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Promotional poster for the Witchblade anime adaptation.
|Genre||Action, Supernatural drama, Science fiction, Thriller|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Yoshimitsu Ohashi|
|Written by||Yasuko Kobayashi|
|Original run||16 April 2006 – 20 September 2006|
Witchblade (Japanese: ウィッチブレイド Hepburn: Witchibureido?) is an anime series based on the American comic book of the same name. Instead of an adaptation of the original story, the series features an entirely new setting with all new characters.
Sought by the greed of men since the dawn of human kind, but only bestowed upon the women whose fate it forever scars...the Witchblade. Is it the righteous sword of God? Or hand of the Devil himself? Now a new bearer has been chosen. And she must discover the answers for herself. As she stands on the brink of destiny, she is forced to seek the balance between ecstasy and ruin.— Anime prologue for each episode.[note 1]
In this new approach to the Witchblade universe, the lead character and blade wielder is Masane Amaha, a kind-hearted woman who, despite her good intentions, is fairly clumsy and not good around the house. She lost her memory during "The Great Quake" that ravaged Tokyo and, curiously, Masane was found unscathed in the phenomenon's ground zero, holding a baby in her arms. Six years later, she returns to Tokyo with the child, whom she believes to be her daughter, intending to live a peaceful life. Unfortunately for the two, Masane becomes entangled in the struggle for power between a huge corporation and a government agency. She discovers that the mysterious bracelet attached to her right wrist is actually the legendary artifact known as the Witchblade.
- Masane Amaha (天羽 雅音 Amaha Masane?) age 23
- Voiced by: Mamiko Noto (Japanese); Jamie Marchi (English)
- Masane is protagonist of the series and the bearer of the Witchblade. She is implied to have become the Witchblade's bearer six years before the beginning of the series during an event that destroyed most of Tokyo. Masane is also an unemployed single mother, and is at odds with the NSWF's Child Welfare Division over issues concerning the custody of her adoptive daughter, Rihoko.
- Rihoko Amaha (天羽 梨穂子 Amaha Rihoko?) age 6
- Voiced by: Akemi Kanda (Japanese); Carrie Savage (English)
- Rihoko is Masane Amaha's adoptive daughter. Her biological mother is Reina Soho, and her biological father is Takayama. Rihoko is apparently more compatible with the Witchblade than anyone else, and it was she who was responsible for Reina's initial high compatibility rating, because Reina was pregnant with Rihoko at the time. Rihoko is frequently praised for her good cooking capabilities.
- Yusuke Tozawa (斗沢 祐介 Tōzawa Yūsuke?) age 26
- Voiced by: Masaya Matsukaze (Japanese); Robert McCollum (English)
- Yusuke Tozawa is a freelance photographer seeking information about the Witchblade for a story, since he believes that it is associated with certain serial killings. He eventually becomes Masane's friend. He is among the first ones to nickname Masane "Masamune" ("Melony" in the English dub), referring to her huge chest ("masa-mune" meaning "undefeatable breasts", and "Melony" referring to her breasts as melons). This is carried over in the anime, to the point that Tozawa only refers to Masane with this nickname.
- Reiji Takayama (鷹山 澪士 Takayama Reiji?) age 45
- Voiced by: Rikiya Koyama (Japanese); Mark Stoddard (English)
- Reiji Takayama is the Bureau Chief of Douji Group Industries. He also is the one responsible for employing Masane to fight-off malfunctioning "Ex-cons", highly technological weapons developed by his own employers. Takayama is a stoic and very stern man who shows little to no expressions at all. He is usually accompanied by his assistant, Hiroki Segawa. Takayama seems to have a past relationship with Reina Soho, possibly a sexual one, as it is briefly discussed between himself and Masane that there is a possibility he may be Rihoko's biological father, a point which he says is possible, which he later affirmed completely in Episode 19. They both had worked together before the ground-zero event in doing research on the Witchblade. Initially Takayama appears to be cynical and cold, but as the anime progresses this proves to be completely false as his relationship with Masane deepens. He and Masane later become romantically involved in episode 19. Masane later attempts to get him and Riko closer after learning he is her real father. He is last seen standing with Riko at the site of Masane's last fight, watching on as she sacrifices her life.
