Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance Review- Where’s the Blade Dance?

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Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance Review- Where’s the Blade Dance?

Torturing myself every season has its fun parts when I get to laugh with my friends on how bad these are.

Every season I need my dose of generally mediocre adaptation of a light novel series that more than often is a harem series. There was a joke going around that Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance would be the series that would kill and succeed the likes of Infinite Stratos and Date A Live. Now, the former can be outdone by nearly any sort of harem but some of you should know I hold DAL in some respectable regard. Seeing as though Blade Dance had 10+ volumes and how Light had been keeping up with it, I generally though it wouldn’t be bad.

I was sort of wrong.

The final episode was predictably rushed. Whereas the entire event of Blade Dance was foreshadowed since the beginning, we hardly get any fights other than the implied victories Claire’s team had gone through to actually get to fight Velsaria’s team. The entire fight was futile until Kamito steps in and everyone teams up together and wins. Velsaria gets her 30 second redemption scene while the green elf gets absolutely wasted by the principal. Apparently the REAL Blade Dance is just now about to be underway as the main character crew are now chosen as the representatives.

Of course this is a “character” driven series so let’s get my complaints and short handed compliments done.

Blade Dance- Swimming

  • Kamito is yet again our strong protagonist who can’t do anything about the girls that flock to him. It’s essentially IS all over again only in a semi-medieval magic setting. Kamito is of course is one of those protagonist who had all the development back then instead of now. Simply put, he’s really good at fighting and due to reasons unexplained in the adaptation, lost his old sword Restia. He’s also apparently the successor/reincarnation of the demon king. The word unique just screams from his form don’t you think?. Simply put, I just felt indifferent on him.
  • Claire is our ever so required character archetype of being the overly possessive, hotheaded, irrational, red headed little girl who is self conscious of her breasts. While it may seem pretentious of me to expect ANYTHING from a harem light novel adaptation, I will always question on who exactly might consider a character like this likable. I should at least be happy that she is not voice by Rie Kugimiya which already makes her miles above Aria. Simply put, Claire is a glaring issue in trying to enjoy a series when a good chunk of time is devoted to her and her incessant whining.
  • Rinslet was the girl who the least amount of time on screen and that did her some good in not showing me parts I might hate on her. While she is somewhat possessive like Claire might be, her jealousy and attitude rarely intercedes with the show as much as the former. Ultimately, Rinslet had little presence so I do not have much to say about her. She’s better than Claire, but that is not exactly difficult by any means of the imagination.
  • Ellis was formally introduced second but only got her “arc” in the final episodes. While she gave off the Houki from IS vibe, she actually turned out likable as compared to Claire and Rinslet who honestly treat Kamito like a piece of furniture. She isn’t as overly violent and it at least honest with herself so that was nice to see.
  • Fianna falls under the same category as Ellis, which is to say, acting like a regular person. Not possessive, violent, and actual backstory that doesn’t involve an atrocity that has to do with family members that exist for the sole purpose of developing their respectively related character. Fianna was simply okay and unfortunately, that’s saying a lot when we consider the characters here.
  • Something Japan loves doing is making ancient, powerful beings or immensely powerful artifacts all be represented by a little girl. Est is apparently a legendary demon slaying blade that, for whatever reason, was just sealed in the middle of a unguarded shrine. Est’s personality is akin to a legitimate little sister wanting attention but since she doesn’t treat Kamito like garbage, it was hard not to like her. Hell, to be a likable character in this series, all you simple need to do is be a regular, sane human who respects the Golden Rule.
  • I realize Restia is an important piece of background character development for herself and Kamito in the future but the adaptation barely touched her in any sort of plot points other than for her to just show up, flap some wings to let a few feathers fly, giggle, and disappear.

Like I reviewed Date A Live, I will write the next paragraph in the most objective way possible in terms of Blade Dance holds as an adaptation while the later paragraphs will be my subjective views that will more or less tear this apart, unsurprisingly, it’s mostly Claire.

