How would you rate episode 12 of
Reign of the Seven Spellblades ?
Community score: 4.1
As I remarked at the end of last week’s episode, has wholly moved on from that tournament arc it barely occupied its time with over the past few weeks. Rossi even makes a brief appearance to formally announce its cancellation, which only further contributes to the askance question of what the point of that thing even was. The simple answer, of course, is that for all its moving parts and gesturing at more significant ideas, Seven Spellblades has been a relatively simple, straightforward series so far. Having a narrative excuse to introduce and explore new characters like Fay and Stace and see them smashed like action figures against our heroes in show-off-y battles was reason enough to occupy us with it. But we’re over that now; it’s time for the denser portions of the plot to kick back in.
Following her kidnapping of all those dudes last week, the main instigation for that is Ophelia, who’s been skulking around the story all season. Many lore allusions are thrown out about her current status, with the student council repeating this plot’s recurrent ominous refrain that she has been “consumed by the spell.” We’ll likely get some elucidation on precisely what that entails and how it’s an established danger of this wizarding world as this story goes on (presumably with next week’s episode being the season finale, which would seem to have its work cut out for it). Elsewhere, it’s explained what she’s trying to do in draining male students of their specifically-gendered magical energy (very helpfully clarified as Not Sperm, thanks, Miligan) to boost her overall chimera-birthing monster powers. Naturally, Pete’s status as a reversi will throw a wrench into this, but that’s another thing that remains to be seen.
Even though she’s the inciting center of this new story, Ophelia still doesn’t get to do much in this episode. It’s frustrating because figuring out and following how her heel-turn worked might have helped my investment in the story of a character who’s popped in only briefly and inconsistently in other episodes. It’s also frustrating because instead of her, much of this episode is focused on following up on and further rehabilitating Miligan, whom I’m just going to assume the author had become oddly infatuated with. I almost get it on a base level, “evil mad scientist girl” is a winning archetype; she looks cheekily cool in the intro. But everything about the actual handling of Miligan’s character has felt cheaply mismanaged. There’s never been any appraisal or attempt at asking for forgiveness for what she did previously. Hell, Katie goes right back to her in an attempt to sell herself to get the plot going this episode, stopped only by Oliver and Chela critically pointing out what a stupid idea that is.
Maybe accompanying the team down into the labyrinth to find and rescue Pete is supposed to serve as Miligan’s redemption, but it hasn’t been played that way so far. Instead, she delivers what feels like the first instance in several episodes of the students learning something at this magic school…in this case, from a fellow student. The step-by-step approach to taking down one of Ophelia’s tentacle beasts makes for a mildly intriguing instance. It does well enough in demonstrating Miligan’s technical mindset in handling these things. Maybe if she’d been this careful and practiced fighting before, she wouldn’t have gotten beaten by Oliver and Nanao the way she did.
That’s also the most eventful this one gets since the rest of this episode is Spellblades, with seemingly just a couple of episodes in its season to go, spending its time on setup and prep work for this whole new arc. The passage of time as things go is particularly odd since it takes several days of Pete and the others being gone before our lead characters resolve to rescue them. Between that, we see Pete wake up and interact with Ophelia momentarily, with no indication of exactly when this is happening. Meanwhile, the Student Council heads in on their rescue mission immediately. However, when we catch up with them several days later, they’re still just wandering around the second layer of the labyrinth, needing a map from a more dedicated explorer they bump into.
It makes it all feel very aimless, even though there is a clear goal they’re leading to in all this. Getting some idea of the resolve of our main characters as they steel themselves to head in for the rescue mission in the face of a school and faculty that could barely care less about its students does fit with Spellblades‘s overall tone. There are some nice asides, like Nanao counting on Katie to take notes for her in class while she’s away. But you must constantly suppress the knowledge that this big season finale situation was switched over with all the grace of a rusted-out big rig’s gear shift. Elements like Oliver’s vengeance-seeking murder cabal or Nanao’s soldierly instincts are only briefly name-checked to remind us of them. Even if it’s technically more involved and urgent than the tournament arc it supplanted, this story still feels like it’s similarly just occurring for its sake.
is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Chris is back for another season of calling wizards nerds. Feel free to disagree with him on that on his Twitter (for however much longer that lasts), or check out his irregular musings on other nerdy subjects over on his blog.
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