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Watch & Learn: SACRED BLACKSMITH #1

Girly fantasy... intended for girls?

  I can't tell if she wants to cut my head off or swerve Earl Grey tea with that bonnet on, though.
 I can't tell if she wants to cut my head off or swerve Earl Grey tea with that bonnet on, though.

I’ve expressed confusion in the past about what exact qualities delineate a show as shonen or shojo. My gut instinct would be to classify this SACRED BLACKSMITH as the latter, but you lunatics have trained me to deny that instinct. If it is, indeed, shonen , then that’s in the face of a girl protagonist, a mostly girl cast and a girly tone that’s in marked contrast to all the shonen and seinen shows I’ve watched so far.

Actually, you know what? Let’s forget any descriptors aside from “entertaining.” Whether it’s made for girls or boys, adolescents or adults, this is an entertaining show.

When it comes to fantasy, I generally have a distaste for sword 'n sorcery stories set in some pseudo-medieval setting that's obvious made up by people who drew inspiration from Tolkien over actual folklore or mythology. That’s not a knock on Tolkien - - not at all - -  because LORD OF THE RINGS resonates today because he drew from BEOWULF, KING ARTHUR and a long career of classical studies, not from a game of telephone his inspiration may have played with, say, Robert E. Howard's CONAN stories. It’s a big reason I disliked LODOSS WAR. That show was based on DUNGEONS & DRAGONS.

Tangential rants aside, this show reminds me a bit of LODOSS WAR (the perky blond elf has a lot to do with that) but it’s got a dash of ZELDA in some genuinely-creative ideas. I was especially impressed by the glass monster from the climax - - a creature I honestly haven't the likes of anywhere else. Seeing as how this is a 12 episode OVA, I'm definitely going to watch the entirety of it some time soon. I'll discuss the plot then but, for now, I'd like to raise some discussion points...

Watching this raises some questions I’ve had about the nature of fan service in fantasy. Cecily’s an appealing, strong and three-dimensional heroine (I dug the subtle touch of her hand shaking every time she draws her sword,) yet her armor looks like a French maid’s with only just a few protective additions. There are more shots lingering on her boobs in this episode than I ever saw of Winry, Rei or Yoko's in their respective shows.  When that sort of thing happens in comics or film, the vocal commentators will say it’s sexist, exploitative T&A. But if this is a show about girl power,does its occurrence makes it aspirational? It's not like dudes are feeling objectified when Conan goes around shirtless - - that's what they want to be. Let me know what you lunatics think. I'm curious.

Watch this episode “Knight,” here and decide for yourself. I received a set of this show's DVDs from Funimation, as they’ve got a new collection coming out.

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of  HYBRID BASTARDS!  &  UNIMAGINABLE . Order them on Amazon   here  &   here .  Follow him on Twitter:  @tompinchuk

metalsnakezeroon Jan. 25, 2011 at 6:52 p.m.
I think I had the same problem when trying to watch this show. It goes down the road of fan-service for just a bit and while it does it best sticking to the story, it tends to wander off. I wouldn't recommend watching it.
EquitasInvictuson Jan. 25, 2011 at 6:54 p.m.
I vaguely remember this Fall 2009 title, except for the fact that it was shameless about fan service. Other than that, it doesn't get very excitingly memorable. I think the reason why I don't remember it so well was for the fact its plot ended up going all over the place and ended up with a sudden, improvised conclusion arc that I wasn't satisfied with at all. It's almost like a trainwreck, except it's in slow motion - over all of its 12 episodes. 
 
Which is a shame, since I thought it had the potential to be a good fantasy series myself when I watched its first episode. 
CapeBarneson Jan. 25, 2011 at 10:39 p.m.
I finished episode seven earlier today, and I'll say this series kind does waste it's potential so far. I just hope the ending ain't too bad/disappointing. Then again, I can't take my eyes off of Cecily XD
vergiliuson Jan. 25, 2011 at 10:53 p.m.

  But if this is a show about girl power,does its occurrence makes it aspirational? It's not like dudes are feeling objectified when Conan goes around shirtless - - that's what they want to be. Let me know what you lunatics think. 


You brought up an interesting point and honestly I don't have a good answer.  I think a feminist would tell you that both the conan thing and the fanservice thing involve "male gaze," except the former is about latent homosexuality.  I'd probably have to call bullshit on that to a degree (probably a result of my obvious latent homophobia, of course).
 
On the other hand there is the whole pro-sex feminist/lipstick feminist thing which would probably be okay with you calling it "aspirational."  Most people want to be attractive, I think; I don't know that that is an issue firmly divided along gender lines.  On the other hand, I also think there's a fine line between "girl power" and a sort of woman-warrior fetish.  
 
Some feminist critics have pointed out that the "girls with guns" stereotype isn't really liberating because it is still playing the "male power" game.  The woman shouldn't have to beat the boys at their own game, she should rewrite the rules on her terms.  Ditto for the stereotype of the sexually acquisitive female character who can "love 'em and leave 'em" just as well as any male character.
 
