Episode Review: Trails of Cold Steel – Northern War ep 5

Praise be to the Hero of the Empire!
After many fillers and sub-par episode, we finally get at least “something” going for the actual main plot: to investigate the Hero of the Empire – Rean. This episode, we get to see Lavi encountering Rean in a way that she never expected. Even though the events aren’t very exciting, but it’s a good signal for changes to pick up.

We continue with the field trip on the train. But then the train encounter a problem on the way that some rocks were in the middle of the track (which is kinda stupid since it was made to seem to the pile has been there for a while, and the train is just now having problem). Anyway, the sub plot for this episode is there’s a rich brat on the train, and he redeems himself down the line by changing his ways (this is prob an Easter Egg for veteran fans, but for new viewers it will fall pretty flat and annyoing).

Furthermore, Lavi is getting dangerously close to Heero’s amount of plot armor. She fell down a crevice with no protection and just literally rolled down the rocky slope without so much of scratch. Then she proceeded to one-hit ever giant monster she encountered just like an over-levelled JRPG protagonist.

Then we got to the man of the series – Rean Schwarzer – the Hero of the Empire in all his glory. Rean definitely show us why he’s the “protag” of the franchise. He’s mad OP, very caring towards others be it his comrade or some strangers he just met. He spoke of very respectable ideals and showed that he can walk the talk with his powerful ability and most of all – the Ashen Knight Valimar.

It’s good that his display of power in this episode both wow Lavi but also stir up her hatred for him. After this episode, we hope that the series focus more on Lavi’s mission as well as exploring her motivation and her pass, as well as giving her companions something to do instead of just goofing around all the time.

The animation in this episode is sub-par. The highlight is of course Valimar but it’s too little too short. The monster combat actually has potential to be great, but they just keep giving us slideshows of finishing scenes instead of actual combat motion. It’s getting very dull, even duller than playing the game itself. There’s no sense of speed, weight and strength in those action scene, and the characters suffer zero effect from the environment is also immersion-breaking.

So far the series is slowly (at a turtle’s pace) inching towards the main plot, but we’re almost half way through the season and there’s nothing to hook the viewers in. Be it plot, characters, animation or music – Northern War hasn’t made a worthwhile impression. Hopefully that will change soon!

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