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Happy New Year! So, this has ended, and unlike Ulysses, I didn't drop it half way. But just how good is it exactly?
Rules as always:
1.Spoilers are abounding here folks. If you want to watch it blindly... go watch it. Spoilers are here.
2. Depending on the Anime, this can get NSFW.
3. I am watching the subbed version.
So, what happens with the blade of fate for Yin and co.? This is my review of Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary.
So right after Episode 1, we get a flashback episode which shows Yin, Ning and Xhao in their lives before, and what exactly happened to Ning to make her lose her arms, begging this question: why not just start the anime here? However, this episode points out the pivotal plot point of the series, the love triangle(or now love square) between Yin, Ning, Xhao and Cheng(the empress).
After that Ning gets new arms, and tries her best to help her sister the best that she can. The 2 meet up with the band of Luminaries, who ask them to join them, and while Ning is hellbent on make the Taibai Empire pay, Yin says no, because she doesn't to be a hypocrite. However, they keep working with the mercenaries, as they keep meeting up with them.
Meanwhile Xhao is clearly being favoured by Empress Cheng Long, even being shown secrets by the Empress herself, and being promoted all the time. So when the trio reunite, Xhao asks Yin to come with him, but Yin refuse because of the principal of the thing, but in one last cruel twist, Ning, who has been as odds with her sister because of the fact she is still being a bit over protective despite her having new arms, goes with Xhao. Well that's good for Yin now, isn't it?
After meeting up with the leader of the rebels and a now defected Ho Meng, Yin learns about the Black Fire Armor. This was something for foreshadowed in episode 3. Black Fire gives great power to the user, but as Yin demonstrates while using the prototype, if it leaks into your heart, you basically go berserk.
Ho Meng was working on this to give the rebels the upperhand against the Taibai Empire, but that may have backfired because of the fact that Zhao is working on the Zhengtian, a giant black fire cannon that can fly. As Jim Carrey once said, war is hell. However, there is a civil war going on in the Empire thanks to Commander Meng Ji and Lady Pang. Pang was one of 4 wife's to the Emperor and she was jealous that he always favoured Cheng instead of her daughter, Juan. Pang intent is good but as an antagonist she only appears a handful of times in the series. Meng is better for me personally, because of the fact that his motivation for taking over comes from the treatment that Empress Cheng is giving Xhao.
As the Zhengtian is prepared, Pang is taken care of by the Empress's magic, and she also learns in the process that she killed her father(inadvertently mind you) because the mindf**ks were not enough at this point!
On the Zhengtian, the rebels, now with their own black fire armours, need to take out the black fire reactor, and Yin must fight a Black Fire Powered Ning(more on this in a bit, it relates to her character more than anything.) Xhao tries to take out the reactor after defecting(they realised that he had Ning, who was working with the rebels remember), but gets his eyes blasted in the process. After the reactor is taken out Xhao, Ning, and Yin meet, as Yin tries to save her sister from her own Black Fire rampage, and now has a golden sword for her efforts, but Ning loses her legs in the process, and as trio escape before the place explodes, Ning says that " It has just begun".
The Empress continues to wage war on the rebels, now with an iron firm grasp on destroying her enemies, and Yin continues to fight her with new family, giving her a somewhat happy ending, but it's bittersweet for Xhao and Ning who are together, but one cannot move, and the other is blind.
Overall the story is really good, I really like how most episodes ended with a mindf**k to end each episode, and the ones that didn't had an even bigger mindf**k the next episode.
There are a lot of characters but most of them are not noteworthy, mostly the rebels. The only name I remember from them is Can Lang, and that's because his personality sticks out to me. I don't even see them as plot devices here, besides maybe a force that Yin has to ally herself with to have some sort of security.
However, most of the characters that are noteworthy are a joy to behold, and their arcs are very interesting. Cheng's is focused on her duties as empress, meaning that she to learn to put personal feelings aside, and learn to become cold-hearted, destroying her rival, but also trying to forgive herself, after having using Ning as a toy so to speak, and allowing herself to have feelings for Xhao. It's really well written, more so given the fact that the relationship between Xhan and Cheng is given plenty of screen time, allowing a bond to form naturally.
Xhao's arc is the best of the 4 in my opinion, as it deals with him coming to terms with new found power, and how he wants to use it to make better lives for Ning and Yin once he finds them. I do really like this, as Xhao is constantly thankful for his power, and it is nice to see that he appreciates what he is given.
Ning's arc is probably the most heart breaking. Some conflict arose between her and Yin because of the fact that when got her new arms, she doesn't want to feel helpless anymore, and she's mad Yin still treats her like she is. She's also somewhat bitter about the fact that she knows Xhao's true feelings lie with Yin. When she takes the offer to go with him, she may see as a way to not only get back at her sister, but also to make her dreams come true. However, this fails as she is caught, and while in the torture chamber, she begins to blame Yin for all her problems, and once saved, she is basically a pawn in Cheng's plan. I do really like that she hates the fact the feels helpless, and now wants to take revenge.
Yin is the least interesting of the four arcs, but it's not to say it's a bad arc. It involves her falling out with sister and and coming to terms with using her power in war. She keeps turning down the offers of the rebels because of the fact that she doesn't want to kill, and she eventually comes to terms with this, mostly thanks to the black fire armour and Ning before she went with Xhao. It also involves her coming to terms with her guilt over what happened to Ning and Xhao, and her accepting her new family as the rebels. I do like the last part, but besides that, Yin learning to become a hero feels ... a bit softer than the other story lines.
The ending theme, Negiai No Hana by 9nine, is really nice, the but ending visual(just one), while striking, is not very impressive compared to others. Thankfully Studio DEEN remembered to press render on all the CGI they used, and the animation, while rushed at some point is overall decent.
I can definitely say say that this anime was worth my time... but I don't know if it was worth many other people's time, as no one really talked about this anime, which is a shame in my opinion, because there are some loose threads that would make a good season 2. While I can't recommend this to new comers because of the overly dark nature and rushed animation, I think there is a good chance that anime veterans will get a kick out of this.
The blog is back! Took 2 weeks off to recoup and recover, but we are back with some anime posting! I'm going to be honest with you all, 2019 will hard for me, because I have exams that determine my future in a few months, but like the end of last year, I'm going to try and post at least once a week. If everything goes wrong, at least something to I have to fall back on, right? And if I'm honest, that's not such a bad thing in my mind.
Anyways, that's it for now! Thanks for reading, have a great day/night, and take care.
Written By Nana Marfo
Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary(C)Studio DEEN/TV TOKYO