- Reina Soho (蘇峰 玲奈 Soho Reina?) age 34
- Voiced by: Mie Sonozaki (Japanese); Colleen Clinkenbeard (English)
- Reina Soho is a Neogene cloneblade who works as a Forensics Medicine Specialist in the NSWF (National Scientific Welfare Foundation). She is a strong and intelligent woman. Nevertheless, she is quite self-centered. Unlike most of her First-Generation counterparts, Reina has come to terms with the fact that Furumizu views her and the rest of her Neogene sisters as nothing more than tools at his disposal. By the same token, however, she feels no obligation to answer to his every beck and call. Her nickname as a Cloneblade is "Lady". In her youth, she was found to be a potential bearer for the "true" Witchblade. Eager to test the limits of her genetic potential, Reina and her assistant, Shiori Tsuzuki, attempted to forcibly remove the Witchblade from Masane. It turns out that Reina's high compatibility with the Witchblade was due to the fact that she was carrying Rihoko at the time, and after giving birth, her compatibility dropped significantly. Of all the Cloneblades, Reina was regarded as the most advanced of her Neogene sisters. As a Cloneblade, Reina bore a huge blade on her left forearm, and had wing-like appendages that could transform into robust shields from blades. Reina considered herself and everyone around her as objects to be researched. She even went so far as to seize custody of her biological daughter, Rihoko, in order to test how motherhood would affect her mentally. Much to her surprise, she began to develop maternal feelings for the girl. The full extent of her love for Rihoko is revealed when she sacrifices herself to protect her from the psychopathic Neogene, Maria. Her cloneblade armor is white and pink.
- Maria (まりあ?) age 4, 5. 16-year-old looking body
- Voiced by: Nana Mizuki (Japanese); Monica Rial (English)
- Maria is part of the Second generation of sisters created by Tatsuoki Furumizu and she was the first to be equipped with a Dual Cloneblade. Her cloneblade armor is purple and red. She appears much older than she truly is which suggests that the sisters age rapidly. She has an obsession for cats and dogs. Maria undergoes many changes throughout the series. She starts out as a hyper, mentally unstable adolescent with an extreme inferiority complex. While extremely strong and dangerous, she is little more than an insecure child desperate for attention and a mother to call her own. This changes when her actual mother, Reina, rejects her. After killing Reina in a rage, her personality becomes almost catatonic. She also changes her appearance to match the deceased Reina's. After hearing of Furumizu's plans to use her as a surrogate mother for his "perfect" clone, her disgust transforms her into a megalomaniacal psychopath who seeks power at all costs. She kills Furumizu and seizes control of the NSWF. She pledges to transform the NSWF into an army that will secure power for herself as well as the Neogene "chosen ones". In truth, however, Maria is the leader of the organization in name only. With no clear goal other than to obtain power at all costs, Maria becomes even more secretive and reclusive than her late "father". With the exception of Aoi, cloneblades such as Asagi view her as an insecure child trying to "act tough". As Maria drifts aimlessly, Nishida effectively runs the entire organization and continues to use its resources to hunt for the Witchblade. Her Cloneblade form is not quite as heavily armored as the others. Nevertheless, it is by far the strongest. In her cloneblade form she is able to extend her fingers and impale her victims multiple times. The extent of her power can be seen when she pierces Reina's armor blades with ease. In the end, Maria meets her demise while fantasizing despairingly about her mother. In her final moments, she asks the hallucination of her mother if "she still loved her". Maria barely has the chance to finish her sentence as she turns to crystal dust.
- Hiroki Segawa (瀬川 弘樹 Segawa Hiroki?) age 24
- Voiced by: Kenichi Suzumura (Japanese); Christopher Bevins (English)
- Segawa Hiroki is Reiji Takayama's assistant and right hand man. He is always prepared and is a very capable assistant. He is the kind of person who loves power and his loyalty lies with who ever is stronger. He describes himself as a person who loves to follow those who have power, and demonstrates it by switching sides with whoever wields the most powerful position within Dohji Industries. He is last seen standing with the Dohji recovery team on a bridge wishing Takayama good luck.
