Bladedance of Elementalers
by Paul Jensen,
If you're looking for a good example of how not to resolve a story arc, look no further than this episode of Bladedance of Elementalers. After several weeks' worth of buildup, Jio proves to be a thoroughly disappointing villain. Couple his underwhelming defeat with inconsistent pacing and more failed attempts at humor, and you've got one giant leap in the wrong direction.
The problems facing Bladedance of Elementalers go far beyond its lack of originality. Plenty of shows, both old and new, have taken the tired old premise of teenagers with magical powers and turned it into something entertaining. This series didn't need to break any new ground to be worth watching, but it seems to lose its way even when it follows the beaten path. Like a harem comedy heroine who can't cook, it somehow takes a workable recipe and makes it into something completely unappetizing.
Take the team's big faceoff with Jio at the end of this episode. After building him up as a strong, serious opponent, the series suddenly yanks the rug out from under him. Turns out he's nowhere near as powerful as he claimed to be, and Fianna can neutralize his entire spirit arsenal by changing costumes and waving a fan around. Even before the dance intervention, Kazehaya is suddenly able to hold his own in a one-on-one fight with Jio, despite getting his butt kicked in previous encounters. The result is a resolution that feels artificial, more a product of the show's need to get Jio off the stage than of the heroes' newfound strength.
It certainly doesn't help that this episode is all over the place in terms of pacing. We start off in the middle of last week's fight, only for it to wrap up within a couple of minutes. Cue a handful of leisurely conversations, a stroll through some underground hallways, and a contrived bath scene. All of a sudden, it's time to start fighting again. Rather than letting one scene flow smoothly into the next, the series frantically rushes through a checklist of plot points. After all, heaven forbid we go a full episode without at least one naked girl.
All of the ingredients for a decent story are still in place. The series has a hero with a shady past, a wisecracking sword spirit, and a support team of magical misfits. Some decent writing and a genuinely dangerous villain could sweep in at any moment and make the whole thing worth watching. The way things are going, however, that seems increasingly unlikely.
One can only assume that Jio's hasty exit will make room for a new enemy, most likely Claire's estranged sister. If this episode is any indication, the battle will involve plenty of shouting about teamwork and Kazehaya will wake up in his bed the next day with no permanent injuries. The only question remaining is which girl will be hiding under the covers with him.
Bladedance of Elementalers is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Paul Jensen also covers anime and manga at SharkPuppet.com.
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