Bladedance of Elementalers
by Paul Jensen,
Last week, I suggested that Bladedance of Elementalers had yet to successfully grasp any of the lifelines it's thrown to itself over the course of the season. This week, I'm happy to report that the series has finally managed to get a grip. A noticeable improvement in writing and a minimal reliance on recycled comedy help this episode rise above most of its predecessors.
The decision to give Ellis more screen time continues to pay dividends on the dramatic end of things. While all of the girls were affected in some way by watching Kazehaya's past exploits as Ren Ashbell, Ellis' perspective goes beyond simply admiring his fighting style. Seeing her sister lose in a previous tournament and subsequently become obsessed with power has clearly added some personal conflict to Ellis' desire to emulate Ren. That extra layer of complexity makes Ellis a more interesting character, and it also offers the audience a new window into Kazehaya's past regrets.
Claire thankfully manages to bounce back from last week's poorly written meltdown. She displays some personal growth by refusing the temptations of the cursed seal vendor, and then continues that streak of initiative by rushing in to help Kazehaya and Ellis. On top of all that, she finally shows some leadership potential during her conversation with Ellis near the end of the episode. The turnaround from the previous episode is so significant that it's almost jarring, but it's still a welcome about-face for one of the show's most important characters.
Bladedance of Elementalers elects to bring the comedy down several notches for this episode, possibly in order to make room for more plot development. It's a noticeable shift, but not an entirely unwelcome one. Too many of the show's jokes were pulled straight from the Harem Comedy 101 textbook with little or no attempt at being original. Not only had they been done before, they often ended up derailing the flow of events. Cutting things down to the occasional exchange of one-liners looks to be the right decision.
With some of its more pressing issues dealt with, the series now has a chance to focus on the details. Many of the spells and strategies used by the characters remain somewhat uninspired, which keeps the action scenes from being fully engaging. A general sense of “been there, done that” continues to hang over the show as a whole, and it desperately needs a way to distinguish itself from the rest of the genre.
While there are plenty of problems left to address, this episode remains a significant improvement for Bladedance of Elementalers. It's taken the first step by improving the believability of its writing, and now faces the challenge of maintaining this higher level of quality from week to week.
Bladedance of Elementalers is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Paul Jensen also covers anime and manga at SharkPuppet.com.
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