How would you rate episode 6 of
Reign of the Seven Spellblades ?
Community score: 4.5
And there it is. Here we are halfway through the season, and at last drops that other shoe. Some of the specific details have yet to be clarified, but this episode wholly confirms that Oliver is not the most milquetoast main-character-ass main character he was being presented as, which I hope we’d all kinda figured out like two episodes in. He’s got to be feeling somewhat vindicated after enacting the first phase of his revenge this week, as much as I ought to be feeling vindicated about all my speculation over the show’s foreshadowing turning out to be completely justified. Or I would, except as I said, this is entirely the direction the story wanted us to think in the first place, and the actual deployment of this specific swerve doesn’t let it land as momentously as it might hope.
One point is that part of getting there necessitates finishing off the story we left hanging last week, and the fight against Miligan turns out pretty cool in its own right. Spellblades is still wielding its ability to produce spiffy action scenes expertly. You can see it in the way this sequence does stuff like communicating characters’ personalities just through their fighting styles, such as Miligan’s carefree off-handing of our heroes’ initial attacks on her. It contrasts with other stuff we see like Oliver’s situationally hyper-aware support of both himself and Nanao, or Nanao herself operating seemingly entirely on instinct. We see her lose herself in that moment, reveling in battle, and also being specifically noted as able to deflect magic spells with a katana, which is undeniably rad.
It also facilitates what this episode initially seems to frame as its primary big revelation, that Nanao, apparent to the too-knowledgeable Oliver but unaware of herself wields the titular seventh spellblade. The hows or whys of this aren’t delved into, an issue seemingly afflicting this whole episode, but it does look cool as hell. Her use of the ability to gain victory against Miligan’s last-minute secret power reveal, showcased in swooping camera movements, is emblematic of this approach for the show that wouldn’t even work if they didn’t have the resources to regularly animated it like this.
It’s one way to communicate confidence, I suppose, that Seven Spellblades would probably have been a perfectly entertaining regular magical action show even if it wasn’t spending all that additional energy setting up for the big surprise it at last loses this week. It is cool to get the sense that, whatever else he turns out to be up to, Oliver seems to genuinely care about protecting the friends he’s made in this school, being relieved that Katie hasn’t taken any sort of grimdark broken turn as a result of her experience with Miligan and the troll. Plus it’s also fun for our part to see Katie taking things so well, and even planting victory kisses on both Oliver and Nanao. Get it, girl.
However, the show seemingly feeling obligated at this particular point to pay off all its tonal foreshadowing, unfortunately, undercuts the effective close it put on that previous plotline. Chiefly, any analysis of Miligan’s magical creatures’ activism and how that fueled her antagonism is completely glossed over in the show uncovering the next phase of the conspiracy: That it was just facilitated by evil elitist teacher Darius as part of his goofy intelligence eugenics agenda. And this all come tumbling out in an abrupt cut over to him taking Oliver down below for some magical sightseeing, monster-slaying, and info dumping. Next thing we know he and Oliver are discussing things in plot-twist terms they’re familiar with but we aren’t quite up on, and Oliver sees fit to finally drop his metaphorical mask and put that literal one on by the end.
Yes, I’m technically satisfied, a little relieved even, to see that they are doing something decently complex with Oliver. It’s ostensibly effective to see him turn into a torturing vengeance engine after over a month of putting up the facade of the most normal nice guy ever. And it casts some of his conversations with Nanao, helpfully reinforced in flashback here, in new lights that make them characteristically more interesting. But getting there and seeing the shift and twist deployed mostly feels perfunctory in this episode. There’s nothing tonally teased at or built up to, we’re just suddenly taken underground where Oliver decided it was time to tell us what the deal was.
Don’t get me wrong, even predicting that this was the sort of place Seven Spellblades‘s story was going, I’m still excited to see it get there. As a certified Magic School Disliker, I am all too eager to see Oliver keep murdering his way through Kimberly’s faculty. And the entire cabal he has helping him is a degree I didn’t quite see coming as much. It will make his intersections with his school chums that much more layered and interesting, and I’m curious to get more information on exactly what was the deal with his mother and what got her killed. It wasn’t a lot of time, all things considered before we got to the real show here. But after all the time they did spend, I’d have thought they could have made it land more effectively.
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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