Well’s family continues to grow as more of his brothers marry off, likely thanks to his continuously increasing fame and influence. But that’s not going to help him in the upcoming martial arts tournament, which he’ll have to compete in or risk his reputation but can’t use magic for it. All of his party are attending too, but need to learn to train without magic. Erwin has the hardest time, not knowing any magic, but isn’t worried even if he loses in the first round…that is until he’s reminded that he might be let go if he remains dead weight. That puts the fire in him to train even harder, which even puts Well in the dust.
The tournament begins soon after, with Well surprisingly being knocked out rather easily in the first round after being placed against the current champion. Everyone else does much better, but eventually Louise and Iina are eliminated as well, Iina being defeated by the annoying spear master Roderick that’s been following Well around. That just leaves Erwin, the only one who didn’t need to learn to work without magic because he already knew how to. His final opponent is Warren, the knight who beat Well, and while he doesn’t beat him, Warren does become his teacher for the next two years until the party become proper adventurers. Iina also gets a spear master to train under, while Louise and Well are trained in martial arts by Armstrong.
Shock of all shocks, this was actually a solid episode! And I think a contributing factor in that was that it wasn’t just about building up Well as the most awesome guy who ever awesomed, instead giving the spotlight to Erwin, the least magically talented of them all, and putting him in a situation that only he would excel at. His deficiency with magic becomes a legitimate reason for why he might be dropped from the party and pushes him to better himself, eventually placing him against an opponent that Well lost to easily. While having a tournament with no magic allowed is not the MOST creative pursuit this show could have done, it is definitely used to a fine extent in order to show how Erwin’s supposed weaknesses could actually be his strenghs.
Also a plus towards this episode’s credit, no mentions of the stupid three wives and/or concubine discussion from last episode, nor the other generally awful things that we’ve seen build up over the course of the series so far. If you only watched this episode, you could see what this series should have been all along: a story about kid adventurers simply forming a party and growing up. None of this tacked on isekai-itis or talks about pre-pubescent proposals or how who was born in what order matters when it really isn’t, just good clean character stuff that helps us to feel like they’re growing and learning and bonding stronger than they were at the start. I real surprise that it took this show this long to get to that, but maybe it’s a sign that things are looking up.
We’ve had an Elise episode and an Erwin episode, so imagine we’re making room for Louise and Iina as well as the mysterious ax wielding pink haired lady somewhere down the road, but it also seems we’ll be hitting a three year time skip starting with next episode. I don’t expect much to have changed with these characters by that point, but all I can do is hope that the remaining five episodes of the season can take the good will suddenly formed from this and build it from three. It’s still got all of the baggage of the first six episodes, but I imagine I’ll be forgetting this series the moment it ends anyway, so we might as well do our best with what we’ve got.