My never-ending quest to find good fantasy anime has its ups and downs. Sometimes I find really great stuff like Berserk, Moribito, or Escaflowne. Then there’s stuff that’s just kind of okay like Romeo X Juliet. Then there’s stuff that just makes me want to give up entirely.
The Sacred Blacksmith tells the story of Cecily Campbell, and her breasts, who became a knight after the sudden death of her father. When looking for a blacksmith to repair her sword she meets the rude and impatient Luke Ainsworth, who wants nothing to do with her, and his young assistant Lisa. After an attack from mysterious monsters, Cecily is tasked with guarding a Demon Sword, and the group try to figure out what could be behind the attack.
The Sacred Blacksmith takes a lot of cues from Slayers. It uses a generic fantasy setting, features a female main character who frequently fights with the male lead, and blends comedy into the storyline. Another thing it has in common with Slayers is that it likes to run jokes straight into the ground. There is literally one joke made throughout The Sacred Blacksmith, which is that Cecily has large breasts. Every single joke revolves around that. People are pointing out how big they are, or wishing their breasts were as big as hers, or her breasts are bursting out of her armour and being on full display for Luke. There’s not a single attempt at humour made in the series that does not revolve around Cecily’s breasts and their apparent largeness. It doesn’t even matter if you’re a fourteen year old boy who just discovered breasts and think they’re the greatest thing in the world, these jokes are insultingly stupid and they never stop.
The constant attempts at humour lead to another major problem with the series; it can’t decide what it wants to be. The series makes attempts to tell a serious fantasy story, and at times seems like it could be a kind of decent fantasy series, but it immediately jumps back to hilarious jokes about Cecily’s boobs. The apparent lack of focus isn’t the only problem here though. This jumping back and forth can be downright jarring. When a scene of people being killed and creepy bug things bursting out of people’s mouths is immediately followed by, “Man, Cecily sure does have some big knockers,” it just feels unnatural.
There’s actual weight to the fights, and the scenes do have some intensity to them, but the series never keeps this up for more than a few minutes before retreating back to its comfort zone of making boob jokes. This is even something Slayers got right. Regardless of its quality, it always knew it wanted to be a silly comedy, and every scene reflects that. There’s no severity or weight to any battle that occurred. Most of them were solved through slapstick, save for the major ones toward the end. But The Sacred Blacksmith constantly switches between being super serious and making juvenile jokes, like the creator couldn’t decide on what kind of series they wanted it to be.
Not that removing all the terrible boob jokes would have really helped all that much, as the story itself isn’t anything all that interesting. Despite only being a 12 episodes series, The Sacred Blacksmith is mostly lacking in an overarching plot. We’re introduced to a villain in the first episode, the “Man in Black” who was responsible for the monster attack that takes place, but nothing really comes of it until the last two episodes. In between is just a couple story arcs that are only slightly related to the story overall in that the Man in Black had something to do with what happened, not that he’s really present during these arcs.
But clearly no one is really going to watch the show for the plot. It’s clear from the beginning that the main draw to this show is supposed to be fanservice. The first episode alone features several panty-shots and ends with Cecily’s armour shattering somehow, and her breasts ending up on full display. The show even features the old fanservice standby of girl on girl molestation in an open-air bath, which happens because two of the girls that Cecily is with are jealous of her breasts. Earlier the same girls were trying to straight up murder her to get her Demon Sword, but everything’s fine now because they all bonded while doing housework in maid outfits.
The emphasis on fanservice is also extremely apparent in Cecily’s character design. Unlike every other knight in the series who wear full suits of armour, Cecily’s armour consists of a single shoulder pad and a chest plate. The chest plate is also perfectly sculpted to fit each breast in a separate cup somehow. The rest of her outfit is made up of a frilly skirt and black tights that tear whenever she fights. She rarely ever takes this armour off either. She wears it when she’s walking around town on her day off, or eating dinner with her family, or a number of other times when she doesn’t need to be wearing it. The only times she’s not wearing it are when she’s forced into some other clothes.
The artwork aside from Cecily isn’t all that bad. The backgrounds all look really good, though they are just generic fantasy backgrounds of medieval towns and fields. There are a few problems with the animation though. Cecily’s breasts frequently change shape and size, and not just from shot to the shot, they change from frame to frame. There are times when they look they’re moving, which is impossible since she’s almost always wearing that chest plate. With the amount of emphasis the series puts on Cecily’s breasts you would expect that the animators would take the time to make them perfect, especially since those breasts are all that most people watching this care about.
Funimation’s dub for the series takes a surprising amount of liberties with the script. It rarely follows the subtitle script word for word, and most of the time the lines are worded completely differently. Various incantations are rewritten, and what the subtitles refer to as “inhumans” are simply called monsters or demons. The only noticeable difference this has on any character is the villain. A few of his lines in the final episode were changed to something less corny then what they originally were. For the most part though the intent stays the same even if the words are different. The cast for the dub consists mostly of less frequently used voice actors, with Monica Rial being the only well known Funimation actor in the main group. Even with dialogue as dumb as what crops up in this show, everyone gives a good enough performance. Given the series it’s hard to imagine anyone even having the opportunity to give a really great performance. It’s good enough if you prefer to watch things dubbed though.
The Sacred Blacksmith is one of the first few releases since Funimation has started doing limited editions again. It comes in a chipboard box, large enough to hold four thinpack cases, but the series is only on two discs so there’s a spacer box to fill up the rest of the case. It comes with a small artbook, which is stored inside the spacer box. There’s a double sided pinup poster inside the artbook, one side of which features a practically naked Cecily, and the other side featuring Lisa, the loli character of the show, who is thankfully clothed. The poster is surprisingly small, though I had no intention of hanging it up anyway. There are no actual on-disc extras worth mentioning, but at least the packaging looks nice.
Overall, The Sacred Blacksmith biggest problems are its terrible attempts at comedy with overused breast jokes, and its inability to decide if it wants to be a fanservice comedy series or a fantasy series. Its constant switching between serious attempts at telling a story and grating jokes makes it difficult to bother sitting through. It does have some actual good moments, and the background art is nice, but the bad comedy and fanservice overshadow them.