Why It Works: A Brief Plea for Thunderbolt Fantasy

I finally got around to featuring Thunderbolt Fantasy over at Crunchyroll, just in time for the end of the season. With most of the new shows not yet airing, I figured this was a perfect time to catch up on a show that definitely deserves some recognition. Thunderbolt Fantasy was an excellent ride, and I’m happy to hear we’ve got another season on the way!

Why It Works: A Brief Plea for Thunderbolt Fantasy

Thunderbolt Fantasy

4 thoughts on “Why It Works: A Brief Plea for Thunderbolt Fantasy

  1. Lovely article. I like how you mentioned that the show’s silliness is, in fact, it being its sincere self. It’s not often your come across a story that is inherently silly but has no reservations in acknowledging that fact (and going wild with it to boot). Heck, even the final deus ex machina that explained Shang’s character didn’t come off as over-the-top (although in many, many ways, it was).

    I’m just as excited as you are to see a sequel, but I honestly feel that there isn’t any need for one. The story feels pretty self-composed at this point, but who knows? Demon girl just fell off the radar so maybe she’s up to something?

  2. I was hoping for another season when I saw episode 12. There’s enough implied backstory and overt conflicts that one more episode just didn’t sound like it could cover it in a satisfactory way. I could imagine a show like this continuing on and on with plot points.

  3. I feel that as someone that watched a lot of this in Taiwan that TBF was an… interesting experiment. it’s certainly a rather different pace than what it is here but that’s expected given that it’s 20 minute episodes of 13 (where as in Taiwan it’s usually an hour + episode that’s at least 20 episodes .. and sometimes even up to 50 (!!) ) the fact is Pili cranks out more minutes of their show a week than TBF’s entire season.

    From a pure filming method and production POV, TBF didn’t really break new grounds here, it’s what you expect Pili can do when they have a bigger budget. (packed into much shorter minutes no less.) and this sort of combination of traditional filming special effects with CG is quite attractive in it’s own rights.

    The fights I feel wasn’t THAT well done, though also limited by time. and also because almost everyone was a swordsmen. it’s a real shame they didn’t actually give the non swordsmen in this series a lot of time to show off, the only one that did to some extend was probably Xin Hai’s whip.

    These fights are often far more interesting when it’s hand to hand or involve non-sword / saber type weapons. though Pili hasn’t been that good at doing those except maybe for spears.

    But it’s certainly a very clean well done show that gave a good taste of how these sort of shows are done, the story hits the key points quickly and accurately.

    For those interested, my youtube channel has been on going with adding highlight bits from the shows in Taiwan subbed in English. and also a list of other people’s work doing similar things.


  4. Okay, so I watched the show all the way through. It definitely was a fun watch overall, and I’m glad I gave it a look… but there was one thing that definitely bugged me about it. Doesn’t the show have the exact same issue that you kept on criticizing in Mob Psycho 100 for, as showing that ONE “isn’t the greatest writer”, namely, that “for all their rhetoric about strength not being what’s ultimately important, strength ends up being pretty dang important”?

    I mean, what exactly is different from Reigen using uber psychic powers to no-sell all of Claw’s attempts to kill him, thereby breaking their worldview that uber psychic powers were the most important thing… versus Lin Xue Ya using uber sword skills to no-sell all of Mie Tian Hai’s attempts to kill him, thereby breaking his worldview that uber sword skills are the most important thing?

    Similarly the only reason humanity itself wasn’t eradicated in the end is that it turned out Shang Bu Huan also shared Mie Tian Hai’s hobby of powerful-sword-collecting, just for different reasons. So despite all the preaching on how bad these WMD swords were, they turn out to be… well, exactly what saves the day.

    In fact, if anything, Mob Psycho seems a great deal more nuanced about the topic to me. I mean, even if Mob Psycho wants to argue that their show’s “symbols of power” weren’t the MOST important thing, they still did–specifically–depict Mob’s powers as positive things that had a real use, which Reigen even said Mob can be proud of. It wasn’t ultimately depicted as a bad thing that he had those powers.

    Whereas with Thunderbolt Fantasy, not only is Lin much more dismissive and derisive about the worth of sword skills, but Shang’s whole motivation turns out to be actually flat-out getting rid of the swords he carries… despite the fact that said sword collection ends up being the only thing that saves every man, woman and child of all humanity from a grisly death. Which seems “pretty dang important” to me.

    (Like, literally the only reason the entire human race survived is because at the time of the finale, the hero hadn’t yet managed to do something that the show portrays as a good idea… and which he returns to trying to do after the show is over. Heck, it doesn’t even cause him to rethink or doubt his overall plan afterword… despite the fact that there are a bunch more completely-unkillable demons out there, and it’s only the existence of such super-swords that’s keeping them at bay.)

    So yeah. While I enjoyed the show overall, it did annoy me that it had, to my mind, an even worse instance of what Mob Psycho 100 got so much flak for, whereas this one didn’t seem to get any grief for doing it with even less nuance.

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