Review: The Sacred Blacksmith

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The Sacred Blacksmith focuses on a young girl from a family that has a long tradition of knighthood. She joins the Town Guard in an attempt to equal the status held by her family but finds her growth as a knight slow and intolerable until she meets a young blacksmith who has the ability to forge a powerful and near indestructible sword, the Katana.

Sacred Blacksmith starts out strong with a cast of characters that the potential to grow and foster some interesting stories. At least, I want to like the characters. They do fall into some stereotypical anime patterns just tossed into a fantasy setting but the character relationships are written well and to see some of those arcs resolved were the only reason why I stuck around to see the show to its end. There are some tragic twists that if vlcsnap-2010-06-08-19h42m50s135 they had been in a more finely crafted show would have been soul crushing but wrapped in the world of The Sacred Blacksmith they ultimately fall flat because the action isn’t up to par, the music doesn’t stand out, and the animation slides as the series goes on. The entire show, from a technical view, is poor and forces me to believe the show was tossed together to take advantage of the success of the light novel. The above average character arcs aren’t enough to overlook all those other factors.

The characters are tossed into a world so unoriginal and uninteresting that it might as well have been dreamed up during a first-run Dungeons and Dragons gaming session. There is a city-state that attempts to be independent from an evil Empire, a resistance who wants to overthrow said Empire, and a mysterious figure in the shadows who is tossing Demons into the mix. All elements that one would expect to find on a template for writing a first fantasy novel.

The one interesting hook the show has is the existence of Demon Swords. These are swords that contain great vlcsnap-2010-06-08-19h38m54s84 magical power and of incalculable wealth that give the user a special ability and sometimes has the ability to transform into a human being. This is the source of much of the conflict of the series is Aria, the demon sword of wind. She is used as a vehicle to explore what it means to be a demon, a tool of destruction, and has no control over how her own powers are used. Really, the demon swords just serve as a plot device to improve Cecily’s fighting skill in a realistic way so she can actually hold her own in battle.

There are very few interesting fights in the series. A few demons are fought, a couple demon swords, but most of them end up about the same. Especially when Aria takes part in the combat since the only ability the Demon vlcsnap-2010-06-08-19h36m46s76 sword of Wind has is a powerful gust of wind and it doesn’t always lend itself to innovative and exciting battle scenes. There are also those moments where enemies stand around and wait for the heroes to finish arguing or conjuring a spell. Luke, the Blacksmith, has the ability to take a hilt and some metal and make a sword through some complicated magical spells. But enemies, be them demons or other knights, stand around and give him plenty of time to finish his incantation. During the final battle scene I was so frustrated with this trope that I wished the villain would just kill them before he had a chance to finish his spell. Moments where action stops so the animators can create a cool looking set piece just take the viewer out of the action, especially when they don’t show Sailor Moon style silhouettes.

The series is just a stepping stone towards a larger epic in the universe. The idea of the Sacred Blacksmith is that he is supposed to forge a sword to contain the demon king. But despite hints that start at the first episode this Demon King never arrives and the ending is left unresolved. Had there been some hint that a sequel might be coming soon this wouldn’t be an issue but using the promise of an epic monster and not delivering on that promise is just a tease, and a bad tease because now that I lack the resolve to sit through another thirteen episodes to wait to see the epic monster.

Sacred Blacksmith had the potential to be something better. The characters are interesting and have well developed relationships and arcs where the viewer gets to know and have some genuine feelings for them. But everything around the characters; including their designs; are dull, uninspired, and poorly executed.

 

Good

  • Interesting characters with well-rounded character arcs

Bad

  • Dull, uninteresting fights scenes.
  • Narrative goes nowhere and doesn’t pay off on promises established in the first episode.
  • Generic and uninteresting fantasy world with clichés in abundance.

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