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Bladedance of the Elementalers REVIEW


Another season, another magical academy anime to analyse. I’ve not had much luck with these types of shows since starting this website; Magical Warfare and Dragonar Academy spring to mind as being series which fail to inspire, interest or even engage remotely. I understand that magic is a pretty exciting narrative tool as you can explain away a lot of plot holes or break free from the laws of physics. However, it shouldn’t mean that you skimp on the actual plot or even bothering with character development for the most part. Does Bladedance of the Elementalers buck this growing trend I see before me? My answer is a resounding “ehhhhhh.”.

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The story is about a guy named Kamito who has been charged by the principal of a spirit princess academy [talk about pretentious] to take part in the world’s traditional Bladedance tournament. A Bladedance tournament is essentially like Pokémon; people [known as elementalers] with monsters [spirits the user has formed a contract with] fight other peoples’ monsters and the winner’s country receives prosperity from the gods until the next tournament. Kamito is an elementaler [through nefarious means though which are explained later] and so he’s enrolled in the school so he can take part; slight problem though, he’s a guy and in this world only women can be elementalers. So he sticks out like a sore thumb. That doesn’t matter though because when Kamito meets the leading lady, Claire, for the first time it’s when she’s naked and having a shower and she reacts in the usual anime way – beating the living tar out of him. Oh anime, you never change. Claire then proceeds to punish him constantly as they make their way to the academy; not before she tries to ‘catch’ another spirit to control. Naturally this backfires and Kamito gets the spirit, which is in the form of a sword and then later a girl [well this IS an anime we’re talking about here!]. Claire is pissed and proclaims that he is now her contracted spirit…right. The rest of the plot is geared around Kamito forming a team of elementalers to fight alongside him for the upcoming tournament all nestled for in the incoming big bad from his past which is about to come back to haunt him.

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Hmmmm, where to start. Well, this show isn’t terrible that’s for sure. I know! I was shocked; especially when I found out that TNK produced the animation. It was fairly decent and somewhat nice to look at. The plot though…oh dear. If you got out a join the dots drawing and then joined all the dots, Bladedance of the Elementalers would appear – it’s that formulaic. You got your magical academy, the wandering prodigy and his troubled past, the hot-headed lead female character, tons of spells and lore to remember which don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, mythical monsters, tons of awkward fanservice [mostly aimed at skirts and legs] and not forgetting a big celebration of some kind which goes south…oh and spirit contracts! Can’t forget those, although sometimes the rules and terms of the contract get muddled up. Sometimes it requires long spiels of dialogue and other times all you need to do is telling the spirit that “You’re mine.” with no sense of accomplishment. The spirit seems to just take it. Huh. When the plot isn’t being generic, it’s muddled; like it doesn’t know what to do and ends up achieving nothing. Another grievance is that Kamito is despised by most of the student body because he’s a guy. I understand in this world the only other male elementaler existed a thousand years ago and was a manic tyrant but Kamito is hardly [or seems not to be] an evil douche. This prejudice is too heavy handed, but then I would say that because I am a man. Looking at it from an objective standpoint, the misandry is understandable but it’s carried out in a brash and overly harsh manner.

