"The Sacred Blacksmith" anime series makes its way to the US courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.
Based on the Japanese light novel series by Isao Miura, with original character designs by Luna, a total of nine volumes have been published by Media Factory under their MF Bunko J label (targeted towards young adult males, the J stands for juvenile). Meanwhile a manga adaptation began its serialization in 2009 in the monthly manga magazine "Monthly Comic Alive" and in October 2009, a 12 episode anime series by Manglobe aired on AT-X through December.
The anime series is directed by Masamitsu Hidaka ("Linebarrls of Iron", "I Dream of Mimi", "Pokemon Advance"), a screenplay adaptation by Masashi Suzuki ("Hell Girl", "Shuffle!", "Akane Maniax") and character design by Jun Nakai ("Tokyo Majin").
"The Sacred Blacksmith" takes place in a land that was once ravaged in the great Valbanill War. During that time, humans sacrificed their bodies to become powerful demons in which they would turn into Demon Contracts (weapons). These weapons have long been banned.
The story begins with a 3rd generation Knight named Cecily Campbell. She has sworn herself to protect the city from harm and corruption but one day, she sees a former Knight that looks out of it and screaming for "salvation". When she goes to apprehend him, he strikes with a huge sword which breaks apart her family sword (that has been part of the Campbell generation for ages).
The Knight nearly kills her but he is stopped by Luke Ainsworth, a mysterious blacksmith who easily beats the Knight with his sword and his sword easily cuts through the Knight's sword with ease.
Unfortunately, Cecily's first encounter with Luke is not good as Luke criticizes her inability to fight and protect because she is weak. As Cecily tries to find Blacksmith's to fix her sword, she quickly learns that no blacksmith has the experience to fix a broken sword but they can upgrade it. But Cecily wants the same sword, more powerful, not a new sword.
Grateful for saving her life, Cecily goes to find this Blacksmith and finds out that he and a girl named Lisa live together and that he is a blacksmith. Seeing how powerful his sword was in battle, Cecily wants Luke to fix her sword. But Luke is unwilling.
While she leaves his home, a man in black turns a man into a demon which attacks Cecily. Fortunately, Luke is there and Cecily sees Luke and Lisa use some sort of magic to create a sword which can be used to fight these demons in battle.
This begins an interesting friendship with three and soon enough, an even more interesting friendship when she meets a Demon Sword of Wind named Aria. Aria has been in the property of the wrong men and she sees the kind heart of Cecily. Cecily vows to protect everyone including Aria and both agree to form a bond in which Aria will now become the sword of Cecily.
But unbeknown to Cecily, many people are coming after her to gain possession of Aria.
"The Sacred Blacksmith" features the main characters:
Cecily Campbell - The main protagonist. Cecily is a 3rd generation Knight of the Campbell family. She swore to protect the city but at the same time, she's not a great fighter and she is not a killer. She believes in justice and protecting people. She is often at odds with Luke but part of her likes him. She is often praised for having big breasts.
Luke Ainsworth - The mysterious and talented Blacksmith and swordsman. Known for his blue eyes and also living with a girl named Lisa, he often comes to aid in saving Cecily's life. During battle, he can forge a katana. Despite he and Cecily being opposites, he accepts her. He vows to protect Lisa for some reason.
Lisa - An assistant to Luke who has elven ears and somehow has the ability to help Luke forge weapons using magic. She cares deeply for Luke.
Aria - The demon sword of the wind who can turn human. She is a peaceful woman who seeks for a peaceful woman who cares. Her past has been filled with murder and carnage and she dreams of having an owner like Cecily. The two bond and become very good friends. Whenever in battle, she turns to sword form.
Siegfried - The unknown man of darkness who is constantly cloaked and has been attacking Cecily and Luke for some reason.
"The Sacred Blacksmith" is presented in widescreen. The first thing you notice is Jun Nakai's character designs. As he worked on "Tokyo Majin", you can see his influence in this anime series with how the characters are created. For the most part, the anime series looks very good and there is more emphasis on the characters than the art backgrounds. Also, an emphasis on colors and lighting.
As for the overall anime production, for a new company that was started back in 2007 and has focused primarily on key animation, so far this company has done a pretty good job thus far (the other anime they have worked on are "Hayate The Combat Butler", "Ergo Proxy" and "House of Five Leaves"). But part of the reason why I enjoy the animation for "The Sacred Blacksmith" was its emphasis on character expressions and although the backgrounds were not super-detailed, still, the lighting and focus on character closeups helped a lot in this series, especially during the action sequences.
Subtitles are in English.
"The Sacred Blacksmith" comes with the following special features
* Textless Opening Song: Justice of Light
* Textless Closing Song: Miracle Happy Day
* Trailers - FUNimation Entertainment trailers
* Episode Previews - (6:24) All episode previews for "The Sacred Blacksmith"
"The Sacred Blacksmith" is an entertaining anime series that provides a good amount of action and humor. If anything, adventure anime series fans, also those who love mystical type of storylines will enjoy this series.
The characters are fun and interesting and because it focuses on four primary characters, with only 12 episodes, the series dedicates enough story to develop the characters and their friendship. Of course, it will seem a bit derivative of other anime series in which the main female and male character are constantly bickering at each other, yet they care for one another. A common theme in anime series and no different with "The Sacred Blacksmith" but the main difference is that the series focuses on a mystical blacksmith and swordfighting and demon weapons that turn human. Definitely an interesting storyline.
Although "The Sacred Blacksmith" looks like a safe anime adventure series, it's important to note that it does have a mature theme (thus the mature rating).
Part of the running gag of the series is Cecily's breasts. It appears that many of the women are flat-chested and thus, look at Cecily's breasts as significant. And so there will be times where her armor breaks off and it exposes her bare front chest. Also, with the American dub, the dialogue tends to have a more mature theme as Cecily will be seen screaming some not so bad vulgarities but with the nudity and language, definitely not a series to watch with the younger viewers.
Overall, "The Sacred Blacksmith" is an entertaining and short anime series. Once again, it's only 12-episodes long and doesn't require too much of your time. For collectors, there is a special limited edition of this set being released which comes with a 32-page artbook and special box.
If you are looking for a fun, action-packed anime series that doesn't require too much of your time, definitely give "The Sacred Blacksmith" a try!