- Tatsuoki Furumizu (古水 達興 Furumizu Tatsuoki?) age 75
- Voiced by: Shinji Ogawa (Japanese); R Bruce Elliott (English)
- A major antagonist in the Witchblade series. Tatsuoki Furimizu is the head of the NSWF. He is affectionately known as "Father" by his Neogene "daughters" and the orphans in his care. While a brilliant scholar and administrator in his youth, Furimizu has grown increasingly reclusive and secretive with age in his quest to acquire the Witchblade. Despite exuberating charm and paternal warmth when interacting with the public and his "children", he is rather deranged and cold-hearted in reality. He is completely single-minded in pursuit of his goals, and shows no concern for the physical and emotional well-being of those who serve him. Later in the series, he is revealed to be unable to have children. Believing his father to be perfect in every way, Furumizu comes to the conclusion that his mother's genes are to blame for his malady. He attempts to create the perfect mother from his own "superior" genes which results in the creation of several genetically enhanced women known as Neogenes. After selecting a candidate for the Witchblade among the Neogenes, Furumizu hopes to be reborn from the loins of the designated bearer as a superior being. After realizing that her "grandfather" views her as nothing more than a tool for his rebirth, a radically powerful Neogene named Maria mortally wounds Furumizu in a coup. As Furumizu chokes on his own blood, Nishida informs him that she purposefully neglected to incorporate his genes into the newest batch of Neogene zygotes. With his life's ambitions ruined beyond repair, Furumizu succumbs to a nervous breakdown. He wails hysterically over the loss of his "mother" and begins frantically ingesting the genetic material for the next generation of sisters. Disgusted by his unsightly behavior, Maria finishes him off with one last blow.
- Masaya Wado (和銅将也 Wado Masaya?) age 48
- Voiced by: Kazuhiro Nakata (Japanese); Kent Williams (English)
- Masaya Wado is the Director of the Bio Division at Douji Group Industries. He has known and competed with Takayama since college, where they were once members of a rowing team. At Douji, Wado constantly sought to outdo and eventually oust Takayama. When the Witchblade, worn by Masane, eventually returns to Douji, Wado's jealousy of Takayama grows and he secretly conducts his own experiments to create a weapon to rival the Witchblade, eventually conceiving the Ultimateblade. During this time, Wado secretly meets with Dr. Nishida of the NSWF in order to gain access to their own research on the Witchblade as well as Nishida's support with his agenda. Arrogant and ambitious, yet petty, cowardly and obsessive, Wado often pursues his goals while neglecting the consequences of his actions until it was too late. This is first demonstrated when he attempted to frame Takayama for the murderous rampages of the Ultimateblade. In doing so, he endangered Douji as a whole with a potential public scandal that was avoided only when Takayama voluntarily stepped down as Bureau Chief. In an incident that finally destroyed the Douji Group, Wado made several attempts to reclaim the Witchblade for his own, thus encouraging its growth in power. With this, Douji's iWeapons began to malfunction, yet Wado ignored the potential dangers. When hundreds of iWeapons malfunctioned and escaped a cargo ship to converge on Tokyo with the goal of destroying the Witchblade, Wado finally realizes the magnitude of his actions. He desperately turns to Takayama for help in stopping the iWeapons and saving Douji from ruin. Takayama declares that it would be impossible since there were too many lives at stake and that Wado had no one to blame but himself. The last time Wado is seen, he has apparently gone insane from the enormity of his loss with reporters approaching from behind him. What happened to him after that is unknown.
- Rie Nishida (西田 りえ Nishida Rie?) age 38
- Voiced by: Sakiko Tamagawa (Japanese); Gwendolyn Lau (English)
- Dr. Nishida is the amoral chief researcher of the NSWF who is extremely obsessed with researching the capabilities of the Witchblade and cared little for any laws and restrictions that would be placed on her experiments. She has monitored and helped to create several generations of Neogenes at NSWF's secret facilities. Nishida was in charge of creating the fourth generation of Neogene sisters who were going to have Maria's genes as the ultimate mother. She switched her allegiance to Maria because she saw Furumizu as a fool and that they can gain nothing more out of using his "flawed" genes. After Furumizu's death, Nishida is effectively in charge of the NSWF since Maria cared little for the day-to-day management of the corporation. With her new executive powers at NSWF, Nishida continues her secret alliance with Wado, who by this time is the new Bureau Chief of the Douji Group. After Masane stays with Takayama after his resignation from Douji, Nishida aids Wado in their attempts to claim the Witchblade for themselves. Nishida becomes increasingly fascinated with the Witchblade's full potential, seeing the chance to more fully understand a power close to God. During the iWeapon incident in Tokyo, Nishida becomes obsessed with the cataclysmic energy readings resulting from the conflict and drives closer to the violence in order to get a better examination. Heedless of the risk to her life, she fails to notice an incoming iWeapon that crushes her car and herself and the car explodes.
