Radiant
Episode 4

by Paul Jensen,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Radiant ?

Seth isn't exactly the type to look before he leaps, so it's hardly a surprise when his journey gets off to a rough start. He manages to run into an Inquisition airship, and is promptly captured and locked up by the ship's commanding officer, Dragunov. In the brig, he meets a sorcerer named Melie, who also stumbled into the Inquisition by accident. They're soon joined by Doc, a Nemesis researcher who works with Melie. The three of them manage to break out of their cages and escape aboard Doc's airship after a brief confrontation with Dragunov. The trio heads for the sorcerer-friendly city of Artemis, where Seth hopes to learn more about the location of Radiant.

Melie and Doc look set to become Seth's traveling companions for the foreseeable future, so the first impressions they make in this episode are pretty important. Doc is positioned as the group's Nemesis expert and technical guru, as well as the only “normal” human. His goal of combating the Nemesis without using the powers of a sorcerer is potentially interesting, but his personality needs some work. It's all well and good to have a character who's shamelessly self-interested, but that “look out for number one” mentality needs to be balanced out by some redeeming qualities. Doc hasn't yet done much to make up for his attempts at throwing Seth and Melie under the proverbial bus, so it's a little difficult to like him at the moment. On the upside, the mechanical design of his airship is charmingly quirky.

For her part, Melie makes a more positive impression overall, but even she is a little hit-or-miss in this episode. Her “normal” personality runs the risk of being a little too absent-minded, to the point where her bad sense of direction and Seth's lack of caution could make for an excessively scatterbrained team. On the other hand, she does seem to have some more formal magic training than Seth, which could create some interesting contrast between their two styles. Melie's alternate personality is also a potentially intriguing detail, and it arguably adds more to her character than the physical curses exhibited by the other sorcerers we've seen. The swap between defensive and offensive magic that accompanies her personality change could set up some neat changes of momentum during future action scenes, and I'm curious to learn more about how Melie regards her “other” self.

Out of all the new characters, I think I might actually like Dragunov the most. He's a little more nuanced in his personality and worldview than the average “government goon” bad guy, which is an encouraging sign if he's going to be a recurring antagonist. Dragunov strikes a good balance between laziness and competence; he doesn't come across as being overly enthusiastic about his job, but he still anticipates the escape attempt and manages to corner Melie in the middle of her alternate personality rampage. It also seems like there's more to him than meets the eye, and I wonder if he might have some special abilities of his own. As far as baddies who work for a group called the Inquisition go, Dragunov seems like a worthwhile addition to the series.

Despite all the new characters, or perhaps because of the amount of screen time needed to introduce them, we end up learning surprisingly little about both the Inquisition and Artemis. Dragunov's attitude suggests that his methods aren't exactly typical for the organization, but it's tough to judge whether he's just a little more carefree than normal or if he's a major exception to the rule. As for Artemis, it's limited to a handful of passing mentions, though that's perhaps more understandable since the characters haven't actually gotten there yet.

If Radiant's initial story arc is any indication, Doc and Melie should settle into their roles and personalities once they've had an episode or two to develop. For now, their introductions are decent but unspectacular, to the point where they're upstaged a bit by Dragunov. The series will need to give Doc some more redeeming qualities if he's going to be consistently likable, and it could also stand to turn Melie's airhead act down a notch. On the upside, these are all easy things to fix, and the core dynamic of Seth's new group seems like it should work well enough. For now, we get some amusing interactions and a serviceable action scene aboard Dragunov's airship, and Radiant continues its consistently entertaining cruise through familiar genre territory.

Rating: B-

Radiant is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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