How would you rate episode 4 of
Reign of the Seven Spellblades ?
Community score: 4.3
Separated from the skulking setup that previously spurred my speculation, this week’s episode of Seven Spellblades settles into a simpler showcase situation. It’s the age-old class conflicts expected from storytelling in most prestigious academy settings, magical or otherwise: In addition to being nerds, wizarding students are also jerks, and it’s high time Oliver, Nanao, and our other sympathetic central characters showed them a thing or two. And if the anime can show that off while also throwing more fuel on the fires of its underlying conspiracies and keep people’s attention with some flashy fighting, all the better.
It was a key, if not a huge, element of the opening episodes, but I’m still mildly surprised at how hard Seven Spellblades continues hammering on the plot point of magical creatures and their treatment. This episode opens by rounding back to the troll from the premiere and Katie’s efforts at advocating for it. Mockery from her classmates provokes Oliver, Nanao, and Guy to step in and set those bullies straight. And then the whole second half of the episode and its escalated action element is rooted in recreationally killing magical critters and some turned-around fallout from that. It makes me wonder how deeply this aspect fits into the to-be-revealed backstories powering the likes of Oliver’s secrets, marked now as a keystone of revolutionizing this flawed wizarding world.
However, it’s all just thematic dressing over this episode’s more straightforward conflict. Unsure as I was about the seeming shallowness of how all these kids immediately agreed on their friendship, it’s still gratifying to see Katie’s pals stick up for her. Guy even gets to do something for once, and his and Nanao’s enthusiastic comparisons over how many bigoted bullies they bodied was a personable little highlight. Suppose there is some subversive sweep coming in what Oliver or the others are doing here. In that case, I hope it properly jibes with the empathy continuing to be displayed. Oliver and Chela even extend an olive branch to Andrews by this episode’s end after he demonstrates he’s not a total piece of crap. It seems a little cheap given what an incorrigible jerk Andrews has been up until the last minute, but I still like it for the path it lays out for a fairer, friendlier way to redeem the stratifications of this school. Even if it likely won’t take.
All that surrounding stuff, plus the post-credits scene teasing the conspiracy that initiated it, does just enough to prop up the spectacle of this episode that is the real reason we’re all here this week. I’ve continued to feel that Seven Spellblades looks a mite overproduced at times; its blooming effects and popping colors are distracting in places. But it’s hard to argue that the gloss isn’t impressive on some level, and the effort to put it all into motion for this episode absolutely pays off. So long you’re still pretending you’re a relatively straightforward magic-school fantasy anime, there’s nothing wrong with wowing viewers by putting on the show of swords and spellcraft. They’re deploying swooping pseudo-3D tracking shots to sell the appeal of physical combat, complimenting all the magic wand stuff, and they’ve integrated it extremely effectively. The strong fight choreography clarifies why they needed to include an Actual Samurai as one of the primary characters.
They even worked magic into the fight in ways I quite liked. That’s mostly manifesting in Oliver’s “Grave Step” skill, an exciting showcase of how elemental abilities can augment physical attacks. And it’s not all swooping strikes on the big Garuda either, since the writing works some boss battle mechanics into how to make it vulnerable before Nanao can cut it down. That wasn’t strictly necessary for making the action element pop off. However, it builds up some more detailed aspects of how battles happen in this world while still moving briskly enough to avoid falling into a shonen-battle trap of having to stop and explain things more laboriously. The show is assured enough to quickly communicate stuff to save time for more detailed discussions of the thematic elements or foreshadowing denser plot problems it can pick up later.
So if Seven Spellblades wants to keep playing in this fancy sandbox for a little longer, I’m not going to complain. Currently, it’s not doing much more conceptually than it was at the start, particularly as it vacillates between “Mistreating magical creatures makes you a jerk” and “But if those magical creatures go out of control as a result, we should have no compunctions about putting them down.” It’s otherwise simple enough, and I still at least get the sense that it’s going somewhere. So long as it’s this cool-looking getting there, I’ll stay along for the ride.
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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