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Helck Episode #14 Anime Review

4 min read
Backstory episodes can be really hit or miss depending on both the story and execution - as well as placement within the bigger picture.

“The Mercenaries”

What They Say
Only half a month after Cless departs on his expedition, monsters begin to appear in greater numbers than ever before. The kingdom enacts a military draft to combat them.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Backstory was the name of the game with the previous episode as the second cour got underway and that meant understanding where Helck came from. And a lot of that focus is on his younger brother Cless who basically became the darling of the kingdom after the brothers had a horrifyingly hard childhood only to luck into a good situation. Helck’s path didn’t get a lot of attention but we saw his good nature aspect play out and then that over the years of taking care of his brother that he also focused on his strength. That his healing was something that he’s always had since he was born is an interesting nod to what’s going on with him and hints at something with his brother as well and it certainly gives him an edge as a warrior. That doesn’t make him invincible but when your recovery time is shortened like this – or that you can recover at all from certain attacks – is nothing to sniff at.

This episode gives us time with Helck after Cless heads off on the mission that he was on and it showcases how a lot of very big monsters were attacking the kingdom. Helck and others got to step up to the plate to protect others – though he gets called out for his lack of a shirt along the way. It’s a good bit of fun as it plays out since you know there’s no real threat here to Helck and that the newly introduced characters are likely to survive for a while to add some tension. The main focus is on that of Alicia, a young swordswoman who led a mercenary group that deal t with monsters like this as attacks were increasing at the time. She’s able to draw Helck into helping them out in order to protect the town and we get the fun of Helck starting his mercenary career and gaining new friends and allies like this with Edil along for the ride as well. Cless isn’t talked about much at this stage simply because Helck is very much occupied by what’s going on. And probably adjusting to the shirt that Alicia gave him.

© Nanaki Nanao / Shogakukan / Helck Production Committee

The back half digs into this period well and we see some fun with how it unfolds and it does cross paths in the big picture sense as he gets to describe later how Cless went off to face the Demon Lord and all. With the mercenaries dealing with a lot of monsters, there are some potential insights to be had here but I just appreciated the way we saw them all talking shop together between missions and talking up what Cless and his team should be able to do. That not long after we get the end of the Demon Lord thanks to Cless, the ushering in of a new era is a big thing. But Helck learning that Cless suffered hugely from it in a very difficult way definitely makes an impact on him – though he’s as positive as he can be. It’s a good piece of his personality and his optimism certainly will help others in all of this. Of course, peace doesn’t last long and we see the next round starting here at the end as there are always monsters to be had.

In Summary:
Helck covers a lot of ground and combined with the previous episode is certainly filling in a lot of the blanks. Part of me wishes some of this came earlier and we had more of a linear adaptation of the manga so that we knew a lot of this going into it, but I appreciate that they wanted to go with Helck being a mystery for a while and focus on the demons themselves. Getting to know why Helck’s focus in eliminating the demon lord being so strong is laid out clearly here and we know there’s a very different path ahead for him with the why of it still to be revealed. It unfolds well but it just feels like it needs something a little stronger narratively to tell it in the right way. The right pieces are here but the execution still feels a bit off to me in a way I can’t quite pin down. Especially compared to the manga.

Grade: B

Streamed By: HIDIVE