Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Reign of the Seven Spellblades

Go To
Oliver Horn: Don't cry.
Nanao Hibiya: Thank you.
As spring dawns in year 1532 of the Great Calendar, fifteen-year-old mages from all walks of life arrive at Kimberly Magic Academy to begin their seven-year-long formal education in the arts of magic. An altercation with a troll at the entrance ceremony forges bonds between six of them that will serve them well, for life at Kimberly is anything but safe.

And for series protagonist Oliver Horn, talented mainly at adapting and modifying others' techniques, those bonds—especially with Nanao Hibiya, a samurai of the far east for whom magic is more instinct than thought—are as much complication as boon, for he came to Kimberly carrying secrets darker than the labyrinth that lies below it.

Reign of the Seven Spellblades (七つの魔剣が支配する Nanatsu no Maken ga Shihai Suru) is a Dark Fantasy light novel series written by Bokuto Uno (author of Alderamin on the Sky) with illustrations by Miyuki Ruria, published under Kadokawa's Dengeki Bunko imprint beginning in September 2018. There is also a Spin-Off volume, Side of Fire: Chronicle of Purgatory, released 7 July 2023, which fills out the backstory of Student Council President Alvin Godfrey and the Kimberly Campus Watch. It has a manga adaptation by Sakae Esuno (creator of Future Diary), which began its run in 2019 in Monthly Shōnen Ace and concluded in the November 2023 issue, adapting the first three volumes of the original novels. The novels and manga were licensed by Yen Press for English publication beginning in 2021.

An anime adaptation from J.C. Staff and Warner Bros. Japan, directed by Masato Matsune, was announced during the 2021 Dengeku Bunko Winter Festival. It premiered 7 July 2023note  on Tokyo MX and BS11, and is simulcast on Crunchyroll with English, Hindi, and German dubs. It ran for fifteen episodes and concluded on 13 October, adapting the first three volumes of the original novels.

This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Many secondary characters had very poor family lives, courtesy of mages tending to view everything in terms of pushing the envelope of magical research, including their own children.
    • Vera Miligan was the only one of six children to survive childhood on account of her parents implanting basilisk eyes in her left socket and left hand. She has convinced herself it was an act of love.
    • Stacy Cornwallis was conceived as a "spare" to Chela with a woman from a McFarlane cadet branch, just in case Chela didn't work out or died. They were both forbidden to acknowledge their relationship, and Stacy was neglected by her stepfather, who saw her burgeoning talents as a constant reminder that she wasn't his.
    • Joseph Albright had a non-magical childhood friend, a serving girl (named Emma in the anime) who liked to play chess with him. After she managed to defeat him, his parents tortured him for most of a day for losing, and murdered Emma and her entire family.
    • Ophelia Salvadori was made a de facto Breeding Slave for her mother's eugenics experiments the moment she hit puberty and carried multiple pregnancies, and was once Forced to Watch her mother rape a man. That plus the Slut-Shaming she endured from other Kimberly students led to her descent into villainy.
    • Ursule Valois was told she was underdeveloped in the family's arts and sent to live with her grandmother, who denied her food for days on end unless she could cross a frictionless floor to get it, and intentionally inducing Stockholm syndrome about the treatment. She also gave her a kitten to raise only to then force her to kill it with her bare hands, to get her to accept the idea of using any creature as a familiar including humans.
    • Oliver Horn and Shannon Sherwood were drugged by her family and he was made to impregnate her, in the interest of producing a pure-blooded heir. And it was All for Nothing: the baby was stillborn.
  • Academy of Adventure: A dark example. The academy is built on top of a labyrinth that is full of monsters, dangerous environments and unhinged upperclassmen who have no qualms about harming fellow students. The school provides very little protection from any of these things and it's up to the students themselves to look out for each other.
  • Accidental Discovery: The underlying principle of the Second Spellblade, "Creumbra, the self-racing shadow", was discovered by accident when a mage tried to create a Doppelgänger of himself and caused a Reality-Breaking Paradox that blew up both him and everything for several miles around. Other mages copied his research and managed to reproduce the effect at a controllable level, resulting in an Unblockable Attack that disintegrates the opponent.
  • Adaptation Deviation:
    • In the novel and manga, Professor Garland explained the concept of a Spellblade on the first day of class. The anime moves this to the second day.
    • Both the manga and anime cut the scene where the Sword Roses try to get the pride plants to tell them who cast the spell on Katie at the entrance ceremony by making them laugh, in favor of having Richard Andrews make Mackley fess up to repay Oliver and Nanao for saving his life when the garuda attacked.
    • In volume 2, Pete's request for extra sword arts training from the other Sword Roses is motivated by a loss in class to a one-off first-year named Hughes. Episode 8 of the anime replaces him in the scene with Tullio Rossi. The episode also alters the order of events: in the book, Rossi announced the dueling tournament in chapter 1, while Pete's sparring match and training request happened in chapter 2.
    • The potions that Vera Miligan supplies Oliver to resist Ophelia Salvadori's Perfume in episodes 12 and 14 are original to the anime. In volume 3 of the novels he was stuck having to just grin and bear it.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The manga adaptation of the first volume's story skips a few scenes in the Sword Roses' investigation of the incident at the entrance ceremony to speed things along, among them the group interrogating the student who made Katie run towards the parade of magical creatures, and trying to trade for information with the talking plants by the entrance by making them laugh. It also cuts most of the first alchemy class with Darius Grenville.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Volume 3 of the novels just ended on the deaths of Ophelia and Carlos and moved straight to Bokuto Uno's afterword. Episode 15 of the anime adds an epilogue segment narrated by Oliver, showing the students returning to the surface in the aftermath of Ophelia and Carlos's death and life in the student body getting back to business as usual, with Guy, Katie, and Marco getting Mandatory Lines after they had been mostly absent since episode 12.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance:
    • In the novel (and manga), Luther Garland and Richard Andrews didn't appear until the first day of class after orientation. The anime adaptation gives them both Early Bird Cameos in the pilot episode (Garland briefly introduces Headmistress Esmeralda during orientation, while Andrews appears in a couple of scenes but has no lines), which rolls credits early in the morning before class (the first scene of the novel's second chapter).
    • In the novel, Teresa Carste wasn't introduced until the epilogue of the first volume (chapter 15 of the manga). The anime adds several scenes in the first five episodes where she covertly meets with Oliver on the dormitory quad, as well as having her send an anonymous tip to the Campus Watch to get Godfrey and Whitrow to respond to Oliver and Nanao's raid on Miligan's laboratory.
    • The novels and manga introduce Tullio Rossi, Stacy Cornwallis, and Fay Willock all in the same scene where Rossi proposes a dueling tournament between the first-years. The anime introduces all three of them an episode early: Stacy and Fay appear in an early scene where they walk by the Sword Roses on their way to morning class, while Rossi appears in The Stinger and monologues about how much the Sword Roses annoy him.
  • Adults Are Useless: By design. As a general rule, the instructors at Kimberly seldom intervene in problems internal to the student body: they're not even allowed to go into the labyrinth after a missing student until the eighth day—at which point it's usually assumed they'll be trying to recover bodies rather than rescue survivors. The students are expected to solve their problems themselves as part of a curriculum meant to foster self-reliance, teamwork, problem-solving, and fighting skill, which is all Training from Hell for Gnostic Hunters.
  • Agony Beam: The pain curse, Dolor. It has a Necessary Drawback in that it can only inflict pain the caster has experienced, and it's hardly ever used in combat, but it's still a favorite of mages who wish to Kick the Dog: Sadist Teacher Darius Grenville is notorious for using it on students who stand up to him despite the school having banned teachers from using it on students. Unfortunately for Darius, Oliver has the Ghost Memory of his mother's Rasputinian Death at the conspirators' hands to fall back on when casting it: he only stops when Darius begs for death.
  • All Deaths Final: Discussed in volume 8. Resurrecting the dead is explicitly impossible, a natural law set down by the world's long-deceased god. The most magic can do is stave death off for a while: should a mage manage to reach the age of 200, The Grim Reaper will come for them without fail. Cyrus Rivermoore's family kept the ghosts of several past master necromancers in sealed coffins, hoping to craft a Grand Aria that would hold the Reapers at bay long enough for them to pass on their lost knowledge. By the time of this book, several attempts have failed and only one remains; resurrecting her in an artificial body drives his actions in volumes 7 and 8.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Trolls in this series are a species of demihumans that stand several times the height of a man. Wild trolls can be agricultural pests (as Guy attests), but domesticated trolls, like Marco, a purebred Gasney, can be quite gentle and protective creatures. They also normally can't speak human languages, but Katie recalls being serenaded to sleep by her family's troll as a child.
  • Alternate Calendar: The series begins in the year 1532 of the "Great Calendar", while the Battle of Diama is said to have taken place in the year 300 of the "Old Calendar".
  • Artistic License – Botany: The second layer of the labyrinth is a forested region lit by a Weird Sun that never sets, which is said by Miligan to be the reason it's a paradise for plants. Actually, most plants do require a period of darkness for various reasons. However, since the labyrinth is an artificially created magical environment to begin with, one can probably safely say A Wizard Did It.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Mage society as a rule has a tendency to default to this, since its overriding ethos is to push the limits of magic whatever the cost. At Kimberly Magic Academy in particular, the winning faction in the upperclassmens' combat league is likely to also win the poll for Student Council President (who then gets to appoint the rest of the student council), which takes place shortly after. This tendency causes an extra wrinkle in volume 7 when outgoing president Alvin Godfrey, who leads the Campus Watch, is severely wounded by Cyrus Rivermoore, who steals his sternum and a chunk of his etheric body right after the qualifying round. In volume 8 the Watch organizes a posse to go after Cyrus, while his Social Darwinist opponent Leoncio Echevalria conspires to delay the posse so that Watch candidate Vera Miligan loses to his Puppet King Percival Whalley.
  • Battle Couple:
    • Oliver and Nanao are basically attached at the hip by the end of the first volume and admit that they're attracted to one another in volume 4. Between her brawn and his brains, they make a terrifyingly effective combo.
    • Stacy Cornwallis and Fay Willock are introduced as "master and knight" (which lends its name to episode 10 of the anime), but by volume 9 they've made a mutual Love Confession and are presently in a sort of Courtly Love limbo.note  She has a habit of riding on his shoulders when he's in werewolf form and firing spells at their opponents while he attacks with his sword and claws.
    • In the Backstory, Chloe Halford and Edgar Groves met while attending Kimberly and served together on a Gnostic Hunter squad battling Alien Invasions before she became pregnant with Oliver.
  • Bee Afraid: Joseph Albright tricks the Sword Roses, Fay Willock, and Stacy Cornwallis into having a three-on-three duel inside a hive of giant "stinger bees" in the labyrinth, and summons the bees to attack the others after losing fairly to Oliver.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Oliver is normally a pretty cool-headed Nice Guy. He's also a Master Swordsman (by first-year standards) and a fairly accomplished mage. While it's hard to arouse him to real anger, if you pick on his friends to their faces, watch out. And he goes full Pay Evil unto Evil when it comes to the seven mages who murdered his mother.
