Knight's & Magic Episode 6
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Knight's & Magic ?
There's an interesting dichotomy at work between the mecha-development and mecha-battle portions of Knight's & Magic. The show has a focused goal of 'make cool robots, make those cool robots fight', but a lot of its priorities in getting there are more skewed than necessary, leading to the uneven series we've gotten so far.
Episode 6 is one of the developmental episodes of Knight's & Magic, once again entirely focused on Ernesti and crew's efforts to design and build new mecha. The ten-month timeskip it covers is the longest we've seen since the first episode of the series, and to its credit, it paces itself effectively and uses all that time to slip in developments and information that service the story. The one major shortcoming is once again related to the invaders from the previous episode, as it's speculated that they're from a neighboring nation-collective called the Occident, but still no information is offered as to why their attack took place.
Other bits and pieces work well, though. It's never really been clear why the craftsman-class dwarven race in the world was relegated to building the robots but never driving them, and while they don't actually go into the reasoning in this episode either, Ernesti constructing a mini-mecha that they specifically can use at least brings attention to the issue being acknowledge in-universe. It does appear to be some sort of technical limitation rather than a racial/social imposition, which is much nicer for the series' world-building.
Other elements are also explained with greater effort. Despite our lack of information on the invaders, we do find out that Ernie has an investigator under cover at the school hunting for clues on the attack. The show also indulges Ernie's fandom excesses in his design of the new mecha, including stuff like a two-pilot advanced robot (with a cockpit design indicating that Ernie might have watched a bit of Code Geass in his previous life), as well as a magic-knife-activated lock system for the mecha to prevent another hijacking. This portion leans into the strength of the series, diving into the rule-of-cool elements present in less fandom-focused mecha series and explaining why they would actually be there in the first place, while making it clear that Ernie's inclusion of them is both due to technical necessity and his nerdier predilections. I think it's a cool element that the series is implementing well.
The other impressive achievement this episode is that Ernie finally fails at something! We can pop the champagne at last! His ill-fated experiment with what appears to be a rudimentary flight pack is a shockingly effective sequence, not just because of how unilaterally it flops, but because the reactions of his friends and crew members are refreshingly realistic and pointed. They're not just worried about his until-now earned overconfidence leading him to more dangerous tasks than he can handle, but it's also hinted that if the kingdom lost him and his development expertise, it would be a devastating blow to everyone working to make the mecha. It's a strong sequence that uses Ernie's past absurd successes effectively, painting his status as a valuable human resource in a way that makes our momentary worries about him in the wake of the failed experiment resonate on multiple levels. The fact that all the other characters have been developing their own agency for several episodes now to the point that they're actually able to call Ernesti out on his irresponsibility definitely helps sell the whole thing.
The only major issue hanging over this episode is the same one as any other episode without immediate conflict, and that's the unusual feeling of the mecha development happening for the sake of itself rather than in service of a kingdom that truly needs it. Knight's & Magic's fandom-focused leanings have led me to compare it to a lot of other anime already, and this week's episode comes across a bit like The Wind Rises—but without any mind paid to the point that the dream-devices Ernie is building to fulfill his own passions will also be used as weapons to kill people. Yes, we now know that the kingdom does have enemies to defend themselves from, but the scale and brand of their attacks hasn't necessitated the sheer level of capital and R&D that's being poured into the toys our heroes are building, much less the imperialistic grandstanding we see every time they trot out a new prototype for a test battle. It's all very dissonant to the show's uplifting hobbyist tone, and it seems mostly like a consequence of the writer simply choosing not to think about it too much. Ernie, like so many mecha enthusiasts, missed the ‘war is bad’ message of shows like Gundam and instead went straight to 'wow, cool robot!'.
But then, that's also an issue with watching a series like this critically. On its own, this is a solid episode of Knight's & Magic, showcasing the mecha-development shtick that makes the series unique, while offering enough information about the process to make the details work for the audience. If we have to watch Ernie make all the biggest, coolest things in this world he wants, at least we'll see him working hard for them.
Knight's & Magic is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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