Anime Review | Blade Dance of the Elementalers (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 15.05.2016

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Blade Dance of the Elementalers (UK Rating: 15)

Like many popular anime series, Blade Dance of the Elementalers is an adaptation of a popular light novel series. After making the jump to manga, it then was adapted to an anime in 2014 by TNK, a studio known for its ecchi adaptations thanks to its work with High School DXD and Ikki Tousen. With so many harem battle series out there, though, what can this do to make it stand out against the crowd? This complete collection by Manga Entertainment is available now and contains all 13 episodes, along with clean opening and closing animations, trailers, and six short OVA specials.

In Blade Dance of the Elementalers, a world of spirits known as Astral Zero exists besides our own and priestesses can form a pact with these spirits, to manifest them in this world and use their elemental powers as they see fit. An annual competition between these girls - the titular Blade Dance - decides the strongest Elementaler. It is said the Blade Dance is to honour the five great Spirit Lords and that the realm of the winning representatives wins the blessing of these Spirit Lords alongside a granted wish.

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The backdrop and lore of the universe established, things then jump to following the protagonist. A young man is trekking through a forest to find Areishia Spirit Academy after receiving an invitation from the headmaster there. This man is Kazehaya Kamito, the only man in the world who is able to form pacts with spirits. His trip through the woods results in the classic anime situation, stumbling on a naked girl bathing in a lake. The girl is Claire Rouge, an attendee at the Spirit Academy. She is also a Princess Maiden, a girl of pure heart, not used to being around men, oh and she has a hell of a temper and a whip made of an elemental fire cat… Not the best combination to be walked in on while bathing.

Right from the get-go, the relationship that develops between the two is classic ecchi anime romance as Kamito pushes all Claire's buttons with dirty jokes and situations. It turns out Claire is in the forest to try and forge a pact with a spirit stored within a 'Legendary' sword, one that has refused a pact for numerous generations. Her mood and temperament worsen when Kamito is the one to forge the pact with the sword…

The plot develops very slowly from there, having Kamito and Claire return to the academy and following the mishaps and happenings of the pair as they begin to meet other members of the school to fill Kamito's harem and Claire's Blade Dancer team ready for the titular tournament. Kamito is bullied and manipulated into participating by the headmaster who knows all the secrets of his past.

What makes it stand out over the countless other series is its numerous story threads. The show builds up numerous mysteries and plot points throughout the first half. Many of these are all surrounding Kamito and his past, the strange girl he can't help but think about, why he has a glove constantly on his left hand, why he can forge pacts, and the truth of his past, plus his connection to the demon king. Then there's Claire's (possibly) evil sister, an evil assassination organisation, and the true identity of Ren Ashbell.


 
The show is overflowing with tropes and cliché situations. Kamito is the only guy in a school full of girls and he regularly finds himself in compromising positions. There are Kabe-DON, panty shots, and innuendo. As more characters are added, there are the usual archetypes, too, like a tsundere knight and a busty but clumsy maid.

The main issue with the show is that there are so many promising story threads and side plots that there is not enough time spent on them, meaning so many of the interesting story threads are barely touched. The show, therefore, languishes on mediocre romance and tired tropes. There are high points across the short season; the finale, in particular, is superb, but, there's so much wasted time. It's highly disappointing to see such promising stories wasted, especially considering the series is unlikely to ever get a second season to explore some of these more interest subplots.

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

There are plenty of ecchi series like this out there. The best of them are shows like Rosario Vampire, shows that understand how to use the pervy comedy as an aspect of the show, not the focus. Blade Dance of the Elementalers expertly balances the two, with just enough fan-service to keep viewers happy but also ensures the story and characters are the focus over the panty shots. It's such a shame that it then wastes its hard work by ignoring interesting stories, instead focusing on inane run of the mill harem plots. Overall, while impressive, it could have been so much more.

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