  • BFS: Nanao's katana, at least by Union standards: at first glance Oliver considers it way too large to make a good athame, which are typically one-handed swords between one and two feet in length (Oliver's resembles a messer). Nanao quickly proves him wrong: while she's inexperienced with magic, she's a former samurai Child Soldier who was plucked from a Yamatsukuni battlefield where she had been fighting a Last Stand as the rearguard of a defeated army, even killing the son-in-law of the enemy general in a suicide charge.
  • Bisexual Love Triangle: Chloe Halford had multiple pursuers while she attended Kimberly. Theodore McFarlane recalls having fought a duel with Edgar Groves over their relationships with her. Current Kimberly Headmistress Esmeralda, Chloe's underclassman, was also in love with her, and Chloe didn't tell her when she and Edgar became a couple, not wanting Emmy to think she didn't have a chance just because they were both women. Oliver Horn is her son with Edgar.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Kimberly's new students have to come to terms with the fact that magicians don't operate on conventional morality. They will do whatever it takes to advance their own goals and research.
  • Breather Episode:
    • Volume 4 has no significantly high stakes; the most that happens in it is exploration of the relationships between the Sword Roses and Nanao's broomsports matches. It's positioned between the very heavy volumes 3 and 5, involving respectively the Sword Roses going into the labyrinth to rescue Pete from Ophelia Salvadori after she's consumed by the spell and Oliver and his co-conspirators plotting to murder Professor Forghieri and suffering grievous losses in the attack.
    • Volume 6 is also somewhat lighter fare than either volume 5 or 7. While it sets up the brewing clash over the elections for Student Council President and ends with the deaths of Diana Ashbury and Clifton Morgan, compared to the aforementioned end of volume 5 it's almost relaxing, focusing again on the relationships between the Sword Roses and particularly Nanao and Oliver having fun at her broomsports tournament. Volume 7 is much more action-heavy with the school combat leagues, ending in a climactic battle between the seniors and Vanessa Aldiss. Then Cyrus Rivermoore steals Godfrey's breastbone out of him, roll credits.
    • Volume 11 is largely a Vacation Episode that has the Sword Roses visiting Chela's family home over winter break. It comes after a four-volume Tournament Arc and intervening mayhem caused by Cyrus Rivermoore, and the assassination of Demitrio Aristides, which features our first look at a fight between two Spellblade wielders.
  • Brick Joke: In volume 1, after Headmistress Esmeralda gives her welcoming Dare to Be Badass speech to the new students, she asks if there are any questions, and Nanao pipes up with a suggestion of a headache remedy. It seems like a throwaway joke to illustrate Nanao's fearlessness and Fish out of Water status. Then in volume 5, Nanao encounters Esmeralda again at Flying Broomstick practice and promptly asks her if the remedy helped any.
  • Calvinball: In volume 6, Nanao proposes a game of "demons", what we would call zombie tag, to treat Oliver feeling uncomfortable in his own skin due to the growth spurt he suddenly had as a result of having Cast from Lifespan during the Assassination Attempt against Enrico Forghieri. So the Sword Roses spend literally hours chasing each other around their laboratory and making up new rules as they go along by collective agreement. They decide to keep the "rule" about "free hugs on request" permanently even after the game is over.
  • Camera Abuse: In episode 6 of the anime, when Nanao invents the Seventh Spellblade, her cut is depicted as shattering the camera lens when it lands.
  • Central Theme: "What are we as a society doing to ourselves and our children?" The core conceit of being "consumed by the spell", more than just being an interesting way to die, is a metaphorical critique of self-destructive obsession. The mage world as a whole is obsessed with getting ahead and pushing the envelope of what magic is capable of, regardless of the harm done to humanity and the world, and lionize those among them who work themselves into an early grave. And rather than leaving a better world for their children, mages abuse their desire to please their parents to turn them into living tools for their own ambitions, while the world as a whole gets harder and harder to live in.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: The election for Student Council President that begins in volume 6 leads to Leoncio Echevalria's faction, which lost to the Campus Watch the year before the series begins, making several attempts to cheat in order to make the opposing Campus Watch candidate Vera Miligan look weaker, since mages tend to believe in Might Makes Right. These backfire.
    • By volume 6, the Sword Roses have become minor celebrities in the student body and are known to be supporting Miligan. During Nanao's broomsports match against Diana Ashbury's team, a supporter of the old council shines a light in her eyes to throw off her aim during her attack run against Diana, but is caught, embarrassing Echevalria.
    • In volume 8, the old council tries to interfere with the Campus Watch's mission to recover President Godfrey's sternum after it was stolen by Cyrus Rivermoore in the middle of a Tournament Arc, depowering him when he has matches scheduled. Richard Andrews and his teammates initially work with the old council, bringing them into conflict with the Sword Roses, but after old council member Khiirgi Albschuch is defeated by Campus Watch Number Two Lesedi Ingwe, Andrews calls the old council out for trying to cheat and quits the field, saying that if they want the students' support, they need to earn it fairly.
  • Child by Rape:
    • Exaggerated with Ophelia Salvadori, who was essentially turned into a Breeding Slave for her mother's eugenics experiments the moment she hit puberty and was forced to bear multiple children before the age of fifteen, when she was able to escape to Kimberly Magic Academy.
    • Shannon's pregnancy, first alluded to in Oliver's memory in volume 2, which mentions him being desperate to help her: "Every night, he’d faced her back and suppressed the tears that threatened to overflow." It's ultimately revealed they were both drugged by the Sherwood clan elders and he was made to impregnate her, in the interest of a pure-blooded heir. The pregnancy ended in a stillbirth.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The neckties and inside lining of Kimberly student uniforms are color-coded to identify the student's grade year: first-year students wear red, second-years wear green, third-years wear orange, fourth-years wear magenta, fifth-years wear purple, sixth-years wear black, and seventh-years wear teal. Oliver and his co-conspirators also wear all black when making their moves.
  • Color Wash: All the color pages in the manga are drawn in predominantly red and purple hues.
  • Compressed Adaptation:
    • The manga leaves out several scenes during the Sword Roses' investigation of the entrance ceremony incident and reduces the scene in alchemy class where Oliver impresses Darius Grenville to a couple of panels and cuts Chloe Halford's death scene to a two-page spread. The adaption of volume 2 cuts Nanao's duel with the female student and most of Pete's training subplot.
    • The anime cuts several scenes short and moves others around compared to the book: Garland's explanation of spellblades is moved to episode 3, and the scene where he practice-duels Nanao and the conversation between her and Oliver over the nature of her feelings for him are dropped. This gives it somewhat choppy pacing for the first few episodes. This is partly because the novels are not paced in a way that easily lends them to the usual length of an anime season: the Year One books are essentially a Two-Part Trilogy, with volume 1 being a standalone story and volume 2 ending on a cliffhanger that leads directly into volume 3. Even with the season running for an unusual fifteen episodes, a fair amount of material is left out.
  • Constructed World: The world is fairly transparently a Historical Fantasy version of the Eurasian supercontinent, taking place in an equivalent to the European Union. Azia is Asia and Yamatsukini is Japan circa the Sengoku Period, Yelgland seems to be Britain, and Farnland is probably Finland given Katie's surname Aalto. Other locations mentioned include Ytallia (Italy) and Indus (India).
  • Content Warnings: Yen Press's manga translation is justifiably marked "L N V", meaning content warnings for language, nudity, and violence.
  • Corrupted Character Copy:
    • Esmeralda, for Albus Dumbledore. More specifically, she ends up something of a Composite Character between Dumbledore and Severus Snape, being both the respected head of a prestigious magic academy and in love with the mother of the main protagonist (though Darius ends up taking most of Severus' nastier personality traits). But while Albus and Severus did everything in their power to protect Lily and her family, Esmeralda is the one who killed Chloe and left Oliver without a mom growing up. Additionally, Severus' love for Lily is portrayed as true and selfless, and he's penant over accidentally causing her death, while Esmeralda intentionally kills the woman she loves and proves herself just as rotten as her co-conspirators.
    • Grenville also draws clear inspiration from Snape: tall, slim, shoulder-length black hair, Sadist Teacher of alchemy at a Wizarding School who covets another professor's position (swordmaster rather than Defense Against the Dark Arts), and has a backstory connection to the main character's mother. Except rather than trying to save her from the Big Bad and failing, he helped murder her. He also has a habit of helping promising students along in their academic research so he can plagiarize it, and is torturously killed at the end of the first volume, having succeeded only in solidifying Oliver Horn's resolve to kill his mother's other six murderers.
    • Frances Gilchrist is similar to Minerva McGonagall, as a stern no-nonsense elder teacher who teaches advanced magic and is personally loyal to the headmaster. However, while McGonagall's stern attitude belies a warmer side that cares for her students and she's definitely a fighter for good, Gilchrist is part of the conspiracy that murdered Oliver's mother.
  • Crapsack World: The Union has a rigid class system with mages firmly at the top. Muggles are second-class citizens, and intelligent nonhumans are third-class if they're lucky. Furthermore, the typical mage morality prioritizes pushing the limits of magical research above all other concerns. While there is a decently strong Internal Reformist movement, people who try to reject this system outright tend to turn to cults of the gods of other worlds, Eldritch Abominations that see "our" world as easy pickings due to an ancient alliance of mages and demihumans having killed its god fifty thousand years ago, and are pursued by an order of Military Mages called the Gnostic Hunters that seek to stamp out the cults and their masters at all costs.
  • Dangerous Phlebotinum Interaction: In volume 1 (episode 5 of the anime adaptation), the class has their first practical class in alchemy, and Oliver notes that the recipe of the day has a lot of hidden pitfalls. He spends a good chunk of time rushing around the classroom doing damage control on his classmates' mistakes: adding an ingredient to slow a reaction after one guy puts in too much bubblegrass, then telling a girl to wash her eyes out with olive oil after she fails to cover her cauldron in time after adding an ingredient. Then Pete's potion starts sparking and smoking, and he has to flip the cauldron upside-down and dive on top of it. His quick thinking impresses Professor Darius Grenville, which gives Oliver an opportunity to get him alone and kill him to avenge his mother.
  • Deadly Sparring: This trope is defied when Oliver Horn and Nanao Hibiya square off for a demonstration duel in their first period sword arts class. Both fighters prove themselves both Master Swordsmen, with Oliver's sword arts training matching well against Nanao's battlefield experience as a samurai. When the duel starts getting very serious, the instructor calls a halt to the match because their intensity has broken the dulling spell he'd placed on their swords beforehand.
  • Death Seeker: Nanao, early on. She fearlessly charges an enraged troll, there's the Deadly Sparring incident with Oliver where it nearly became a Duel to the Death, and then she attempts a rearguard action in the labyrinth against two upperclassmen before the Student Council President intervened. Oliver et al. finally corner her about it and force her to reveal that she's been unsure up till then whether she actually died on the battlefield back in Yamatsukuni and has been having a Dying Dream that will end if she falls. Oliver persuades her that yes, this is real, and that she should from now on only draw her sword with the intent of surviving.
