This is review number three hundred and ninety three. This anime is part of the Summer 2014 lineup, and it’s called Seireitsukai no Blade Dance or Blade Dance of the Elementalers. It’s a twelve episode anime about a guy, and he has a harem. Yeah, let’s just read on.
The anime follows a guy named Kamito Kazehaya, who recently transferred into an academy that teaches students gifted with spirits. It’s an all-female academy, and Kamito is the first male student ever. He eventually becomes the center of attention from all the girls he interacts with, and all the bad guys that finds him interesting as well.
Taking the Pants
It’s a light novel anime, so that’s fun. LN anime often has some good exposition, but they’re bogged down by a lot of unnecessary stuff. Things like fan service and wish fulfillment often covers majority of a light novel anime. After all, a mary sue character is a wish fulfillment character if you think about it. Sadly, if you’ve seen one LN anime then you’ve seen them all. It’s like being on a treadmill at this point just being unable to escape the boobs and the collection of girls that happens to surround one solitary male character. I’m supposed to say that, as a reviewer, I should give this anime a chance instead of just blindly labeling it as a typical LN anime. Oh, five f*cking years of the same damn thing will really start to hurt. This anime basically checks all the cliché you’d expect from a light novel anime. It does have a harem, too many fan service, and a good story stuck between the sticky folds. For my own sanity, I decided to create this:
The bingo thing trended on twitter a while back, and I didn’t really understand what it’s about. It is a great way to check all the clichés from a light novel though, because LN anime is offensively clichéd. So, for the light novel anime I’ll review moving forward, I’d bust out this bingo card and see if the anime can go for broke. The clichés are spread apart for a reason, since certain anime doesn’t carry a particular trope. I would be very impressed to see if an anime can hit bingo though and, given light novel anime’s track record of blending and cross matching tropes, one is sure not that far ahead. Of course, this is just for my own amusement. After seeing so much anime, I know the clichés that’ll pop up in a particular LN anime. Just for fun, why not try it yourself? Go get yourself a modern light novel anime and see if the show can hit a bingo. So at the end of a light novel anime review, expect this bingo card with all the available clichés of that particular anime marked on it.
I’m supposed to be doing a review though, so let’s just plow ahead. The anime opens with a naked girl bathing, and a guy stumbling into her. Misunderstanding arise, some digs at her small breasts, and you instantly realized the intentions of this show. At that point, I slump over my bed and regretted my 1000 anime review goal. But, anyways, the anime follows a guy named Kamito. He is a recent enrollee in an academy that happens to cater to privileged noble students with the ability to summon spirits. In this world, only females can summon spirits and Kamito is the very first guy to grace the academy’s halls. Of course, a lot of girls object to having a guy in their school. Some of them are fawning over him though, because this is a light novel. In the first episode alone, the naked girl she met eventually becomes engrossed in him while being the true tsundere that she is. I’m already ticking so many boxes in my bingo card. The anime stumbled hard in its first episode though, because nothing is really explained. We saw the two characters just enter a place, get a sword and then the guy enrolls in the Academy. That’s all well and good, but majority of the first episode is dedicated to Kamito and tsundere girl just flirting. The main premise of the anime, which is the sole reason to be interested with the show, is eventually given up just so Kamito can flirt with a girl.
This isn’t really the first light novel that did this, but the show clearly has so many subplots to establish. The appearance of a male student in an all-girls school, the main gist of what a Blade Dance is, the backstory about tsundere girl’s big sister, and the backstory between Kamito and his previous spirit are all lightly established in the first episode. I’d say 20% of the first episode focused on the exposition while the rest of the anime featured Kamito just flirting with a girl. This is actually the M.O. of the anime. It’d give us long drawn out scenes of Kamito flirting with girls, and the exposition is just given a backseat treatment. The anime’s three chapters, which are equal to three separate stories, are generally just glossed over, because the show is more concerned with Kamito and his herd of cute girls. At the beginning of every chapter, Kamito will be paired with a female character, and the episode will mostly focus on some fan service scenes between them. For example, in the second chapter, a new character is introduced. Almost immediately, she grabs his arm and her big boobs are latching onto Kamito. We don’t know much about her or her backstory, but she does spend the rest of the episode fighting with the tsundere girl for Kamito’s affection. It’s really tough to watch this anime, because it focuses on the wrong aspect of a light novel. The individual stories are honestly pretty interesting but, for some reason, we’ll see too much of Kamito and a girl just exchanging dialogue. That’s really the gist of these wish fulfillment scenes. They’re just taxing dialogue that bogs down the show, because they don’t really contribute anything to the anime overall. Characters don’t develop over the course of their quarrels for Kamito’s affection, and they certainly don’t grow their relationship. So, these dialogues are just excessive clutter.
