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Annotated Puppetry: Thunderbolt Fantasy episodes 7-12

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A Game of Marionettes

It was only a matter of time until Urobuchi would slice Thunderbolt Fantasy with his special knives. While it took a while for his blade to pierce through the show’s main story, the effect is still worthy of his usual marks that he leaves behind in his projects, such as Kamen Rider Gaim and Psycho-Pass Season 1’s changes to the plot.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about these set of episodes is that they hit the audience with reality’s harsh truth, as a couple aspects ended up surprising us.

It’s these real moments that complete the Butcher’s latest concoction as the main cast’s journey isn’t as straight forward as it seemed to be. The gang’s different backgrounds start to contribute to the show’s conflict and Gui Niao’s true colors start to blossom. While the change in the story didn’t result in any ridiculously shocking tragic moments, the constant air of doubt that entered the atmosphere acts as an alternate form entertainment that still stays true to the guy’s style.

The unfortunate outcome from this change was dealing with the fact that we had to part ways with the show’s story about a band of characters that would usually not see each other eye to eye team up to go on a quest to stop a powerful person from releasing a powerful sword from its seal. In a way, it’s almost like Thunderbolt Fantasy was teaching us that all good things must come to an end. There was only so much that we could indulge from Huan tolerating most of the party while they reach Hai’s lair since the cast’s destination was meant to set up for the main turning point in the series.

Even though the show started off like it could’ve become a series about a group that became closer during the adventure, the staff was likely aiming for a scenario where things don’t always go as planned. Huan ended up doing more of the work in the journey than Niao intended to and the wandering swordsman’s patience almost jeopardized the entire mission. Just like in real life, there’s always a chance that a well-thought out plan won’t go well. One has to learn to adapt and find a way to move forward while making modifications along the way. Sure, it almost made most of the gang’s roles in the trials a bit useless, but the treat was that it gave the Butcher the ammo that he needed to get the ball rolling.

It’s this element that opened up the strings of betrayal that went on during the scenes in Hai’s lair. Characters that seemed like they could be heroes ended up showing a new side to them and Niao’s true identity starts to take things up a notch. All in all, this direction works better in piecing together a finale that’ll exceed many folk’s expectations. Hell, Urobuchi’s usual style of killing off a character before things got real was changed up as it ended up being someone who seemed like they could’ve been around until the main battle against the true final adversary.

Of course, the show’s extravagant puppetry continues to be the star, with one of the highlights being the large golem. Compare to most of the fights, it was one of the few moments where we saw the puppeteers use the puppets to fight a large creature. Sure, it may have been a quick segment, but the fact that it seemed like Huan was scaling a stone monstrosity shows that the team's skills in moving the marionettes across the large stone creature were very effective. As a fan of practical effects, it’s still a treat to stare at the detail of the sets and creatures that Pili added to the scene. Since the show is nearing its finale, there’s no stopping this team from blowing everyone away.

Speaking of breathtaking action scenes, Pili’s use of effects when they showed off Huan’s true skills resulted in various scenes where my jaw dropped from the way how he can manipulate his qi in battle. In a way, they made him seem like an even more ridiculous version of Twilight Suzuka from Outlaw Star, as we see another badass slaughtering people with a wooden weapon. While his backstory might continue to remain a mystery when the show ends, the idea that we don’t know much about Huan background is what makes him intriguing. Nonetheless, it’s his tendency to go with his instinct that made him a fun lead to follow since he does his best to adjust to situations that he’s been put through against his will— even if they make him upset or to follow someone who he sees as a shady individual.

As Thunderbolt Fantasy went from being an adventure story to a tale of betrayal, the show has been quite the ride so far. Considering that the truth behind the Tian Xin Jian’s purpose has been revealed, the series might be setting up for the gang to fight a colossal being, which works well in the staff’s favor to end this show with a bang. No matter what happens, the end result might be a tale that teaches folks about accepting reality and using its harsh truth to grow into a stronger person. Someone is likely going to make one last major sacrifice, but that’ll just mean that the person involved has found his/her resolve. Of course, the high-speed lightning action will only make these moments even better.

 [Experience Thunderbolt Fantasy’s changes on Crunchyroll]

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Salvador G Rodiles
Salvador G RodilesSenior Editor   gamer profile

Salvador's an average bystander who took his first steps towards a life-changing goal. During his journey, he's devising a way to balance his time with anime, manga, video games, and tokusatsu in... more + disclosures


 


 


Also on Japanator: Thunderbolt Fantasy   (2)   From our database:

  • Look forward to more of Thunderbolt Fantasy's glorious puppet action in the future - Salvador G Rodiles
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