  • Decomposite Character: Much of the world is clearly inspired by the Harry Potter franchise, but with distinctive twists put on it. The major characters are particular examples:
    • The Sword Roses each split one of the primary Power Trio of Harry Potter protagonists between them.
      • Oliver Horn and Nanao Hibiya split Harry himself. Oliver looks a lot like Harry (he takes after his father physically but has his mother's eye color, yellow instead of green), and is a Jack of All Trades with no significant weaknesses as a mage, and has a Missing Mom who is a major part of his Backstory and motivation. Nanao got Harry being a Fish out of Water who found a home at Wizarding School (though she's a Mage Born of Muggles, whereas Harry was born magical but raised by his Muggle relatives), as well as Harry's natural proficiency at riding Flying Broomsticks (she's known to have trained as a cavalrywoman when she was a samurai).
      • Katie Aalto and Pete Reston split up Hermione Granger. Katie is a curly-haired brunette and staunch activist on behalf of intelligent nonhumans, while Pete got Hermione's bookworm tendencies and Mage Born of Muggles background (though he takes much longer to catch up on magical studies than she does).
      • Michela McFarlane and Guy Greenwood split up Ron Weasley. Guy got Ron's Fiery Redhead looks and personality and rural background, while Chela got Ron's role as the insider to mage culture who guides the rest of the group through its intricacies.
    • Severus Snape is roughly split between Headmistress Esmeralada—with some of Albus Dumbledore added for flavor—and Professor Darius Grenville. Grenville looks a lot like Snape, has a similar personality and well-earned reputation as a Sadist Teacher, and covets another position at the school (Sword Arts rather than Defense Against the Dark Arts, this world not really having a concept of the latter). Also, he and Esmeralda are connected in the series' backstory to Oliver's mother Chloe Halford—except they were among the people who conspired to murder her, rather than trying to save her. Like Snape, Esmeralda was in love with Chloe at the time of her death, but delivered the killing blow by her own hand.
  • De-power: Injure a mage, you hurt them. Injure their etheric body, however, and you seriously weaken their powers. This happens to Alvin Godfrey at the end of volume 7, courtesy of Cyrus Rivermoore stealing his sternum and a chunk of his etheric body attached to it, leading to the main plot of volume 8 where the Campus Watch sends a posse after Rivermoore to recover the bone so Godfrey's etheric body can heal in time for his matches in the combat leagues.
  • Disqualification-Induced Victory: Played for Drama in volume 9. At the climax of their match against Team Andrews, Chela turns into elf form and defeats Rossi in nothing flat, only for her father to interrupt the match and order her to transform back, since he had previously ordered her not to use her Super Mode as a condition of letting her join Stacy's team. Chela tries to attack him in a rage and he knocks her out cold with an Offhand Backhand. Stacy and Fay having already been defeated, this means Team Andrews wins by default—to the pleasure of nobody present, including the audience.
  • Double Knockout: The final round of the third-year combat leagues in volume 9 has a Quadruple Knockout. Rossi runs Yuri through but takes his sword in the leg, immobilizing him for a fireball from Nanao, which is her last-ditch effort after she walked into a trap while taking down Albright. This leaves only Oliver and Richard to finish the match in single combat.
  • Dungeon Bypass: When it's the upperclassmens' turn at the combat league prelims in volume 7, Alvin Godfrey starts the race to the third level of the labyrinth by simply burning a hole clean through three floors of the first level, skipping it altogether. He only does this because his significance sense was giving him a bad feeling about the setup, and doesn't mind that it gives his competitor Leoncio Echevalria a leg up since it means two of the top seventh-year fighters will be available for whatever is ahead.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Demitrio Aristides characterizes the ancient alliance of humans and demihumans that slew the god of this world as little more than a team-up against a common enemy, though he allows that the now-extinct progenitor demihumans likely played an outsize role in getting the different factions to work together.
    • Vanessa Aldiss is stationed at the entrance to the third layer as the final obstacle for the upperclassmen. This prompts the entire cadre of sixth- and seventh-year entrants to team up just to survive, including political archrivals Alvin Godfrey and Leoncio Echevalria—who end up scoring actual, if minor, wounds against her and winning.
  • Fantastic Fighting Style:
    • There are three main schools of sword arts practiced in the Union, though in practice they're usually mixed and matched by most practitioners.
      • The Lanoff Style, favored by Oliver, is the most widely used and considered the easiest to learn. It emphasizes staying on defense while quickly analyzing your opponent's fighting style for weaknesses that can be counterattacked, as well as spatial magic targeting the footing of either the wielder or opponent, and techniques such as gravity manipulation.
      • The Rizett Style, favored by Chela, is a more offensively oriented fencing style. One known technique is the Hero's Charge, a sudden headlong rush ending in a thrust at full extension.
      • The Koutz Style emphasizes mobility, flexibility, and footwork. Pure Koutz practitioners such as Ursule Valois are exceedingly rare: most, such as Tullio Rossi, combine it with elements of other styles.
    • For her part, Nanao learned Hibiya Style from the moment she was big enough to pick up a sword. It's a pretty typical Japanese-style sword school, which Nanao modifies to her liking once she begins learning magic.
    • "Magicombat", unarmed techniques combined with spatial magic, is regarded as a sort of counterargument to Sword Arts. Several members of the Campus Watch practice it: Lesedi "Hard Knocker" Ingwe can kickbox in midair, while Alvin Godfrey wins his opening bout in the combat leagues with wrestling moves mixed with Lanoff Style spatial magic.
  • Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: The test to enter the the third level of the labyrinth from the second consists of "the Battle of Hell's Armies", two skeletal armies reenacting a historical battle between "Rumoa" and "Kurtago" involving "swordrhinos", the "Battle of Diama". It's the Battle of Zama (the "swordrhinos" are war elephants), and the point of the test is to help the side representing Carthage to win instead of Rome. The Sword Roses use "toolplants" created by Guy to conjure fences of trees that foil the "Rumoan" cavalry charge against the infantry's flanks, allowing Nanao to make a literal Decapitation Strike against the enemy general.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Union seems to be a European Union equivalent, and Azia is obviously Asia.
  • Fictional Sport: "Broomsports" in the series consist variously of obstacle course races on Flying Broomsticks, one-on-one jousting, and team battles—the latter of which Nanao quickly excels at after a notoriously Moody Mount takes a liking to her. Oliver, who is merely okay at riding brooms, is drafted to be her "catcher"—i.e. running around with a wand below the match to magically catch anybody she knocks off their brooms before they hit the ground, or potentially Nanao herself should she be unhorsed.
  • Fire Stolen from the Gods: According to Demetrio Aristedes in volume 5, fifty thousand years ago, an alliance of humans and demihumans slew this world's god and took its authority for their own, which is what we now call "magic".
  • First-Episode Twist: At the end of the first volume, we learn that Oliver enrolled in Kimberly to kill the teachers who killed his mother, which was shown in the prologue.
  • Flying Broomstick: Rather than being Animate Inanimate Objects, broomsticks in this series are stated to be a species of magical creature in their own right that feeds symbiotically on its rider's mana. Getting to ride one is akin to breaking in a horse; actual cleaning brooms are dead individuals.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Having cut Chloe Halford's death scene from the first episode's opening, the anime adds in several scenes of Oliver meeting with a mysterious figure named Teresa Carste to clue in viewers that there's more to the story than is immediately apparent.
    • In volume 2, Ophelia Salvadori cryptically advises Oliver to stay out of the labyrinth for the next several months, foreshadowing her experiment that causes her to be consumed by the spell at the end of the book. A Redditor jokingly compared the anime version of the scene in episode 8 to the "some of you guys are alright, don't go to school tomorrow" meme spawned by the 2015 Umpqua Community College school shooting.
    • There's been a couple of hints that Katie's family was disgraced in some manner. You could initially discount Darius Grenville's disparaging remarks as him being his usual jerkass self, but then in volume 9 Demitrio Aristides alludes to some incident involving the Aalto mages and a tír that caused their "downfall".
  • Forceful Kiss: Volume 9. Nanao is knocked out of the final round of the combat leagues in a Double Knockout, and Oliver defeats Richard Andrews in single combat and they share a Defeat Means Friendship moment. This makes Nanao irrationally jealous, and on their way back to the dorms the next night, she shoves Oliver against a tree and fiercely and possessively kisses him.
  • Foreign Language Title: The episode titles of the anime are all in English by way of katakana.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: The overall story structure of the novels can be characterized as a fantasy Teen Drama composed of a tapestry of various characters' story arcs, all woven together by the Sword Roses' progression through Kimberly's seven-year curriculum with Oliver's revenge plot serving as the Myth Arc. Characters sometimes disappear for multiple books at a time but are rarely gone for good, the current record-holder being Annie Mackley, who disappears from the story after the midpoint of volume 1 only to be brought back over three In-Universe years later in volume 12.
  • Friendly Rivalry:
    • Downplayed between Cyrus Rivermoore and Ophelia Salvadori. They've fought many bloody battles in the labyrinth and he's prone to Slut-Shaming her, but it's implied that he just does it to provoke her to fight him. If you look more closely, the series actually implies they're more competitors than enemies: they're shown critiquing each other's newest creations during the fight that that the Sword Roses witness in volume 1, and Cyrus mentions he plans to give condolences to her family after she's consumed by the spell in volume 3. Doesn't make their fights any less dangerous to be around.
    • Oliver to Richard Andrews and Tullio Rossi.
      • Andrews kind of becomes a Stock Shōnen Rival for Oliver. They get off on the wrong foot due to a poorly worded remark from Oliver during Sword Arts, then their dispute gets tangled up in the conservative faction's beef with Katie over the troll. After they fight the garuda together they're able to bury the hatchet, and though Andrews never really becomes a friend, he seems to view Oliver as a motivation to improve himself from then on rather than as an enemy, and seeks a rematch in the third-year combat leagues beginning volume 7.
      • Rossi takes a dislike to Oliver for hogging all the gossip after the events of volume 1, and starts the Tournament Arc in volume 2 basically as an excuse to duel him. Oliver soundly thrashes him and then starts tutoring him in the sword, and Rossi teams up with Andrews in volume 7, likewise hoping for a rematch.
    • Upperclasswoman Diana Ashbury, the star of one of the senior league broomsports teams, takes an instant dislike to Nanao once she qualifies to join the senior league teams in volume 4, calling her an eyesore. Nanao earns her respect by forcing her to work extra hard to win in their first face-off, and Diana is shown helping train her afterwards.
