I was going to talk about how this episode made me think of A Man with No Name flick, or any number of Westerns, but I think that’d be redundant. It’s been… what? 60 years, at least, since THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN and YOJIMBO respectively remade SEVEN SAMURAI and YOJIMBO? As recently as last year, we saw six shooters get swapped rather easily with katanas in that Ken Watanabe remake of UNFORGIVEN. To observe that Westerns share a lot of similarities with jidaigeki/chambara films is to re-state what’s been obvious for decades.
Hell, the exchange has happened enough that it might as well be unremarkable, by now. Audiences all over the world respond quite well to the basic set-up of a stoic and mysterious warrior wandering into some town and solving the highly personal disputes there (even though he or she has no personal connection the conflict). That’s the basis of most super-hero fiction, isn’t it? There’s just something about impersonal vigilantism that’s fundamentally more interesting than, say, a local sheriff taking care of problems that’ve been in front of him for years.
Once again, BLADE & SOUL handles a familiar set-up rather adroitly. To re-state my point, the show gets away with Alka being a borderline Amnesiac Child Assassin because it makes sure that the supporting characters - - whose affairs she intervenes in, each week - - have deeply realized personalities. It really was heartbreaking to see desperation drive this young brother and sister to ruin.
The show also riffs on another reliable theme of Westerns and chambara fiction... warriors’ lifestyles are fundamentally dangerous to normal people. Alka may be felled by this awful spell, but she still deals with dangerous things every day, and doom awaits any norms who get too close to her when she’s doing that. This episode even makes that conflict literal by having the brother start courting his own death - - more or less - - as soon as he starts playing with Alka’s sword.
I think the show succeeds, in spite of being a MMO adaptation, because the crew’s probably had all these same considerations about genre.