Bladedance of Elementalers
by Paul Jensen,
Bladedance of Elementalers is so very close to improving. It keeps throwing itself lifelines, and almost manages to get a firm grasp on them. This episode displays some decent potential with a look inside the Sylphid organization of student knights, but lazy writing continues to hold it back. As always, it's a frustrating process of taking one step forward and three quarters of a step back.
Ellis gets more screen time than usual this week, and her presence makes up most of the episode's good points. Her brief appearance in a maid outfit initially looks like it should be silly and pandering, but we ultimately get some decent comedy out of the scene. Ellis holding a sword to Kazehaya's neck and demanding orders is an entertaining image, and a reminder that this series can be legitimately funny on occasion.
As far as serious character development goes, Ellis steals the show again. This episode is mercifully free of anything as moronic as last week's conversation on study habits, and Ellis' concerns as the leader of the knights make her a much more interesting character. Seeing her goals and challenges helps us view her as more than a two-dimensional voice of authority. Her older sister appears to be a towering monolith of unpleasantness with no redeeming qualities, but a further explanation of their rivalry should eventually offer some clarity.
Claire's role in this episode, on the other hand, is disappointing. Her jealousy over Kazehaya's cooperation with Ellis is handled with all the nuance and subtlety of a hand grenade. Yes, Claire is supposed to have a quick temper and a sharp tongue, but her meltdown feels out of proportion for the situation. Rather than taking the time to justify her reaction, the series seems content to explain it away with, “Girls be crazy, man.” The whole thing feels inauthentic, and makes Claire come across as a bratty little kid.
Things seem to be moving towards a confrontation of some kind, but exactly what kind isn't certain. With Ellis' sister appearing on the scene before the illicit spirit dealer can be dealt with, the two plotlines are pulling the show in two different directions. I can't help but worry that Bladedance of Elementalers won't be able to successfully juggle them, but we should at least get a decent magical showdown out of the deal.
This is certainly an improvement over the previous episode, but sub-par writing continues to drag the rest of the show down. New enemies always offer a chance to move things forward, but it's become increasingly hard to have faith after so many previous issues with execution. It would be nice if Bladedance of Elementalers could dispel that doubt, but I don't see it happening any time soon.
Bladedance of Elementalers is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Paul Jensen also covers anime and manga at SharkPuppet.com.
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