  • Gambit Pileup: The combat leagues in the year 3 books. On the face of it you have three tiers of students (grades 2-3, 4-5, and 6-7) competing for glory, prize money, and to settle old scores with class rivals, but there's also a political angle: since mages tend to believe Asskicking Leads to Leadership and the election cycle for Student Council President runs concurrently, the student body tends to vote for whichever side won a majority of the tiers. This leads to various attempts at Crippling the Competition. This is compounded by the murders of two professors in preceding years: Headmistress Esmeralda jacks up the prize money to attract more students, hoping to see if any of them might be strong enough to have killed Darius Grenville and Enrico Forghieri. And then Cyrus Rivermoore tosses a hand grenade into the mix by joining the 7th-year prelims just to get close enough to Alvin Godfrey to steal his sternum for an experiment, depowering him, which provokes the Watch to send a posse after him to recover it before the finals so he can regain his lost powers, which in turn leads the old council to try to interfere with their hunt.
  • Gender-Restricted Ability: Downplayed. Female mages are able to use their wombs as an emergency battery of mana, which can give them an edge in Wizard Duels. It's not a decisive edge, though, since magical strength is very much dependent on the individual and grows with age and training: on average, male and female mages' capabilities are about equal.
  • The Glomp: Nanao is already prone to being physically clingy to Oliver, "stuck to him like a burr" as she once puts it. At lunch in volume 4, she gives him a bear hug after imbibing a beverage that turned out to have a lot more alcohol than anybody realized. Oliver has to run for the bathroom to cool off because the proximity to Nanao set off Ophelia's lingering Perfume and gave him a Raging Stiffie.
  • God Is Dead: Explained during the first astronomy class in volume 5. Ancient mages in alliance with demihumans killed the planet's god fifty thousand years ago to free intelligent life from its interference. However, this had the unintended consequence of making the world look like easy pickings for every other planet's god, forcing the creation of the Gnostic Hunters to battle the resulting Alien Invasions.
  • The Grim Reaper: Floating beings garbed in the classic black cloak and Sinister Scythe are introduced in volume 8 as the enforcers of the dead god's laws against resurrection and living longer than 200 years. If you reach your 200th birthday, a reaper comes to kill you every night, and if by some miracle you actually defeat it,note  an additional reaper comes for every extra fifty years you've lived. It turns out though, they don't feel any need to deliver the killing blow themselves: when Cyrus fatally stabs the resurrected Fau, the reaper that came for her immediately vanishes into thin air without even waiting for her to finish dying.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Mages sometimes interbreed with certain species of demihumans hoping to breed more powerful mages.
    • Particular attention is called to half-elves. Normally they take strongly after one parent or the other (called "actualized" if they resemble an elf and "dormant" if human), but a minority, including Chela, are "morphlings", who normally appear human but are able to shift to an elven form as a sort of Super Mode, dramatically improving their spellcasting power for a limited amount of time.
    • Half-werewolves like Fay Willock are able to partake of both their human and lupine abilities, though Fay is the first to ever to master spellcasting while wolfed out. The Necessary Drawback is that he's in constant, severe pain while transformed.
  • Half-Sibling Angst: Stacy Cornwallis was conceived by Theodore McFarlane with a woman from a McFarlane branch family to be the backup in case his legal daughter Michela didn't work out or died. She grew up ostracized by her stepfather and half-siblings because she was a more naturally talented mage than his children by blood, and got it into her head to overtake Chela and force her biological father to recognize her. For her part, Chela resented not being allowed to acknowledge Stacy as her sister and hated that they were estranged because of it, and meanwhile Stacy's maternal half-sister Lynette briefly expresses frustration that she's so obsessed with Chela.
  • Intimate Healing: In volume 4, Oliver is still fighting the aftereffects of Ophelia Salvadori's Perfume, causing him to become uncomfortably aroused when a drunken Nanao glomps him. When Chela realizes it, she corners him in the restaurant men's room and advises him that, As You Know, if he's still feeling the effects after this long, the only surefire way to clear the Perfume out of his system will be to satisfy the urge, and not by himself. Though she questions whether he'd rather sleep with Nanao (both of them having admitted to their attraction at this point, though neither is willing to call it "love" yet), she solves the issue with a magic-assisted handjob through their clothes. Justified because Sex Magic was involved in causing the problem to begin with, so it makes sense that a similar effect would be useful in resolving it.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: Pete makes a mistake in the first practical alchemy class and his potion starts a chain reaction. Oliver flips the cauldron upside-down and dives on top of it right before it explodes to keep anyone in the class from getting injured, coming away with some minor burns.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Defied by Pete at the start of volume 7. He intervenes in a fight between four newly admitted first-year students, initially to instruct them on Kimberly Magic Academy rules on dueling—mainly, have an upperclassman present to referee and heal everyone up after. When the winner tells him "I don't remember giving you permission to heal anyone" and that he plans to use the losers to practice his pain spells, Pete administers a Curb-Stomp Battle to teach him that the dueling rules are not optional.
    Pete: Count yourself lucky it was me you fought. Some students here would have done far worse than a mere pain spell.
  • Kung-Fu Wizard: "Magicombat", introduced in volume 8, is regarded as a sort of counterargument to sword arts that mixes unarmed combat with spatial magic instead. Alvin Godfrey demonstrates this in the senior-level combat leagues with magic-enhanced wrestling, defeating his opponent Efler by choking him out. His friend Lesedi Ingwe as a rule prefers magic-enhanced kickboxing to swordplay.
  • Last Stand: In a flashback, Nanao led the rearguard of a defeated army, holding a mountain pass. This ended in a cavalry suicide charge when the enemy general brought up their archers, with Nanao making it almost all the way to the general and killing his son-in-law in passing before the ashigaru got her surrounded with a wall of spears. At which point a Union mage suddenly arrived and pulled her from the battlefield.
  • Leonine Contract: Subverted in volume 3 (episode 12 of the anime). Katie offers herself to Vera Miligan, who previously attempted to vivisect her to figure out how she was able to get Marco the troll to talk, in hopes of getting her help rescuing Pete after he's kidnapped by Ophelia Salvadori. Oliver and Chela naturally object, but Miligan makes the much more acceptable counterproposal of having Katie become her research assistant (de facto apprentice, though she frames it as an equal partnership).
  • Like Brother and Sister: Oliver and Chela are the de facto co-leaders of the Sword Roses (he The Hero, she the Team Mom), and the two are social peers as mage Blue Bloods and get along very well. However, Oliver is in love with Nanao, and though Chela performs some Intimate Healing on him in volume 4 to address the aftereffects of a villain's Sex Magic, it's motivated solely by concern for his health, and she feels very guilty about low-key manipulating him into it afterwards.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Nanao starts to draw comparisons from various characters who knew the deceased Chloe Halford: they're similarly talented at sword arts and Flying Broomsticks, even bonding to the same Moody Mount due to their similar mana signatures. Oliver and his close relatives are the only ones present who know that Chloe was his mother.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • In volume 5, Vanessa Aldiss expects the class to break griffins like a horse, and is ready to flunk Katie and mock her mercilessly as per usual when she tries to befriend the griffin instead. Katie unexpectedly succeeds after Gwyn Sherwood covertly uses his Magic Music to give her efforts a slight boost, and Gwyn points to one of the unwritten rules of Kimberly: if you succeed at an assignment despite disobeying the professor and they can't figure out what you did, it's a passing grade.
    • Volume 9:
      • Leaving the ring during a combat league match is an automatic loss. However, it's worded as "touching the ground outside the ring", meaning that technically there's no rule against running on the wall at the edge of the ring, which Ursule Valois uses to escape a trap set by Team Horn.
      • The teachers organize a bonus round for the Tournament Arc where the runners-up compete to clean up invasive species in the second layer of the labyrinth after they moved a bunch of stuff from the deeper levels, as a way of making up for Theodore McFarlane giving Team Andrews a Disqualification-Induced Victory over Team Cornwallis. Miligan, competing with her Student Council President election opponent Percival Whalley as team supervisors, decides to sweeten the pot by offering extra prize money from her personal funds. Whalley calls foul, but Theodore McFarlane lets it slide because he did say the two candidates were to "demonstrate leadership skills" and Miligan isn't specifically trying to buy votes.
        “Hmm… I do see where Mr. Whalley is coming from, but… I was the one who said ‘however you like.’ It’s our fault for slapping together an event with such half-baked rules, but exploiting those loopholes is frankly a very Kimberly move. Is that not your own stance? In light of that, and given that Ms. Miligan is not specifically soliciting votes here, I’ll allow it.”
  • Love at First Punch: Nanao speaks of the samurai ideal "shiawase", of a Duel to the Death with someone they love and respect—which she felt towards Oliver when their swords crossed in a classroom sparring session, and was torn up when he turned her down for a rematch. All of which is much to Oliver's chagrin when she explains it:
    Katie: Um... to sum up... you got all depressed because Oliver rejected you?
    Oliver: Sorry, Katie, but could you shut up?
    Nanao: No, she is largely correct. Was I infatuated with your blade or the man behind it? Perhaps there is little difference between the two.
  • Love Hurts: In volume 4, after the Sword Roses get The Talk from Oliver and Chela, Katie asks Nanao in their dorm room if she's in love with Oliver. Nanao admits she has feelings for him, but much to her chagrin she also hasn't been able to kick her desire for a Duel to the Death with him. The scene is made extra painful by the fact Nanao knows Katie has an unrequited crush on him as well.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Oliver and Nanao are strongly attracted to each other from book one on. Katie also has a crush on Oliver starting in book one, and Pete starts to act like a tsundere towards him in volume five. As of volume 9, Oliver has only ever expressed any romantic interest in Nanao.
    • Nanao also has her own suitors, notably Tullio Rossi. It's entirely one-sided: Nanao is 100% Oliver-sexual.
  • Lovecraft Lite: The backdrop of the series has "our" world suffering repeated Alien Invasions from other worlds of The Multiverse, called "tírs", that follow their own natural laws and have their own gods. Not only do they make attacks that can transform whole regions to follow their own Alien Geometries, they also send agents to infiltrate humanity and convert disaffected individuals into their worshipers, called Gnostics by mages. That said, Gnostic cults are as much a function of the oppressiveness of the mage world as anything else: Muggles and demihumans in particular often become Gnostics as a reaction to the tyranny of The Magocracy, because the Gnostics are the only ones offering them hope for an alternative to being second-class citizens or slaves ground under mages' boot heels.
  • Mage Born of Muggles: Pete and Nanao were both born into non-magic families, which in The Magocracy means a significant bump in socioeconomic status (at least for Pete; for Nanao, it just beats being plain dead). It's unclear if there is any specific mechanism that causes this, but it is known that you have to be born a mage: according to the protagonists, no spell exists that can turn Muggles into one.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: While the magic system of the series is not explained in great detail, there are some things we know and that are consistent throughout:
    • Most spells require incantations consisting of Latin words, and the longer the incantation, the more powerful the spell but the harder it is to cast (and therefore the more vulnerable a mage is to attack while casting). It's normally impossible for a first-year student to "double-cast" (cast a spell with a two-word incantation), though Chela can pull it off in elf form. These escalate up to reality-warping "Grand Arias", which require incantations minutes long. Conversely, certain very weak spells, called "spatial magic", can be cast nonverbally, but you have to be creative to use them effectively.
