Should You Watch Knight's & Magic?

Our Episode 1 Summer Anime 2017 Review
knight's & magic summer anime season 2017 episode 1 review
Should you watch Knight's & Magic? Here's our thoughts. (c) Studio 8-Bit

Knight’s & Magic is a weird show for me.  

For starters, it begins with the death of its protagonist. Plenty of shows have done this — shonen legend Yu Yu Hakusho kicks poor Yusuke off the mortal coil right away — but I didn’t expect your standard “moist otaku finds waifu in another land” anime to start off in such a gutsy fashion.

I also didn’t expect to like the lead, whom we meet for just a few moments before he dies. He’s a focused and disciplined programmer whose colleagues like him, and he’s also a really big robot otaku whose chief regret after death is that he can’t build the new model he just got. The fact that he’s a robot otaku and not a smarmy body pillow collector otaku is probably why I like him more than the stars of other isekai (“another world”) shows. His love of robots and figures is so innocent compared to the smug perversion of something like Eromanga-Sensei.

Unfortunately, we don’t get a lot more information on the lead’s personality before he dies. But after he dies, we’re treated to an extended scene in another world where a noblewoman and her frail young son are traveling with an older man. They’re attacked by gross giant bug things, the first of which is rendered in weirdly fluffy-looking CG, but which the older man handily dispatches. The second giant bug is rendered much more slickly and is clearly much more dangerous. It tosses the carriage in which the noblewoman’s son is hiding like it’s making a salad and almost crushes the lad.

In that moment, the robot otaku’s soul carries over; he is now that young lad.

This is weird. We never met the young boy and never know what he might have thought of being displaced with so little fanfare. We never know what the young lad might have become. We don’t know if there’s any echo of that young boy left. Instead, our robot otaku gets a second chance at life as a nobleman named Ernesti. And he seizes it, because this world has giant mecha called Silhouette Knights, and robot otaku knows he was born into this life to become a Knight Runner and pilot one of those bad boys.

Much like Erased , I can’t get over the strangeness of an adult man in a little boy’s body, running around with little friends his own age, watched by adults who don’t suspect anything might be a little off about this child. Knight’s & Magic doesn’t dwell on this point, instead choosing to bull through the events of Ernesti’s life now that his body has been taken over by a robot otaku from another world.

We meet two friends, A-something and A-something-else; we meet a young dwarf Knightsmith whose family helps make mecha; we follow Ernesti as he uses his programming skills from another life to make incredible magic happen in this one. Two separate 3-year time skips move us dizzyingly along. Knight’s & Magic is very eager to get to its plot and skips over so much exposition to get there. Half of the fun of an isekai anime is exploring that other world, so I’m not sure why Knight’s & Magic is glossing over one of its genres key charm points, but Ernesti is confident, bubbly and enthusiastic. His can-do attitude and derring-do is refreshing.

Ernesti is unstoppable during all this time, a magic-using powerhouse whose inventive mind (and other-world knowledge of programming and sheer love of mecha) propel him to the top of his classes at the Knight Runner Academy. The body of the young man he’s inhabiting is cute, too, with platinum-lavender hair and striking blue-green eyes that get him the attention of the Student Council President and the protective devotion of his female friend, A-something-else. Ernesti has little time to spare on scouting out waifus, however, since he’s obsessed with Silhouette Knights.

The plot only really gets moving in the last quarter of the episode once the kids go out on a training exercise in a nearby demon-ridden forest. They’re swarmed by more demons than anticipated, and the older students try to hold off the swarm while the younger students escape. Of course, Ernesti and his pals courageously rush to the front along with some professional Knight Runners who sweep up the action, but both Ernesti and the princess-curled Student Council President are suspicious about all that demon activity.

While the first episode was enjoyable past my expectation, I can’t help but feel the whole thing would be stronger as a straightforward high fantasy anime without the “robot otaku from another world” thing wedged in. Unless there’s some kind of awesome twist upcoming that relies on Ernesti’s real world origins, I’d feel more comfortable watching the tale of a determined young boy coming into his own rather than a salaryman otaku wearing a cute boy’s skin like a coat.

I still want to know what’s going on, but this might be the sort of show I catch up with every few weeks rather than one I watch religiously every week.

Knight’s & Magic airs on Crunchyroll every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. EDT. Will you be watching? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

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