「祭典と勇気」 (Saiten to Yuuki)
“Festivals and Courage”
When the Spring Schedule 2017 was announced, people expressed surprise that I wouldn’t be continuing my coverage of Sword Oratoria. This is where I will confess, I don’t think Sword Oratoria has lived up to its potential, taking the source material into consideration. Instead, much to my disappointment, JC Staff chose to stubbornly persist down the path of stagnation.
I have no problem with some focus being on Lefiya. Lefiya is not a bad person, far from it. She is incredibly kind and sweet. But she is also really uncompelling and JC Staff have done a terrible job of making us sympathise with her struggles. JC Staff messed up the balancing by making Lefiya pretty much the entire focus. Lefiya should be an auxiliary to Ais’ growth and development as a character, not the person to lead and carry the focus by herself. She is supposed to expand upon Ais just as Ais expands upon her, much like a symbiotic relationship.
Perhaps JC Staff were trying to emulate the types of struggles Bell had, where he went from loser to something special. But it really hasn’t worked here with Lefiya. Bell made progress every episode whereas Lefiya lack of progress and lack of charm has just ended up frustrating the viewers, making it difficult for us to like her despite the fact she has done no wrong.
Why are JC Staff overplaying her incompetence? Why aren’t they explaining that she had just graduated from the junior middle school equivalent of magic academy? Although Lefiya took undeniably huge steps towards the end of the episode by showing an active desire to change herself, I’m left asking if the venture was even worthwhile. Everything comes too little too late and it really takes away from her defining moment when she’s revealed to be the ‘Thousand Elf‘ that can copy other people’s magic. Seeing Lefiya coming into her own was admittedly rewarding, but I think it unfortunately fell short of its mark in terms of creating a really strong impact.
At least I think this episode showed being a mage is nowhere near as easy as people otherwise suggested. It’s not about being easily protected by your party while casually nuking spells. One stray hit and you’re pretty much out of the fight or done for. So hopefully that should clear up a few grievances people had from the first episode.
I guess it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Things I enjoyed included how the suspicious foreshadowing of Dionysus was done. Freya’s meeting with Loki was fairly interesting and the Amazon sisters were one of the redeeming factors in this episode as usual. While Bell’s cameo appearance was cool, I felt it was neutralised by the decision to cut out his fight with the Silverback. You win some, you lose some.
There are examples of shows that do a fantastic job of ‘show and tell’ this season. Tsuki ga Kirei is easily one of them, while Sword Oratoria easily is not. Whereas you can pretty much get a sense for what the characters in Tsuki ga Kirei might be thinking or feeling even from the likes of silence, Ais may very well be a blank slate with the lack of any implications alongside her stoic mannerisms. Considering JC Staff are having an easy time showing a load of Lefiya’s internal monologue, why not Ais? If there was an episode for JC Staff to finally start revealing her internal monologue, it was this one. And it never happened.
No doubt, Sword Oratoria will have amazing action coming up. I will continue to watch the series though, and potentially write an end of season review it it manages to recover. But I was never really one for style over substance. I care deeply about seeing good characters being built up from scratch, and if Sword Oratoria is refusing to give me the cookies I’m hoping for, then I have no incentive to stick around.