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That being said, the show does do some things right. I’m interested in how Kamito’s past will manifest itself; it’s clear it’s not going to beneficial for the main cast. He used to have a contract spirit before his current one [a sword spirit, Est, who also takes human form] named Restia whom he was really close with. However, Restia is evil and her return is not good and he realises that pretty early on. Oooh, conflict of interests. Then there’s the world outside of the academy. There are other dimensions where students can go train without fear of physical injury which are established as alien and surreal in an elegant fashion which was pleasing to see, I just wish it was carried over to the overworld at large. Then there’s Est, Kamito’s new spirit. She is incredibly powerful and chooses to walk among humans instead of being shackled inside a sword all the time. I also like that she can subdue other spirits just by staring them down instead of initiating a drawn out fight. It’s pretty fierce stuff. She is close to Kamito; in fact sometimes being extrasocial with him by stripping down to just leggings in bed because it pleases him. That’s where she falls down in my book. The first time I saw that I was annoyed but not surprised. Of course Est is going to be naked, it makes for awkward fanservice and slapstick comedy involving the other female characters [yay], as well as pandering to the audience who want a cute mascot that isn’t a total witch. Yeah, I said it. Claire, despite her tragic past, is totally unlikeable in my eyes. She uses her whip to subdue Kamito all the time, treat him like a slave and then makes up for it by being nice to him once or twice. She may seem like she’s lonely but some of her interactions with him are so jerky and mean I can’t really empathise with her. She constantly threatens to burn him to cinders and that is a threat which she does act out at any trace of insubordination or ‘perverse’ actions. Finally there’s the fact that she’s a greedy and power-hungry madam who can’t settle for having an already powerful firecat spirit and chooses to grab others not matter the cost to her sanity; no other main character does that! I can’t stand her!

bladedance_5What I also can’t stand is the fanservice which is incredibly awkward and out of place. We have the usual suspects of impromptu breast groping, a cameraman who can’t seem to focus on anything other than ladies’ crotches most of the time, talk about panties which has nothing to do with the scene the characters are in and so on. It feels forced and there to appease the otaku masses. Honestly! Est is the worst case of this; she’s clearly in the body of a little girl and she’s naked and in bed with Kamito because she thinks “he would happier if she were like that.”. What? It’s awkward as hell. The only consolation for me is that you don’t see panties despite the lingering crotch shots; your imagination is left to deduce the rest and that is surprisingly restrained for a production that is willing to show naked girls yet not underwear. Strange.

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Bladedance of the Elementalers is one of those shows which could’ve been good if it chose to take what little bits of originality it has and expand on them instead of relying on tired old clichés and unnecessary tropes which add nothing to the overall plot. If you’re a tenacious viewer and hang in there until the end you might find something good here but for most it’s not worth the stock characters, blinding misandry [hatred of men] which is rife throughout the school and then the disappointingly annoying Claire which ruined the show for me despite the flickers of intrigue. It’s not for me, but I won’t write it off entirely. Try it for yourself and see whether you can stomach it.

Bladedance of the Elementalers is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

RATING: CAUTION [There’s some potential in there but you have to dig through a lot of derivative content in order to get to it.]

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(NSFW) Why Fanservice Is More Of A Disservice


I think there is too much sexual content in mainstream anime.

That’s the summation of my argument. I could just leave you with that and walk away but that would be horribly arrogant of me, so I shall elaborate. What do I mean by sexual content? In this context, I am referring to the notion of characters [mostly female] being sexualised for the purpose of eliciting a reaction or positive sensation in a usually male viewership; the term used for this by most fans or publications is fanservice. I believe this term is far too general. Fanservice can also mean homages or references to other shows or even thanking the fans in some way by inserting a tidbit into the production [e.g. a line of dialogue or a hidden easter egg]. In essence, the term can be geeky but otherwise non-threatening. The inclusion of sexual content under the ‘umbrella of fanservice’ taints the word and makes it something tasteless.

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Jinsei is a noteworthy example of a very good anime marred by unnecessary fanservice.

When fanservice is referred to, it tends to be used to describe scenes or shots in an anime which isn’t pornographic but isn’t aimed at children or for general audiences either; the PG-13/R sector. A more accurate term would be the word ecchi. Ecchi is a shortening of the phrase “ecchi suru” [to have sex or to describe someone/something as lecherous] and is used as a bridging of mainstream anime and adult anime [hentai]. What does it cover? Well, it covers anything that isn’t exposure of genitalia or full-on intercourse. The most common examples would be groping, upskirt shots, skimpy costumes which leave little to the imagination and the objectification of women. In recent years, ecchi has started to trickle its way into more shows and with the advent of online streaming, us Westerners see more of it. This is both good and bad; we have access to everything and we have access to EVERYTHING. Nothing is out of our grasp and nothing is hidden away. How did this come about though? It’s simply down to historical context. Let’s take a look at the panty shot, the most infamous anime trope.

