Knight's & Magic Episode 4
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Knight's & Magic ?
You know, maybe I was a little too hard on Knight's & Magic starting out. To be sure, the isekai wish-fulfillment element is strong and causes most of the issues in its storytelling. However, at least that's backed up with good production values and a strong commitment to world-building. This series, like the upgrading process shown on its mechs, is taking its time building to completion, and if that's going to be the format, I should at least give it the benefit of the doubt to tell its own story.
Thankfully, Knight's & Magic was willing to meet me halfway this week. By spreading its focus more to show stories with true arcs to them, not to mention finally giving agency and focus to characters besides Ernie, the show has settled into a watchable groove that works for what it's trying to do.
Like the previous one, much of this episode is taken up with the procedural R&D elements of Ernie's crew upgrading the Silhouette Knights. These scenes of researching and testing have an appreciable ground-level technicality to them, obviously rooted in the author's love of mecha and model-building. There's definitely a Wings of Honneamise feel to these segments, and if you enjoyed that film's long-winded odes to the developmental mechanics of fantasy space-flight, then these similarly simpler scenes with the mecha may do it for you too.
This also leads to the episode surprisingly addressing one of my criticisms from the premiere, as Addy and Kid actually point out that their kingdom currently has no enemies to use Ernie's new weapons to defend themselves from. Ernie's response, that the use of them in combat was not his primary motivation and he's only pushing forward with all this as a hobby to better himself, is a recurring refrain that's already been reinforced by the show. Even if it's another element that makes the main character come off too overtly perfect, it at least makes his obnoxious excellence likable.
Addy and Kid actually voicing their concerns underscores another strengthened element of this episode, as the siblings feel like characters of their own for once, instead of just accessories to Ernie's success. Their (ill-informed) promise to provide information to their father about Ernie's achievements provides the backbone of their agenda here, leading them to make decisions that affect Ernie and the kingdom at large. Their half-sister Stefania gets involved as well, helping her inclusion feel meaningful. It's all tied up in the machinations and behind-the-scenes political maneuverings of a whole kingdom's worth of advisors and dukes and marquises that the show probably doesn't expect us to keep track of beyond whether they're skeptical or impressed with Ernie at any given moment.
Unlike the previous episodes where the tone was always one of guaranteed success by our hero even in a big monster battle, this one actually manages to wring a modicum of tension out of the conflict halfway through, when the crew is abruptly asked to transport the new Telestale units to the Marquis Dixgard and attacked by a third party of monster-manipulators on their journey. Once the battle actually happens, it becomes clear that the new machines will prevail by showing off the awesomeness of Ernesti's engineering, but the multitude of questions in the lead-up, along with the still-nebulous motivations of our apparent antagonists, lends it all an air of complication and conspiracy that we desperately needed to feel at this stage.
Once the mechs are delivered and Ernie's meeting with Dixgard leads to him being separated from the rest of the crew for a few days, the episode's continues to flex its muscles in engagement. Seeing how Kid, Addy, and the others function without their mecha-messiah around gives them a lot more interesting things to do. Their surreptitious reasons for moving out, opposite the antagonizing party that makes their move at the end of the episode, leads to a multitude of independent parts functioning well enough that they promise to come together well in the long run. For his part, Ernie's meeting with the Marquis is a decently eye-opening glimpse into the mindset of the government officials confronted with technical progress they've never imagined at this stage in their country's development, as well as Ernie's almost superhumanly humble attitude toward his own accomplishments. Dixgard's inept frustration in the face of Ernie's selflessness is definitely the funniest scene of the episode. If the series must continue with the concept of Ernie as a wish come true for its otaku audience, it's nice that they're at least aware of how absurd the idea seems on its face. A little self-awareness goes a long way.
With so much happening in succession over several skipped periods of time, this episode does still has the issue of feeling more like reading a history book than seeing a single story play out. The pacing is still quite uneven, and while the To Be Continued ending does leave off on a suitable amount of tension, it still feels incomplete getting there, like this abrupt cutoff could have been reached earlier. The sheer amount of background bad guys and circular political machinations also threaten to overtake what should be a simple-to-enjoy show about a boy and his robot-developing journey, but for now those are just little issues to keep an eye on. At least this week, Knight's & Magic found a good place for itself.
Knight's & Magic is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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