Knight's & Magic
Episode 10

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Knight's & Magic ?

This story arc about the war with Zaloudek does some good things for Knight's & Magic's pacing in the episode's first half. It feels like there's a lot more happening with better pacing than previous events; there's less of the show's trademark ‘history book’ style in this introductory rescue mission. Now admittedly, that doesn't last for the entirety of the episode, but it makes for a strong first impression that helps carry the rest more than you would expect.

Some of the shallower elements of the show still persist, of course. I noticed this week that the Zaloudek knights all have spooky evil face-masks on their armor, a real 'Do you think we're the baddies?” element for a faction already drowning in the villainous end of the black-and-white morality pool. The series is able to lean into some of its newfound strengths as our heroes barge in to rescue the captive royals from towers though. The montage that shows everyone's different ways of interacting with hostages is a well-paced sequence. Most importantly, Kid is the one who gets to find the all-important Princess, and the resulting scene between them does the series a lot of overdue favors.

It's now visibly impressive just how decentralized Ernesti has become in the narrative. The biggest issue in the show's early episodes was how everything revolved around him for good or ill, but not only does K&M let Kid get the big moment instead, but the scene that plays out between the Princess and the Knight is one that wouldn't have worked with Ernie in the first place. It's just a potentially annoying argument with someone about valuing their life that goes on slightly too long, but seeing it as a benchmark for how far the storytelling and character work in the series has progressed makes it work. After starting with too much focus on the self-insert gimmick of its main character, the show has now learned to utilize its ensemble well.

When the series does return focus to Ernie, it's implemented smartly. This episode introduces yet another new character, an apparent engineering prodigy named Lord Gojas who developed those flying ships, and the reaction he shares with Ernie to seeing each other's flight tech works to build up future interactions between them. He's important as a dramatic foil, so it seems like Gojas could have been introduced a bit earlier to build him up more effectively, but even just dropped in as he is now, he's immediately compelling as the first person we've seen on Ernie's level. He has a lot of similar tics to our hero, particularly an approach to his R&D that prioritizes pragmatism over offensive ambition. This is a character that I'm looking forward to seeing the series develop for the rest of its run, particularly with the episode preview seemingly declaring Gojas to be Ernesti's rival.

That's a lot of strong content in the first half of this episode, but unfortunately, it can't keep that up for the remainder of its runtime. The rest of the episode is filled with mostly self-contained vignettes of varying style and quality. It immediately falls back into history-book-narration mode, with rote descriptions of mecha development unfolding in a few montages. There are some good bits here, mainly showing how far they're still going with the Silver Phoenix Merchant Association cover story, but it mostly just races along necessary yet unexciting story developments. If you're savvy to the idea that nothing drives innovation like a war, you might be interested in some of the mecha-development we see done here, but it's not really any ground K&M hasn't covered before.

Next up is a continuation of the story of Kid and Princess Eleonara, as he's tapped to try and cheer up the displaced royal and spur her into commanding action. This whole sitcom bit comes a little out of nowhere for a series like this, but it's honestly a welcome upgrade, given how oddly impersonal Knight's & Magic has been for much of its run. There's more development and decent emotional content packed into these few minutes than in most of the previous History-Channel vignettes the show has delivered before. It's welcome, even if it's incongruous.

That new emotional core tries to carry forward for the last segment of the episode, with Lady Kerhilt and her guerrilla team making another go at stealing some mecha in a mission for Zaloudek. The series tries to seed this with foreshadowing of what Kerhilt has been fighting for this whole time and follow-up on her previous confrontation with Edgar. But squishing this seemingly major final act of a character arc into just the last few minutes of an otherwise unrelated episode does it no favors. It just comes off as anticlimactic, rendering Kerhilt's final moments much flatter than I think the story intended. Rather than a major turning point for any of the characters involved, it just comes off as house-cleaning. It doesn't help that we never knew enough about Kerhilt to care about her fate.

So the first half of this episode is excellent, not just Knight's & Magic at its best, but clearly evidence of it striving to better itself, which is commendable. Unfortunately, that gets lost in the meandering second half, which mostly feels like some necessity of how it's adapting the source material. This arc is still solid overall, it just needs to get a better handle on its pacing moving forward.

Rating: B

Knight's & Magic is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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