It’s probably a good thing none of you remember Blade & Soul. It was an anime that aired earlier this year based on the Korean fantasy MMO of the same name. I have this stubborn belief that it is possible to make a great show based on an action game and thus I watched Blade & Soul in the desperate hope that it would be the one. I was sorely disappointed.
That’s not to say Blade & Soul is completely terrible, there were a couple of impressive fights (mostly the ones involving Jin). It was certainly fan servicey, disjointed, and passably animated, but I’ve seen much worse example of all of these flaws. It did eventually get around to completing a satisfying character arc for Alka even if message of the rest of the show was muddled. I have plenty more thoughts on Blade & Soul which I might write up into a review at some point, but for now I wanted to focus on one of the show’s lowest points in terms of story writing.
Unfortunately I’ll need a little backstory to describe the scene: Alka was a cold-hearted assassin who killed many people while she was in the army. But recently she has recognized all the pain she caused, and is feeling lost and remorseful because of the blood on her hands. She wanders, exhausted and dehydrated, into the forest and is just barely rescued by an old married couple living there. They recognize her as the assassin that killed their daughter when she was in the freedom fighters, but find it in their hearts to forgive her. They show Alka that she isn’t broken. If she changes her ways and earnestly seeks forgiveness she can find a way to forgive herself. It was honestly a good scene… right up until the father decides he can’t forgive her and tries to kill her with his hunting rifle. But then right at the last second his wife accidentally pushes Alka out of the way and gets shot instead.
At this point I literally threw up my hands in frustration as there was no reason at all for this sudden tragedy. He then gives Alka a pained look and turns the gun on himself to join his wife. And this causes Alka to… remember all the people she’s killed and get really depressed because of the things she’s done? But that’s right where we started at the beginning of the episode! It’s like they wanted to show Alka that killing is wrong, but then had to backpedal when they realized if she gives up her swords they don’t have a show.
Note again that I’m cherry picking the worst moment from the show, the rest of it isn’t nearly this bad. But this was just such a standout example of a ridiculous, shock-value plot twist that it’s the first thing I remember, even six months later.