Queen's Blade: The Evil Eye

So, how do you follow up something like Queen's Blade? It was a weird mess in many respects, but had the trappings of a solid fantasy yarn. The cast reached the capital for the contest at the end of the first season, so how do you move along the second season? The Evil Eye makes the expected decision of a tournament arc, and it manages to use that new format to explore its many characters and ends up overall stronger than the first season. Though, there's still a good mess of problems holding it back, and this time around, it's less the ecchi scenes (with one very notable exception) and more poor plot decisions.

As I stated, the warriors all reached the capital for the Queen's Blade tournament at the end of the last season. The tournament moves along via the queen summoning strange dimensional beings that warp contestants to different avenues for battle, then broadcasts the fights to the people ...minus those that take place in her secret chambers. The current queen, Aldra, has another motive besides holding her power, and we quickly discover that she has some other entity speaking to her through her shadow. The various contestants fight it out to get the crown, but several start to realize that their pawns in a cruel game set up by the queen.

All the fighters here we met last season, with the exception of Nyx (she only has a one scene cameo in the first season). Thank god she doesn't become a show regular, because while her character itself is fine (a trampled girl lashing out at the world with newfound power), her scenes almost always come down to her being punished by her living demon staff. Said staff punishes her via OUTRIGHT TENTACLE RAPE AND IT EVEN PUMPS SOME SORT OF LIQUID INTO HER WHAT IN THE HELL. It comes right out of NOWHERE and happens multiple times, but she's thankfully removed by the end of the first third. Her appearances until the final episode are without her staff, so no more scenes of something I am amazed got animated and put on TV. Those scenes are the single most shocking moments in the televised series, first season included, simply because it is outright sex in some form. It's just ...how did that happen.

And now that I've gotten that out of the way, here's the good. The tournament set-up allows for a lot of character development among the cast, like Nanael becoming friends with a nun, or Tomoe's season long arc to conquer her sense of mercy. The main two Vance sisters are also put aside for most of the series, up until Charlette's fight with Ritsy and a few scattered moments with Leina. Unfortunately, this means we get more time with Elina, who is so self-centered and obnoxious that there is not a single likable thing about her. Tomoe kicking her halfway across a snowy field was just so very cathartic. She is just completely unnecessary to the Vance sister dynamic, and she has no real reason to even be here, besides chasing after Leina.

Several subplots from the first season are resolved here, including Cattleya's family drama, while a few characters are given more depth and stuff to do. Echidna is humanized here through her past with Irma, while Airi of the swamp witch trio starts looking after Cattleya's kid partway through the series. These added elements are nice, but the finale wraps it all up too easily and far too suddenly. Thankfully, there are some strong turns among the more comedic cast members, especially both Nanael and Menace. Nanael's giant ego ends up going along well with Melpha's blind faith for some good gags, while Menace's presence is so pointless that it actually becomes endearing. She's more focused on bringing back her empire than ever before, leading to her brainwashing half a city and nonchalantly breaking from her crystal prison in the finale like she was waking from a good nap.

There are also a few other good ideas scattered throughout. Ritsy is brainwashed by the queen early on, leading to a season long struggle to free her from the queen's control. It's the first time the show really decides to focus on her motivation of saving the orphanage from the third episode in season one as well, making her more than just Leina's major stepping stone to overcoming her weaknesses. Claudette and Count Vance get some effective drama through the Count's obsession with stopping the tournament, and his reason for it is relatable. Even Ymir, the dwarf girl trying to sell weapons (who is the only female character in this series not sexualized in some way), ends up having plot important purpose and her own character arc, and it works.

Unfortunately, there's also a lot of bad ideas. Shizuka's entire purpose in the show is to complete Tomoe's character arc, and the way its done is incredibly idiotic. I understand the reasoning, but it leads to one of the most easily avoidable moments in the entire series. It's also completely undercut by Leina, who becomes a sort of super warrior that takes on the emotional baggage and desires of her fellow warriors. This does not work in the slightest, simply because Leina is so incredibly dull as a character. There's no real moment that makes you think she's grown as a person, and buying that she truly understands the plights of the other warriors makes very little sense from what we see. Aldra also ends up as a huge waste of potential, with her arc getting an incredibly unsatisfying end tacked on during the real villain reveal, and the entity that controlled her turned out to be nothing of particular note. Her characterization is cruel and spiteful, but she ends up just being yet another lost little girl being manipulated by some random demon that is defeated in an incredibly pitiful way.

The animation is also significantly worse than in the first season. There, things started strong and got progressively worse and into laughable territory by the finale. Here, things start out painfully average and don't really improve, outside a few scenes reserved for particularly dramatic fights. It never gets quite as bad as season one at its worst, but it never really comes together right. The show just looks very bland, even for this series, and the queen's quarters look far more drab than they did in the first season.

While we're on that topic, there are a few minor holes in continuity here. Melpha was built up as a servant of the queen in season one, but this is cast aside here. The swamp witch trio being badly beaten during the finale is ignored as they come back right as rain this season, despite Melona being turned to stone in a larger medusa body by the queen's actions. On top of that, the queen's supernatural powers are seemingly forgotten by the entire cast suddenly, despite everyone having had seen her turn a giant monster to stone. It's even stranger in Melpha's case, as we saw her talking to the queen while she polished a freshly made people-cicle before the season one finale.

All that said, I did enjoy this season more than the first. The story elements are overall stronger, and the faults present are still nowhere near as dull or frustrating as the Vance sister rivalry. It's just not enough for me to consider the series good. Maybe if we got a spin-off focusing on the combined exploits of Nanael, Menace and Tomoe, I'd feel differently, but this is only a minor improvement. I like the ambition, but I don't like the poor execution.


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