Fantasy is one of my favorite genres when you're talking about entertainment. Ther'es just something about it that has always appealed to me, and I always find myself gravitating towards releases of that nature. Sacred Blacksmith is the latest fantasy themed anime to hit the US market and it's good, but not outstanding.
Sacred Blacksmith started out as a light novel by Isao Miura. Nine books have been released in 2007 and there has been a manga adaptation as well. In terms of anime the twelve episode show was produced by manglobe and broadcast in 2009. FUNimation has acquired the rights to the show's release here in the States and they have presented the complete series on two DVDs.
What stands out about Sacred Blacksmith, in terms of fantasy, is the background for the show. There was a war decades prior to the start of the series and the world seems to be steeped in history. A looming volcanic mountain range, established demon lore, and references to other events help flesh the show out in its early stages. What really makes the show a lot of fun to watch is the characters.
Sacred Blacksmith follows the events of a young woman named Cecily Cambell, who is the last of her bloodline. As such she feels it's her duty to carry on her family's name in the Knight Guards of Housman, the Third City of the Independent Trade Cities. Cecily is about as upbeat and optimistic as you can get, and she does her damndest to be a good knight and protect people. The only problem is she's never really been in a fight and she's very green in terms of experience.
When Cecily gets into her first real battle things don't exactly go her way. Luckily for her a young man with a mysterious sword appears just in the nick of time to save her neck. His name is Luke and it would seem as though the two are destined to become friends since he continues to save her throughout the early episodes. Then again, Cecily takes it upon herself to endear herself to him in an effort to get him to forge a katana for her, since she believes that kind of sword is better than what she was using. Cecily and Luke have a great chemistry and the show fleshes out the cast with a woman/sword named Aria and an elf girl named Lisa.
The basic plot of the show sees Cecily working towards proper knighthood. Her goal is to do her family name proud and as the show moves forward she surrounds herself with the people who will help make that happen. Luke, however, has darker ambitions and is looking for a sword that will defeat the dark god. Eventually after the series gets the introductions out of the way a darker more involved plot unfolds and it brings the series in a logical direction. I mean, Cecily wants to be a hero, Luke wants to defeat the biggest bad guy in the world, and Aria just so happens to be a demon slaying sword. You do the math.
What makes the show ultimately fun to watch isn't necessarily the story, though it's good in a cliché kind of way; it's the sense of humor and style. Sacred Blacksmith features all kinds of moe characters and designs, and it's not afraid to drop the fan-service without warning. It may be a little out of place at times, but these breaks in tone and continuous barrage of laughs help keep the show entertaining. The plucky attitude of the heroine doesn't hurt either. I'm going to call this one recommended in the end.
Sacred Blacksmith is presented on DVD with its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and has been enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show looks great with some fantastic fantasy style designs, cute characters, bright colors, and fluid animation. Think of the series as a fantasy version of K-On and you'd be on the right track. As far as the technical quality is concerned the show is crystal clear for the most part and there's only a little grain and the occasional hint of aliasing to point out.
For the audio Sacred Blacksmith is presented with English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0. Neither track really pushed the envelope from a technical standpoint and as far as the dubs are concerned I'd say both tracks perform admirably. The Japanese and English casts both do a solid job and in each case the jokes work well. The music is more or less forgettable.
Bonus features on this release include clean opening and closing animations, and some trailers. Those picking up this collection will also be treated to a slick art box and art booklet with a naughty foldout poster of Cecily. It's a nice little add-on and plays to the show's strengths.
Sacred Blacksmith may not be the richest show in the world in terms of context and quality, but it's fun and that counts for a lot. The personality of the show is a charmer and the humor is genuine. Sometimes the fan-service elements feel out of place, but as long as you take it with a grain of salt it's not bad. The series also looks and sounds great, and the packaging is top notch. This is definitely worth picking up!
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