Sorcerous Stabber Orphen: Battle of Kimluck

I reviewed the first season of Studio DEEN‘s reboot of Sorcerous Stabber Orphen back in May of 2020, which means it has been approximately twenty years since I’ve caught up with the Krylancelo Krew. I enjoyed that first season well enough, in spite of its sloppy storytelling, not to mention the fact that literally every one of its characters has the goofiest name of all time. As the subtitle suggests, Sorcerous Stabber Orphen: Battle of Kimluck is a much more streamlined affair than the first season, with the whole of the story concerning the Krew’s arrival in the mysterious city of Kimluck, and the trials and tribulations they face therein. Given that Orphen‘s knack for biting off more than it could chew was one of the biggest complaints I had about the first season, you’d figure this narrower focus would be a boon to Season 2, right?

Unfortunately, no. I don’t know if I simply had less patience for the show’s irritating quirks this time around, or if this is just an especially clunky arc in the original light novels, but either way, Battle of Kimluck was a real struggle to get through, at least in its first half. Orphen‘s world-building has always been my least favorite of its qualities – the way it casually gloms together random mishmashes of world folklore and ridiculous names is just something I have a hard time taking seriously, especially when the show is taking itself so gosh-darned seriously. At first, I didn’t mind how often Battle of Kimluck stopped the plot right in its tracks to have characters deliver exposition, since I’d honestly forgotten almost everything about the Dragon mythology, the inner workings of the Sorcerers’ society, and so on.

Then the info-dumps kept happening in Episode Four. And Episode Five. And Six. And Seven. In fact, we go all the way up to the finale having to trudge through an endless parade of proper nouns that barely make sense even as Orphen and Co. refuse to shut up about all of it. The Weird Sisters, the Dragons, the mythical Sister Istersiva, the Death Instructors of the Kimluck Cult with their goofy glass swords, the many new artifacts and abilities and shocking revelations that drop every single episode — it just never ends! After a fashion, I felt like I was that poor girl from the infamous freak-out scene in When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, screaming at the chunni Orphen to just cut it out with all of the lame Norse Mythology references and tell me what the hell is going on in the actual story.

Thankfully, the show does pick up in the back half, but only by degrees. It isn’t until Episode 7 or 8 that I felt like I had a decent grasp on what was going on, what the stakes were for the characters, and why I should give a damn about any of it, and even then, I don’t think the season really finds its footing until Episode 9 or 10. This is an eleven-episode season, so that really isn’t good. Still, it’s in that back third where Orphen and Azalie’s relationship takes center stage in the plot again, along with their complicated ties to Master Childman, whose own past plays a key role in unravelling the shenanigans in Kimluck. Claiomh and Azalie don’t get a whole lot to do this season, and the new side-characters are sadly quite forgettable, so Azalie represents the one beacon of emotional investment that this season really has to offer (unless you really care about Childman’s whole deal, I guess, but I don’t, so that side of the plot didn’t do much for me.

The villains leave a lot to be desired too. Carlotta is your typical scheming femme fatale, and Quo is…well, his backstory and motivations are fine, but this is an instance where a goofy character design actively ruined any sense of threat or menace that a villain could have had. I mean, just look at this guy. He looks like a recently divorced dad who has begrudgingly accompanied his otaku kid to an anime convention, but he doesn’t know jack all about anime, so he just threw on some leather wings and a spray-painted motocross vest and called it a cosplay. And in case you’re hoping that the titular “battle” does anything to make up for that dorky-ass design, it doesn’t, especially since Battle of Kimluck‘s music and animation are even more middle-of-the-road than in Season 1.

All in all, I didn’t hate Orphen’s second season, but whatever charm it managed to work on me last time has been thoroughly exhausted. It’s also a shame that an English dub wasn’t available as of this writing. The cast from the first season was pretty charming when they needed to be, and I honestly think Orphen‘s very dated brand of knock-off pulp fantasy works a lot better when you can just let the silliness of it all wash over you in your native language. If you really loved the first season of Sorcerous Stabber Orphen, or the original light novels, you might get more out of Battle of Kimluck than I did. Otherwise, you’re not missing out on much if you give this season a pass.

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