By far, the worst offender is the “Wait! It’s not what you think!” scenes. Throughout the anime, Kamito would always wake up next to girl in his bed. They’d be naked or just all over his business, and then another character would walk in. Being in an unexplainable situation, Kamito would just say “Wait! It’s not what you think!” but, of course, the girl is no longer listening since she’s all mad and all. Classic misunderstanding that makes for a hearty har har between the characters. Yeah, this scenario was done seven times in the anime. So, a twelve episode anime had seven episodes dedicated to a scene like that. It’s always the same progression as well. The girl will walk in, gets mad, and then they’d spout dialogue like “you’re a pervert”, “I can’t believe you’d do something like this” or “you’re such a beast with no manners”. That happens seven f*cking times in the anime. It’s a bit much, don’t you think?
Then again, the anime did open with a naked girl so what exactly do you expect? This is another aspect of the anime: naked girls. That’s another box ticked off my bingo card. For simply the fan service’s sake, some of the girls would end up naked in the show. It’s also not because they’re showering or something like that. Nope, the girls are often just naked by choice. This often happens to the tsundere girl and the kuudere girl, and it’s just blatant fan service. The animation is good enough to feature naked bodies though, but these scenes often take up too much space as well. Sometimes, the exposition would just vanish because someone needs to be naked next to Kamito. It can be really hard to watch. I do think the original source itself is setup like this. The light novel could be focused on the fan service more than the story as well, and that’s just really one of the annoying aspects of light novels. They’d give up a good story to feature under developed breasts, and this anime does have a pretty good story.
It’s certainly not the most original, since it has summoned monsters and magic in it, but the world building is pretty interesting. The show never really explains it in detail, but the visuals tell a really intriguing story about the world the characters live in. It has other worlds where you can battle each other, strong spirits are often given away by the government for dubious reasons, and the academy itself is within a giant city that has vulnerable citizens susceptible to various kinds of dangers. It’s pretty immersive for a very typical LN setting, and I do want to know more about it. I want to know why females are the only ones that summon spirits, and I want to find out what the male characters of this world think about it. Before you can do any digging into the plot though, the show would bombard you with other things like cursed seals, spirit crystals, heart crystals, and whatever the hell a Jormungand is in this world. There’s no time to really let anything sink in, unless you talk about the hilarious scenes of the girls fighting over Kamito’s affection. We get a lot of that, and episodes would often be dedicated to girls just cooking or being on a date with Kamito. The rich world the characters live in is not properly explored, but the anime compensates by giving us countless scenes of naked girls and misunderstandings.
The worst thing the anime did is that it forgot to tell us what a Blade Dance is. It’s a competition, but it didn’t really dive into details. When Kamito last fought, he was alone but the Blade Dance the characters will enter is now a group tournament. How exactly does it work? Do you just battle until the last man standing wins, or is there a time limit? The team that’ll enter the blade dance is also not properly explained. The school has a ranking system that’ll determine the best team, but the anime ends with three teams going to the tournament. The Blade Dance sounds like a cool concept from the light brush strokes the anime paints, but I really want to know more about it. One of the things I personally can’t understand is the prize for the winner. Apparently, you get one wish and it’ll come true. How does it happen? Do you use magic or is this a government thing? Can you bring back the dead? With such an amazing prize for the winner, how come the anime didn’t properly hype the damn thing? Are you telling me naked girls are more important that explaining your damn premise? I’ll do give points for mentioning the tournament through all the chapters, and it helps bind them into one single plot, but there’s so many things left unexplained.
Another annoying aspect of the show is that the character motivations, and subsequent arcs, are actually pretty interesting as well. A good example is the tsundere girl, who is blinded by her goal of proving her sister is innocent. Her big sis apparently did something horrible, so she wants to help by obtaining a powerful spirit that’ll somehow improve the situation. Through her blinded goal of pursuing power though, she’ll endanger the lives of so many innocent people including her own. I love this character arc, because she’s a desperate character with an obvious character flaw. It’s rich with exposition, and it helps make the character expand from being just a tsundere girl. Unfortunately, the constant fan service and wish fulfillment kept limiting her potential. You can’t expect much from a character that just pouts whenever Kamito is with another girl, and who’d just constantly yell “I hate you! You were supposed to be my contracted spirit, how dare you betray me” over and over again. She has an incredible backstory, but it’s clearly a wasted potential just so the anime can give you naked-ness.