- Nora (ノーラ Nōra?) age 29
- Voiced by: Saori Yumiba (Japanese); Stephanie Young (English)
- Nora is a Neogene who serves as Tatsuoki Furumizu's assistant. She is one of Furimuzu's most loyal and reliable subordinates. Coolly arrogant and blunt in her interactions with others, she is very competitive with her sisters and is prone to jealousy. After watching Furimuzu reward Maria's tantrum with a trip to the toy store, Nora roughly manhandles her and confines her to a hotel room after the mentally unstable Neogene loses her temper in public. With the exception of Furumizu himself, she considers everyone and everything around her as a tool for her advancement. She is also a very powerful cloneblade. Unlike Masane and Shiori, she is able to effectively control her carnal impulses while transformed' much like Reina. Her nickname as a cloneblade is "Spider", she has the ability to shoot needles and entrap her opponents with strands from her hair and three rapier like blades on her left arm. She battled Masane and was able to capture her to have the Witchblade remove from Masane. She battles Reina, trying to get Rihoko. She ultimately is impaled and killed by Reina. It is worth noting that she sees Reina as her biggest rival as she was by far the most powerful Neogene and it is her personal rivalry that caused her death. Her cloneblade armor is orange and green.
- Aoi (あおい?) age 15
- Voiced by: Ryōko Ono (Japanese); Caitlin Glass (English)
- Aoi is the first sparring partner that Maria does not injure. They become good friends to the point of Aoi becoming her assistant and best friend later on in the anime, where she too is equipped with a Dual Cloneblade. As a Cloneblade she is melee fighter using sickle like blades. She has small blue eyes and blond hair she wears in braids. She wears an orange dress. It is worth noting that Aoi is fanatically loyal to Maria, to the point of attacking Masane in a blind rage, for injuring Maria, later in the series. This proves to be fatal, as she is impaled and killed by Masane. Her last words were for Maria to continue her quest to obtain the Witchblade. It is also worth noting that Aoi is the only person Maria seems to care about, being her only friend, to the point of crying over her death. Her cloneblade armor is blue and orange.
- Asagi (あさぎ?) age 18
- Voiced by: Akeno Watanabe (Japanese); Clarine Harp (English)
- Asagi is the sister chosen by Aoi when Maria asked her to choose a capable sister to help herself and Aoi fight and take the Witchblade from Masane. She also is equipped with the Dual Cloneblade. She acts calmly but without any interest in her role, a behavior reflected in her physical appearance as well, often questioning for what or who Maria is acting, and what she really wants, which often earns a scolding from Aoi. For this very reason, Maria kills her, impaling her. Asagi is the only Cloneblade in the entire anime that doesn't fight (she does fight some exCons, but this isn't shown). Her cloneblade armor is black and blue.
- Shiori Tsuzuki (都築 栞 Tsuzuki Shiori?) age 24
- Voiced by: Shizuka Itō (Japanese); Trina Nishimura (English)
- Shiori acts as the secretary and assistant of Reina. She is a lesbian and is sexually infatuated with her employer (though this is mostly cut off in the censored version aired in Japan), whom she affectionately addresses as "Sensei" (Or Doctor in the English dub). She's also a Cloneblade. She is the very first one to fight against Masane. Nicknamed "Diva", she acts arrogant and confident, but is soon revealed to have little to no control over her impulses as a Cloneblade. While in her Cloneblade form she sports a large scythe-like blade, and later gains one on both arms. She brutally beats Masane and chases her relentlessly only to be stopped by Reina herself. During her fight with Masane her Cloneblade is critically damaged which caused an increase stimulation in the brain limbic lobe parasitically in the cortical column, causing a stimulation in her instinct. As a result, her impulses and emotion become enslaved by the carnal drive of her cloneblade. She quickly becomes a psychotic maniac, slaughtering, seeking fight and even raping for pure pleasure. In the end, she succeeds in unlocking the full powers of the Cloneblade albeit for a short moment. After attacking and beating Masane, she attempts to rape Takayama. However, her body crumbles into crystal dust before she is able to rape her beloved sensei's lover. It is worth noting that Shiori, while being a minor character, is one of the most sadistic and depraved characters in the anime series. Her cloneblade armor is blue and cyan, but turns to blue and red after unlocking her full power.