[Source] Love Art Lab
Put simply, it’s a cultural throwback. In nineteenth century Japan, the country was slowly opening its borders to foreign trade. With that came the introduction of Western clothing including undergarments. During the Second World War, women were encouraged to wear trouser-like attire known as monpe over more traditional Japanese skirts or dresses [kimono]. Western underwear, drawers, worked well with monpe during the war; afterwards though, the garments were far too expensive. The only people who could afford Western undergarments were the callgirls that served the occupying Allied forces. As a result, an association of sexual deviance and wealth was established. As time wore on and more risque forms of underwear such as panties arrived in Japan, the association stuck. There was a mystique attached to it and it became a prevalent desire amongst men and therefore it eventually found its way into anime and other forms of media. It’s not baseless titillation, it’s tradition…of sorts. It doesn’t excuse it for being degrading though.

Highschool of the Dead – a notorious ecchi-heavy series.

That’s my biggest problem with fanservice or ecchi or whatever you want to call it. It degrades women and gives off the wrong message to newcomers. Whenever I talk to people who aren’t familiar with anime and about good it is, their first thought is usually “What? The porn thing?” and I cringe. The assumption in the West is that anime is purely sexual and strange…or it’s Pokémon. That’s not true! It’s like any other form of visual media, it just happens to be from Japan. It’s like India’s Bollywood cinema or England’s Shakespearean theatre; it’s a representation of Japanese traditions and ethics. That being said, anime doesn’t help itself in terms of convincing outside audiences that it’s not all “porn”.

What got me concerned initially occurred back in 2008 when I came across a little anime called Kanokon. The main character, Chizuru, was a hyper-sexual girl/fox spirit who constantly flirted with the lead guy in some bizarre scenes and costumes which were pretty blatant and pathetic. I couldn’t quite understand why Chizuru was being this provocative; it was nowhere close to reality and wasn’t that clever. It was just there. Then it hit me, ecchi these days is out in the open and too obvious. Of course, using sexually charged plot points aren’t new. They’ve been in anime for decades with examples going back to the seventies with Cutie Honey being a prime example. The character of Honey Kisaragi acted as a turning point in how manga and anime were perceived. She and Fujiko Mine from the Lupin III series were two signature female characters which really got people turned onto the idea that animated characters could be “sexy” and begun the modern idea of “fanservice”. Also, who could forget the legendary ‘Gainax Bounce’ of the late 1980s? I’m looking at you, Gunbuster!

Today, a lot of anime shows have a character or two that have either a large chest, a rampant sex drive or an inclination to get naked or as naked as possible. I can name tons of shows which are plagued with too much mindless ecchi. Recently My Sister is Unusual, Highschool of the Dead, No Game No Life, Moe-tan and Heaven’s Lost Property to name a few [all no older than 2007 to further illustrate the recent dilemma.] It perpetuates the idea that if a girl in an anime lets a character touch her for no good reason other than for laughs, then it could mean that it’s OK to do so in real life. Why do you think that Japan has a problem with non-consensual groping in public? There are gender-specific carriages on some services on Japan’s rail network today. While this can’t be fully attributed to anime solely, it could be a contributing factor. The whole groping on trains issue is even referenced in some shows and therefore kind of encouraged. In short, a sexist attitude towards women is driven by some shows which convey women as objects which are there for men to ogle. It’s kind of sobering when you find a website dedicated to chronicling counts of ecchi behaviour in anime. I don’t want that and I’m sure you don’t either.

[Source] Anime-Fanservice.org
So what do I want anime to do about this? Well, be creative. Don’t just stuff a busty girl into a plot just for the hell of it; throw in a bit of self-awareness or intellectualism. Women are attractive, clever and confident and deserve every bit of respect that men get. We are one species on this planet and we should be kind and courteous to one another. All nations should express sexuality positively and equally. By all means use the human body, but be original and tasteful about it! That’s not just a message for Japan, it’s for everybody. Sometimes, only showing a little skin is better. Leave it to your imagination…or you could do what Kill La Kill did and just go absolutely insane in order to convey pride in one’s own skin regardless of age, shape or gender!