You can honestly achieve the same thing if you shoved that to one episode, and focus the rest of the chapter on the exposition. But nope, naked girl trumps juicy exposition every time. I can excuse a bland anime like Seikoku Dragonar employ hentai level tentacle monsters, because it doesn’t really have anything else to offer. This anime clearly has an exposition to keep it alive, yet it doesn’t want to focus on it. So many rich backstories and character arcs are left underutilized in this anime. Another example is Kamito being the champion blade dancer from three years ago. He lost his spirit monster, but he is going to participate in the next Blade Dance to get her back. That’s pretty interesting. Kamito is reduced to your typical light novel main character though. He doesn’t realize a girl is coming onto him, he’d be conveniently not listening when they’re confessing something, and he’s also the magnet for all the fan service. The anime is smart by making him literally the only male character in the show though, so I’ll give some points for that. You’ll eventually get sick of him though, because he just acts like an idiot all the time. He’d be caught in a misunderstanding, he’d be caught in a fan service situation and he’d be doing that again and again for the course of the entire show. For moments that don’t involve naked girls though, he’d act like your bland light novel hero just charging in to look cool and saving the damsel in distress. His backstory tells so much more though. It tells of a guy with a dubious past trying to reclaim something he has lost. That character sounds awesome, so where the f*ck is he?
I do like seeing Kamito hurt though. Heroes bleed, and Boku no Hero Academia proves that. The best heroes learn how to bleed, but light novel main characters don’t really get the memo about that. They’d be untouchable and overpowered, and it’s part of the wish fulfillment. Don’t you wish you can be perfect like the characters you’re reading? Kamito is different though. During battles, he’d get stabbed and blown away like any other supporting hero. The anime cleverly balances the large cast, and everyone gets a time to shine. Kamito does give the finishing blow, but the girls would often get their licks in. I like that aspect of Kamito, because it separates him from the Tetsuya of the light novel world. He isn’t perfect, and that really means something. It’s rare to see a main character hurt in a light novel, and it’s rarer to see them depend on others to get the victory. This show had so many good potentials, and it’s really disappointing how a lot of them are dumped to feature fan service. It is really good fan service though, but I’d give that up in a heartbeat for a well-told story any day.
If you’re going to watch this anime, then expect a lot of fan service just shoved in the first few episodes of the individual stories. I think each story takes up four episodes, so there’d be two for just the fan service alone. It’ll just be girls fighting over Kamito, being alone with him or getting caught in a misunderstanding with him. The third episode is where the conflict happens and the fourth episode picks up the pace for a big finale. Every chapter starts out rough, but it does have a satisfying ending every time. I’d be honest though, the anime’s so formulaic that I zoned out in the final chapter. I knew what it’s about but I didn’t need to listen to everything being discussed. The character motivations are all superb, but the characters themselves would always be limited to a particular role. It has its good and bad moments, but certainly a ton more flirt moments that the previous two combined.
This anime is done by Studio TNK. Damn it, it explains the overuse of fan service. If you’re not familiar, this is the studio behind High School DxD. This isn’t their typical style though, because they go beyond the call of duty to feature smut. Their anime is so over the top that you’d enjoy how insane the show can be. It felt like they’re forcing it with this one, because they never bog down their show with so much dialogue. One naked scene of Rias is enough to make you tune in, but they still feature a respectable story above that. It looks like the magic of High School DxD is no longer keeping this studio alive, and it’s the only trick up their sleeves. It’s interesting that they have no releases for 2016 after 2015’s sequel to DxD. That’s troubling, because I love this studio. Kenzen Robo Daimidaler is one of my fave shows to ever review, and I always thought they’d nail the magic of featuring fan service the Studio TNK way. I do hope they get out of this slump. This anime was directed by Tetsuya Yanasigawa, who also directed High School DxD. It looks like they really did try to do another DxD anime, but this one clearly backfired. I think the light novel itself is not really the kind that’ll work with a DxD approach, but I think TNK really forced it on this one. It didn’t work, and it highlighted all the bad things that make light novel anime unbearable to watch.