Blade Dance- All Eyecatches

The adaptation itself apparently covers the first three volumes. Now this become a problem in itself when I bring up Restia. She’s an essential character without a doubt but when the adaptation requires her to be in it but not actually be significant until later, then something wrong is going on with the light novels. Whether or not the things are actually dragged out, properly explained, or whatever, a light novel should not just “wait around” or “extend” things and say “it gets better later”. There are cases to this sometime being good but really, this shouldn’t technically be a thing as you would ideally want things to be good in general. Now I could be completely wrong too and I’m okay with that. Blade Dance has 10+ volumes and it at least must have some merit of enjoyment if it got that far but whatever the case may be, the adaptation made Restia extremely insignificant even though she is a big part of the series. Another issue is the visual quality. I mentioned in DAL that I rarely ever give attention to this since I’m pretty lenient when it comes to looks but Blade Dance suffered the same quality issues that DAL II had. So I hope that Blade Dance at least looks better in the Blurays because then this won’t be a problem.

With that out of the way, time for some nitpicking with Claire saved for last. For a series called Blade Dance, I honestly, and wholeheartedly expected some good fights. With a title like “Blade Dance” as like, compared to “Date A Live” I’d expect the former to pull some better fighting scenes. Instead, all we got were still shots like what SAO loves to do. Comparatively DAL  had some surprisingly acceptable fights which I would not expect based on the title. Even with the premise, Blade Dance identifies itself as somewhat of a battle series while DAL is more or less a parody and what do you know, the latter series pulled off more fights. Kamito’s Ren Ashbell “techniques” of which I assumed would at least resemble a titular dance were nothing but still frames, colored lines flashing, and the enemy falling down on their knees.  The girls fighting always HAD to include all the incantation announcements that honestly got tiring. The girl’s powers were by no means creative and their animal forms were laughable. Do you seriously expect me to believe that a spirit of fire can be embodied in a cat that’s smaller than a pot?

Blade Dance- In one picture

At last we arrive at Claire, the glaring red rash on a rather unflattering but cute face. Claire herself brings the series down near the hellish pit that holds the two horrible series I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing, Hidan no Aria and Mahou Sensou. Mahou Sensou was just overall bad and Hidan no Aria’s titular female lead is one of the most unlikable fictional characters I can remember. Claire happens to be a near carbon-copy of Aria complete with family issues, reddish hair, a despicable personality, twintails, catlike features, inability to take care of herself, and no form of social ability. What makes Claire just a little bit better (or worse) is that Aria is actually considered “skilled” with 4 weapons no less. Claire’s abilities are absolutely laughable and she is by no means skilled or talented which. So when I meant worse as a character, at least Claire is not put up on the pedestal and I laughed a bit when Kamito mentioned her as a good “strategist” in the final episode. Also her cookie cutter lines, “I’ll burn you to cinders”, do people really like this? Do they find lines like this cute? Also, I never understood the “slave spirit” thing she wouldn’t shut up on. Kamito’s a guy yet a spirit-like connection can be made? I don’t understand.

As a seasonal battle-harem I always end up watching, Blade Dance would have been decent if not for Claire. Her attitude alone drops the series a lot of favor from me and it doesn’t help that the series lacks any sort of decent fights. Machine Doll was predictable but at least it had some things that I wouldn’t have expected, Blade Dance was just going down a checklist of cliches for me. However, it wasn’t painful to watch when Claire wasn’t on screen so at the very least the other girls were nice to watch. Compared to the likes of Noucome, Machine Doll, Mahou Sensou, and Oreshura, Blade Dance is on the average line. I somewhat blame the source material for taking to long to get better with the adaptation pacing issues but that’s an inherent problem with these sort of things anyway.

In the end, it’s an average harem series that gets points deducted for having Claire be the main character. It had poor fights but I guess I was expecting too much on that part. The adaptation has not urged me in to read the novels but I did generally hear it does get better. I’m just not sure if I want to deal with Claire. For those of you who endured and found it charming, good for you there’s a lot of novel content. For people like me, I don’t think we’re missing out on anything we haven’t seen before.

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14 responses »

  1. “Do you seriously expect me to believe that a spirit of fire can be embodied in a cat that’s smaller than a pot?”

    Well, yes, if the spirit was sealed very tightly, and was in it’s highly depowered, dormant form. Any more will be spoilers, but like wise, Est being a Legendary sword in a body of a child should be just as hard to swallow.

