Plucky knight rookies, living swords, and, of course, a blacksmith.
That is the barest of bones of The Sacred Blacksmith, but not the whole story. Cecily Cambell is the oldest surviving member of the Cambell House and is doing her best to follow in her father and grandfather's footsteps to be a guard knight in the Knight Guards of Housman, a prosperous independent trade city. The show opens up with her standing up for a merchant, and then has to face down a berserk veteran of the Valbanill War, where her aged family sword is effectively broken. Enter Luke Ainsworth, a fierce fighter who wields an unusual sword, to save her life. After seeing his strange katana slice clean through his opponent's sword, Cecily tracks Luke down at his home the next day and thus begins the recurrent pestering of him to make her a katana of her own, despite her knowing nothing about them. Luke is taciturn at best, but his cheery elf-like assistant Lisa is on Cecily's side from the start and eventually a mutual tolerance/hate friendship starts forming between the two. And, then, Cecily meets Aria, a demon sword that controls wind and can take a human form. Cecily is initially charged with protecting Aria, but the relationship quickly turns to a strong friendship and, after another demon attack initialized by “the man in black,” partnership. But persistence is as persistence does, and Cecily is still determined to get Luke and Lisa to make her a katana worthy of protecting the city and everyone in it. If I were Aria, I'd be slightly offended...
The Sacred Blacksmith starts off with a fair balance of action, seriousness, and comedy. To be honest, with the serious nature of its opening and the first episode, I wasn't expecting quite as much comedic relief in it as there is. But, I suppose that hot-headed Cecily's reactionary ways make for good funny fodder. Blacksmith does have a compelling subplot aside from Cecily's goals and her interpersonal relationships with her friends (if you could call Luke that). Each episode reveals a tiny tease more about Devil Contracts and information about the old Valbanill War that took place 40+ years previously. Not only that, but there's also some flavoring of political intrigue as the relationships between the Independent Trade Cities is introduced and the tensions that exist. It's clear from the onset who “the man in black” is, but his motives are not as immediately obvious. Really, this anime has surprised me as I was expecting something bland and tiresome until I hit play. But, sadly, it does get tiresome at the fanservice and all too obvious jokes made to emphasize Cecily's endowment. (As her breastplate wasn't bad enough.) The visual jokes are pretty obvious, but the original Japanese is a bit more subtle in pointing it out than the blatancy thrown into the English dub.
The English dub, is, by the way, a fairly good one. There is a lot of familiar voice talent stepping up in Blacksmith, which gives a convincing feel for the acting that can easily be listened to without cringing. The Japanese track is good as well, and there are obvious discrepancies between the two scripts because the subtitles do not entirely coincide with the dub in English. This can be either annoying or amusing, depending on how much of a stickler you are for poetic liscences. I think it gives a sort of give-and-take between the two languages because, blunt as it sometimes can be, the English dub is pretty enjoyable and the actors all have a cohesive energy, even when spouting out the most obnoxious lines—namely, all the ones about boobies, boobs, “assets” and knockers, to name only a few.
Of the animation, I have to say it's pretty darn slick for television animation. Blacksmith obviously had a decent budget, and used it all on scenery and action scenes. That's not altogether a bad thing (as it sometimes can be) because the character designs aren't generic and even background characters have a vitality and individuality about them. The opening song animation promises a show with plenty of visual punch, and it does deliver. The music is also pretty cool and I find myself unable to fast-forward through the opening because it's that good. The background music is also good at setting appropriate moods, be it seriousness or whimsy.
The Sacred Blacksmith is a short series, only 12 episodes long. It could probably do with some fleshing out, seeing as it is based on an 11-volume series of light novels and some cogent points seem a little rushed. However, you get the full enjoyment of those 12 episodes in every one, with seeing a well-paced story unfold and see a fairly decent progression of character development happen as the series goes on. Cecily is clearly the plucky tsundere heroine and Luke her surly and nearly angsty counterpart, and even the supporting roles of Aria and Lisa are fun to watch. This show has enough action to appease anyone and makes up for the running boob gags that happen in every episode. And if you're more a fan of the emotive side of anime, the characters have something in them that can appeal to everyone at any point in time and seem more human than usually seen in anime at times. It is a must-watch for any lover of Western-style fantasy and a good addition to just about any collection.