Knight's & Magic
Episode 13

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 13 of
Knight's & Magic ?

"Aesthetics" have underscored a lot of what happens in Knight's & Magic, but while they've obviously been the motivating factor for Ernesti, the actual series has generally been a pretty dry experience. This isn't necessarily a complaint; though the series' well-worn history-special presentation rendered some moments rather flat, it generally worked out for what the series was trying to depict. However, Knight's & Magic at least knows when it's time to go out with a bang, as Ernesti himself raises the curtain on this last outing, referring to it as a ‘party’.

It certainly does feel like one! The fight between the Knights' new airship and Gojass's Vyver is a huge, high-flying spectacle, with an equally grand ground campaign taking place over the drawbridges below. Ernesti and Gojass show off more of their chessmatch-style counters and counter-counters, all set into motion with the now-customary excellent CGI animation (you can tell the team really loves animating the sword guy's mecha). Even Gojass, who claims to represent pure utilitarianism in his mechanical efforts, deploys something as audacious as a giant laser dragon as a last-ditch effort, and all the shifting colors, attack names, and superimposed pilots do a grand job of sweeping you up in the action. This is easily the most passionate and over-the-top Knight's & Magic has been in its run.

Getting caught up in the story is easier now that K&M has mostly worked out its old kinks with characterization. Partway through the episode, I found myself hoping that the ominous giant engine of the Vyver didn't go out of control as had been foreshadowed, because I felt it would cheapen Ernie's victory over his rival. It surprised me that I was genuinely rooting for a character once defined by how frustratingly effortless I found his success at the beginning of the season. That's the clear result of matching him against effective rivals and challenges. That's also why the otherwise deeply silly ‘spirit argument’ between him and Gojass on the merits of mecha and aesthetics works at all, though it still mostly feels like service for the devoted mechaphiles in the audience.

Meanwhile, the other characters share Ernesti's spotlight just fine for this final battle, with Edgar, Emrys, and Eleonora getting big moments of their own throughout. Probably the most effective demonstration of the ensemble's growth comes at the end of the battle, as the Vyver crashes and Ernie tries to push it away, only for the day to be saved by Kid instead! As one of Ernesti's original sidekicks, Kid has gotten a lot of bonus development over this arc, and seeing him be the one to come through at the end caps that off very well. There's a moment afterward of Ernesti helping Kid out of his mecha while letting it crash, working nicely as an acknowledgement that Ernie's friends are still more important to him than his robots.

That first half is probably the strongest Knight's & Magic has ever been, but it does drop into some of its old bad habits for the wrap-up. With that major battle out of the way, they opt to skip over every major event of the war to follow via clips and narration, including the capture of the Zaloudek capital! I haven't read the source novels, so I don't know how much of this was directly depicted there, but it does feel like a missed opportunity given how much of the show's time was given to repetitive mecha development and other less exciting elements. Yes, a single-cour series will be pressed for time and need to prioritize, but now it just feels like there are actively episodes missing. Maybe twenty-six would have been too much for the show to fill out, but the way these last few entries have been forced to progress, you can definitely feel that Knight's & Magic could have done with a few extra episodes. At least the series covered its bases with the history-documentary format, which lets it paper over these pragmatic skips in a style that makes sense.

The show's distinct format lets the rest of the wind-down montage work out fine. I enjoyed Kid and Eleonora's little scene, because I enjoy the cute relationship between these dorks. I'm also shocked that Gojass avoided his own death flag and is now just flying around, presumably to return and harass Ernie again someday. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the character enough that I'm glad he's alive against all odds, and the absurdity of his survival does fit how he's been presented so far. This whole last sequence does go on a little long in some places, once again begging the question of why this time couldn't have been spent showing other parts of the actual war.

But in the end, Knight's & Magic mostly works. It's definitely come a long way since its start as a pure wish-fulfillment receptacle, building up a world and various characters that got used effectively in the end. Maybe it was overambitious in its scope, hence the awkward jumps and cuts in the storytelling, but at this point I can't fault the show for trying. It was nice to watch it build, developing and improving in the same way as many of the machines it focused on.

Rating: B+

Knight's & Magic is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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