    Structure wise, and in some themes, Seirei Blade Dance is very Action-Shonenish. Hence the long build up to the tournament arc – 3 Volumes. The first was bad, the second better, and the third, readable. By the way, the Blade Dance last from Volume 4 till 11 – another example of how Blade Dance has a very Shonen like structure – thing of the long battles in Shonen mangas that stretch for 50 chapters or one whole volume. Also, if you notice, Blade Dance more or less runs on Nakama power – Kamito’s words would be right at home with Action Shonens that build on the power of friendship and last minuet power ups against supposedly much more powerful enemies

    It’s the type of story, that two decades ago would have been a Manga in a Shonen Magazine, with most of it’s cast male, and a few token females.

      • I think Claire is basically nothing more than a character device initially, to lure the Otaku audience with a very familiar character archtype that is very unpopular in many quarters, including your own. It’s also a product, I think it;s partly due to the author’s inexperience – that’s probably how Fianna and Elis are so much more sympathetic than Claire, despite having objectively much less tragic backstories. I think Claire was a badly botched Louise Clone (no, not even Shana clone), and unfortunately, even in the LNs, that still haunts her character badly. Infact, I think Claire is an alien, dissonant element – you can’t have Shounen grade Nakama Power and Louise-Clone Harem Tsundere nonsense together without breaking immersion.

        Sans Claire though, you could make FIanna and Elis and Rinslett male, and Blade Dance would not be changed in terms of plot substantive, though details would naturally be very different. Male Fianna as the trolling Prince, and Elis as the noble knight (whose nobility makes him so easy to tease), and Rinslet as the cocky archer. The Priest, the Knight, the Hunter/Archer and the Assassin. But that’s probably for the realms of fanfiction.

        Out of curiosity though, how would you have written Claire with her backstory? The story tries to justify Claire’s character, by setting her backstory as the excuse, and explaining her actions as that of a traumatized child lashing out. Defenders of the story usually accept that explanation. (Personally, I find it abit iffy, and would it be safe to say you find this explanation an attempt to excuse a poorly written character?) In brief, Claire was basically a girl who lost everything – her sister betrayed the “god” she served, and brought the wrath of that god onto her family’s land and to the entire Empire. Her parents were imprisoned as a result of her sister’s action, and their prosecutors tried to strip her of the core of her identity as a person able to command Spirits, and she more or less has that very fact rubbed in her face nearly everyday. The intent then was to try to write a character with a massive prosecution complex, but…. well, it probably succumbed to the lazy, if profitable way of writing a stock Tsundere-jerk.

      • Claire did have a backstory that made her an outcast but it wouldn’t be so annoying if she wasn’t useless most of the time she was. She’s more or less a Sasuke-style “get stronger because my sibling devastated my family” character. In Sasuke’s paper-thin defense, at least he can isolate himself and defend for himself. Claire has the backstory to get stronger for the sake of her family name and pride but she is unable to do anything by herself.
        It’s understandable no doubt but her way of thinking in lieu of the generic tsundere really just kills her reasoning.

  2. I don’t really like about the whole “It gets better later” or “The source material is better” as an excuse (kinda hypocrisy considering i was a bit disappointed by DAL anime adaptation). The former is because why do i need to suffer series of bad episode just so i can find the good ones, but i digress.

    Going in to Blade Dance, i wasn’t expecting anything astounding. All i hope was getting a cool action with a decent character, i don’t mind the harem element as long as the series can contain itself.

    And the first episode gave me a guy ran into naked girl scenario as a form of formal greeting. The rest that follows and the action is already covered by you.

    The only thing that irks me with Blade Dance is that while there several flaws with the anime, they don’t make the whole series unwatchable, so i kept watching on despite lack of rewarding experience. Hence, i stop watching after episode 3.

    Hi Hippie, how are you by the way?

    • Well, there are several reasons why those arguments “It get’s better later” and “The Source material is better” keeps getting repeated.

      Just to be a devil’s advocate for abit, the main rationale of “It get’s better later” is that most LN authors basically haven’t published a single professional work in their life, and most LN editors seem out to push as many LN cliches as possible to ensure the author wins some kind of audience base from the LN reader demographics. But in many cases, the author visibly improves and grows as the LN series goes on, but of course, flaws and characterization failures committed at the start goes back to haunt the LN rather badly. Basically, most LN Authors works are fit for fanfiction , and this doesn’t happen in Mangas as often, because most Mangakas go through a long Doujinshin phase before debuting professionally – I bet if the good Mangakas today had their early Doujins animated, it’d be bad on par with LN Authors.

