Knight's & Magic
Episode 11

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 11 of
Knight's & Magic ?

Like the last one, this episode of Knight's & Magic is evenly split between active battlefield segments and lighter, historically-framed vignettes. However, it's a lot more balanced this week than it was last week, with more even pacing and generally more engaging material. It plays strongly to the show's documentary style, coming across as a solid recreation of the “bookish retelling with dramatic renditions of major events” format. It's a pragmatic method for the content of this series, and while it isn't without its issues, it mostly works this time.

The combat scenes get a boost from changing up their perspectives this time around. The introduction of Lord Gojass gives the Zaloudek forces a technological edge that hadn't been seen before, with their flight capabilities massively outmatching all but Ernesti's special flying mech. As a result, we see how the Kingdom's forces (led by Ernie) have to strategize beyond simply out-muscling the enemy. In this context, with the ambush and use of surface-to-air javelins by the heroes, the series shows off a surprising penchant for the strategic back-and-forth of war that it hasn't really revealed until now.

The game ending fight between Ernesti and Prince Cristobal also shows some solid growth in the series' storytelling. In this case, Ernie curb-stomping the Prince works for the audience, simply because we've been shown how hateable he is; we want him to lose hard. It's an old and simple tactic, but the series deploys it well in service of the type of action it wants to show. There are also little elements, such as momentarily drawing a contrast between the bloodthirsty demon the enemy soldiers see Ernesti as on the battlefield and the kid still mostly having fun in the mech. There's also the simple humor in Ernie going on about the ‘pretty good compensation package’ he already has when the Prince tries to sway him to the side of Zaloudek.

On the flip-side of Ernie's strengths in this episode is Lord Gojass. His bits in the opening scenes don't sell him quite as well as last week, since he mostly seems to be standing around and gawking about how amazing Ernie is. He gets more compelling after the initial retreat, when we see him go to work back in his home capital. Like Ernesti, it seems he can back up his egotistical efforts with results, and the dry humor in his self-serving declaration that the Prince's sacrifice won't be in vain is an effective character beat. His voice actor is also doing an excellent job; when he's not just being impressed by Ernie, Gojass is stealing the show.

The rest of the episode skips breezily through the non-combat portions of the story strongly enough. The show takes just the right amount of time for events like Eleonora's coronation (her Queen look is quite cool) or a surprisingly interesting discussion of differences in Ether-engine development philosophies between Zaloudek and our heroic alliance. It's another piece that the technically-minded mecha enthusiasts will appreciate, showing just how much thought the writer actually put into how this stuff works. That's balanced out by a more character-based scene of Ernie re-negotiating with the Kuschperchans over the acquisition and use of enemy mecha. That sounds ripe for another dry historical outline, but the use of tics like Eleonora and Kid's adorably dorky romance or Ernesti's overt weapon-capturing enthusiasm make it more entertaining to watch than expected. Between that and the previous scene of him being wowed by the enemy engines, the show makes Ernesti's overly pragmatic approach seem frightfully (but still amusingly) apparent to both the characters and the audience.

The only questionable part of the pacing in this episode comes at the end. The last few minutes actively skip over several battles in the campaign to retake Kuschpercha, only showing brief aftermaths with quick descriptions. Knight's & Magic has always moved at a pragmatic clip (I'm honestly surprised it's already almost over), and given its episode count compared to the amount of ground they have to cover, it makes sense to prioritize brevity on some level. I'm not familiar with how events play out in the source novels of the series, so I have to wonder if some of these things were depicted in full and are only being skipped here for time. It's still paced effectively, but given how generally entertaining K&M's fights have been, those hoping for more spectacle might feel like they're missing out. At least the characters involved graciously assure us that the off-screen fights were ‘boring’.

The very end of this episode does deliver its own kind of spectacle though. Proving that he's just as much a slave to aesthetic as Ernesti, Gojass rolls out his ultimate anti-Knight weapon, appropriately shaped like a gigantic dragon. It's a simple and obvious idea, but it does look incredibly cool (and only further makes me question why there isn't a full toy line for this show). It makes such an effective impression that it finally provokes a tacit recognition from Ernesti about the effects his developmental efforts have had on the enemy. This makes for an excellent cliffhanger to cap off the episode and sets the stage for what should be an impressive fight against this ‘final boss’.

Rating: B+

Knight's & Magic is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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