tournament where they meet up with Tate in between matches. Tate eventually makes his way to the final round where something bizarre happens.
A strange metamorphosis occurs during the match and Tate is transformed into a strangely dressed warrior that supposedly only Kyoji sees. Time goes on and Kyoji learns the nature of what he saw. Tate is the reincarnated soul of an Inca warrior named Yawaru. In a strange twist of fate, Kyoji learns that he is Bilka, a warrior of the opposing side to Yawaru. Mystery enters in as Tate disappears and ends up in South America where he intends to reawaken the souls of the sleeping Inca warriors and continue the battle from five hundred years earlier. Kyoji and Yuka travel to Peru to find Tate and bring him back, but end up confronting him instead. It's a confrontation that ends with dire concequences, allowing Kyoji to accept his fate as the warrior Bilka.
Mystery and intrigue fill the beginning episodes as the viewers are slowly introduced to the characters and the immortal souls of the Inca warriors that they embody. As time progresses, friend will be pitted against friend, lover against lover and enemy against enemy. It's a total battle royale for the future on the world as more and more of the sleeping souls of the Inca warriors are awakened. Can Kyoji as the warrior Bilka stop Tate, the warrior Yawaru, from creating his "perfect world"? Volume two will continue the tale.
The animation in the series is a mix of mostly traditional cel animation and some 3-dimensional artwork in the fashion of a roleplaying computer game. There are a few places where the 3-D and the cel animation could have been integrated better, but with the style of the art that is used, that is a small item compared to the wonderful character designs found in the series. The characters and their wardrobes are colorful and flamboyant, lending themselves to a more ancient feeling. Long, streaming cloth and gold trim are the norm for the Inca alter egos of the character's Japanese counterparts. The music in the series is also a great departure from the typical anime soundtrack. The opening theme is a classical piece by Johann Sebastion Bach and the rest of the music is full of more traditional, old-time instruments like the harpsichord. The arrangements are fresh and in some cases, give a new approach to the classical realm.
As this is a Dub Files review, it is time to look a bit at the dubbing on the first volume. According to New Generation Pictures producer Jonathan Klein, Nazca is the first series that they have produced a dubbed version for. As is typical with a new dub series, the voice actors take a little bit of time to get the feeling of the characters down. They did a wonderful job of working their way into the characters in a short period of time. One thing that most companies try to shy away from in dub production was a big challenge for the Nazca crew, the battle to fit words into the mouths of the drawn characters or to let the quality of the dub take precedence. Quality won out in New Generations first dubbing go around and that can be seen in the quick transition of the voices to the characters. The casting was very well done as most of the voices fit the characters very well. A wide range of vocal portrayals, from refined to intellectual, from soft and femine to downright nasty, is presented to make for an interesting mix that works well together. If you are into swordfighting anime or like to get transported to a time that has been left in the history books, then Nazca shows some great potential.
Volume one, Blades of Fate is available in stores now. Be sure to look for Volume Two of Nazca to hit the store shelves in March.