      Now, the counterargument is that editors have a duty to ensure that even Green authors either don’t get published, or get good advice to produce a story fit for publishing. Which is nice and all, but doesn’t seem to fit the realities of the LN Industry – which is to hurl a bunch of cliches, string together a possibly interesting premise into it and shove it out the door. As a result, we get lot’s of terrible LN animes, terrible partly because the very weakest and worst material in the whole series is the first to be adapted. That being said, those animes do deserved to be excoriated, but it’s abit of a stretch to say that the entire story is necessarily going to be bad throughout, especially if the later episodes in the Anime starts seeing improvements in characterization, making characters sympathetic, etc….

      The second counter argument is that Log Horizon/ Monogatari/Ore Gairu etc all prove to be good animes on their own, so that doesn’t excuse those green authors, nor should we have the patience to watch their growth process. Fair enough, but it doesn’t mean that these green authors would necessarily suck for the rest of their writing career, which is implicit in the “It will not get better later” idea. It also perhaps hints that anytime you see a LN to anime adaptation, you should be prepared for the worst no matter the hype (especially the hype!), and be pleasantly surprised if it turned out tolerable. And you should be very wary of LN shows by authors with no previous title to their name, odds are, they are on the caliber of mediocre fanfic authors when they start.

      The Source Material is better is another big point of contention here. Again, there are reasons why the source material of LNs are usually defended as better. Firstly, alot of LN protagonist tend to be written in such a way that their characters emerge from their internal perspective, and this includes their internal monologues. Is this a bad character building? Not necessarily, but it is a big problem if the anime directors can’t seem to capture Internal Monologue well. Just imagine Haruhi Suzumiya, with none of Kyon’s narrations – this is basically what happens to so many LNs (not Blade Dance in this case, the source material really is bad where the anime is bad, and tolerable where the anime is tolerable – but Mahouka and SAO are two big victims of this, which is why alot of LN fans would agree with you that those animes are shit, but for different reasons). Again, it’s perhaps for the better if the actions of a character is enough to characterize it, and characters built that way tend to be better captured in the anime medium. Most of these character come from manga, and it’s not coincidence – a Manga Panel imposes alot more discipline and restrictions on the storyteller, than text.

      Second problem is that (especially for LNs that are heavy into worldbuilding) the pacing of LNs are not often friendly to anime (exceptions again abound). There can be entire pages squeezed into ten seconds. Essentially, it places a higher skill requirement on Anime producers, directors and scriptwriters. That’s why studios like Madhouse has such a bad reputation even among the LN audience – they are infamous for not being skilled enough most of the time. A scene that flows nicely in text form can easily be botched when translating to anime running in real-time, if the director isn’t up to it. Again, true, it is the onus of the directors to take source materials and make it stand on it’s own in a visual format. It’s unfortunately a high degree of onus, that most directors don’t seem to posses. On the other hand, feed them a manga with a ready made storyboard, and they tend to do better, it just requires less skill and imagination.

      Another problem is the rate of buildup. Alot of LNs build up slowly – and that becomes a big problem in the anime adaptation. Do you rush it, and risk alienating the core customers? Do you slow down adaptation pacing, and scare away potential customers? Again, it’s not limited to LN adaptation alone.

      Fourth problem: the marginal cost of text is almost free. Visuals are not. Text can often convey very impressive action scenes, with vivid and sharp descriptions and crisp battle choreography. If the show has no budget to adapt it, then unfortunately, the action is going to flop badly. Blade Dance is a victim of no budget – two fatal phrases for an adaptation are action-Harem LN, no budget. It’s cheaper to animate boobs and kneesocks than swordfights, alas, if a LN had fifty pages of impressively written action and ten pages of Kneesocks that makes you want to facepalm at it’s sheer stupidity, the path of least resistance is alas, the kneesocks. Or as in Blade Dance, Clair bathing in the first episode is cheaper than Kamito fighting off a recently awaken Est. Cool action requires budget or excellent direction, Blade Dance clearly had none.

      Basically, imagine the controversies of literature to movie adaptations where the movie fails to do justice to the story. Magnify this scenario, by lowering the skill of the authors generally, where stories in that industry generally are crafted to push cliches first, and then development after. Make it even worse, by making most of the anime producers on average worse than your Hollywood Producers. That’s where the “The Source material is better” sentiment comes from.

