Top positive review
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A fun and enjoyable fantasy anime series.
on 15 February 2012
The Sacred Blacksmith follows Cecily Cambell, a 3rd generation Knight from Housman, one of the cities of the Independent Trade Cities. After the death of her farther, she takes it upon herself to take up the sword for the family honour. While she is eager, she still has far to go, as shown when she is saved for a mad attacker by Luke, a mysterious katana-wilding blacksmith. Impressed by this enigmatic stranger and his exotic blade, Cecily demands that he creates a blade for her and what follows is a story involving ancient swords, Demon Contract's and a quest to prove one's worth and honour.
For the most part the series story is well written and interesting with a good sense of humour, even if the show ends up being nothing particularly special or deep. The central fantasy-style theme is well used, but covers little new ground in the genre. The episode structure is made up of several mini arcs, most containing themes that run throughout the entire series. At times the pacing of these episodes can feel rather slow, such as the arc dealing with Charlotte E. Firobisher and her team, but most hold interest. Many will find the conclusion disappoint due to how open ended it is and how little we know of the enemies at hand, but I think it was done for the idea of a second series (Will that happen? Nothing yet...) and from a character point of view the conclusion worked rather well as a conclusion.
Cecily is an enduring main character; you really do sympathise with her and will her on in her attempts to get stronger and prove herself. Luke is a bit different from your usual male lead, he ends up being not as annoying a character as you would first think and fascinates with a dark backstory. Lisa, Luke's assistant, is an interesting character especially during the latter half of the series while Aria, a living Demon sword, could have used more time to shine compared to the others as she had a wonderful idea and past. We know very little about the motives and story of the main black caped villain, which in the end makes him feel like a stereotypical chackling evil-doer and little else.
As with many animes, the show hosts a wide array of supporting characters that inhabit this medieval world, it is just a shame then that they are not used as well as they could be. The opening credits show off many of them, yet we rarely see most, let alone get to know them as characters. Instead, the show concentrates mostly on Cecily and Luke, along with the current arc characters. It's a bit of a shame, as the cast seemed to have had some potential, but at least the strength of the main line up makes up for the lack of support in the end.
The fight scenes tend not to drag on too long and are for the most part pretty impressive. I did think the final few battles could have been a little better paced, but there is little to complain about in the end.
There is a sizable amount of fan service in this anime and moe related imagery within The Sacred Blacksmith. For example, hardly an episode goes by when someone does not mention Cecily's well-endowed bosom while her knight uniform is actually a rather wonderful made in the style of a maid's uniform. Despite this such titillation never feels like it's a defining feature of the characters, simply a side effect of this type of anime.
The animation itself is very impressive for the most part, being crisp and colourful while the characters design works well and the world that has been created fits in with the fantasy setting wonderfully. The soundtrack is good and while English dub seems ok, I would recommend the original Japanese sub for the best experience.
The DVD comes with a few extras, including clean opening and endings. For some reason, they have decided to take out all the `next time' trailers from the episodes themselves and instead have added them as one long special feature. While I did think it would have been nice to have them in the episode, I liked having the option to watch them all at once given their comical substance. Would be interesting if Manga did this more with other releases (Bleach would be a fine example.) It is a shame that there are no commentaries or make-of features.
The Sacred Blacksmith is not an anime that will set the otaku world on fire, and neither is it anything particularly new or that has not been seen or done before. If, on the other hand, you're looking for a fun medieval-fantasy style anime with a sense of humour, good central characters and plot, then this dose the job very well.