Swords and sorcery done with a serious style in the anime realm is rare these days, but might Sacred Blacksmith fit the bill?
What They Say
Cecily's inexperience as a Knight Guard places her in constant jeopardy, and her weak, heirloom sword doesn't help. Thankfully, Luke keeps appearing to rescue her with his special katana.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series by Isao Miura that was illustrated by Luna, Sacred Blacksmith is a twelve episode series that ran in late 2009. With six novels to its name, there's a bit of material to work with and we've had good luck with other light novel to anime adaptations. With it being a fantasy setting, I had muted hopes though as we don't see those kinds of shows often and they seem to rarely get done in a way that I'd like to see them done. For better or worse, I still find Record of Lodoss War to be one of the best fantasy setting shows done in anime.
Sacred Blacksmith revolves around a young warrior woman named Cecily Cambell who is part of the self defense forces of the independent trade city of Hausman. While the Empire could easily crush and acquire them, there are strategic reasons to have them independent and to deal with them in their trade of much needed iron sand metals and such. Cecily's a staunch supporter of the city and of her family name so she does her best to live up to it by being strong and protecting others. Unfortunately, her skills aren't at the same level that her intent is at so she's often needing saving which is done by a man named Luke who is quite skilled in the ways of the sword. Their first meeting certainly leaves Cecily with a strong impression of him.
That impression of him has her following him since her sword broke and she does her bet to try and get him to forge her a new sword. Unfortunately for Cecily, Luke has indicated that the days of forging weapons are in the past since it was his father that did it. There's a real curiosity about the weapon Luke uses since he calls it a katana, a word not heard by Cecily before and it's a blade style she's not seen either. The two end up in an amusing dialogue of minor misunderstandings before the show turns to a predictable large action sequence, dark and ominous to be sure, where Luke has to defend her against a rather intriguing creature that's trying to kill them.
The visual design for the show is one that's really appealing as there's a lot of detail to the setting and the creatures so far are pretty interesting. The atmosphere in it is really spot on, particularly toward the end of the episode with the main battle fought in sunset where there's a lot of shadows and some really beautiful reds and oranges mixed in. The character designs look good and avoid looking like a high school cast transported to a fantasy realm. Even more appreciated is that, at least in this first episode, it's not a panty fest or even filled with a ton of overt fanservice. There are some mild moments of it, but when you have the main swordswoman wearing a fairly full outfit covering most of her, it's a serious change of pace from the thong and bra swordswoman setup that we often see.
According to those who have seen the home video release in Japan, what we're getting in this stream is the broadcast version while the home video release in the US should be the same as the Japanese home video. Sacred Blacksmith has a good start here as it introduces the main characters and setting, a decent fantasy era kind of piece with some fairly basic monsters to start with. There's a relaxed feeling about it and a sense of bonds as there's a very nice speech given by Cecily to Luke about her need to him to help her forge a new sword that's critically important to her. When the show delves into the action, it has a great blend of swords and sorcery and some interesting creature designs that grow out of the entire experience. With solid animation, a really engaging soundtrack and what looks to be a fun setting, Sacred Blacksmith is on my must-watch list.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.