Ken En Ken: Aoki Kagayaki (Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary) has a simple story. It’s about three friends and a young Empress. Yin and Ning are two sisters, from a small village. Zhao is their childhood friend. When the Taibain empire invaded and destroyed their home, the three friends were split up.
Zhao was enslaved and find a new ability as an engineer and made friend with the Empress. Yin by causality found a legendary sword, which grants her fantastic abilities in combat for herself and her sister, Ning. As Zhao and the Fu sisters find themselves increasingly caught up in the Empire’s battle, they found themselves in opposite sides. In meanwhile, Yin will find a new family among the rebels.
In this sense, all the battles were between humans and machines, constructed by Taibai engineers and using slaved workforce. In my opinion, those moments guaranteed some excitement, but not enough to transform this show in a great action anime.
For me, one of the weakest parts of this show was the sisters’ relationship. Ning always suffered because, even when she betrayed Ning, she received so much love. However, I have serious questions if, at any moment before the last episode, Ning really regretted her disloyalty. As the plot was displayed in the screen, I think that she suffered more about the consequences over herself and her separation from Zhao than for her sister’s feelings. In this same sense, the plot twisted, in episode 10, was quite illogical. [spoiler] Ning begged for and argued against her sister in order to they take part in the rebellion, but suddenly she chose Zhao and started to fight against Yin and the rebels. The only reason: she chose Zhao.
The empress Cheng Long is a child and she inherited from her father the ambition to conquer the whole world. She followed his words as they were the only truth. Her tutors were apparently good people, who chose the wrong path. Only in episode 12, the girl will question her attitudes and decisions as ruler. However, as empress, Cheng Long was a feeble character. Her fight against the stepmother was pretty much ridiculous and meaningless. I can say the same about her little sister presence in the last episodes.
Why would a slave work as a loyal servant? Because he wants power, Zhao would answer. This was a valid choice until some point in the episodes 11 or 12. From that point, the events gave him the chance to understand that his power was a favor from the Empress and his condition would be always fragile and unstable. Nevertheless, he preferred worked than staying whit her friend, who abandoned her sister for him, with the excuse that he was constructing for all of them a brighter future. He allowed Ning to be tortured than questioning that decision. In other words, he was pretty much blinded by his own ambitions. In that sense, Zhao is more stubborn (and thoughtless) than the young empress, who questioned sooner if her decisions were right and felt her evilness behind her own actions.
There were too many rebels to be presented if we consider the available time. 13 episodes were short to present all of them properly. If the producers had cut some flashbacks, some scenes between the sisters Fu and other useless moments, maybe we could have some more interesting plot. There was potential for it here.
In short word, it was a very average anime. There is no reason to recommend it, but it wasn’t a terrible way to spend some time, especially when I was too tired and wanted an easy entertainment to help me relax. However, after the beautiful and touching Violet Evergarden, this one became one more action anime among many of them.