You know the story. Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, girl just so happens to be bathing in a lake, boy averts gaze stating that he had no intention of peeping, girl flies into murderous rage and destroys a large tree, boy saves girl from being crushed by said tree, girl flies into second murderous rage and ensnares boy in magical fire whip, boy eventually escapes said fire whip, girl begins tireless search for boy, boy enrolls as only male student in the history of all girls college, girl finds boy and declares him her eternal slave. It’s a classic…probably.
So yeah, that’s basically the first episode. This series doesn’t even pretend to open with a plot, it just jumps straight to the ill timed mid-bath meet cute. You don’t even know the character’s names when it happens, hell, there’s a few more tsundere outbursts before that information is revealed. Eventually however, we discover that our protagonist is a boy named Kamito Kazehaya and the brash little spitfire known as Claire Rouge will be joining him as love interest numero uno…I think. Honestly it’s hard to tell in this series, but I digress, if for but a brief moment. Despite having planned to acquire a tremendously powerful spirit to aid her in her as yet to be revealed quest of self improvement, Clair for some reason decides to drag along the guy she just met in the forest. Smart. Of course, things go awry and Claire is saved by Kamito at the cost of her dream, as he forms a Spirit Contract with the legendary Demonslayer instead. Now, in the world of this series, this feat is impressive not only due to the inherent power of the spirit sleeping within this sword, but also in that Kamito is the only male known to be able to perform such a feat. Yes my friends, this is another tale that focuses on a single male in a world of powerful female warriors who all fawn over his mere presence…it’s a surprisingly common trope in anime. I’m pretty sure it’s its own genre at this point, so this will all probably sound familiar to you. In fact, it definitely will.
As I’m sure you all have figured out, it doesn’t take long for our dear Kamito to unsuspectingly acquire his own harem of lovely ladies, to whom’s affections he is woefully unaware of. Because where’s the fun in a series where the protagonist understands the concept of love? Character development? Surely you jest? No, it is far better to have someone who never advances any of the possible relationships as that would make some characters sad and we all know that it’s better to keep stringing along multiple women in order to spare their feelings. It’s the compassionate thing to do…okay, I know that last part was a little sarcastic, but we’ve all seen this story structure before. Now there’s nothing wrong with utilising a well known formula, every story does it. No, the problem comes from an inability to rise above a framework, to use the played out to propel characters and the world in which they live to greater heights. Unfortunately, Blade Dance of the Elementalers does not quite accomplish this. Rather, we find ourselves with a series that presents a number of plot threads and then slowly watches them fray, never really connecting them in any substantial way. Take Kamito for example, his backstory leaves him plagued with regret due to something that happened with his former spirit partner. I say something because we never learn what happened because this series decides to end with the promise of not so much future adventures, but the conclusion of the one at hand. Yep, despite the title of the series, the titular Blade Dance lies yet out of reach. Sure we get a preliminary Blade Dance, but still, it’s not the one that promises revelations and conclusion. So that kinda puts a dampener on things. Regardless, Kamito’s past consistently makes mysterious appearances throughout the episodes, teasing us with a clarification that is yet to come. This doesn’t so much create a sense of intrigue as much as it is simply frustrating, much like the romantic state of this series…
Okay, let’s talk love shall we, or, more accurately, let’s talk about schoolgirl crushes. This series runs on the things. No surprise. However, the balance of the various, conflicting love interests is far from equal. As the first and primary love interest, the series seems hellbent on pushing Claire and Kamito together, despite the obvious lack of sustainable affection there. Yes, she’s tsundere I know, but her violent outbursts outweigh her tender moments 100:1 and even that 1 is cut noticeably short by another of the 100. I honestly don’t think I’ve seen such moments cut shorter than Claire oh so likes to in this series. However, as I said, we’re supposed to look over all of this because she’s the main…which kind of annoys me. I mean I understand the formula of these series, but it would be nice if Blade Dance at least played along, it barely gives Fianna any reasoning beyond having met Kamito once as a child and Rinslet seems to be there to round out the numbers for the tournament team (which is not a spoiler in the slightest, seeing as the five girls in question are in both the opening and ending themes). Curiously enough however, the series spends a great deal of its time pushing Ellis as a viable love interest. For several episodes towards the end of the series, Kamito spends a substantial amount of time with her and the final clash of the prelim Blade Dance serves to strengthen his bond with Ellis. Also, due to her initial distrust, she shows the most development in regards to her relationship with Kamito. Still, Claire is the main girl, so none of this matters. Oh, also Kamito’s sword is a girl, she likes him too. She also possesses an odd sense of modesty and frequently appears wearing nothing more than knee socks whilst curling up with Kamito in bed…she’s a loyal spirit.
As far as combat sequences go, this series possesses a pretty decent amount. However, they are not the most brilliantly animated scenes and carry a sense of the average. I know that sounds a little mean, but it’s just how it is. The scenes are not the worst thing I’ve ever seen in anime, but they are equally far from greatness. There are two brief moments where the animation picks up, but they are almost immediately forgone in order to return to the norm, making you wonder why they even occurred in the first place. Combined with the fact that characters seldom show any noticeable emotion with their giant eyes, scenes intended to carry much weight just kind of pass on by and blend in with everything that preceded it and everything that followed. Which is pretty sad, especially when ice wolves, crystalline knights and snake monsters are totally a thing in this world. That being said, the series does a surprisingly good job at presenting food. Some good looking cakes going around.
So there you have it, Blade Dance of the Elementalers. Though born from a well trodden genre, its individual aspects are not devoid of promise. However, in its execution, it failed to propel anything further than that of its basic nature. A hero with a mysterious past, a tsundere cast who all immediately fall for the first guy to enter their lives, spirits, demons, mysterious third parties, everything we’ve come to expect. This being said, I wish to make it clear that Blade Dance is merely an average series, not a bad one. Though it might not win any awards, it won’t turn you away either (if this type of series interests you that is). The characters have their moments and there were one or two situations that legitimately made me laugh, particularly Kamito’s reaction to walking in on Claire attempting to enhance her bust. Oh yeah, in case you thought this series was devoid of boob jokes, it is most assuredly not. In fact I think it makes up about 50% of the humour, with the other 50% belonging exclusively to the utterance of the word pervert. Thus, what this series ultimately boils down to is an offering unto fans of the genre. Nothing special, nothing appauling, just something to tide you over until the next big mystical harem series led by a tsundere character unhappy about her cup size and possessive of spiritual powers decides to claim the only male character as her pet/slave/manservant/whatever word is in vogue at the time. And believe you me, there will be another series with this exact formula. There always is…
To survive a tsundere world, one must either be oblivious or a Madman