Momo Kyun Sword


With anime originating in Japan, it’s natural that we’re going to get a lot of shows dedicated to the history and legends of said country. In this case, we are delving into a very “interesting” interpretation of the legend of Momotaro – the boy born from a peach which is steeped in Japanese culture. The “interesting” part comes in the very loose amendments they made to make this tale a little more accessible for anime audiences…especially male members. Momo Kyun Sword is the result and the only part of it that’s even remotely heavy or substantial is the chest of the leading lady.

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The story itself is simple to grasp. Evil demons are sent from the pits of hell to retrieve the mystical fragments of the Mimichi Peach which are scattered over Japan. Whoever gathers all the pieces rules over the land with a magical fist. Unbeknownst to the demons is the existence of a powerful girl named Momoko who was born from a peach which had floated downstream and raised by a farming couple. Note the difference in name, it’s different to the legend. In this show, the writers from Kibidango Project decided to change the name and gender to more fit an anime story. Most of the fundamentals from the folklore have remained the same in that Momoko befriends a monkey, a wolf and a pheasant as faithful companions and aides in her fight against evil oni [Japanese demons]. That’s where the similarities end. The rest of the story consists of magical girl tropes in fighting monsters every episode, an archnemesis of Momoko’s showing up [in this case named Onihime, get it? ONI instead Orihime. Brilliant.], revealing transformation sequences and drama up the ying-yang. Another addition is the inclusion of four heavenly angels named the Celestial Maiden Squad to act as help/comedy relief. This sounds a little thread-bare and you’d be right for thinking that. Momo Kyun Sword has to resort to questionable tactics to keep audiences watching and it’s bordering on the petty in this reviewer’s opinion.

momo_2The above image just about sums up the purpose of the show for most. It’s to showcase the “peachy” pair that Momoko possesses. Even the narration claims that Momoko, who was born from a peach, “grew lovely peaches of her own!”. Within fifty six seconds we are greeted to them. Not even a minute in and the directors are playing the booby card. Great. They’re not just ample, they’re peachy with a constant sheen akin to the fruit. It’s extremely petty in my eyes. Having to resort to deep-rooted carnal desires to garner viewership. Yes, this isn’t the first time this has happened in anime and it certainly won’t be the last but to see it so blatantly and so often is so depressing. Examples include camera pans that start at Momoko’s chest for no discernible reason, breast psychics that would make Einstein turn in his grave and here’s the kicker, Momoko’s clothes ending up completely shredded to pieces EVERY. SINGLE. EPISODE. Sometimes more than once! The character of Momoko herself is a walking hypocrisy; for someone so embarrassed of being half-naked, she doesn’t half show off her assets with little timidity, it’s only when she’s either drenched or in tatters that she gets shocked like she’s not noticed her attire! Momoko’s powers are pretty cool though. Her Possession Fusion involves her combining with her animal companions who have different traits which are useful for certain episodes and each has their own costume, each more revealing the last. Kijigami’s bird-based costume is the least tasteful despite being the most powerful…not much is left to the imagination. Oh boy. The trouble is though is that this trend keeps going and going in every episode. It doesn’t help that a lot of the female cast have ample chests or none at all, in this world it’s all or nothing. It’s such a slap in the face for gender equality and I can’t abide by that. It’s such a crushing blow; crushed underneath Momoko’s frontage. So let’s push them aside and look at the rest of the show.

