Lord Marksman and Vanadis
Episode 8

by Jacob Chapman,

Good news! This episode of Lord Marksman and Vanadis features the marvelous line: "Thousands of bees, whose venom can kill even a lion, will now attack you. A prison of bees--a hell of bees." The delivery on this line is so self-important and sincere, it's downright magical. I laughed so hard at that, I sounded like a donkey dry-heaving.

Bad news! It leads to the underwhelming demise of General Roland. (We probably should have known he was done for when he bequeathed his royal sword to Tigre.) Oh well. You had a cool design and seemed interesting, but no character development for you, buddy! You are yet another victim of the ever-churning plot of Lord Marksman and Vanadis! It's really beginning to feel like someone's elbow landed on the fast forward button a few episodes ago and no power on heaven and earth can remove it as Elen and Tigre continue to plow through obstacles at lightning speed.

I guess that should be more like "comet speed," as Tigre's multi-nation force is now named the "Silver Meteor Army." (Ha ha ha, how terrifying.) Of course, if the intent was to get enemy forces to not take the army seriously, it's completely in line with all of Tigre's other decisions this episode. The red-haired bowman's combat techniques have always been based in underestimation, but at this point he's turned it into a way of life that he applies to every situation. "There's a big army in our way? Okay, let's just find a way to make ourselves look non-threatening and then kick their butts when they get cocky about it!" That's a lot of Lord Marksman and Vanadis in general, but it's definitely this entire episode in a nutshell.

Eleonora has struck out on her own to aid an old friend in a conflict between Vanadis, so we're sure to see tons of war maiden action in the near future, but her presence is sorely missed in the action that follows this time. Duty-bound and stoic Tigre is pretty boring to watch all on his own, and it doesn't help that his next battle here is basically a "filler war." Duke Ganelon has only been briefly introduced in the past, but he's more evil and petty than Thenardier by far and thus at odds with him. (This episode makes it clear that Thenardier is the kind of noble who would have at least spared Roland's life. Ganelon not so much, and I guess he was in charge of the "death by bees" button that day.)

They may have been allies in puppet control of the throne briefly, but Ganelon has already hired a massive barbarian army to wipe out Thenardier and secure the kingdom of Brune for himself. Tigre decides to let the two evil men wipe each other out and use his small-but-mighty Silver Meteor Army to minimize civilian casualties during Ganelon's barbarian death march. So this episode features Tigre whittling down the barbarian army, freeing slaves, taking in refugees, and eventually taking out one force's commander. Ludmila shows up in the last two seconds to flaunt her helpful "neutrality" in battle, and that's pretty much all that happens. No character development, no fun chemistry between Tigre and any Vanadis characters, just a ton of battling and strategy in a big orange desert canyon. Thrillsville. (Well, there's also "the question of Gerald." Gerald is far too pretty! Can he really be trusted?)

It doesn't help that production values are down this week too. Lord Marksman and Vanadis has never had a stellar budget, but it's always been competent and usually there's one moment of spectacle per episode mixed in with the otherwise mediocre visuals. Things have taken a turn for the stiff and melty this time, however, with routinely off-model faces on most characters and more reliance on still frames and the show's trademark CG chessboard than ever before. Hopefully it's just a sign of the production team taking it easy on some of the least important material to be animated so far.

The battle strategies here are clever and easy to follow thanks to the continued use of the CG chessboard's interplay with 2-D choreography, but an animated game of Risk does not a compelling series make. Tigre is clearly too straight-laced to carry the show on his own, so we need the show's more fun characters back stat, and maybe give them something to do beyond "talk strategy" next time. I sorely miss the character-focused interplay of the first several episodes. Will it ever come back?

Rating: C+

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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