Bladedance of Elementalers
Episode 9

by Paul Jensen,

Claire and Fianna make chocolate. Kazehaya and Ellis take a remedial class. Everybody goes out for lunch. For the most part, this episode of Bladedance of Elementalers feels like it would be more at home in a slice of life series. There's nothing inherently wrong with slowing down and focusing on character development, but it's generally considered bad form to bore the audience to death.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that the show felt the need to cook up a fantasy version of Valentine's Day. After all, no self-respecting harem series is complete without half the female cast feuding over who can give the hero the best homemade chocolate. There must've been a time when this scenario was novel and creative, but it's been many years since then. This is perhaps the first time a character has dispensed with the baking process entirely and simply covered herself in chocolate, so at least the show is making some effort at being original.

Onward we go, through a routine training battle that recycles old opponents and old frames of animation in equal measure. It seems that last week's decisive victory over an actual villain wasn't enough to show that Kazehaya and his teammates have learned to work together. The next scene offers an equally unnecessary reminder that Claire has to put up with undeserved trash talk because her sister's a traitor. I can't help but feel a bit insulted that Bladedance of Elementalers thinks its audience has such a short memory.

Most of this episode is inoffensively dull, but Kazehaya's conversation with Ellis in the classroom is downright idiotic. His incredibly helpful academic advice is essentially, “You don't have to memorize the textbook word for word.” Either Ellis is the worst student in human history, or the writers were too lazy to piece together a conversation that would actually make Kazehaya seem like a smart guy. Kids, if the best someone can do is state the bleeding obvious, it's not worth asking them to tutor you.

The long-awaited lunch outing does this episode's meager share of heavy lifting when it comes to moving the plot along. It introduces a new character with a connection to whoever's been selling cursed seals to students (the magical kind, not the adorable sea mammals). Turns out our heroes will have to deal with her before moving on to a storyline of any real consequence.

As the end of the season draws ever closer, I can't help but wonder if these distractions will keep Bladedance of Elementalers from providing a satisfying conclusion to its major plot threads. The series still has to deal with Kazehaya's old contracted spirit and Claire's sister, and it's running out of episodes. If meaningful character development isn't on the table, can we at least get a good old-fashioned magic fight?

Rating: C-

Bladedance of Elementalers is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Paul Jensen also covers anime and manga at SharkPuppet.com.


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