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Sacred Level 425 WoW Blacksmith Looking for Work

October 29, 2009

Something about Sacred Blacksmith irks me. It isn’t Cecily’s silly plate armor (with boobs). That goofiness went in one eye and out the other with no other thought. What irks me is an apparent inconsistency with the anime’s mythos.

The “blacksmithing” that’s harped about in the series seems utterly pointless.

In the second episode, we get a long spiel about the “superiority” of the craftmanship behind the katana. The chipmunk elf, Lisa, tells us all of the details that make this particular forging process superior to the process used by Cecily’s people. I can live with this. Even though comparisons have shown that most quality blades of equal size don’t really differ in measurable overall effectiveness (katana do things better than European blades, and vice versa), the idea of the katana being a special type of blade is a concept that’s cemented itself in recent fantasy trends and tropes. Some old school types may not agree with this notion, but there’s a precedent for saying “the katana is a superior blade” in fantasy stuff.

What irritates me is that before Lisa gives us this spiel, everything she’s said was rendered moot. Even though he spouts out a lot of terms while “forging” the blade, Luke isn’t actually doing any forging. He’s using his elf slave/employee/life partner to open some sort of magical portal that allows him to throw some rocks and metal in and pull out a sword. He’s essentially doing what characters do in World of Warcraft: he’s using some sort of shortcut to allow him to fashion a weapon in seconds rather than days or weeks.

I could live with this WoW-like process as well if that was all we got. But if we’re supposed to be impressed by the forging process used to make a katana, shouldn’t we actually see some scene where said process is actually used? Using magic to wave a proverbial wand and make a sword poof out of nowhere is cheating, and it leads me as a viewer to believe that what makes Luke’s katana special isn’t the craftsmanship, but the fact that it’s fucking MAGIC. It’s like he’s pulling out a light saber and trying to tell me he’s wielding a well-crafted rapier. It isn’t the same thing, even if you can hold and use each of them in the same way.

Why did the writers feel compelled to go into this rant about how superior Japanese craftsmanship is compared to Western techniques, only to turn around and subvert their point before said point is ever made?

I can’t help but chalk it up to laziness on the part of the creators.

I’m calling it laziness because the series proceeds to render Luke’s magical sword portal irrelevant as well. In the third episode we’re introduced to a “Demon Sword,” a sword that gains magical properties and sentience. We aren’t told the exact details, but it’s implied that this results from massive carnage and death on the battlefield. It’s akin to fantasy conspiracy theories that say massive losses of life in a short time span can result in people ascending to godhood.

We’ve seen the art of crafting a katana rendered moot by magical forging portals, and now we’ve seen these portals rendered impotent by swords that turn into attractive women. It’s like the writers forgot that they already came up with one “ultimate” technique when they come up with another and do so twice in three episodes. Why even come up with these fantastical methods if they’re going to be usurped by something that comes along later. It’s like the “ranking” of Saiyans in Dragonball Z, except you don’t have multiple seasons and the need to continue the series beyond a natural end point as an excuse. That seems like lazy writing at its worse.

What makes this all the more irksome is the fact that Sacred Blacksmith has some potential. There’s some imagery and swordplay that makes the series look like it could be on par with, say, Berzerk, Claymore or Record of Lodoss War. There’s a few nicely animated action scenes, and the “war based around selling your soul” plot is appealing in a traditional D&D way. But the laziness that we’ve seen in the story’s weapon mythos spills over into other areas. There’s far too many pseudo-cute and wannabe-heartfelt moments that take up time that could be used furthering the plot or show us cool monsters. Instead we get some generic “Cecily loves Luke, oh wait she doesn’t, but she does because she’s angry, but she’ll deny it until the end because she wants to be Akane when she grows up” scenes. We also get a whole episode devoted to Cecily overcoming her inability to kill. I’ve already talked about how that sort of stuff annoys me in my Darker than Black bits, so I won’t go into that again.

In the end, Sacred Blacksmith is suffering from many of the same ailments as Railgun. But at least Sacred Blacksmith has an elf falling on her face in the end credits. I take great sadistic glee in that every time I see it. Schadenfreude at its best. Die, Chipmunk, die!

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