- An ancient magical artifact of unimaginable power. Many wars have been fought by those who sought to control it. Few seem to realize or care that the Witchblade itself is a sentient being with its own mysterious desires. Six years before the story begins, the artifact wound up in the possession of the Douji Group who sought to use the item to benefit themselves. It was taken from them by Reina Soho, a member of the NSWF. She took the blade and rather than turn it over to the NSWF, ran into hiding. During an attempt by the NSWF and Douji Group to take it from her, the blade released a massive surge of power and triggered what was later known as the "Great Quake". For some reason it then chose a young woman named Masane Amaha to become its bearer. It was eventually deduced that the Witchblade would ultimately choose Masane's adopted daughter, Rihoko, as its bearer once she was mature enough. The Witchblade was only usable by Reina and Masane due to their proximity to Rihoko, whom the weapon chose as its true bearer even before her birth. Once she realized this, Masane vowed to save her daughter from the Witchblade's cursed fate.
- Before the Great Quake, the NSWF studied the Witchblade and used their research to create a biological copy of it, dubbed the Cloneblade. The Cloneblades possess many of the same powers as the Witchblade but are cheap imitations of the original. Known Cloneblade wielders include Reina Soho, Shiori Tsuzuki, and Nora. A human equipped with a Cloneblade wears a silver bracelet with a blue jewel on their left wrist. Later research led to the creation of much stronger Dual Cloneblades: two Cloneblades being wielded at once by the same person. Known Dual Cloneblade wielder include Maria, Aoi, and Asagi. A human equipped with a Dual Cloneblade wears ornate silver bracelets with purple jewels on both wrists.
- Ex-cons were mechanical monsters manufactured by the Douji Group that Masane fought during the first half of the series. During the cataclysm known as "the Great Quake", they were all released and have been wandering around ever since. They were camouflaged in human form, but when they sensed power emanating from the Witchblade or a Cloneblade, they reveal their real forms. Similar to the Witchblade and Cloneblades, the Ex-cons lust for combat. Almost no two are alike and each possess a different method of fighting. It is later revealed that the Ex-cons were created using corpses that were signed over to Douji.
- Neogenes are genetically predisposed humans created to wield Cloneblades and were given the name "Cloneblade Sisters". Once they completed training the Neogenes were equipped with a Cloneblade; all had personalized armor and wielded either an extendable weapon or a unique blade. It is later revealed that the Neogenes were created using the genetics of Tatsuoki Furumizu and either a superior female specimen or a previous generation Neogene. Neogenes that are born in the same generation call themselves 'sisters'. Several of the first generation sisters are mothers of the second; Reina, for example is Maria's mother. They were created for the sole purpose of giving Furumizu the "perfect mother" so he could be reborn as a perfected human.
- iWeapons are the second generation of weapons created by the Douji Group. They resemble tanks and have an array of missiles and a mounted cannon. Unlike their predecessors, the Ex-cons, they respond to human control and have built in safeguards to prevent them from going berserk when sensing the Witchblade; however, the safeguards failed after the Witchblade transformed. Like the Ex-cons the iWeapons were also made from corpses.
