Knight's & Magic Episode 8
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Knight's & Magic ?
Knight's & Magic jumps right in without an opening sequence this week, usually a sign of a "big" episode in one way or the other. This one does technically fit that bill due to a few key advances that happen by the end, but it still ends up being less than what this aggrandizing introduction promises.
The story does start off strongly enough, with a horde of insectoid demon beasts attacking and the Order of the Silver Phoenix needing to team up with the elite guards to stop them. It's been a while since we saw true combat from these robots, and while the ease with which they take the bugs out doesn't make it much of a life-or-death struggle, it's refreshing to see all the same. It's also nice to see everyone working as one cohesive unit, instead of everything coming down to Ernie like in the past. It plays out much like a video game, with the smaller enemy beasts wiped out in waves like in a Musou game, before Ernesti, Kid, and Addy take care of the larger ‘boss’ of the whole swarm.
That action-packed intro does turn out just to be the means to the true end of this episode, which earns Ernesti the right to finally learn the secret of the Ether Reactors he'll need to build his own mecha. If you're hoping the dramatic presentation of this episode along will lead to some grand, game-changing secret about them, like they're made of people or something, you're going to be disappointed. Granted, there is a smaller-scale revelation on the way; the land these reactors come from is actually populated by a previously unseen race of
elves Alvs, but that's pretty much it in the shocking reveals department, not exactly groundbreaking stuff by the standards of fantasy series. Admittedly, it's kind of cool that there's this whole other layer to the world we're only just finding out about; it really opens up the scope of the whole show. But given that the end result is still just explaining where the reactors come from, it feels less like seeds being laid for future plot interest and more like just another detail ‘because it's cool’.
This all leads into an extended sequence of Ernie learning about the creation of the reactors in excruciating detail, the point where the episode really gets bogged down in its own world-building. As with the elves themselves, you have to wonder if all this over-explaining of how the big magic macguffins work is actually going anywhere. This is K&M once-again shifting into full-on history book mode, and while it's worked in the past, it's not that compelling this time around. In the end, we never really find out how Ernesti manages to manipulate the Mithril in the way that only Alvs can, we simple see a quick shot suggesting that he scienced up a solution somehow. It's almost a laughable shaggy dog story after all the work the series puts into establishing how the construction works, though I guess it is impressive that they're actually downplaying Ernesti's talents for once.
So at the end of the episode, after all that build-up and explanation, Ernesti just builds his big, special, personal mecha. It's the anticlimax in this thing's creation that really damns what this episode is trying to do. As the 100% original robot of the main character, the elaborate one flying around in the intro sequence, the unveiling of the Ikaruka (yeah Ernesti, I like classic Dreamcast shooters too) should be a huge, important moment for the show. But nothing about the lead-up to its reveal sells that. We see them building the robot for a bit, then the robot is completely built. There's no grand unveiling or important reason for it to come out. Usually, in a series like this, the arrival of the big important unit is heralded by a situation that requires it, like having to be deployed at the last minute to go rescue the hero's friends. There's not even any adversity or time-crunch faced in the creation of this thing. Maybe I'm just being a slave to clichés on this point, but given K&M's clear love for classic mecha anime, I don't think I'm unreasonable in thinking it could have borrowed some of the dramatic flair from the shows it's homaging.
And with that massive moment squandered, the remaining result is an episode with just not much to it. The big bug fight at the beginning is cool enough, and the world-building is executed competently, albeit with odd priorities. But the rest is just overt learning and building montages, which isn't enough to carry a whole episode, much less one hyping itself up this much. There's nothing inherently wrong with what they're doing, it's just the same issue that's always been central to Knight's & Magic. This episode works just fine, but it could have been so much more.
Knight's & Magic is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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