During a conflict with the Princess of Cruelty, Shang Bu Huan is poisoned, putting him at a serious disadvantage against the hordes of brainwashed townspeople that the demon blade Night of Mourning has enslaved.
Lang Wu Yao helps to get Shang out of the conflict, knocking the townspeople out as he battles his way through the masses. They manage to escape just before Xiao Kuang Juan arrives with his troop. The princess of cruelty sends the town after them, but unlike Shang, Xiao has no problem with killing these mind-controlled citizens. Even the princess of cruelty is shocked by his barbarism as the group mercilessly slaughters the town.
Gui Niao witnesses this occur, dodging an attack from the fleeing princess before confronting Xiao. The tense scene that follows is essentially opposing schemers trying to unveil one another, but maintaining a tenuous alliance for the time being. Who’s playing who?
Having escaped to safety, Shang shares the name of the 2nd stolen sword with Lang: The Seven Blasphemous Deaths. While details of the blade aren’t fully explained, Shang hopes that the Princess of Cruelty is smart enough not to remove it from its sheath at least. This alludes to a frighteningly powerful blade.
The blade itself awakens upon hearing the Princess lamenting her recent loss, and draws her closer to it – promising power and dominance. It nearly nets the Princess before she’s able to reject its allure.
Back at the fortress, Bi Shu looks after commander Bo Yang Hou as he recovers from the recent poison attack. Searching for an antidote, fellow soldier You Xing discovers a mysterious monk who expels poison from a local farmer. Asking for his help, the monk agrees and they make their way back to the fortress. Once they arrive and the monk looks over the commander, he asks if the old man is worth saving. Disgusted by the question, You Xing and his associate lash out at the monk, and things get pretty tense as it appears like they nearly come to blows. However, the impassioned outburst seemingly convinces the monk, as he then transfers the poison into his own body!
Speaking of poison, Shang continues to battle against the toxins within him. He is able to manipulate his body so that the tainted blood pools below his knee, but from there he only has the option of cutting his leg off to remove it entirely. Weighing their options, Shang is interrupted by a familiar voice as The Enigmatic Gale, Gui Niao, appears to offer his assistance!
This season is definitely taking a more slow and measured approach to building the plot. I recognized it in the previous weeks, but going into week 3 and still not having a major battle is unusually slow. Granted, the cast is a bit slimmer than last season, so there’s less opportunity for conflict so far.
Much of Thunderbolt Fantasy’s strengths lie in the dialogue, as well as its ability to communicate tension and unseen scheming and strategy. The scenes with Gui Niao and Xiao Kuang Juan are the most palpably tense, as you gather the idea that perhaps this inspector could be the match that the Enigmatic Gale has been searching for. The slow build of the inevitable conflict gives weight and excitement to their scenes, without them having to draw their weapons.
The puppetry in this episode seemed a little off, namely in the scene where Shang reveals the Seven Blasphemous Deaths as the second missing blade. Understandably the reaction won’t be as immediate as it is in animation, but it was even more delayed than usual – with what looked like an extra cut in between to make it extra jarring. Despite this, the music and voice acting continues to deliver in order to compensate.
While we’re seeing a slow start to this new season of Thunderbolt Fantasy, we’ve now been introduced to the major villains, including the neutral (but shady) monk. With the stage largely set, we can hope that in the coming weeks we’ll see more of the action sequences that really help the series shine.
Keep your eyes on this show – and if you haven’t caught season 1 or the Sword of Life and Death special, definitely check them out on Crunchyroll!
- Gui Niao (The Enigmatic Gale) is one of the coolest characters ever
- The Sorcerous Sword Index and the mysterious figures from Xi You are making great plot points
- Action is sparse so far and hasn't been on the same level as season 1 yet
- Puppetry seemed a bit off this episode - some odd cuts and delayed reactions