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AKA: 精霊使いの剣舞 (Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance)
Genre: Harem battle fantasy.
Length: Television series, 12 episodes, 24 minutes each
Distributor: Currently licensed by Sentai Filmworks, but also available on Crunchyroll.
Content Rating: PG-13 (Violence, fanservice.)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Shakugan no Shana, Log Horizon, Koihime Musou.
Notes: Based on a light novel series written by Yū Shimizu with illustrations by Hanpen Sakura. There is also a manga illustrated by Hyōju Issei, serialized in Monthly Comic Alive.
Rating:

Bladedance of Elementalers

Synopsis

Making the second male elementaler in known history, Kamito Kazehaya attends the Areishia Spirit Academy on the request of its principal, so that he can attend the Bladedance tournament.


Review

Here is a sample of some of the dialogue at the beginning of the show, where the male lead meets one of the female leads (naked in a lake):

"Don't be afraid. I'm a normal young boy. I'm not going to do anything. I'm not after little kids."
"I'm... I'm sixteen."
"No way, you can't be sixteen with boobs that small."

This is basically the level of comedy you can expect, and the show keeps this up for ten episodes.

Out of twelve.

No, this is not going to be much fun for any of us.

Bladedance of Elementalers is at its core a fantasy battle show where teenagers attend Areishia Spirit Academy. There, they covet the dream of participating in the Blade Dance, a school-run magical battle arena duel where the winner is granted one wish. That core idea is technically embellished by several side plots regarding most of the characters he interacts with as well as himself.

I say technically, because the show seems to just randomly include these half-ambigious introductions, only to forget about them so that it can continue being a lame harem comedy. For instance, we learn that Kamito was raised by... an assassin clan? ..to be the next "Demon Lord". Claire is the little sister of another priestess who at some point presumably betrayed her family and became known as the Calamity Queen. Ellis Fahrengart is a member of the Sylphid Knights, a kind of law enforcement at the school. She's portrayed (however slightly) as a younger sister of a great knight, whom she looks up to and wants to catch up to. There's Rinslet Laurenfrost, the resident classy family member who's mostly used as a foil for Claire and is usually seen in the company of her personal maid. And lastly, we have Fianna Ray Ordesia, a later arrival and one who already has some personal history with Kamito, however slight. (It's a childhood promise thing.)

Not the most original of concepts, but the characters still add their own flairs and pasts to the main story, and turn into a good team... in the light novels, hopefully. In the anime, Claire and Ellis are basically modelled after Louise from a certain other infamous show, and any kind of story development and character introspection is quickly dispensed for the sake of harem comedy. Terrible, terrible harem comedy. It's not enough that I had to bear witness to that awful opening dialogue between Kamito and Claire; they had to stretch this complete and utter BS out to ten episodes in length. Ten episodes of Kamito meeting and unintentionally angering each girl in turn. And if they're not temperamental, they're mischievous and more likely to fan the flames instead.

And it's not like I even dislike any of the characters either. I just hate what they do -- what the show is turning them into. It's not just Claire either, or Ellis. Kamito is actually treated with mistrust, if not outright resentment by most of the girls in school for merely existing, much less having the nerve to be an actual male elementaler. And what logic is it that when the knights -- the people tasked with keeping law and order -- are the biggest bullies of them all.

Simplistic nonsense, all of it. Some of the girls are irrationally temperamental, prone to violence, generally mistrusting and vindictive, and tend to lash out whenever they're embarrassed. (Which is often.) And these are supposed to be the "good" girls. It's the laziest kind of tsundere, and it is allowed to go on for far, FAR too long. Don't make a drinking game out of any of the girls calling Kamito a "lewd beast". You'd have to be a very hardened drinker to survive that.

Kamito comes across a bit better, if you ignore his jerkitude. I mean... how difficult would it have been to just have him say "Sorry, I didn't know anyone was there. I'll just leave you to your bath" the first time he met Claire. I'm pretty sure they wanted to have the snarky, sensible lead who isn't just some indecisive loser, and while that's decent enough for the show in its own right, it still basically makes him the rescuer of the girls whenever they get in trouble, which is to say most of the time. Seriously, there is not ONE fight where he doesn't throw himself between danger and one of the girls, just as they're about to be defeated. It's so depressingly, predictably sexist that I don't even know where to start. It doesn't help that the fights are as unexciting as they come. The show's animation isn't particularly good, which just makes it worse, but even that doesn't excuse the terrible movements. There are a few exceptions, of course, like Ren Ashbell's battle at the very start of the show, but those are exceptions rather than the rule. I imagine what I'm feeling about all this is not entirely unlike what Nicoletta felt about 11 Eyes. Kamito might not walk around parading his nonsense about how he has to protect them, but that's what he does all the same, all the time. It's his modus operandi, after all. Even when he spouts the virtues of cooperation and teamwork, he takes center stage and does most of the work by himself.

Maybe I wouldn't have minded the perverted humor of the show if it hadn't been so terrible. The show runs the "one or more of the girls walk in on Kamito while he's in bed together with the naked sword girl" joke so often that the one time he wakes up with her in bed, and NOBODY walks in... well, that's a joke in itself. The mischievous girl coming on to Kamito, and that pisses off the others is another joke. Any of the girls calling Kamito a "lewd beast" is also one of the jokes you are supposed to laugh at, as are the parts where the other girls give Claire a hard time about her chest size, which leads to a "hilarious" session where she brings herself to a climax by rubbing her breasts due to the poor and highly stereotypical advice coming from one of the other, bustier girls. I'm for recycling in most of its forms, but storytelling in general isn't helped by recycling. Comedy far less so.

In the interest of being fair, the show does tighten up some in episode 11 and 12, which are the last two episodes, so I guess you could say it becomes better. All the things that got on my nerves about Bladedance got toned down, and things actually stayed relevant most of the time until the end. They even completed one of the plot arcs centered around one of the girls, leaving her free to continue on without any emotional hangups. This is the sort of thing that would have made me look far more positively on the show.

Two episodes out of twelve. That's our payload. As they say: "Much too little, too late." Bladedance of Elementalers fails in all respects. It's not funny, it's not exciting and it doesn't resolve anything about the main character, nor most of the girls. The story progression is minimal, and crawls at a glacial pace at that. The show does leave itself open to future seasons, but I'm not sure I'm up for another ten episodes of pointless harem stupidity and maybe one or two episodes of actual plot. One of the main complaints on the street is that the anime absolutely ravages the novels it's based on, and from what I see here; for your sake, I really hope that's true.

A complete and utter failure that is NOT saved by the last couple of episodes.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: The violence is pretty average. It's a fantasy world, so even being run through with a sword doesn't really leave much of a mark. There are some darker elements to the story, though, like Kamito being raised as an assassin, so this should be kept to teenagers. The same can be said about the fanservice, even if it's pretty average stuff for a slightly perverted harem comedy.



Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Bladedance of Elementalers © 2014 TNK, Genco.
 
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