Monday, October 30, 2017

[Ended] Knight's and Magic - Relentless High Tension

Exo-suits! FINALLY,
Someone figured out these are much more practical!

My Opinion: Nothing about this felt like a mech anime. Since it's literally covered in giant robots though, that's quite an impressive statement for me to make, so let me back it up a little. At the end of this post is a rant about me and my history with the Mech Genre of anime, but to summarize it: Giant Mechs are so unwieldy, that they weigh the whole show down trying to support them. Or at least, trying to have them fighting. Knight's and Magic sidesteps this problem in a very interesting way. Rather than staying as far away from the technical side of things as possible, something that inevitably will spell the death of a Mech anime, because the basic idea of a Humanoid Giant robot is either,
A) Untenable by various principles of Physics, especially the balance controls, or
B) Impractical for the amount of resources they cost, versus how easy they are to destroy in the show.

Knight's and Magic dives right in to the technical side of things, and takes care of point A by setting the stage in a world with magic. This allowing them to bend, rather than abolish the laws of Physics. Any show that uses magic to just hand wave things away is just as bad as a mindless Mech anime in my book. Then it takes care of point B, by emphasizing how much work it takes to make these giant machines. This also naturally underlines that it's devastating for large amounts to be easily destroyed, or worse, for information on building better ones to be stolen, since it takes so long to make them. If the enemy already knows about your new secret weapon long before you can even finish building it, its effect is greatly diminished, in addition to them now having it.

That's the other thing I love about this show. Intrigue. Most of the time, Gundam shows have drama, great big emotional clashes of will and might, not real intrigue, people desperately moving around in the shadows trying to get an edge on each other. In Knight's and Magic, knowing how the enemy's mech is built is just as valuable as knowing how powerful it is to the main cast of characters, and therefore, the show. Grant, espionage isn't a large part of the show, but it's nice that they acknowledge that it exists and pay tribute to it.

That is the second half of what I think makes this show amazingly special. I believe other mech shows have previously been ruined by including lots of technical aspects to their giant robots, because they eventually get lost in those same technical aspects. The main character of this show, Ernesti Eschevalier, is the primary driving force of the show. Despite his utter otaku love of giant robots and everything to do with them, he's still grounded in the reality around him. He's not a space cadet, so to speak. He properly comprehends the consequences of what is going on around him, and how he affects it with his genius. At the same time, his boundless enthusiasm constantly propels the show forward, where other shows would get bogged down either with drama, or trying to explain things. If anything ever starts to slow down, Ernesti inevitably comes up with some lunatic new robotic thing-a-ma-jig and it, with a lot of clunking and gear-grinding, propels the show further forward as he now has to patch it up and make it work, or come up with more thingamajigs.
His robots do not just magically come up with extra power, hell, almost all of them have a problem of running out of power before the more normal designs. The pilot doesn't just scream love, friendship, or anger at the top of their lungs and suddenly everything goes their way. Shit breaks, and someone has to fix it.

It's a fair point to mention that all of the things Ernesti invents were always really interesting, in addition to being designed to be cool. That, plus the fact that nothing ever seems to go to waste in this show. I can't think of a single thing Ernesti invents in this show that he doesn't in some way re-use or re-purpose at least once, if not multiple times.

This show is a breathtakingly high-stakes, but fast paced, barrage of giddy high tension excitement.
The show knows it is here for one reason only, to make Giant Robots fight, but for once in my life, I've seen a show put in the work it takes to make this overly simple concept truly engaging.
Ha, that's it. That is how I would describe this show in a single word:

Impartial Opinion: I truly think everyone should give this show a try, especially if you hate Mech Anime for same reasons that I do. The characters are endearing. Several of them are very trope'y, but Ernesti generates so much driving force in the show, that they never have enough screen time to become truly annoying. They also all grow, at least a little bit.
However, if you find Ernesti himself annoying, that will likely smash this show to tiny pieces. Ernesti and his passion feel like the lifeblood of this show to me, so I daresay you would be very hard pressed to enjoy it if you hate his guts.
The battles are very high quality, in my opinion, even if the scale is probably a lot smaller than the Space Epics that hardcore Gundam fans are probably used to by now. If you just cannot get into robot fights, that will also be an easy breaking point for some, because the show does invest a lot of tension and excitement into how the latest greatest thing will perform in actual combat.

All around, I give this show a rating of,
and a strong recommendation to top it off. I loved the hell out of this show, and it will quite literally be the first Mech anime to ever grace the shelves of my collection, if/when it ever gets translated into English so I can share it with friends.


I remember the first mech anime I ever watched was Gundam Wing. I was pretty into it at the time, and I loved the Endless Waltz movie to death. However, when I tried to go back and re-watch the Gundam Wing series, it just...grated on me. Most of it was how dated it was with its storytelling and characters, but the only Mech anime I've ever felt like re-watching since then was Fighter G Gundam because I remember it being unique and interesting as far as the genre goes. I've never bothered because I'm worried it will be a repeat of Wing Gundam, and it's not worth tarnishing the nostalgic memory. Knowing myself, I'll do it one day anyway.

Why did I bring all this up? I have liked basically zero Gundam anime that have come out ever since. I ended up watching quite a lot of Gundam 00, and enjoying it...but then without even realizing it, as soon as other shows started pressing for my time, it was the first to be dropped, even part-way in the second season. After that, I tried to pick up a few other Gundams that came out, or that I had never watched, but I just was never interested again. What's more, any time a mech anime came out, it got the same treatment.

I do believe I know why this happened. It's because, to begin with, human shaped robots are impractical, but that's just a very tiny piece of it. Magic is way more impractical, and I love me to death a lot of fantasy shows. The important thing, is that it contributes to the Suspension of Disbelief being dispelled. You can't just tell your audience to accept something. You need to put some effort into it, make the abnormal feel normal. The problem is far worse though. The number one contributing factor to me dropping the shows every time, was I was just utterly bored or disenfranchised with the story and characters. The drop always comes right around the time the shows story or character development plummets into the earth in favor of...Giant Robot Battles.

Yes, the core reason most mech anime fans love the genre tends to be the point where I drop the shows. Why? Because as soon as the fighting starts in earnest, everything seems to devolve into an endless ridiculous chain of excuses upon excuses for having MORE giant robots smash each other to solve everyone's problems, and it somehow fucking works. Emphasis on somehow. The excuses just continue to get ever more ridiculous until the show eventually grinds to a halt. In other words, all mech anime eventually compromise on the rest of the show, and sacrifice it into the fire in order to sustain the unwieldy metal monstrosities that are the very heart of their genre. Assuming they even tried to have a decent story and characters to begin with. A lot of the time, they're content to make it obvious right out of the gate that the show exists solely as an excuse for giant robots to smash each other for little to no reason at all. I honestly think that's the better approach, because then it isn't duping hopeful or curious people into watching something they thought would be more than it was.
[Aside end]

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