So far, Madan no Ou to Vanadis stands as my favorite show this season with Shingeki no Bahamut a close second. It has extremely likable characters and, despite the fantasy elements, the battles feel rather realistic. In particular, the suits of armor for certain characters seem very well designed, and I love how spears and lances are the soldiers’ primary weapons–as was the case in history. But, this show still makes the same mistake one sees in most stories featuring knights in plate armor: their secondary weapon is the sword.
By the time plate came into popular use, the sword became more a symbol of knightly status. For example, only a knight could be armed with a sword in a city. But, unlike the rogues one might run into while travelling on the road or walking about a city, one is likely to meet an armored foe in battle. If the foe is covered in plate armor, a sword might be the last weapon you want to hold, especially if you’re on horseback. You see, swords can’t cut through plate armor! The only way a sword can defeat someone with plate armor is by piercing a chink in the armor. That kind of precision is difficult when on foot and about impossible when riding on horseback.
And so, mounted knights, after their lance, would move to a mace, an axe, or a war hammer as their secondary weapon. These weapons can crush plate armor and obviate the need to aim at chinks between the plates. The French at the Battle of Benevento almost lost because their German foes wore plate armor, which their swords could not penetrate. Soon someone discovered the opening at the armpits and the cry when up for the French knights to aim for that spot. And thus, the French knights, who possessed superior numbers, won the day. But, how much easier would it have been for these knights if they had carried axes and maces with them in addition to their swords?
I would love to see an anime where the weapons fitted the armor technology. If the author wants to create a world where swords were effective against the armor of the day, the characters must be armored in chainmail. I’d love to watch an anime set in the Viking age or a world with similar technology, like Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. During that time, warriors esteemed swords as a most prized weapon, and a stout blow could shear all but the best double linked mail. But, I suppose chain mail is harder to draw? Might that be the reason it is seen in so few anime?
In any case, I shall continue hoping for more realism in fantasy and medieval anime. Hopefully, some studio will pick up Vinland Saga, which must be animated in a realistic manner if they hope to convey the flavor of the comic.