    • Mages' powers are also reliant on elemental affinities and on their "etheric body", which appears to be an extension of their souls. An injury to the etheric body can dramatically weaken a mage even if there's no sign of physical injury.
    • Mages require some external focus to cast, which can be either a white wand or an athame (sword).
    • Spells can be counterspelled if you synchronize to their elemental cores. Nanao can do this instinctively with just her sword.
  • Magic Knight: Justified: as is explained during the first session of the "sword arts" class, within a certain range called the "one step, one spell" distance, a physical weapon can strike a mage faster than any mage can cast a spell. Mages adopted sword training (referring to swords as "athame") four hundred years ago after a prominent archmage was killed in a duel by a Muggle swordsman this way.
  • Magic Misfire: "Being consumed by the spell" is a catchall term for death due to magic gone awry, whether due to an Imperfect Ritual, Phlebotinum Overdose, Going Mad from the Revelation, a summoned creature managing to Eat the Summoner, etc. Several instances are detailed in the series:
    • Ophelia Salvadori has a Grand Aria go wrong near the end of volume 2, causing her chimeras and Perfume to go out of control and driving her Ax-Crazy.
    • In volume 4, Nanao admits to Katie that she fears her simultaneous love for Oliver and suppressed desire for a Duel to the Death with him might drive her mad, and asks Katie to kill her if that ever happens. Katie has a mental image of Nanao surrounded by blood and corpses and realize she's imagining her consumed by the spell.
    • Volume 6:
      • Diana Ashbury recalls how the incumbent holder of the Flying Broomstick time trial record simply disintegrated in midair after crossing the finish line.
      • Clifton Morgan is revealed to have summoned fire from the tír Luftmarz and become infected by it, causing him to slowly burn alive ever since. He explodes into flames after watching his lover Diana break the broomstick time trial record, and she chooses to die with him.
  • The Magocracy: The government of the Union is not discussed in detail but is strongly implied to be this. Mages sit firmly at the top of the class system, to the point where non-magic expectant mothers sometimes approach random mages hoping they can cast a spell that would make the unborn child a mage (the existence of such a spell is explicitly stated to be an urban legend by the protagonists). Meanwhile, demihumans are firmly second-class citizens at best: only a select few species even have civil rights, though there's a strong mage movement to change this.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Played for laughs in episode 4 of the anime. Nanao barely even notices that the garuda took a chunk out of her right side before she killed it, and starts spurting High-Pressure Blood out of the wound—but is still crowing about their victory while the other Sword Roses are all panicking. (She was wounded in the novel but this joke isn't used.)
  • Male Gaze: In episode 8 of the anime, while Oliver is making small talk with Ophelia Salvadori, the camera lingers on her ample bosom in a several shots.
  • Malevolent Architecture:
    • Kimberly is built atop of an ancient labyrinth that has a tendency to encroach upon the school buildings after nightfall: Oliver, Pete, and Michela return to a classroom to retrieve a forgotten textbook only to discover when they try to leave that the door now opens into the upper levels of the labyrinth.
    • The last chapter of volume 9 depicts a "migration" from the tír Uranischegar, "the Regimented Heaven", which consists of a trio of stone columns that emerge from a portal and begin leveling the ground around them to be featurelessly smooth and white (before they're destroyed by two teachers).
  • Masturbation Means Sexual Frustration: Discussed in volume 4. Main character Oliver Horn had several run-ins with the Perfume of part-succubus Ophelia Salvadori in the preceding volumes, and getting glomped by his drunken Love Interest Nanao Hibiya in a bar forces him to run to the bathroom with a Raging Stiffie. Their friend Chela McFarlane follows him, having realized the problem, and reminds him that if he's still feeling the effects of Salvadori's Perfume after this long, he's going to have to release the pressure with somebody other than himself. She accomplishes this with what amounts to a magic-assisted handjob through their clothes, and Oliver does feel better after.
  • Military Mage: Kimberly Magic Academy is accurately, if occasionally derisively, referred to as "vocational school for Gnostic Hunters", these being an order of wizards who essentially act as counterinsurgency operators. Their job is rooting out and destroying cults of the gods of the solar system's other planets, which have the potential to cause The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Muggles: Called "nonmagicals" or "ordinaries" by mages, they represent the majority of humanity and form a permanent underclass in the Fantastic Caste System: they rate better than demihumans but are still firmly second-class citizens. Turning a nonmagical into a mage is believed to be impossible, although mages born of nonmagical families do exist and can bring their families a significant bump in socioeconomic status.
  • The Multiverse: In volume 5, Professor Demitrio Aristedes explains the Constructed World's cosmology by introducing the concept of a "tír": a world distinct from our own that obeys different physical laws, with different environments and ecosystems, many of them controlled by a God-Emperor of sorts. The earth the protagonists live on is an "atheosphere" because God Is Dead, and what mages call magic was originally the authority invested in a god until an alliance of humans and demihumans killed it. Every star in the sky is said to be "a glimpse of a tír", and the brighter the star, the easier it is to reach. Eight tír in particular come into conflict with our world on a cyclical basis, allowing alien creatures to migrate to it and "apostles" of the tír gods to come and try to establish cults among humans and demihumans, called Gnostics. The Magocracy, in turn, created the Gnostic Hunters to defend against such incursions.
  • Myth Arc: The long-term throughline of the series is Oliver's quest for revenge against his mother's murderers. However, the meat of most books is focused much more on the relationships between the characters and intramural conflicts between various students.
  • Name Order Confusion: Discussed. Nanao initially introduces herself in the Eastern style as "Hibiya Nanao", but then notes that by Union custom she would be called Nanao Hibiya. Her name is left in Western order from then on. The anime skips over this, with Nanao first introducing herself in Eastern name order but then being referred to in Western order from then on.
  • Named In The Adaptation:
    • Episode 8 of the anime gives the name Evelynn "Speed-Talker" Odets to the originally nameless female first-year who challenges Nanao to a duel at the start of volume 2's Tournament Arc and is swiftly defeated.
      Female student: Her aim's bad and her visualization is lazy, but she fires fast.
    • Joseph Albright's family servant in his backstory whom his parents murdered for beating him at chess is not named in the novels. Episode 11 of the anime gives her the name "Emma" in his Troubled Backstory Flashback.
  • Never Bring a Gun to a Knife Fight: The origin of sword arts was a swordsman killing a noted mage in a fair duel, after which the mages realized that from a mutual cold start, a man with a sword can close with and strike a mage twelve feet away in the time it takes for that mage to cast a single spell.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: Exploited. A mage once tried to create a duplicate of himself, which caused a Reality-Breaking Paradox that disintegrated him along with everything for several miles around. Experiments on this effect led to the invention of the Second Spellblade, "Creumbra, the self-racing shadow".
  • Never Trust a Title: The Seven Spellblades are actually a rather minor feature of the setting rather than a major driving force; also, there's initially only six. Newcomers to the series also sometimes have to have it explained to them that the title does not refer to the six main characters: their proper collective name is "the Sword Roses".
  • Nipple and Dimed: Oliver catches Nanao bathing outside, stripped to the waist (in full view of the boys' dorm, no less). The novel art uses a Boobs-and-Butt Pose camera angle to hide everything but some sideboob; Oliver is more focused on her collection of battle scars than her assets. In the manga, we get a frontal view but her nipples are whited out in one panel and given Barbie Doll Anatomy in the second. In the anime, our view is first conveniently blocked by Oliver's hand while he tries to explain how what she's doing is inappropriate, then when we get a closer look she puts her forearm across her chest.
  • Noodle Incident: Kevin "The Survivor" Walker managed to get lost in the labyrinth, survive for six months (long enough he was declared dead and his funeral held), and finally climb back out little worse for wear. Exactly how he managed to do this has never been explained. Ditto Teresa Carste, who was apparently born in the labyrinth and spent a significant chunk of her childhood living in it: at one point she recalls to Oliver the Amusing Injuries she suffered from eating various creatures and plants, but how she came to be down there to begin with has yet to be addressed.
  • Non-Heteronormative Society: Played with. Chela mentions in volume 2 that Muggle society is fairly heteronormative, but among mages, the only thing that really matters is your own abilities: at least eight named characters including main cast member Pete Reston are known to be some flavor of queer, and this is considered unremarkable or even a point in their favor. That said, there is some stigma around Sex Magic, enough that there's campus club for students with gender- and sex-related magical traits which serves as the In-Universe equivalent of an LGBT student union (founder Carlos Whitrow is nonbinary and asexual, with a Beautiful Singing Voice that counters other sex-related magics).
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: Downplayed with Headmistress Esmeralda's insider group among the faculty. They have a series of secret meetings around in the series, but are all clearly identified and are as much in the dark about Oliver Horn's conspiracy to kill them as the student body. While their overall goals and their reason for murdering Oliver's mother Chloe Halford remain vague, they take significantly more concrete action to smoke out the competing conspiracy starting in volume 6 after the conspirators fail to conceal the assassination of Enrico Forghieri.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: The test to enter the third layer of the labyrinth consists of the Battle of Hell's Armies, where two skeletal legions eternally reenact the ancient Battle of Diama (a Fantasy Conflict Counterpart of the Battle of Zama). The objective is to subvert the historical events so that the losing side instead wins, which requires the mages taking the test to both recognize the battle (Oliver only knows it because Pete had mentioned it offscreen while nerding out) and have enough knowledge of battlefield tactics to figure out how to change history. Though Vanessa Aldiss proves it's also possible to simply brute-force the test: when the seniors reach the battlefield in volume 7, she's singlehandedly wiped out both armies.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Oliver has a bit of a problem with this, especially early in the series.
    • During the first sword arts lesson, Richard Andrews volunteers to cross swords with Nanao, but Oliver jumps in instead, saying that he met her first and they even fought the troll together. Richard gets very angry at this, and Oliver realizes Richard was one of the students who ran for it while he and the other Sword Roses were holding the troll off, and that he's made an enemy of Richard by accidentally calling attention to it.
    • Oliver tries to reassure Katie after she's bitten by the magical silkworm, and makes an allusion to an angel coming down to Earth. Katie turns bright red, and Oliver realizes he laid it on way too thick.
  • Our Elves Are Different: Elves are about the only species of demihumans treated as equals by mages, and sometimes interbreed with them: Chela is half-and-half and can take on a fully elven form to increase her spellcasting ability for short periods. Khiirgi "Avarice" Albschuch, a sixth-year aligned to the conservative faction, is the only full-blooded elf character introduced so far, and is an iconoclastic Jerkass who was expelled from elven society over her past behavior.
  • Overly Long Hug: Oliver and Nanao have their first real public display of affection in volume 4, after Nanao's first senior-level broomsports match. Intending it as a reward for getting through the match without injury, Oliver gives her a big hug—and then neither one of them can bring themselves to end the hug for a full ten minutes.
  • Pain to the Ass: While on their way to their Mad Scientist Laboratory for the first time, the Sword Roses are forced to flee a Deadly Gas trap through a passage they already know is full of bowshells—barnacle-like creatures that fire a spike at anything that comes near them. Guy ends up with a bunch of broken-off spikes in his rear.
