Bladedance of Elementalers
by Paul Jensen,
If someone had told me a month ago that Bladedance of Elementalers would end the season on a high note, I'd have laughed until I pulled a muscle. I also would've been wrong. In spite of its history of doing just the opposite, the series manages to provide a satisfying resolution to the rivalry between Ellis and Velsaria. It may leave plenty of loose ends unaddressed, but this is still one of the show's strongest efforts to date. Color me impressed.
This final episode elects to skip straight to the last round of the school tournament, where the protagonists square off against Velsaria and her lackeys. In the absence of any other teams worth fighting, it's a good decision that allows plenty of time for the final showdown to play out. It also helps that Kazehaya is sidelined with his injuries for much of the fight, as it forces the girls to show off their strengths and work as a team. The result is easily the most interesting battle the series has ever produced, and the first time that clever combinations of the characters' abilities have fully come into play.
Of course, the hero can't spend the entirety of the final episode on the bench. Kazehaya does eventually rush in to save the day, but his injuries serve as a useful limitation on his abilities. An action scene is always more intense when the good guys have to do more than just pummel the enemy into oblivion with their strongest attacks. Things ultimately balance out to a satisfying group effort from Team Scarlet, which is a stronger conclusion than what we've come to expect from Bladedance of Elementalers.
What's less satisfying is the way the cursed seal distributor is dealt with. A minor character pulls a special ability out of thin air and dispatches her with a minimum of effort. The whole scene feels hasty and forced, and it begs the question of why we needed to know who gave Velsaria a cursed seal in the first place. This plot arc would've worked just as well without a snickering villain watching from the shadows, especially since Kazehaya's old contracted spirit has had that role covered since the show began.
Anyone who was hoping for a resolution that reached beyond the current story arc will also be disappointed. Kazehaya's past as Ren Ashbell remains mostly unaddressed, and the main characters only get as far as qualifying for the Blade Dance. Given the lack of a teaser for any further episodes, you may just have to ask the internet how the story ends. Of course, given the alternative of a rushed and unconvincing resolution, I'm content to let this one slide.
Bladedance of Elementalers certainly managed to get its act together in the end, but a couple of decent episodes aren't really enough to make up for the rest of the series. As a whole, it's not something I'd recommend to anyone other than a die-hard fan of the fantasy action genre. There are plenty of smarter, funnier, and more thrilling shows out there. Unless you have all the time in the world, go watch those instead.
Bladedance of Elementalers is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Paul Jensen also covers anime and manga at SharkPuppet.com.
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