      Basically, those two sentiments you dislike aren’t necessarily mere excuses some give to convince themselves they haven’t wasted their time. The only problem is that those Sentiments tend to be badly communicated, simplistically stated, and often totally unjustified, or poorly unjustified. It doesn’t come up in public forums, because often spoiler policies make it risky to post a highly detailed analysis, if the fans can even be bothered . (They did do it for Mahouka though, every episode during the final 10 weeks or so at least had a very detailed LN-anime comparison post on Reddit.) I don’t think it’s hypocritical to find the two sentiments irritating – it’s irritating precisely because it’s so often poorly justified, and so poorly a constructed defense, even if didn’t have to be that way. So, I don’t think you should feel like a hypocrite.

      Speaking of Date a Live, the moment they botch Westcott’s introduction, and had the most absurd, almost completely anime original first episode that brutalized the LN to hell and back was the moment the anime clearly announced that it intended to suck, and follow Infinite Stratos II School of attaining high sales . That is, butcher the source material and dissect cliches out of it’s corpse, emphasize the cliches to milk laughs, and if the story has moved on beyond that, wink one eye and ignore whole chapters even if it would butcher the entire LN-anime adaptation process from that point on since whole plotlines weren’t even properly built in the anime.

      I apologize for the long essay. I didn’t anticipate that I’d end up writing that much when I hit reply….. but it’s the sort of topic I really get hung up on, since Negima got utterly butchered when it got animated.

      • Thank you for your kind reply. I do understand regarding the fact how most LN author are still amateur, so it’s only natural that they improve as they’re publishing more volume and to be honest this isn’t limited to LN, many series got better as they progress.

        However, my irritation doesn’t come from the wait, you see earlier volume or episodes of a series serve as introduction of what to come. If you not invested or at least interested of the plot, character or theme that the series trying to convey, personally it’s hard to care on what’s going to happen latter on. So while you do reached a point where the series got better, you don’t feel any satisfaction. “Investment” and “interest” is the key word here.

        Regarding source material issue, adaptation from time to time can elevate the series as a whole (Sakurasou is the example of this by cutting a lot of the empty meaningless banter), keeping it’s original source strength and flaw or fail to capture the original source noteworthy point all together(Hayate the Combat Butler). So in a sense adaptation is “original” work on their own.

        However, sometimes adaptation itself can’t be the only one to be blamed should they failed. One of LN bad habit is that the author have the tendency to narrate or tell almost everything directly to the reader. The characters thoughts, the context of their action or in extreme cases they’re very personality and feeling regarding the situation. As a result, they can’t characterize their characters through the characters action or their own words so the audience can interpret the characters personality on their own. SAO is the example of this, Kirito becoming bland is not only because the anime didn’t carry many of his monologue (most likely to aid pacing), but also the fact that in the LN many of his characterization is “told” by the author through Kirito’s monologues. This post should help you understand the problem a bit further:

        http://geekorner.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/light-novels-are-poorly-written-and-adapting-them-shows-that/

        This is off topic, but since you mention DAL, i am going to vent my frustration a bit about the anime by ramblings.

        While i can understand about shortening info dump, one of my complaint about the adaptation is that the events didn’t flow well, the pacing is horrid and it’s sloppy presentation. To some degree it’s understandable if you take the consideration of time constraint and budget.

        Buuuutttttttt, my biggest complaints is:
        a) The lack of effort adapting it and finally
        b) Just like you said, the emphasize of cliche through the very act of replacing important plot and character related original content with worthless original comedy moments (Season one first and third episode and the filler episodes is the worst offender). Not only it screw the pacing even further(which makes the emotional beats lack proper build up and impact), it also take away deeper implication of several plot point (Shido’s power and origin, Ratatoskr existence and founding, Kotori’s role as a commander of Fraxinus, etc) and audience feeling to take anything that happened seriously, which led to tonal dissonance that many people criticize the series over (And that’s really important considering many of the series plot element is already really hard to swallow or to be taken seriously) ESPECIALLY during the event of volume 3. Is as if this series didn’t have enough cliche already or the girls design is not enough selling point or the story don’t really matter.

        Thought on the upside, you can see what the producer is prioritizing because more cliches means more money right? -__-”

        Anyway, thank you for your long reply and i hope we can discuss this further in the future 🙂

        (p.s. sorry hippie, this is suppose to be a post about Blade Dance, but i am really interested in this topic)

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