  • Painful Transformation:
    • Pete Reston begins suffering painful mana disruptions upon becoming a Sex Shifter. According to main character Oliver, this is a fairly common side effect of changes in the body among mages: in addition to normal puberty and illness sometimes causing it, he recalls helping a woman through mana disruptions caused by a pregnancy. It was his cousin Shannon.
    • Fay Willock is a half-werewolf, and taking his wolf form puts him in constant severe pain. He's eventually able to fight through it and master Voluntary Shapeshifting out of sheer determination to stay with his now-lover Stacy Cornwallis.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Ophelia Salvadori in volume 2 (episode 8 of the anime). For all that she's a succubus-blooded Serial Rapist, she's still ultimately human and gets lonely living a solitary life in the labyrinth. In volume 2 (anime episode 8), Oliver runs into her when she's in a good mood and they're able to have a civil conversation: it comes out that among other things she has a sweet tooth and sometimes still comes up to the cafeteria for the pumpkin pie. She's acquainted with Shannon Sherwood for much the same reason, probably helped by their Commonality Connection of both having been forced to bear a child for familial obligations. She also subtly tries to warn Oliver away from the labyrinth for the next while, foreshadowing her planned Grand Aria that causes her to be consumed by the spell.
    • Theodore McFarlane refuses to treat Stacy Cornwallis as anything more than another student despite being her biological father, which caused her to also be shunned by her stepfather. In volume 9, though, after she and Fay perform well as a Battle Couple in the Tournament Arc, he promises to make her family allow their romance rather than force them onto the Courtly Love path.
  • Plant Person: The Kimberly grounds are lined with talking flowers that like to harangue and tease new students as they head in for orientation. According to Guy, the personalities of such magiflora are affected by the quality of magical particles they absorb from the ground, so their questionable behavior serves as an early clue to what life at Kimberly is like. They'll also act as Knowledge Brokers of things they've seen, but only if you can make them laugh first.
  • Pocket Dimension: The natural laws of the world were set by its now-deceased god. The purpose of a "Grand Aria", an extremely difficult ritual magic developed in various forms by experienced mages, is to craft a pocket universe where those laws are altered.
  • Power Dyes Your Hair: Nanao has a trait called "innocent color" which causes her normally black hair to turn white when she draws magical power. Oliver's narration explains that it only happens in mages with exceptional magical circulation and a crystalline hair structure that allows uninterrupted flow of magical particles.
  • Power Trio: Discussed in volume 9 by the Tournament Arc match commentators, who note how similar the finalist teams are in structure: they each have a leader/planner figure (respectively Oliver Horn and Richard Andrews), a strong physical fighter (Nanao Hibiya, Joseph Albright), and an unorthodox disruptor (Yuri Leik, Tullio Rossi).
  • Precursors: Volume 8 explains that the labyrinth underneath Kimberly was built by an ancient civilization called the Parsu, which was destroyed by a Zombie Apocalypse when its army of Undead Laborers went out of control.
  • Prequel: Side of Fire: Chronicle of Purgatory is set three years before the start of the main series and expands on the backstory of Alvin Godfrey, Leoncio Echevalria, and the rivalry between their respective student body factions.
  • Questionable Consent: In volume 4, Oliver is suffering aftereffects of the previous volume antagonist's Sex Magic. His friend Chela corners him in a restaurant bathroom after he has an episode, and informs him that, As You Know, if he's still feeling the effects of succubus Perfume this long after the incident, then the only way to clear it out of his system will be to satisfy the urge, and not by himself. After suggesting he try approaching his Love Interest Nanao for sex without getting a response,note  she manipulates him into some Intimate Healing that amounts to a magic-assisted handjob through their clothes, to which he never clearly consents. To Chela's credit, she feels extremely guilty about it afterwards: they're not attracted to each other that way and she worries she might have irreparably damaged their friendship by trying to help him.
  • Raging Stiffie: In volume 3, Oliver can't help "pitching a tent" despite his normally incredible endurance after being immersed in Ophelia's Perfume for several hours during the rescue attempt for Pete. He has to awkwardly tell Nanao to back off a bit and not glomp him like she usually does, much to her disappointment—not helped by the fact that Nanao, having learned Yelglish as a second language, doesn't actually understand what the idiom "pitching a tent" means.
  • Reestablishing Character Moment: Volume 7 does this with several returning characters who didn't appear in the year 2 books:
    • Necromancer Cyrus Rivermoore is reintroduced in the prologue, and is up to his old tricks of preying on other students in the labyrinth. This foreshadows him backstabbing Alvin Godfrey at the climax of the book and stealing his sternum out of his body, setting up his promotion to Arc Villain for volume 8.
    • Richard Andrews and Joseph Albright, rivals to the Sword Roses from the year 1 books, return for a rematch in the Tournament Arc (teaming up with Tullio Rossi, who unlike them had stuck around for year 2) after taking several levels in badass. To show off their growth, they easily defeat the team of Katie, Guy, and Pete and a team of second-years led by the secretly hypercompetent Teresa Carste without taking a single casualty of their own.
  • Relationship Labeling Problems: Oliver and Nanao have basically been attached at the hip since they fought a Deadly Sparring match in volume 1. In volume 4, after he and Chela hold a seminar for their friends on mage sexual and romantic relations, Nanao asks him out of the blue if he wants to have children with her, then backtracks slightly and chalks it up to Culture Clash. Oliver admits he feels attracted to her but refuses to elaborate; his Internal Monologue mentions not wanting their relationship "reduced to reproduction and inheritannce" the way it so often is among mages. For her part, Katie asks Nanao later if she's in love with Oliver, and Nanao replies that she feels very strong affection for him, but isn't sure she can actually call it love since she simultaneously hasn't been able to kick the desire for a Duel to the Death with him.
    Nanao: If you truly love someone, can that emotion coexist with an urge to see them dead?
  • Relative Error: Katie, who has a crush on Oliver, is somewhat put-out when he's affectionately kissed on the cheek by a female upperclassman. Oliver identifies her as his cousin Shannon, and reminds her that he'd previously told The Team how she and her brother took him in after his mother died.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Stacy Cornwallis and Fay Willock were apparently present for the garuda incident in volume 1 but weren't seen. We are humorously informed at their introduction in volume 2 that they spent the whole time hiding while Oliver, Nanao, and Richard were fighting it.
    Fay: Seriously? You want in [on the Tournament Arc]? You were quaking in your boots like the rest of us when that garuda attacked.
    Stacy: F-Fay! You're mistaken! I was just watching really intently!
  • Rousseau Was Right: Surprisingly for a Dark Fantasy series, the theme that people aren't naturally evil but are made that way by their circumstances comes up a lot. Most of the antagonists turn out to have significant redeeming qualities and/or Freudian Excuses, and Katie's efforts to kill 'em with kindness make a surprising amount of headway. While the mage world and especially Kimberly are amoral and often horrific, a lot of it is driven by generational cycles of abuse, social inertia, and the cynicism of a minority of mage aristocrats, and a growing number of people are now questioning it, which has a lot of allegorical applicability to the time of writing.
  • Rule of Seven:
    • It's not called Reign of the Seven Spellblades for nothing: the fact Luther Garland initially says there are six is foreshadowing. Nanao spontaneously invents the seventh at the climax of volume 1.
    • Similarly, seven mages conspired to kill Chloe Halford in the prologue. Oliver's Series Goal is to avenge her by killing them.
  • Sadist Teacher: The majority of the teachers are this. The headmistress of Kimberley openly states during orientation that about twenty percent of entrants will not survive to graduate. It's meant to be Training from Hell for battlemages called Gnostic Hunters.
  • Screw the Rules, They're Not Real!: Despite being an openly and proudly dangerous Academy of Adventure where it's expected that about twenty percent of matriculating students will not survive to graduate in seven years, Kimberly Magic Academy does have some school rules, but enforcement is haphazard and usually left up to the whims of upperclassmen (fortunately the current student council is of a mind to run a Campus Watch). Volume 2 makes particular note of the school rules on Wizard Duels, which are a routine way to settle disputes: on the school grounds proper, only upperclassmen are allowed to set their swords' dulling spells at half-strength, but protagonist Oliver Horn is challenged by Tullio Rossi in the labyrinth beneath the school, where there's nobody to enforce the rule, and Oliver is willing to go along.
  • Screw You, Elves!: Zig-Zagged in volume 8. Elves as a people are on the receiving end of this in absentia... by Khiirgi Albschuch, an elf who was kicked out of elven society for her disrespect for propriety, such as conjuring undead plants. For her part, she thinks her birth people are stuck in a rut and refuse to innovate or break the rules of the world's long-dead god (who favored them over the other races), which allowed more iconoclastic humans to long ago pass them by. Her Motive Rant to this effect is largely blown off by her rival Lesedi Ingwe, who says that Khirrgi may be more innovative than other elves and an objectively stronger mage than Lesedi herself, but her aforementioned disrespect for propriety is a Fatal Flaw in one very important way: "Nobody fucking likes you."
  • Seduction as One-Upmanship:
  • Serious Business:
    • Played for Laughs. There's actually a significant degree of In-Universe Fandom Rivalry over the three main schools of Sword Arts, and Oliver and Chela get into a spirited argument in volume 2 over whether Pete should switch to the Rizett Style (Chela) or stick with Lanoff (Oliver). Nanao offers to teach him instead but is shouted down, and Guy suggests they instead try collaborating on teaching him fundamental elements of tactics that are common to all styles.
    • Self-parodied in one of the anime omakes, where Katie walks in on Oliver and Chela arguing again and thinks they've restarted the sword arts argument from earlier. Nope, this time they're debating the relative merits of various breakfast breads.
  • Set Swords to "Stun": Students are able to cast anti-lethality enchantments on their weapons which make them unable to deal lethal damage. Naturally, these enchantments are required for training duels between students. Unfortunately, it's possible to break these enchantments, as happened in Oliver's duel with Nanao. The instructor immediately called a halt to the match. Oliver was understandably deeply horrified to learn the enchantments had been broken and he and Nanao nearly killed each other.
  • Shapeshifter Struggles: In volume 2, Pete Reston has a strange dream and wakes up to discover his body has become female below the neck. He spends most of the following day irritably snapping at his friends because he has no idea how to deal with this (and because the transformation is causing painful side effects because his body isn't used to it), before Oliver and upperclassman Carlos Whitrow figure out what happened. Oliver explains to Pete that he's a "reversi", i.e. a Sex Shifter, and Carlos invites Pete to join a (heavily queer-coded) campus club for students with gender- and sex-linked magical traits, with Oliver tagging along to keep Pete company.
  • Shapeshifters Do It for a Change: Discussed in volume 2 when Pete comes out to the rest of the Sword Roses as a reversi. Chela idly comments that Pete could "make the most of it", noting that Rod Farquois, a historical archmage who was a reversi, had a variety of lovers of both sexes. (For his part, Pete is suggested in later volumes to be gay.) This line is Bowdlerized out of the manga and anime adaptations.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Exaggerated in volume 4. Nanao is unhorsed during her first senior-level broomsports match and is caught before she hits the ground by Oliver, who starts frantically checking to make sure she wasn't hurt. Much to his chagrin, their amused teammates start jokingly calling her his wife.
