Lord Marksman and Vanadis
by Jacob Chapman,
Brune's prince has been found, alive and... female! Ludmila and Eleonora are being forced to fight as one for the first time since before they were frenemies! Thenardier has gotten a hold of five - count 'em five! - dragons to sniff out and destroy the Vanadis! Ganelon has not only been poisoning the king's mind, but his body as well, which means he's on death's door and if the rightful prince(ss) isn't returned to the throne soon, there could be an all-out war between nobles for the right to ascension! This episode is crazy and I wanted to like it a lot more than I actually did, but its exciting highs were contrasted with some pretty obnoxious lows as well.
For my part, this was the first time the show's fanservice really became detrimental to the show's content on any deeper level than "boobs exist and they bounce sometimes." First off, Vanadis Valentina finally appears, staring at Tigre in his sleep with mysterious intent, before getting her enormous boobs groped when he rolls over and reaches straight up to grab them for no reason. After this bizarre surprise, she leaves (I would too!) and that's pretty much all we know about Valentina for now. She's mysterious, potentially malicious, and has great big knockers. It's a major step down from the degree of respect and character writing the story allowed the rest of its female cast, which is a shame. (This also means there's only one Vanadis left to introduce, and since the show's on the eve of its conclusion, she'd better show up soon!)
Valentina's treatment is nothing compared to Prince(ss) Brune's, though. While the revelation of her survival is a welcome twist that immediately raises the stakes for Tigre and friends, her character is immediately subject to some of the show's worst writing. First of all, the supposedly wise lady prince trusts Tigre immediately, and unlike with Elen, the show can't portray it convincingly. Her rationale for believing in him is pretty sketchy: they had a childhood encounter once, and in the modern day, he gave her a bath without taking advantage of her. That's it. This bath also results in a hilarious continuity error when Prince Brune lowers her sack-dress to reveal gigantic breasts in place of her flat-chested character model. This is made worse by Elen's prior comment about how it would be hard for this princess to pass as a prince if she became busty during puberty, so thank god that didn't happen to her. Apparently it did, she just only grows big boobs when her clothes are removed somehow. This all sounds relatively tame compared to the standard heinous antics of other fanservice shows, but it is a noticeable taste drop (and leap in logic) for Lord Marksman and Vanadis. It doesn't fit the show, so it does hurt the resulting story beats, if only a little.
All those poor choices aside, there's a lot of high-stakes climax in this episode, and it's rewarding to see Elen and Mila working together so well on the battlefield after all those episodes of nipping at each other's heels. They clearly have a mutual respect for one another that they don't want to acknowledge, and if things had been different, they could have grown up best friends. (Okay, maybe just regular-friends.) They make a great combat team, and episode 11, while still marred by the series' typical animation shortcuts, is a clear step up in visual quality and fight choreography. Tigre fends off Thenardier's army while the Vanadis take on a pack of gnarly-looking monsters, and eye-rolling missteps aside, it's an extremely engaging step forward as Tigre's war to protect his homeland becomes a fight to save Elen's homeland from two usurping snakes and their pet dragons.
Lord Marksman and Vanadis is currently streaming on Funimation.
Hope has been an anime fan since childhood, and likes to chat about cartoons, pop culture, and visual novel dev on Twitter.
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