Mashle: Magic and Muscles embraces action in “Mashed Burnedead and the Accelerated Battle” and pits Lance and Mash against characters that test their combat skills and convictions. While the episode is light on the comedic elements it deploys a pair of enemies that lead to some creative action moments. Mashle continues the trend of exploring character backstories during battles and the resolution to both confrontations affirms the optimistic worldview that has been a running theme for the series.
Lance and Mash face off against students that represent versions of the road not taken for each of them. Previous episodes briefly explored Lance’s background as the son of a prominent family and it’s reinforced every time a character recognizes his last name like Wirth does at the beginning of their fight. Wirth comes in hot, hyping himself up and bragging about all the privileges afforded to him by being a part of the Magia Lupus. His boasting stands in stark contrast to Lance’s quiet confidence. Even though Wirth’s mud-based magic is well suited to countering Lance’s gravity magic, Wirth is forced to use magical steroids to spike his magical energy. Lance is unfazed even after Wirth unleashes a “Secondth” level spell and easily unleashes his own to end the fight. Rather than gloat, Lance takes the time to explain his perspective and there’s a feeling that Wirth might be inclined to continue the bout until Lance plays him a compliment. The way Wirth deflates after Lance says he respects his efforts signals the moment he’s truly defeated.
Mash’s clash with the Second Fang initially places him at a big disadvantage. For the first time in the series, he is outmaneuvered physically by another student. As the situation grows direr, Mash once again displays his quick thinking when it comes to physical confrontations and turns the tables by narrowing down Abyss’s angle of attack. Mash’s final assault as he blasts Abyss around the room is Shonen action at its best. These types of moments where heroes shout out their special moves are inherently silly and having Mash listing off the scientific names for muscles is a perfect way to skewer the trope. Just as Lance did earlier in the episode, Mash extends an olive branch to his defeated opponent. He acknowledges Abyss’s feelings and responds to Abyss’s self-loathing the only way he knows how: with kindness.
Throughout the series, Mash has had no issue confronting people when he disagrees with them and since the first episode, “Mashe Burnedead and the Body of the Gods” his stated goal has been to live in peace with his family. Again and again he is presented with opposition to his philosophy and repeated claims that life can’t be that simple. Although he may be able to flex his abs so hard that he can hold onto a sword that’s been plunged through his stomach, Mash’s greatest strength is his unwavering spirit. He is aggressively simple in the best way.
“Mash Burnadead and the Accelerated Battle” highlights how Mash is smashing through the cynicism that has taken over his world as he smashes through every obstacle in his path. It’s a refreshing perspective for a fantasy series in a post Game of Thrones world and in a media landscape previously dominated by antihero stories. Many anime series include friendship and positivity as a core theme and Mashle is becoming one of the best examples in the genre.
Rating - 8/10