The other difference between the conan thing and the fanservice thing is that there isn't a long history of the repression of men and boys.  The argument goes that it is less reprehensible to portray men as objects of lust compared to women for similar reasons to why it might be more acceptable to tell a racist joke about French people compared to Jewish ones.
 
As for me, I tend to be more interested in efforts to reconstruct gender roles and sexual politics, because I think the deconstruction thing has been done to death.  Assuredly, that is "easy for me to say," but that's where I'm at, regardless.
FoxxFireArt moderator on Jan. 26, 2011 at 12:15 a.m.
A good rule of thumb is that if the female characters have breasts bouncing around without reason. It's Probably a shounen anime.
 
.....I think you meant Rei Ayanami. The Rei you liked to is a character from a porn manga. Have to be careful with a name like Rei. It's pretty common in all styles of manga/anime.
 
I checked out this episode. This beginning is so heavy handed with the exposition. It's so awkward to have the character introducing herself when it seems as if there is no one around.
 
All that being said, I do like the character designs. The animation is pretty good as well.
haseo_yashimoraon Jan. 26, 2011 at 2:32 a.m.
ive seen up to episode 5 love the boob references xD
Rokujoon Jan. 26, 2011 at 4:28 a.m.
I think it's a pretty cool series so far. I have two episodes left to watch.
 
It's definitely aimed at a male demographic and it's based on the light novels.
 
There's probably a little too much on the fanservice side. The character design, however, is top quality. I would have liked it if they'd gone a little more into the back story, but hey, they only had a half season to work with even though there's 9 novels worth of material.
Lurkeroon Jan. 26, 2011 at 5:48 a.m.
I watched the first 3 episodes of this series when it first aired. All I can remember is fanservice, shallow, and not liking it.
sotyfan16on Jan. 26, 2011 at 6:29 a.m.

The main thing that gets me with this is how Cecily is a weak protagonist with not talent. She has some fortitude but that only gets her so far. Luke is the most interesting character from here. 

I was surprised at the fanservice and innuendo as I thought this was supposed to be a kind of serious anime with  a few laughs. Feels like I'm watching another RPG-based show, too. 

I agree with some of the others that the animation is good and there is potential. At least there are only 12 eps so it's an easy watch. 

Now, speaking of D&D... 
  

  

DocHauson Jan. 26, 2011 at 1:25 p.m.
I saw the first couple of eps, and it didn't really hold my interest. The dumbest part of the first episode had to be where the evil Monster of the Week just waited patiently for the blacksmith whatshisname to finish forging a katana on the battlefield to kill it while the girl (Cecily, I think?) was even more useless. I hear it might get better later on, but I don't feel like finding out.
MrDirector786on Jan. 26, 2011 at 1:57 p.m.
I'll check out the first episode and see what I think of it.
Lifestrikeon Jan. 26, 2011 at 2:47 p.m.
Beh, the problem I have with Fanservice is that, at times, it seems like a lack of confidence in the quality of the show.
 
As in, studios will throw in boob shots as a cheap way to rope in the male audience. At that point I think, "Is this all you can do to pique my attention?".
 
And in shows where it is not neccesary, I just feel like the show thinks i'm dumber than I really am. i.e, Code Geass. It causes me to think, "C'mon, man... I'm intelligent enough to understand and appreciate all the myriad themes and meditations you have going on here, then you throw a boobisode at me..."
 
It's like it just assumes i'm too dumb to understand whats going on, and to satiate my dumb appetites, it throws boobs around.
CrazyCanuckon Jan. 26, 2011 at 7:20 p.m.
Already bought it. And to answer your question, no I have no idea how it happened!
WarlordPayneon Jan. 27, 2011 at 1:49 a.m.
The lack of armor didn't seem too bad to me.  There wasn't a lot of actual metal but at least it covered her chest, unlike in most shows where they wear steel bikinis, and she was fully clothed.   
If she explains who she is another five times in the next episode I'm done with the series, though.  That was really getting on my nerves by the end.
lionellaflareon Jan. 27, 2011 at 10:08 a.m.
Pfft whiney people...
Even though its prolly campy as hell, its medieval fantasy, JUST what I wanted..
 
Thanks Tom, you've come in handy finding me some anime to watch.. I've seen to many to find any that are in my range of viewing.
Gozertcon Jan. 27, 2011 at 11:17 a.m.

You know now that I'm an "Old Man" (Over 30. I know not old) fan service really doesn't do anything for me.    I know why it's there, and I can enjoy it now and then, but it doesn't make me want to buy something more, sometimes less.  (Especially since I have a daughter. :) )  
 
For me I just tend to want consistancy.  If you're constantly about the booby, then stick with it.  If it's only there now and then don't do a whole show of it to make up for lost time.  Just keep it even and I'm fine. 
 

I can't tell if she wants to cut my head off or swerve Earl Grey tea with that bonnet on, though.
Swerve?  

 
 
Yeah photo captions FTW! :)

Dig Deeper into Sacred Blacksmith

Sacred Blacksmith is based upon a series of light-novels. Young Knight Guard, Cecily Cambell, seeks to protect the heritage passed down to her with the help of a Demon Contract with the Demon Sword of Wind, Aria.

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