momo_4When you take the boobs out of the equation, Momo Kyun Sword is a decent magical show. It’s nothing groundbreaking and by no means is it pretty to look at. It’s thoroughly unspectacular and cheap-looking, resorting to iffy character drawings and static shots interspersed with bursts of action. You can find better looking series quite easily which are ninja orientated, the first anime that pops in my head would be Ninja Nonsense. It may not be innocent itself but it’s a far more polished comedy and far better in appearance, go watch that and then compare the two. The animal companions [Inugami, Sarugami and Kijigami] are pretty funny mascots for the show and do point out that Momoko is a total klutz who just happens to be a powerful spirit in human form and they do help carry audience members through episodes if they are clamouring for an exit. The Celestial Maiden Squad are the help for Momoko and are sent from Heaven to assist her. I do find it cute that these guys aren’t adept despite giving off an air of professionalism and quite often they mess things up. Karin, the wind maiden, often screws up her predictions and it’s clear that these guys aren’t that clever; thankfully the main villains Onihime and Enki aren’t much better. I will say that this reaction to being crushed by a boulder [a deadpan “Wow.” from Onihime] did make me laugh and there were some moments that did generate a chuckle from me. Don’t get me wrong though, there are some elements of the story which are so stupid and convenient that they cannot be forgiven, but the flickers of comedy did save this show from being branded as a stinker. It has charm when you remove Momoko, although even then you still get the impression that women are objectified in the extreme.

momo_3I don’t hate Momo Kyun Sword, but I can’t hide my abject disappointment with it. There are flashes of comedy and moments of well-timed satire aimed at magical girl shows, but these are quickly snuffed out by the misogyny and sexualisation of the characters at play. Momoko’s design is pretty cool and peach-themed, but it’s ruined when her bosom is practically hanging out with little holding it back. I also wish the camera didn’t get such a hard-on from them and actually focus on the action and HER FACE. Seriously, it was irritating. It does have its moments when it comes to comedy and some relatively curious plot twists. It can actually be considered fun sometimes! If you can look past the glaring issue I’m having with this show then you might find some mild amusement here, but I would seriously push this to the back of your list of anime to watch. It’s not terrible but it’s not good. Not at all. It’s cheap titillation for young boys. *sigh*

Momo Kyun Sword is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

RATING: CANCEL [A sad and sort of pathetic ploy for male audiences which is thankfully charming enough to be spared being branded a “STINKER”.]

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Blade and Soul


There are a lot of massively multiplayer video games out there. A lot rely on typical fantasy stereotypes and frameworks and resort to using these fundamentals in order to generate fast sales with little character and unique selling points. You know the kind; a big world full of miscellaneous magic and weapons and some kind of evil empire dominating the universe at large. Occasionally that game world makes the jump to an animated format in order to add some coherence to another expansive world. Enter Blade and Soul’s anime adaptation and let’s see whether this is a legendary item or a glitchy mess.

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The game itself was first released in 2012 by NCSoft and Team Bloodlust to a Korean market and has slowly made the jump to foreign markets with a possible English release in the future. It came out in Japan on the twentieth of May, about seven weeks after the anime debuted so as to generate enough hype and interest to the lucrative Japanese market. Gonzo, the animation house behind the show, has a lot of lore and source material to work from as well as most of the basic character designs for the classes and factions already tried and tested in the game mechanic. In this animated tale, we follow the struggle of Alka, an assassin for the Clan of the Sword who is seeking revenge for her fallen master by Jin Valel, an equally strong villainess who is in control of the kingdom of Palam. Along her travels across the world we’re in she encounters three other strong female characters who have their skills with different types of weapons and martial arts. It’s a pretty cut and dry adventure tale; Alka wants revenge. Simple as that. It doesn’t help that we hardly see any of her personality shine through in the initial few episodes. In fact, we don’t get much of anything!

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In my opinion, Blade and Soul and its story is something that could be told in a two hour OVA to coincidence with a Japanese release of the game instead of a twelve episode season. Granted you can expand on the lore of the world of the Wind Empire in this extra time but it leads to the show feeling extremely padded out and boring. I kept finding myself checking how far into the episode I was in and wanting the episode to end. By the middle of the first episode I was so bored of what I was seeing and wished for things to get going properly. The anime’s problem is that it has little innovation behind it. It’s your run-of-the-mill adventure fantasy with ancient Asian mysticism garnishing its universe and the usual tyrannical Empire who will stop at nothing for total domination. Same old, same old. It doesn’t help that I can’t really relate to the characters. In the early episodes, characters die suddenly after being formally introduced potentially leaving audiences confused and disappointed. It’s a shame because there were a few people that had some personality and it would’ve been nice to see them develop, unlike our main character.