Sight and Sound
Character design is done by Hanpen Sakura. Like any typical light novel, the design is pretty standard. It has bright colors, cute girls and tremendous details on the outfits. There is immense care given to the design of the hair, and the uniform is pretty cute as well. It doesn’t really stand out, and I’m a guy that’s been subjected to so many similar light novel designs that I don’t really appreciate them as much. There is care given to portray the stereotypes just right though, since tsundere girl looks exactly like a tsundere and kuudere looks like a typical kuudere. I’m guessing Hanpen worked off the details of the author, and he created the characters from scratch. I am not impressed by the design, but it is really great. I especially love how TNK captured the vibrant appeal of the LN characters. If you look at any visuals of the characters, then you’ll see TNK went the extra mile to capture the design. Even the color palette that Hanpen prefers is nicely translated in the anime, and they really wanted to capture the vision of the original source. The character design looks clean, and it is standard good. Yeah, it’s typical but it shares the same good potential that most typical design possesses. In fact, TNK is so proud of the design that you’ll often get pan ups with the characters. Even minor ones had some great pan ups, and I actually had a great time just taking screenshots of these pan ups. The anime is proud of Hanpen’s design, and they met the challenge of capturing the vision he had for these characters.
Animation is pretty great. A good example of this is the fan service. Despite having so much of it, every single feature of naked girls and perverted situations were nicely animated. The characters had so much energy in these scenes that the animation is able to give it justice. These scenes had the glorious pan ups, various facial reactions to the scenes and different characters reacting to the scene. It’s packed, but it’s animated nicely. The fight scenes lack storytelling though, since characters really just swing swords with no detail in them. If the story was actually cared for leading to the fight scenes, then I think it’d do wonders. Sadly, the exposition is greatly lacking in the anime and it would’ve created great harmony with the high quality animation. Really, even the dialogue heavy scenes of characters just fighting over Kamito are nicely animated. I might wander off because the dialogue is gawd damn boring, but the animation reels me back in for the good bits. I also love how they animated the impact in the fight scenes. Explosions and various interactions with the background are utilized in the fight scenes. It doesn’t improve them, but it’s a great technical achievement to create a fight that involves the setting the characters fight in.
I am a bit bothered by some of the fan service though. It’s not much, but the show loves to zoom in on various erotic parts of the characters. You’ll see it in the various commercial visuals, where the anime would focus on a belly button or on the legs. It’s weird, because it’s like someone has a fetish and he’s honing in on his target. There’d be some long shots of the girls’ absolute territories, skirt flips and even the collar bone. I’m not really into any of this stuff, so it just comes off as creepy to me. I can’t judge that roughly though, since I like yaoi and yuri with the same engaging motivation. These are parts of a girl’s body you would try to avoid not being caught staring at though, so I think I do understand the appeal from a creepy perspective. I have students as young as the characters though, so it just doesn’t sit well with me. Still great animation though. Consistency is a great plus for this show.
The anime’s OP is “Kyoumei no True Force” by Hitomi Harada. It’s a decent song, but I really hate the forced English lines. You can hear the singer just eating her “R”s and the difficult words she can’t clearly pronounce. Why even put English lyrics in there? The lyrics themselves are random too. It’s about not fearing death, but also being with the one you love or something. It’s a mess. It is stylish though, so I don’t really care. I suck at reviewing music, but this just sounds run-of-the-mill to me. The OP sequence is pretty great though. It gives a vague summary of the anime in a stylish animation montage. It features all the highlights of the show without spoiling any of the good bits. There’s a weird lack of fan service though, and a huge focus on the plot. It’s a complete reversal of the actual show.
The anime’s ED is “Blade Dance” by Ni-Sokkususu [Claire Rouge (Ibuki Kido), Rinslet Laurenfrost (Kana Yuuki), Ellis Fahrengart (Shizuka Ishigami), Fianna Ray Ordesia (Saori Oonishi), Terminus Est (Ai Kakuma)].I like the novelty of the characters singing this song, but I’m instantly put off by the first lines of it. Knee High Fight. Seriously, what the hell? It does have a cute chorus, and the distinct voices of the characters makes for a fun experience. The ED sequence features the pan ups of the characters, and it ends with a scene of the girls apparently heading to the Blade Dance. I would’ve cared more if I actually knew what the hell I was looking at there. I only realized what it was during the last episode when the girls were preparing for the blade dance (and a second season that never came to fruition).
6/10 “It’s nothing new, but it’s packed with so much fan service that the show suffers from it.”
As you can see from the bingo card, the anime isn’t really breaking any ground. It does have a good plot, but it’s overlooked for the fan service. I’m fine with naked girls and harems in my light novel anime, but the show seems to deliberately sabotage itself just to feature naked girls and the harem. These things should just be an accompaniment to the story, and not the other way around. There’s so much potential here eventually ruined, because the show lacks the vision to tell a proper anime. In the end, everything just comes off as standard and unexciting. The characters are standard, the story is glossed over and the entire experience is both infuriating and numb. If you like excessive fan service in your anime, then you can try this. The anime picks up after the first chapter, but it’d be a chore to even finish the first one. It takes a little bit of patience for very little satisfying payoff. It’s best to just avoid it.