The last thing you’d expect from an epic fantasy wuxia inspired production would be the protagonist to opine against taking swordsmanship seriously.
Thunderbolt Fantasy’s has a stubbornly singular, beaten to death storyline that drives our heroes’ quest: they must retrieve the stolen legendary sword, Tiān Xíng Jiàn (literally “Heaven’s Retribution Sword”) from the evil hands of our resident Lord of Darkness, Miè Tiān Hái, who also happens to be a sword fanatic. The sword’s got a huge reputation for being extremely powerful and legendary and coveted. People will do pretty much everything for it: they’ll lie, cheat, steal, backstab, even die for it. This sword’s a big deal. But then our main man, Bù Huàn, rains on this sword-worshipping parade by complaining how a sword is just a sword, and any value we assign to it doesn’t fundamentally change the sword’s function itself. Even the sword’s function can be usurped by a tree branch if one is skilled enough.
Ahh, but this isn’t just any sword. This is the frigging legendary Tiān Xíng Jiàn, the only thing keeping Yāo Tú Lí, the old demon god from returning to wreak a second apocalypse on the world. Without this sword, the world is doomed. Bring on the reign of fire, eternal darkness,and the incredibly ominous soundtrack.
There’s a kind of poetic justice in having Bù Huàn, the ultimate swordsman who chooses to practice swordscraft with a tree branch rather than an actual sword, perform the ultimate troll by pulling out his inventory scroll of thirty-six equally impressive swords of bonafide legendary status, picking his favorite and proceeding to send said terrifying demon god packing to some dark corner of the universe. He leaves the kids with the task of keeping watch over this legendary sword with a flippant moral-of-the-day farewell: “Please stop putting your swords on ridiculously high pedestals and making me do this kind of thing again” and carries on his merry way and on to the next unnecessarily dramatic and repetitious adventure.
4 thoughts on “12 Days of Anime #7: The Taste of Steel in Thunderbolt Fantasy”
And I am SO there for the second season. I don’t usually go for cheese, but this series was just so gloriously over-the-top that I couldn’t resist. I think it definitely helped that the series clearly knew it was dumb and cliche as all hell, and fully embraced its own ridiculousness.
The writing was excellent, you could definitely see Urobuchi’s hand in it. It is pure fun. I love shows that have confidence to go over the top and at the same time not take things seriously. Here’s to season 2!
Now that you mention it, Shang Bu Huan does have a very Murtaugh-like attitude to him. It’s part of his charm.
Oh and I think you misspelt thirty-six there with a Freudian slip 😉
How embarrassing, Freudian slip indeed! Too much fanfiction lately (that and I’m in a rush to get these 12 Days out I’m not proofreading properly). Thank you for pointing that out.
Bu Huan is charming, though I suspect he doesn’t want to be… 🙂