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Alka, Alka, Alka. What are we going to do with you? She’s the usual brooding main character who has a dark and sordid past and channels her frustration through violence…despite her teacher’s dying wish for her to stop being an assassin. Logic! It doesn’t help that she HARDLY talks. At all. She has a few times in the first few episodes where she utters more than a couple of words but these moments are so sporadic. It doesn’t help that the camera is shoved in her face nearly every minute, like it’s trying to go “SHE’S THE MAIN CHARACTER! LOVE HER! FEEL BAD FOR HER!!” I get that she’s had a horrible background, has a troubled soul and that she is on the run from the Palam government with a sizeable bounty on her head but that shouldn’t stop her having character. There are loads of anime leads with bounties on their heads who have bucket-loads of personality such as Lupin III and those with a troubled past such as Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop who still kick ass and retain their charisma. Alka has no charisma. She stands around and sometimes throws weapons around; she does that well at least. Long story short, I don’t care about Alka. Moving on.

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Blade and Soul does have some good stuff going for it. Its main villainous dictatorship, the Palam Empire, isn’t dedicated to wiping out the kingdom or seizing blind control. It has a plan in which to use the wealthy arable land and turn a profit; at last, bad guys who have financial and practical skill! I will give the writers credit for that at least. Also the lack of blatant fanservice is somewhat refreshing [at least for now]. Yes, Alka and many of the main characters are quite well endowed but there are very little moments where they’re ‘posing’ for the fans and instead are acting as they would normally. Showing such restraint is commendable and worth noting. As for the artwork, it’s alright but inconsistent. It holds up well in moments of high action and blood spewing from all directions but when the action subsides and the exposition is in full swing, it lacks clarity and overall quality. There’s one moment where Jin Hazuki, the gun nut of the series, has expandable lips which go from small to HUGE in two cuts. Did she have collagen implants inbetween takes? I dunno! On the whole, it’s alright but nothing to write home about.

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At the end of the day, Blade and Soul: The Animation is meant to be used to sell its parent game. Has it sold me? No. I actually took a look at the game’s website and found it to be much better looking than the anime in question. It did the job of convincing me that it was a decent game. Unfortunately I have little time to play massively multiplayer games these days but I’d certainly pick it up for a little bit if I had the hours to kill. It didn’t need an animated version as far as I’m concerned; just a better marketing campaign in general. Alka and her narrative did not engage me and it feels like a waste of time; just go play the game when it comes out.

Blade and Soul is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

RATING: CANCEL [Stock fantasy multiplayer universe with very few flickers of flair]

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Dragonar Academy [Seikoku no Dragonar]


When you throw dragons into any sort of plot, you’re going to get a positive reaction. Now imagine if you could learn how to ride dragons and have one be your pet; that would be awesome, right? Yeah I figured. If you’re gonna learn then you need an academy in which to do it…preferably one with loads of well-endowed students? Well that’s what you get with Dragonar Academy but its substance is nowhere near as full as the chests of most of its characters.

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From the off we’re presented with a young boy named Ash Blake who has had his arm sliced off and nearly dying before being brought back to life and bestowed a Starbrand by an as of then unknown entity. Cut to a future time and he is seen as a social pariah in that he can ride any dragon [also referred to as a ‘parr’ or partner] instantly and it respond to his command. He is labelled a problem child and is quite volatile which makes a loose cannon amongst the students of Ansullivan Academy. His aggressive nature isn’t helped by royal prude Princess Silvia and her standoffish nature and then cruel attitude to him initially. It’s quite obvious that we are meant to feel sorry for Ash, especially when we find out that he did have a parr but not anymore through unfortunate circumstances [perhaps that first scene was a clue]. After the pair duke it out in an upcoming dragon race, Ash runs into two warriors from the rival country of Zepharos and he is quickly dispatched through a rather underhanded tactic. [I did scream out in protest at that part.] It’s through this action that his new parr appears in all her naked glory! She is later named Eco and is different from nearly all parrs in that she looks human despite being a dragon and has the same instincts and traits of a dragon only without the scales. The rest of the story is dedicated to Ash and Eco bonding and him acquiring his Arch armour which Eco has to make and does so in a typically reluctant tsundere [lovingly stubborn and aggressive] fashion which enhances his Astral Flow powers. It’s clear that we’re going towards an all out war between Lautreamont and Zepharos…when you’re not gawping at the ample student body that is.