  • Simplified Spellcasting: "Spatial magic" is a class of quickly castable spells like Oliver's favored "Grave Soil" spell that don't require an incantation and therefore are much easier to use within the "one step, one spell" distance. The Necessary Drawback is that they're much less powerful than conventional spells (the general rule in the series being, the more Latin words in the incantation, the more powerful the spell), but they have significant utility in sword arts and hand-to-hand combat, often being enough to create an opening for an attack.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Oliver's duel with Darius Grenville. In all but one possible future, it ends with Oliver dead, but Oliver uses the Fourth Spellblade to reach the other future, where he avoids Darius's blade by the skin of his teeth and severs the man's sword hand.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: The general ethos of Kimberly teachers. Students are given instruction but are largely expected to resolve the consequences of their mistakes themselves or by helping each other, and as long as nobody actually dies in an incident in the labyrinth, the teachers will turn a blind eye to it. Even when students go missing in the labyrinth, the teachers are forbidden to get involved until eight days have gone by. That said, even by that standard, some teachers take it to extremes: Vanessa Aldiss finds it amusing when students are injured in her classes, and Enrico Forghieri is Ax-Crazy and doesn't care. The two notable exceptions to the rule are the younger teachers, Luther Garland and his old friend Ted Williams, who pointedly try to provide better instruction and intervene in classroom incidents before they get out of hand.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Threatening Geography: The known layers of the labyrinth escalate from "livable if you're careful" to "dangerous even for experienced mages".
    1. The upper layer is a maze of ruined, crumbling stone full of traps and fauna both benign and dangerous.
    2. Below that is the Bustling Forest, a vast expanse of habitable but dangerous woodlands with a gigantic World Tree in the center, and giant bees often nesting in the ceiling. At the end is the Battle of Hell's Armies, two armies of undead warriors that eternally reenact the ancient Battle of Diama and only allow mages to pass who can defeat the historical winner.
    3. The third layer is the Miasma Swamp, which is exactly what it sounds like.
    4. The fourth layer, Library Plaza, suddenly takes you back to a sort of civilization: it's a Great Big Library of Everything watched over by the untiring seraphs of the dead god, including the reapers that are also tasked with slaying humans who live to the age of 200. You have to earn access to the stacks on each visit by surviving simulations of historical events recorded in the library.
    5. Below the library is Firedrake Canyon, a desolate landscape of scorched rock inhabited mostly by dragons.
  • Smooch of Victory: Played for laughs in volume 1 when Chela decides Oliver hasn't been congratulated enough for his part in saving the day earlier, and tries to kiss him on the cheek. He's actually put off by this because they're Like Brother and Sister; meanwhile, Katie, who has a crush on Oliver, nearly blows a fuse. Then Nanao comes over and, taking it as a local custom, gives him a kiss and then demands one for herself. He's saved by the arrival of his cousin Shannon, who gives him another kiss by way of greeting; meanwhile Katie is fit to burst, and Nanao is left plaintively whining about her kiss getting forgotten. Given a Call-Back when Nanao again asks Oliver for a kiss after they beat Miligan. Oliver nearly does a Face Fault.
  • Strong Family Resemblance:
    • Curly blond hair is a Hereditary Hairstyle of the McFarlane family: Theodore McFarlane and his daughters Michela McFarlane and Stacy Cornwallis all have it. Chela jokes at the entrance ceremony dinner that it's considered polite to faint at the beauty of it.
    • Oliver, much like Harry Potter whom he's partly based on, largely takes after his father with a shock of messy brown hair, but has golden eyes like his mother. The eye color isn't natural: his eyes were brown when he was a child but seem to have changed after he took part of his mother's soul into himself. He exploits the fact he doesn't look like Chloe Halford to help conceal his parentage from her killers.
  • Students' Secret Society: The Myth Arc of the series revolves around a conspiracy by a secret society of students at Kimberly Magic Academy to assassinate seven professors to avenge the torturous murder of their former student Chloe Halford in the prologue to volume 1. They are led by main character Oliver Horn himself, who is Halford's secret son, and most of his coconspirators are members of his extended family.
  • Stumbled Into the Plot: The attack on Katie at the entrance ceremony. Annie Mackley, another first-year, cast a spell on Katie to make her run towards the parade of magical creatures. At that same moment, the troll made a break for the exit to try and escape from Miligan experimenting on him. He didn't mean to harm anyone, he just became disoriented when everybody nearby panicked, while Mackley was just trying to embarrass Katie, not get her killed.
  • Super Breeding Program: A lot of magic traits can be inherited, and the mage world customarily places pushing the limits of sorcery above all other concerns. This means that mage aristocrats frequently try to breed more powerful mage children and add new traits to their bloodlines: supporting character Diana Ashbury is explicitly a product of several generations of selective breeding to produce faster and faster broom-riders. Even Kimberly participates to an extent: the school tacitly encourages Teen Pregnancy by explicitly permitting third-years and up to conceive children and supporting child-rearing. This also leads to Nanao and Pete being approached repeatedly for dates by other students starting in volume 4, since both are Mages Born of Muggles (and thus don't pose any risks of inbreeding) with rare abilities (Nanao's Innocent Color and proficiency with sword arts, Pete's reversiism). Oliver himself comments in his internal monologue when he's forced to admit his feelings for Nanao that he doesn't "want their relationship reduced to reproduction and inheritance", and so declines to specifically answer whether he wants to have children with her.
  • Super-Toughness: Mages as a rule are hard to kill: they can usually at least survive anything that doesn't kill them right away, though a full recovery requires medical intervention. This is used by the author as an excuse to repeatedly inflict grievous wounds on them without issue: to name but one example, Oliver is disemboweled by the garuda in volume 1, but instead of bleeding out in seconds, is able to retreat and sort himself out with a healing spell while Nanao holds it off.
  • Supernaturally-Validated Trans Person: In volume 2, Pete Reston turns out to have a magical trait called Reversi that causes him to switch his biological sex overnight. He still identifies as male for the moment, but alludes to having experienced possible dysphoric episodes. The Kimberly Wizarding School turns out to have a student club for mages with gender- and sex-linked magic, which non-binary upperclassman Carlos Whitrow invites Pete to join.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: While we don't know exactly what mechanism leads to the ability to use magic, it is known that magic can either be inherited or appear spontaneously in non-magic families, but either way it's something you have to be born with. Mages are even known to use selective breeding to try to produce more powerful mage children.
  • Swamps Are Evil: The third layer of the labyrinth is called the Miasma Swamp. It's a bayou full of monsters and natural hazards like man-eating mud pits, and if you fly too high, the air itself becomes toxic. Add to this the non-native dangers, like the fact Ophelia Salvadori makes her lair there and thus it's sometimes full of her chimeras.
  • Symbolic Distance: Episode 9 of the anime adaptation contains an overhead shot while the protagonists are discussing the relative merits of Miligan's offer to give them one of her old laboratories, where Oliver is separated from the rest of the group by a couple of paces while he mulls over the offer. It's symbolism for how his secrets and wildly divergent Series Goal subtly separate him from them.
  • Talent vs. Training: Oliver is contrasted with several characters in this way, particularly Nanao and to a lesser extent Tullio Rossi. Oliver is extremely good at learning and adapting magic and sword techniques from others: in volume 2 he shocks Rossi in a sword duel by defeating the Ytallian's self-taught fighting style with pure, orthodox Lanoff Style swordsmanship, and is even capable of the Fourth Spellblade by making use of his mother's Ghost Memory. However, he has no techniques or skills that are truly his own nor any unique magical traits or affinities like several of his friends have: Nanao in particular is a mage of phenomenal natural talent whose foreign life experiences and worldview as a samurai of far-off Yamatsukini allow her to use magic in ways nobody has ever even heard of before.
  • The Talk: Reconstructed in volume 4. After Nanao and Pete are approached a little aggressively in the dining hall by other students, Oliver and Chela host an informal sex ed seminar for the group, focusing particularly on consent and the peculiarities of mage sexual relations. One of the things that comes up is that the Union's mage aristocracy has what amounts to an informal Super Breeding Program, and Nanao and Pete's unique traits are highly sought-after additions to mage bloodlines as a consequence.
  • Tamer and Chaster: The original novels include a lot of fairly frank discussion of sexuality that is dropped from or diminished in the adaptations.
    • Neither adaptation includes Chela's suggestion from volume 2 that Pete take advantage of his reversiism to experiment sexually, and episode 13 of the anime cuts Miligan making a pass at Oliver after the Battle of Hell's Armies.
    • Downplayed with Ophelia Salvadori, whose Sex Magic and backstory of sex abuse are so key to volume 3's story it's impossible to avoid completely. However, she's depicted visibly pregnant by rape in the flashback to her first meeting with Carlos Whitrow; the corresponding scene in episode 13 downplays the then-current pregnancy (her baby bump is much less obvious), but keeps her line asking Carlos if they're the next "man" she's expected to breed with. Episode 14 also bowdlerizes the discussion of Oliver's Raging Stiffie to just the Perfume making him horny.
  • Technician/Performer Team-Up: Oliver Horn has no particular talents as a mage (though no significant deficiencies either), and keeps up with others in his age group by being smart and working his butt off with textbook practice, to the point where early in the series his fighting style is sometimes derided as boring. By the end of volume 1 he's practically attached at the hip to his primary Love Interest, Nanao Hibiya, a mage of phenomenal natural talent who does her best work when she isn't even thinking about what she's doing and invents new magic tricks like the Seventh Spellblade simply out of necessity. The two of them make a terrifyingly effective Battle Couple to the point of becoming minor celebrities in the student body by the time of volume 6.
  • Their First Time: Discussed when Oliver and Chela give the Sword Roses The Talk: Chela mentions that statistically, about eighty percent of Kimberly students will have had their first sexual experience by the time they graduate.
  • Time Skip: The series frequently jumps several months between volumes since it's meant to follow the Sword Roses through the entire seven-year curriculum of Kimberly. About four months pass between volumes 1 and 2, and volume 3 skips to the beginning of the next school year.
  • Tournament Arc:
    • The main plot of Volume 2 revolves around a sword arts tournament among the first-years, organized by Tullio Rossi, an Ytallian student with a (mostly imagined) rivalry with Oliver. Each participant is given a medallion and duels others to take theirs, with the students with the most medallions at the end of the week advancing to the playoff round. The tournament is aborted before the playoffs when Ophelia Salvadori is consumed by the spell in an unrelated incident and kidnaps several of the participants.
    • A second one runs for volumes 7-10, with three tiers of students (grades 2-3, grades 4-5, and grades 6-7) competing for prizes from the faculty. The "combat leagues" happen every couple of years, but this time around it's complicated by the deaths of two teachers in preceding years: Headmistress Esmeralda jacks up the prize money to attract more students, and then installs Blood Knight Sadist Teacher Vanessa Aldiss as the final obstacle for the upper tier—thinking that a student who does well against her might be a good suspect for the murders of Darius Grenville and Enrico Forghieri.