- Ultimate Blade
- In an attempt to upstage Takayama, Wado, leader of Douji Group, secretly develops what he called an Ultimate Blade, which can be wielded by a man. The Ultimate Blade is an experimental bio-weapon developed by the Douji Group Bio Division under the name "Project Witchblade". The only known Ultimate Blade wielder is Wado's assistant Yagi. Though it proves to be almost more powerful than the original, it causes accelerated breakdown and kills the wielder more quickly than the Witchblade. In addition to two, bladed gauntlets and full-body high-density armor, the Ultimate Blade is also equipped with a high-powered machine gun. The project is largely a personal project of Wado's, who hopes that sales for the Ultimate Blade exceed those of the iWeapons produced by Takayama's division. After failing to impress the Douji Group's board of directors with the Ultimate Blade project, Wado callously uses his own meek assistant, Yagi, as a test subject for the Ultimate Blade, in a desperate attempt to demonstrate the weapon's power. As a result Yagi goes mad and is driven to homicidal, murderous rages, barely held in check by Wado's team of scientists. After Takayama steps down as Bureau Chief, Wado grows fearful of Takayama's possible return to Douji and sends Ultimate Blade Yagi to kill Takayama at his home. Fortunately Masane is with Takayama at the time and protects Takayama. In combat the Ultimate Blade exceeds the Witchblade's power at first. However, Masane unlocks the Witchblade's full capabilities and quickly dispatches the Ultimate Blade. The failure of the Ultimate Blade project and the demonstration of the Witchblade's full power drive Wado over the edge, eventually leading to the ruin of the Douji Group.
Main article: List of Witchblade (anime) episodes
- Planning: Arthur Smith (GDH), Kenji Shimizu (Sky Perfect Well Think), Naotsugu Katō (CBC), Taitō Okiura (Gonzo)
- Executive producer: Koji Kajita
- Executive producer: Marc Silvestri
- Original story: Top Cow Productions
- Series composition: Yasuko Kobayashi
- Character design: Makoto Uno
- Conceptual design & setting research: Shinya Ogura
- Design works: Kazuyuki Matsubara
- Art director: Junichi Higashi
- Color design: Yūko Satō
- Editing: Kiyoshi Hirose
- Music: Kazunori Miyake, Masanori Takumi
- Sound direction: Jin Aketagawa
- Sound effects: Katsuhiro Nakano (Soundbox), Naoto Yamatani (Soundbox)
- Producers: Osamu Nagai (GDH), Shin Hieda (SKY Perfect Well Think), Tsuyoshi Okazaki (CBC)
- Director: Yoshimitsu Ohashi
- Animation production: Gonzo
- Production: Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting (CBC), SKY Perfect Well Think, GDH
Differences in the DVD and TV versions
Due to the original version of the Witchblade costume showing large amounts of skin, the series recolored most of the said areas into black for broadcast in Japan.[original research?] These blackened portions were returned to the original coloring for the DVD release of the series. The DVDs also contain more cleaned up animation compared to the TV broadcast, with some frames completely redrawn.[original research?]
The series was licensed for release in the United States. The English dub premiered on the US cable network IFC in January 2008. The show aired on Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 3:30 AM ET, and the series finale aired on June 13, 2008, on IFC.
DVD and Blu-ray
The series was released on DVD in the USA and Canada in six volumes by December 2008. A Blu-ray box set was released on November 3, 2009.
The series was made available on a purchase-to-download system on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. The first twelve episodes are also available for download via Amazon's Unbox service. The show was also available on Netflix Instant Stream until October 1, 2013. As of June, 2011, it was available free on Hulu.
- Opening themes
- "XTC", by Psychic Lover (episodes 1-13, 24)
- "Dear Bob", by Koologi (episodes 14-23)
- Ending themes
- "Ashita no Te" (あしたの手), by Mamiko Noto (episodes 1-12)
- "Kutsuhimo" (靴ひも), by Asami Yamamoto (episodes 13-23)
- "Kodō -get closer-" (鼓動 -get closer-), by Psychic Lover (episode 24)
- "get the fuck off" (鼓動 -yakuza-), by Psychic Lover (epilogue)
- Closed captioning for episode #1
- "Watch Witchblade Online - Free at Hulu". Hulu.com. Retrieved 2014-07-09.
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- Gifford, Kevin (October 2007). "Witchblade Vol. 1". Newtype USA. Vol. 6 no. 10. p. 92. ISSN 1541-4817.
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- Rathkolb, Gerald (October 11, 2008). "Anime World Order Show # 73 – Never Suck a Dead Bird's Bootyhole" (Podcast). Anime World Order. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
- Meek, Bradley (2008). "Witchblade". T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
- Zimmerman, Chris (July 1, 2010). "Witchblade the Complete Series". Comic Book Bin. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
- Zimmerman, Chris (December 29, 2011). "Witchblade - the Complete Series (Anime Classics)". Comic Book Bin. Retrieved December 17, 2013.