Lord Marksman and Vanadis
by Jacob Chapman,
Sweet sister Francis, I thought things were moving too quickly last week! I guess Lord Marksman and Vanadis isn't ready to decelerate just yet, but at this rate I'm worried the show is just going to plow through itself so fast that I won't even be able to keep up!
After being mortally wounded by General Roland, Tigre is rushed off the battlefield by Eleonora, and Sofya steps in to hold the enemy knights at bay. Her combat skills are impressive (and her light-based defensive magic fits her personality well,) but it's just a band-aid solution to the staggering problem of Tigre's status as a wanted man. As long as Brune considers him a traitor, Tigre won't really have an Alsace to go home to, much less defend against the heavily armed Duke Thenardier. Just how did that snake get his hands on an order of royal knights, anyway?
Tigre's old friend Bertrand uncovers the answer and it's both unexpected and completely understandable. The Brunish king has in fact been a powerless figurehead for months now, driven mad with grief at the loss of his son. Thenardier and some other noble weasels have taken advantage of his infirm condition by running the kingdom for him and silencing anyone who discovers the truth. (It's a good thing for Bertrand that Sofya was around to get him out safely!) This allies both Zchted and Brune with Thenardier and makes defending the autonomy of a speck of dirt like Alsace a pretty hopeless prospect, but Tigre refuses to give up his father's land. Seems like somebody has daddy issues...
Once again, that seems like plenty material to build an entire episode around, with a focus on Elen and Sofya's efforts to fight Thenardier while Tigre lays powerless and recovering with his loyal maid, Titta. Maybe that time could be spent on a mixture of external politics and more intimate character development. Unfortunately, the breakneck speed of the previous episode has not slowed down even a drop here, so the episode plows headlong into Tigre's recovery, contract with a dark goddess to supernaturally power his bow, and the defeat of Roland all before the credits roll. The enemy general isn't dead so there's still opportunity to develop his character, but at this point the show is burning through what should be exciting and triumphant events without taking the necessary time to give them any emotional resonance.
The best example of this is definitely Tigre's encounter with the dark goddess. What should be a crisis of conscience or at least a tense scene of negotiation against the ticking clock of Elen's fight with Roland is breezed through in just a few moments. The goddess possesses Titta, bets her life against Tigre's bow, and rather than taking this moment to show us Tigre's panic over how to handle the situation, his moral quandary over accepting the contract, his fear of losing either Titta or Elen to a mistake, or anything that could be emotionally engrossing, Tigre just furrows his brow for a second or two and flawlessly solves the problem. Then he rides into battle against Roland and defeats him, with little to no decompression for character development or uncertain tension.
The whole episode is just a series of events and information that Tigre solves his way through like he's playing an RPG, and I've come to expect better of both his character and the show on the whole. The minute Lord Marksman and Vanadis' grip loosens on its greatest draw, (that engaging cast of characters,) it just becomes another capably animated fantasy war series, and those are a dime a dozen. After the intensely rushed events of these last two episodes, the show will need a return to its better-paced origins to remain engaging. It doesn't matter how many victories Tigre's army achieves if those victories feel hollow, and recently, his triumphs against even monumental odds have felt way too effortless.
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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