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I get the feeling that Dragonar Academy is clutching at straws somewhat, or more accurately bosoms. The plot in itself feels very generic and something we’ve seen before in some shape or form. The whole chosen one who is an enigma inside a school and then rises to glory angle has been done most notably in Harry Potter in recent years. Not to mention the enraged lolita character in Eco which is almost a carbon copy of Zero from The Familiar of Zero all the way down to her hair colour! It’s easy to see that the plot is very trodden and overused and it has to rely on very conveniently designed uniforms to accentuate the front-heavy students even more which is a sure-fire sign that viewership ploys, particularly with young men, are running amok! It’s very unlikely that that many students would have those kinds of racks or a school would even try and enhance them further, but then we are talking about a place where dragons not only exist but are as common as horses so I guess anything can happen. I’m waiting for a banana riding a unicycle! [/sarcasm] Then again, I should’ve known what I was getting into; four minutes into the first episode, we’re thrust a steamy soft-core scene with the ‘god’ who is watching over proceedings named Navi who entrusts Eco to Ash through kisses and straddling. Right. She claims she was sizing him up later on…she sure was! [wink wink]

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It all starts to make sense somewhat when we realise that Dragonar Academy is someone’s first [and seemingly only] story. The writer Shiki Mizuchi wrote this back in 2010 as a light novel and has not made any other stories since then, capitalising off the ‘success’ of this IP. It stands to reason that his relative inexperience in nuanced storytelling is to be expected; he has probably written some unpublished articles but this is the only one to make it to print. Then we get the animation house in charge of the design, C-Station. Dragonar Academy is their first proper production after doing contract work for other titles [really low-end animation work mind]. They spun off from larger studio Bee-Train in 2009 and it’s taken them five years to get an anime out to market. I guess they were building an experienced team and I will give them credit, it looks decent. Not groundbreaking but passable.
dragonar_3Going back to the dragons as common as horses thing I mentioned. It’s actually rather sad that dragons are like this now. Dragons are meant to be creatures which envoke fear and if they’re going to be ridden, treated with respect and shown to be majestic and powerful. These dragons look like horses; nowhere near as ethereal as their myths and reputations convey. They look beefy and clunky which isn’t how dragons should be. It’s only when you stick a pair of wings of them [a Maestro dragon which Silvia pilots] that they even get close to resembling their legendary status. It’s such a crushing blow to me and most fantasy fans I would imagine. This sentiment is something that carries over to the anime at large, squandered opportunity. You have a chance to build a really interesting model of a dragon academy with gothic architecture, spindly dragons that are barely contained and riders who are constantly near death with a main character who is less stock than what we get with Ash. Instead we get a soft and mediocre copy of a magic school that we’ve seen time and time again. It should like be Skyrim High School, not Magic School #320. Dragons aren’t domesticated creatures, simple as that.

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There’s not much else to say about Dragonar Academy except that it is a poor reiteration of a tired concept which fails to make a dent in the universe or even engage me. I will give it credit for looking somewhat decent in the animation department and character models, although sometimes the eyes look a little large for their owners’ bodies. It looks alright in that regard, shame that the same amount of effort couldn’t have been put into the original light novel in which this was based on. I wouldn’t bother with this show unless you’re looking for some mild titillation.

Dragonar Academy is available to stream on Funimation’s website.

RATING: CANCEL [Cookie cutter magic school anime if ever there was one.]

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