  • Twisting the Prophecy: 300 years ago, a mage theorized that one cannot observe the future with precision because the act of prophecy itself changes the future: "'prophecy' is merely the act of guiding events towards one potential outcome." This became the underlying principle of the Fourth Spellblade, "Angustavia — the thread that crosses the abyss", which selects a desired possible near-term future and forces it to come to pass. Main character Oliver Horn uses this to defeat Darius Grenville in a Single-Stroke Battle at the end of volume 1, bringing the one-in-ten-thousand possible future where he isn't cut to pieces in seconds to him.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: Nanao has a card in Weiss Schwarz's Dengeki Bunko run.
  • Unblockable Attack: The eponymous "Spellblades" are a set of (initially) six offensive techniques merging magic and sword arts, described in an epigraph to volume 1 as "A strike that can be neither dodged nor blocked, thereby guaranteeing death. Fulfill these conditions within the one-step, one-spell distance, and you have what is called a 'spellblade.'" So far, three have been identified in the series.
    • The Second Spellblade, "Creumbra, the self-racing shadow", which exploits the explosive consequences of a mage's failed experiment in magically duplicating himself to disintegrate the opponent. Used by Theodore McFarlane in volume 4 to slay an unidentified man attacking mages with a knife.
    • The Fourth Spellblade, "Angustavia, the thread that crosses the abyss", which explores possible futures to find one where the wielder succeeds in striking down their opponent. Previously learned by Chloe Halford, her son Oliver is able to use it in extremis by drawing on his mother's Ghost Memory from her soul contained within him. He uses it in a one-cut duel with Darius Grenville, and as a Finishing Move against Enrico Forghieri.
    • The currently unnamed Seventh Spellblade, with which the wielder uses sheer force of will to simply cut everything between themselves and their target, even the space between them. Invented by Nanao in her and Oliver's fight with Vera Miligan, in order to defeat the basilisk eye on Miligan's left hand when she's out of range of a conventional strike. Nanao herself doesn't know how she did it and is unable to duplicate it.
  • Undead Laborers: Zombie labor used to be very common in mage civilization, but necromancers had to spend a lot of time consoling the spirits of the dead (mainly through Magic Music). Above a certain quantity, this tended to become logistically impractical, leading to Zombie Apocalypse scenarios called "maelstroms" that are compared to entire towns being consumed by the spell. This is what happened to the Parsu precursor civilization who originally built the labyrinth under Kimberly Magic Academy; recurring character Cyrus Rivermoore is one of their descendants and is working to recover their lost necromantic arts.
  • Variant Chess: "Magic Chess", which is apparently the bastard offspring of normal chess and tabletop wargaming: according to Oliver it's up to 28 editions and there are rules updates every month that completely upend the metagame. The current edition, Dynamic, features among other things trap effects and one of Nanao's pieces defending itself against Oliver's move by turning into a werewolf. Oliver's father was terrible at it, while his mother routinely kicked both their butts.
  • Varying Competency Alibi:
    • When the faculty of Kimberly Magic Academy discuss the disappearance of Professor Darius Grenville in volume 2, the possibility that a student may have killed him is suggested, and then immediately discarded as impossible: as Headmistress Esmeralda puts it, "If, by some chance, a student did kill him, that would mean Darius was never fit to be a Kimberly instructor." This means that the prime suspects are the other instructors. This was exactly what the killer, first-year student Oliver Horn, wants them to think—and in their defense it indeed wouldn't have been possible if he didn't have access to his mother's Ghost Memory. However, after a second professor is confirmed to have been murdered in volume 6, the idea that one or more students might have been responsible starts to gain more traction: in volume 7, the senior-year combat leagues are intentionally arranged so that Esmeralda can determine if any of their students might have been strong enough to do it after all.
    • Inverted with Alvin Godfrey, who is considered a possible suspect in the faculty murders based on his own fighting strength and the soft power he wields as head of the Campus Watch (i.e. From a Certain Point of View he basically has his own private army). However, Esmeralda admits he's a poor suspect at best because he has no discernible motive; she's pretty much grasping at straws and tells him to consider his name coming up a compliment.
  • Virtuous Character Copy:
    • Where Oliver reminds of Harry Potter, Richard Andrews fills much the role of Draco Malfoy: a haughty aristocratic racist who becomes The Rival to the protagonist. Unlike with Draco and Harry, however, their dispute is mostly based on a misunderstanding and is settled after they fight the garuda together; Richard subsequently views Oliver as a competitor but not an enemy, and stops acting like a jerkass to the Sword Roses.
    • Marco resembles the troll from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, both physically and in narrative role: both trolls attack (one of) the girl(s) due indirectly to the meddling of an antagonist, and defeating either troll solidifies the main cast's years-long friendship. However, Marco later bonds with Katie and helps save her from a rogue upperclassman, while the troll who attacked Hermoine disappears from the narrative after he's defeated.
    • Chela's father Theodore McFarlane has a lot of similarities to Gilderoy Lockhart, as a foppish and rather silly world-traveler and book author who fills in after another teacher is indisposed. However, unlike Lockhart, he actually did have all the adventures he claims to have done and is quite competent when he puts his mind to being so: he's even a Spellblade wielder.
    • Katie's similarities to Hermione Granger are significant, but there are some differences. Hermione was (controversially) roundly mocked for her activism on behalf of the House-Elves, whereas Spellblades portrays Katie's views as completely correct and the people bullying her over her views as wrong; she's just a little naive and inexperienced at first. Katie is also a Nice Girl through and through, lacking the vicious streak that Hermione displays in the later books.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting:
    • Vanessa Aldiss's specialty is weaponized transformation of her body: most commonly of her arms, but her whole body can be modified on the fly to be weapon, defense, or both at the same time. She can even grow mouths on her hands and eat with them, which she does to a Gnostic cultist in the opening scene of volume 2.
    • In volume 2, half-mage, half-werewolf Fay Willock doesn't have direct control over his werewolf transformations, but his partner Stacy Cornwallis can make his body do it with a spell that simulates the light of the full moon. She only does this with his permission (though he never says no) since he's in constant severe pain while transformed. By volume 9, however, he's figured out how to trick himself into transforming by visualizing the image of the moon, and can flexibly transform only portions of his body.
  • Walking Ossuary: In volume 1, Oliver, Pete, Chela, and Nanao get caught in a battle between two upperclassmen, the chimera breeder Ophelia Salvadori and the skeletal golem-maker Cyrus Rivermoore. As their creations duke it out, Ophelia remarks to Cyrus that the spinal column on his bone creature is new and mentions him pillaging monster corpses deeper in the labyrinth, implying that it's a composite skeleton. Later on, Cyrus' new project involves stealing one bone at a time from other students' living bodies, apparently planning to create a composite human skeleton. He's creating an artificial body for an undead woman his family has kept as a familiar for centuries.
  • Weird Sun: The "sun" in the second layer of the labyrinth is a magical artifact created by the precursor civilization that created the labyrinth. It never sets, producing a constant level of light and warmth.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 6 of the anime. It starts out pretty normal, segueing from the last episode with Nanao and Oliver fighting Miligan. It's already exciting enough when Nanao shows she can wield the titular seventh Spellblade to defeat her. Then Oliver gets invited to come alone with Darius Grenville who wants his assistance after his good performance in class, and it becomes very dark very fast. Oliver's real reason for enrolling in the school, the explanation for Oliver's secret collaborators, and ultimately the underlying plot of the entire show and the full truth of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, are all finally revealed. Following the Cruel and Unusual Death of his mother, Oliver's true goal has actually been to slaughter all her murderers... with Grenville as the first on his hit list. The teacher ends up getting violently and bloodily mutilated, tortured and finally killed by Oliver, and the episode reaches its end with our somewhat morally ambiguous protagonist reiterating his vow to enact bloody revenge on an Enemies List that includes basically half the faculty staff.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The driving ethos behind Katie's civil rights activism for non-humans. Since the story takes place in a setting where non-humans like centaurs, elves, etc. exist with humans, there are issues surrounding just which species gets to be considered "human" and given civil rights while others are treated as mere beasts. Katie comes from a family noted for its activism on behalf of intelligent nonhumans, which puts her in conflict with students tied to the conservative factions early on.
  • Wizarding School: Kimberly Magic Academy practices Social Darwinism towards its students, with the student body expected to solve problems without the intervention of the faculty. There actually is a reason for this: Kimberly is effectively a vocational school for Gnostic Hunters—elite battlemages who travel to other planets of the solar system to battle Alien Invasions commanded by those planets' gods.
  • Wizard Duel: Kimberly Magic Academy is a training ground for an order of Military Mages called the Gnostic Hunters, and its curriculum therefore puts significant emphasis on use of magic in combat. An entire class is devoted to teaching "sword arts", i.e. the use of blades and spells together in close combat.
    • Nonlethal duels with both magic and sword are a common way of settling student conflicts, and Tullio Rossi organizes a dueling tournament in volume 2 to decide on the strongest first-year. In volume 6, Teresa Carste also gets into an argument with a classmate, Dean Travers, which devolves into a playground brawl when he hits her Relative Button.
    • The climax of volume 1 pits Oliver and Nanao in a duel against fourth-year Vera Miligan, in order to rescue Katie after Miligan kidnapped her to do some exploratory surgery when she was able to get Marco the troll to talk.
    • In the epilogue of volume 1, Oliver faces Professor Darius Grenville, one of his mother's murderers, in a Duel to the Death, which Oliver wins in a Single-Stroke Battle by using the Fourth Spellblade to cut Darius's hand off.
  • Womb Horror: Ophelia's Grand Aria at the climax of volume 3: a Pocket Dimension created out of her own womb that allows her to endlessly birth chimeras by trial and error in pursuit of the "perfect being" once sought by her succubus foremothers, with Ophelia herself becoming part of the level geometry.
  • You Remind Me of X: Nanao reminds Oliver, Theodore, and Esmeralda of Chloe Halford. This might even extend to her broom, which once belonged to Chloe.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Discussed and justified in volume 8. Past mage civilizations made heavy use of necromancy for manual labor. The problem is, The Undead need to be "consoled" periodically, or else bad things happen: the resulting "maelstroms" are compared to entire towns becoming consumed by the spell all at once. A series of such disasters in the past led to the practice mostly falling out of favor and getting replaced with demihuman slavery.

Alternative Title(s): Nanatsu No Maken Ga Shihai Suru


The Sword Roses

"Explore". While camping out in their new laboratory, Chela suggests coming up with a name for their group. In reply, Nanao introduces a warriors' custom from her homeland where they form a circle of their swords so that the tips form a flower-like pattern: a "sword rose". Though they cannot know what tomorrow will bring, they can remember the beauty of the flower that bloomed in this moment forever. Thus, "the Sword Roses".

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / TrueCompanions

Media sources: