Funimation // 2009 // 300 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Roman Martel (Retired) // March 6th, 2011
When anime combines comedy and fantasy genres, the results can be pretty lackluster. Slayers and it's many minions are unable to balance the laughs with the thrills. Will Sacred Blacksmith break this deadly curse?
Cecily Campbell (Cherami Leigh) wants to be a knight and defender of the Independent Trade City of Housman. Unfortunately she's a bit of a klutz and not very good with her sword. Luckily she has larger breasts than most of the women of the city, and they all comment on it at least once an episode. Anyway, along comes the grumpy blacksmith Luke Ainsworth (Blake Shepard) and his assistant Lisa (Monica Rial). Luke can create killer swords, but he takes an immediate dislike to Cecily and won't make anything for her.
That's OK, because Cecily meets Aria (Anastasia Munoz), a lovely young woman who can turn into a sword with deadly wind attacks. Now Cecily can kick butt and has a new BFF to boot! All this is fine and dandy, until all kinds of wackos start showing up. Sometimes it's just pests like the Princess Charlotte (Alexis Tipton), but other times it's a deadly man in black who can summon demons and do some serious damage. It will be up to Cecily and Luke (who may or may not be the Sacred Blacksmith) to find a way to stop these evil doers.
This series was based on a set of books, and after watching it, I get the feeling the adaptation didn't go so well. There seem to be a lot of elements that got left out in the series. The end result is something that is so light in plot that you nearly forget about it after you watch it.
The other elements of the production work well. The animation is colorful and full of motion and some of the battle scenes are exciting. The music by Tamiya Terashima is really effective, with some sweeping orchestral sound to it. The English voice actors are very good at getting into the parts and having fun with the characters. Leigh turns Cecily into a likable character you can't help but root for. Rial develops Lisa as the series progresses and adds the depth needed to the voice. Shepard has fun with Luke, your typical grumpy guy, but adds plenty of vocal hints to his heart of gold.
The structure of the show is bizarre. The first few episodes and the last few episodes stick to the basic plot surrounding the demon swords and the man in black. But the series takes an odd detour with the arrival of Princess Charlotte. She's a fun character, but she doesn't really add much to the overarching story. These meandering middle episodes are all like that: light on story, but heavy on the banter and comedy. All the comedy in this series is lightweight: no over the top antics, no characters screaming for five minutes straight, no super-deformed action. Mostly it's a comedy of errors and talk about Cecily's bosoms.
One of the oddest things is how everyone in the show is fascinated with Cecily's chest, and not just the guys. Nearly all the female characters end up comparing their breasts to hers, saying how snuggly they look, or she must have a ton of admirers because of her huge rack (their words, not mine). Yes, compared to most of the gals in the show, she's curvy, but they way they talk you'd think she was in Ikki Tousen or something. All this talk allows the animators to shift to a POV of the speaking character, who is obviously ogling the orbs. Poof! Instant fan service.
So you get the meandering middle section and a nebulous threat in the first and final sections, what's to keep you interested? Well, if you aren't into fan service, the characters are pretty interesting. The idea of a sword that turns into a girl is handled well and as Aria runs into others of her kind, it creates some interesting scenes. Also the whole dynamic between Luke and Lisa is based on a dark backstory that comes out in the final five episodes. This creates some good tension and an interesting twist.
But here's the thing. The show isn't exciting enough to recommend to fantasy adventure fans. It's not funny enough to recommend to comedy fans. And the fan service is there, but fairly light and will disappoint folks looking for that type of thing. That leaves us with a nice little show that does some stuff well, but doesn't make much of an impact. Ask me about it in a couple months and all I'll remember is the conversation about how snuggly Cecily's boobs look.
Funimation gives Sacred Blacksmith a good presentation. The picture is clear with all the colorful backgrounds popping. The sound is clear in both languages, with a good mix separating the epic musical score from the dialogue. For extras you get textless openings and endings, as well as the collection of preview segments.
Guilty of being a little too lightweight, but still fun.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Textless Open/Close
* Episode Promos
* Anime News Network: Sacred Blacksmith