Knight's & Magic
Episode 12

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 12 of
Knight's & Magic ?

The appearance of the dragon-shaped Vyver does indeed herald the beginning of the end for Knight's & Magic's run, though this episode functions more as a preamble to the real confrontation next episode. That's not meant to short-change what this lead-up accomplishes, though. This penultimate outing for the series does a great job of showing how far the series has come, proceeding on the same level as the ever-escalating technology that drives its story.

The entire first half of this episode concerns the Silver Phoenix's efforts against Lord Gojass's new giant superweapon, resulting in a very different kind of Knight's & Magic than we've gotten before. Ernesti is totally unprepared for the Vyver's various tricks and overpowering techniques, leading to perhaps the first time we've ever seen him show panic in the face of an obstacle. It's downright jarring to see this main character, for whom success came so easily until now, be genuinely unnerved by not knowing how he will deal with a new obstacle in his way. It's hard to say if this is intentional, but if the past eleven episodes of Ernesti mostly cruising through his successes with little effort was entirely in service of selling the Vyver as a major threat, then it must be commended for being shockingly effective.

That overarching concern casts a strong shadow over this fight, but the rest of the action delivers in ways we expect from Knight's & Magic at this point. Seeing Dietrich fight the Swordman is always a treat, and getting the most compelling character arc in the series makes his drive to win this battle more impactful. Between that and Ernesti's on-the-fly attempts to counter his new giant nemesis, there's a strong theme running through this episode about how the characters have grown to meet adversity, and how they'll have to continue evolving as this leg of the war continues. That's reinforced by the later revelation that Gojass included weapons in the Vyver specifically to counter Ernie, leading to an effective back-and-forth rapport between the weaponized counters being used by our opposing engineers.

The battle ending in a draw keeps that concept of needing to grow strong and supports how much K&M itself has grown. At the beginning, this show was barely a wish-fulfillment fantasy for Ernesti, with the other characters as mere accessories, but it's now grown to use its ensemble effectively, letting them lose and change and have arcs, Ernesti included! Later in this episode, we get a scene of Eleonora giving a stirring speech to her kingdom before an all-or-nothing gambit of a battle, just a few episodes after she was overly concerned about whether she even had the right to exist as a ruler. This is admittedly some stock historical-fiction-type growth, but it's an element I never would have predicted from the first few episodes of the show.

At the same time, I should stress that the ‘development’ of this series has only brought it up to what others would consider baseline fictional standards. Lord Gojass continues to be used in odd ways, pointedly left behind for the initial battle. That makes sense in a real-world military context, also implying that he'll stick around to menace Ernesti in the future. However, with the ‘final’ battle looming by the end of the episode, he opts to come along on the campaign, setting up a personal confrontation between the two prodigies while also signaling his own death flag pretty firmly. There's similarly blatant foreshadowing about the new giant reactor for the Vyver going out of control. K&M has never dabbled in suspense too strongly, but a little restraint for what should be surprising story reveals would bump it up the audience's investment a few levels. Despite its growth in storytelling skill, the series is still largely a slave to aesthetics and escapism.

Operating at an average level of storytelling only further burgeons by the strong execution K&M has always had going for it. For instance, in lieu of another history-documentary narration moment, we instead see an actual military strategy meeting in Kuschpercha. The strategies they run through are pretty basic, and if you're not a sucker for war-room scenes, it will probably be the least interesting part of the episode, but it speaks to K&M's willingness to just do the strongest version it can of what it wants to do. Underscoring this is Ernesti's blatant admission that he isn't sure if he can win for once. I have to wonder how intentional it is that his name rings of the (English) word ‘earnest’.

All that setup is in service of getting us to the start of the real final battle. Even if it seems forced, it's still great to have Gojass along for this last ride, since he's such an entertaining character. Ernesti, for his part, leaves off on the most absurd declaration yet of the sheer lengths of his mecha-otaku drive. I've remarked before on the overt lightness with which K&M handles subjects like war and arms races, but when Ernesti makes it explicit that he wants to take out Gojass's battleships for the sake of making mecha the dominant weapon type in the world, simply because he thinks they're cooler, perhaps the series was smart to never take its means and ends too seriously. There would be way more implications to unpack here in a more realistic world, but for just a fun robot fantasy, this moment is just outrageous enough to lead us into the final battle with a lighter tone firmly in mind.

Rating: B+

Knight's & Magic is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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