After being confronted with women possessing similar powers and appearance as herself when transformed by the Witchblade, Masane returns to her partners in the Douji Group conglomerate to learn more about the Witchblade and all things surrounding it.
Masane’s ’employer’, and member of the board of directors at the Douji Group, Takayama, agrees to let his assisstant, Segawa, inform her on this and other matters, including the history between the Douji Group and the NSFW (those who control the women, and the organisation that oversees the Child Welfare Department). After six years of technological exchange and collaboration, the Douji Group and the NSFW managed to develop the Cloneblades based on their research of the actual Witchblade, and have, as such, effectively rendered the Witchblade infinitely reproducible. The reasons behind their current opposition is revealed later in the volume, but the two organisations are also feeding the lusts of theirs wielders with the X-cons, meaning that, short of killing innocent people, both organisations are fighting for the same limited resource, while putting the other groups wielders at the risk of their ever-mounting desires.
Satisfied with what she’s told and secure with the Douji Group’s help, Masane, naturally, continues to fight, but now with the additional risk of coming into contest with the genetically manufactured Cloneblade wearers, who prove to be her most pressing opponents throughout this volume. Not the kind of woman to be kept, however, Masane also refuses her monthly expenses (afforded by the Douji Group) and manages to procure the condition that she will be paid only for completing her missions or defeating the mechanical X-cons. At the same time, Tazawa, the reporter who helped Rihoko escape from the Child Welfare Department, continues in his attempts to break into journalism by piecing together the attacks by X-cons and the Witchblade’s escape from prison – only making a breakthrough when he realises that Masane was the monstrous woman that night.
In terms of the story this volume doesn’t offer much more than that, with Masane engaged by one of the Cloneblade wielders for most of the volume, and Tazawa pressing her to tell him what she knows for much of the rest. This isn’t too much of a problem, on the other hand, because the balance struck between action, storytelling and comedy should keep the viewer entertained through all four episodes, and the quality is consistent throughout. The focus is also again on the many tensions around Masane, as she tries to strike a deal with Tazawa, while her Douji Group’s Takayama shows some sign of consideration for Masane, as he and Segawa ponder the fact that the Witchblade will inevitably destroy her, while it is suggested at many points that they are behind the production of the X-cons being used to wean the Witchblade.
The animation is good and holds up better than most during fight scenes, even if the characters faces vary a little too much at times, and the music is fitting but a little understated. The major problem some people might have with the series, however, is of course the dress of its protagonist and villains – which is complimented in this volume by Masane’s trip to the baths and a more obvious flow of the Witch and Cloneblades’ influence on their wielder’s lusts, even when they’re not in battle. The series has obvious sexual overtones and gleefully hands out fanservice, so viewers can take that however they will, but I don’t personally think it gets in the way of the story, even if it’s impossible to ignore, making it a trade-off for those who would rather it weren’t there at all. I had this conversation with a friend once though, and she reminded me that sex appeal is nothing new to anime, so if you’re already a fan of anime, I doubt this will offend you much more than countless other series
Definitely aimed at the young male audience, but functional enough to appeal to almost everyone – overall a good but not an exceptional volume.