The Summer 2014 Anime Preview Guide Bladedance of Elementalers
Rating: 1.5 (of 5)
Review: You don't have to wait very long to get a sense of what this new light novel adaptation from studio TNK and the director of the High School DxD is all about: the prologue features a very unimpressively-animated battle between girls dueling in an arena and within a minute after the opener the line, “you can't be 16 with boobs that small” gets spoken by the male lead to the female lead, which naturally results in a mystical backlash with spiritual powers. Nothing that happens later in the episode belies the initial impression that these first four minutes makes, so if you already do not like the series at the four minute mark then you're wasting your timing continuing on.
And that's the real problem with Bladedance: its first episode is not so much bad as just very, very tired and painfully predictable. Its basic premise involves a young man who is the only male capable of contracting with spirits, a power which otherwise exclusively belongs to women. (The only other historical example was an infamous demon lord, which, of course, worries the protagonist.) He gets invited to join the main academy for training elementelars, encounters a fire-contracting tsundere who wants to make him her slave, and winds up saving her from a failed attempted to contract with a powerful spirit by doing so himself. Upon arriving at the academy the head of the discipline committee takes an instant dislike to him but a blond girl quickly becomes the petite tsundere's rival. And oh, yeah, there's a busty maid, too, and something about a past grudge that the hero has to settle with some other girl.
So basically what we have here is a mix of Infinite Stratos with Dragonar Academy, with a touch of Demon King Daimao mixed in for good measure (and no, I am not talking about the clever humor aspect of the latter). Hardly a recipe for originality, and indeed, not a shred of anything that happens in the first episode has any air of freshness to it, with the possible exception that the male lead gets shojo-style aggressive in teasing the female lead at one point. Nothing impresses in the character designs, technical and artistic merits, or fan service, either. Future episodes will have to be much better to save this one from utter mediocrity, even by harem series standards.
Bladedance of Elementalers is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
About five minutes into this episode, I thought to myself, If this isn't based on a light novel, I will eat dog food for lunch. Luckily for me (and the dog), I was right: Bladedance of the the Elementalers is based on a series of novels by Yu Shimizu, which isn't bad in and of itself, but it is obvious – something about the pacing and the plotline feels very typical of light novel-based shows. Its premise is a fairly simple one: Kamita is a rare male who can form contracts with spirits, an honor usually reserved for pure maidens. He is enrolled as the only boy in a special school and faces the wrath and interest of his fellow students. He appears to have lost a spirit with whom he was close, and that may be tied in with his motivation to attend the school in the first place, because otherwise he doesn't seem too happy to be there.
While most of this episode just feels very generic, it does have a couple of good touches. Kamita is one of them. He's not your typical milquetoast, blank-slate harem lead; he's got a temper and can be both nasty and sarcastic when it suits him. He stands up for himself when one of the girls is calling him a pervert for circumstances beyond his control, but he isn't above acting like a bit of a perv when he wants to. He's also fighting the fact that Claire Rouge, whose name and hair color match (“light red”), wants to make him her slave. That bumps this show from a 1.5 to a 2 in my estimation. Additionally I rather liked the way that the other students had an actual reaction to what was going on in the classroom; many school-set shows tend to act as if the characters were inside a forcefield and no one else can see their antics. That is not the case here.
Sadly there is more that doesn't work or is just a little weird. Characters look painfully generic right down to the typical color-coding of their hair – blue, red, yellow, silver, and black. Ellis (blue)'s unreasonably mean to Kamita because of his gender and is constantly threatening to turn him into some sort of edible. She's also kind of confused as to how to put her armor on: one pad/plate is covering her right shoulder while the other is over her left breast. (Is it a shoulder guard? A metal bra worn outside her clothes? Even she can't seem to decide.) On that same note, all of the girls come off as very annoying right off the bat, especially Claire, who is looking like the series' female lead. She's like a poor man's Shana, right down to her coloring and short fuse. The fanservice also seems a little odd, focusing not on breasts, groins, or butts, but on thighs. Presumably this will work for some, but it is a bit of an odd choice. Add to all of this a choppy pace and this is not a particularly strong first episode. It has some lovely forest backgrounds and a neat little fire cat, but otherwise it is simply a mediocre fantasy story that, while it may get better, starts with a fizzle instead of its desired bang.
Bladedance of Elementalers is available streaming on Crunchyroll.
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