The main MALE protagonist
This penultimate entry in this blog’s ‘Anime of the Year 2014’ comes much faster than the previous one; no need to wait half-a-year for this. As mentioned in the previous entry, the 4th title for the audition would be Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance, which I have hoped to not suck. This anime has plenty of worrying similarities with Infinite Stratos, which is the cause of my concern in the first place. Whether my concern is misplaced or not, you will only know by reading the rest of this review below.
In the fantasy world where this anime takes place, magic spirits exists but can only be used by the members of the fairer sex (just like in Infinite Stratos). Then out of nowhere, our main male protagonist appears, showing off his own high-level demon-busting kneesock-wearing sentient magic spirit (kinda like in Infinite Stratos). He then enrolls into a high school that specialize in teaching how to use those magical spirits, which is full of girls only (definitely just like in Infinite Stratos), and starts to build his harem.
One of the first thing I like about this anime is that its main male protagonist is much better than his opposite number in Infinite Stratos. For example, the former use his head for thinking in greater regularity than the latter, and do have better decision-making abilities too. Plus, the former also has better character development strategies, owing to his secret decorated background that has regressed due to inactivity. If the main protagonist of this anime replaced his counterpart in Infinite Stratos, Infinite Stratos would have been improved immensely, even if that anime’s other problems are not addressed. This makes him the best character in this anime by some distance compared to the rest of the cast.
Another thing that makes this anime better than Infinite Stratos is that it has a superior harem cast. The red-haired main female protagonist for example is actually one of the better tsundere characters I’ve seen in the past few years. Her character strength regressed quite a lot though in the second half of this anime, but she is still a better tsundere than her counterpart in Infinite Stratos.
Considering the limited amount of episodes and storyline (this anime doesn’t even reach the Blade Dance tournament proper – a second season in the works?), the character developments of the harem cast members are uneven at best, unlike the main male protagonist. Only the main female protagonist and also the disowned princess can claim to have any significant character progression to their names, although for the former, her aforementioned regression in the second half of this anime did not help. The other three harem members’ developments are not as extensive as the other two, maybe it will happen in the tournament if this anime has a second season. Infinite Stratos has one even when inferior, so I don’t really see why this anime will not have one.
This anime also actually has a storyline, which is something very lacking in Infinite Stratos. The story in this anime is good too, compared to Infinite Stratos at least. But amongst the other entries in this audition, this anime has the weakest plot, therefore it will not help this anime in this audition at all. This is because, just like the main female protagonist, the quality of the storyline craters after episode 6 or so in this anime. At least there are no presentation problems here; the pacing is spot-on and the flow of the story is flawless. The small amount of humor here doesn’t really connects home, while the fan-service quickly goes stale after a while.
The quality problem of this anime’s storyline can be massively attributed to this anime’s setting. When it comes to the ‘opposite gender exceptionalism in a field’ trope, Infinite Stratos’ ‘mecha suit control’ is better than this anime’s ‘spirit elementals contracts’. Plus, Infinite Stratos’ down-to-earth location also hits closer to home than this anime’s fantastical out-of-this world setting. Too bad the writers in Infinite Stratos virtually made no attempts to put any semblance of plots in it.
The ‘final’ boss of this anime.
Character designs in this anime is just average, and where Infinite Stratos wins very handsomely. While the designs for this anime’s main male protagonist is competitive with his counterpart in Infinite Stratos, the same cannot be said for his harem members. The tsundere in Infinite Stratos has better design than the tsundere in this anime for example, and more importantly, there is no one at all here that can match Infinite Stratos’ Cecilia Alcott when it comes to character design. In fact, I still remember that I actually only watched Infinite Stratos because I have seen someone using her picture as a spray in Left 4 Dead 2 multiplayer games.
If Infinite Stratos wins big in character design, this anime instead wins by quite a big margin in voice acting. The voice actress for main female protagonist has done a great job in this anime. Not far behind is the knee-sock wearing sentient sword and also the leader of the knights. The main male protagonist is somewhat lacing in this department.
The OST in this anime is good, especially for action scenes. The ED theme is also the same, only the OP theme is just average.
There are quality problems in both character animations and composition in this anime, but not as severe as in the current frontrunner for the audition as at the time of writing. General animations is good though, and integration between 2D and CGI animation is seamless. Choreography for action scenes is the best between all titles reviewed in the audition to date. The director is also one of those that will rather make themselves invisible with error-free conservative directing techniques, which is a good thing at least for this anime.
7 out of 10. The weakest entry in the audition so far. The audition will end in the next entry, but I still haven’t made any decision yet on what to watch. Maybe Terra Formars?