In the seasonal anime approach, on every single one, we will receive once in a while an ecchi and harem with the battle tournament trope light novel adaptation, most likely from one, two or four of them, depending how many they announced in each said season.
The thing is, for most of the cases, people will go and judge based upon the cover and its setting, the synopsis, etc, even the source being based out of (which I personally find the generalization of the Light Novel Medium being judged upon the genre and setting quite annoying, ridiculous and quite stupid, assuming for a lot of reasons in the whole generalization would be based upon its adaptation, not its sources materials, but still, they are still doing this and based upon 1 or a few as a whole, and it’s ridiculous).
While it looks like a copy and paste of the same old as per usual, the thing that matters is the execution to it, not the things that were made before stated above, since technically a lot of people does this to make the battle tournament, ecchi and harem trope look like some sort of bad thing, when it’s not in the perspective.
This is something to come across the spectrum of these settings in both the Light Novel and Anime Medium to compare which are better based upon the content being delivered and its direction rather than being judged based upon the statements above this paragraph, since it also gives an idea of a decent qualified series towards a good one worth a watch for the viewer being presented in order to get into these.
In this season of fall anime 2015, we got two battle tournament, ecchi and harem series which are the names of Gakusen Toshi Asterisk and Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry or by the English names: A Chivalry of the Failed Knight or A Tale of Worst One. This review will be mainly focusing upon this anime series and my personal thoughts upon it.
Does it live upon the expectations that I was looking for and could become a treat for people? Or did it failed to deliver what I wanted in the show and becomes as another shallow anime to be forgotten in the pits of hell? Let’s go and find out if it’s actual an actual treat to watch, or it just becomes an unbearable experience to watch during the time.
And before I start with my review, I will give a fair warning of two things.
For one thing, I will just go and give my personal thoughts and perspective without comparing with other shows unless its needed, so if you will have a problem with my personal opinion on the show, feel free to talk about it.
The second thing being, I will of course kind of spoil some stuff about the anime, just some aspects that I like about this series to defend my statement upon my review and if I do not do it then I might get some sort of problem due to my review.
So keep that warning upon the words, if you want to stick around with the review then sure let’s go on the road, if not, I would suggest just watch a few episodes and maybe come back to read the review back to know my full perspective of this anime series. It’s a suggestion.
Without anything behind, let's go to my anime review of Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry.
The story is set in a school, where pretty much revolves around magic knights, also modern magic users who fight against each other with weapons converted from their own souls. Our Main Protagonist, Ikki Kurogane arrives to this particular school to actually train these Mage Knights, however he’s more of a failure due to his lack of talent of using magic, labeling him as “A Failure Knight” or also known as “The Worst One”.
Getting way less than average marks in the scores, he was forced to repeat another year. However, one day he meets a girl named Stella Vermillion, as she challenged him to a duel due to some “issues” coming around. From that, the duel had some sort of payment, the loser must obey the other for the rest of their lives.
Based upon the synopsis, many would judge upon it to clarify the story is generic. In a way, yes the story is generic to a degree, there are a few reasons why the story itself is quite different than the others, and it doesn’t make it completely special, however it does make the show quite worth a while on its way that could become a treat for a few people.
Firstly one of the few aspects I like about the show would be its romance. To not give much of details of that aspect of the show, the series does establish a well-developed relationship between the two main characters and also establishes a realistic slow pace in order to flesh it out and to make them confront their issues of confessing to one another their feelings, their desires, etc. It gives some sort of realistic approach and direction towards their relationship which seems rather more natural with it's own pacing, which fleshes out their bonds as the episodes passes by. I find it very appealing for the show and it gives some sort of different spark with the plot progression as well. I'll say one thing, this romance is not like one of the best out there though, however it does a very good job executing it and as well giving it a more natural look into it. So in other words, the chemistry on this genre is very suitable and well done in terms of the story department, which is points going forward for the series.
The Second strong point of the series, would be its battle tournament and their way of doing it. If you take between Gakusen Toshi Asterisk, there is quite a difference between the two. Rakudai’s way of the battle tournament is more of the character’s strength more than the character’s strategy, which with one of the quotes of the show stated in some episodes, each character shows their strength with all the given power they got and that makes it personally, a lot entertaining. It also gives some sort of "show, don't tell" around type of approach, in which each battle they technically demonstrate the powers these people have in their hands, while it's not really something new, the way they execute it, most cases of the show its really does a nice job to it. Of course, the series does a nice job into its execution on the fight scenes, and I will appreciate that.
Third thing coming from Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry, in each said or so episodes, it breaks some of the clichés that usually most ecchi harems have, usually the clichés aren’t a bad thing however it does get tiring for a bit after some time. Let’s give one simple example of a cliché breaking which is not a big spoiler. In the first episode when usually the main protagonist that enters in the room or let’s say the main female protagonist’s room and the female is actually semi-naked, it ends up as a misunderstanding and the main character becomes really dense as fuck due to it (honestly I love that type of part, for some apparent reason really) and then a lot of mixed up stuff happens. For Rakudai’s case however, that really doesn’t happen when the in before the female lead hits the guy or goes around and say some misunderstanding. After that entrance and almost some misunderstanding shit happening, the main protagonist actually took off his own shirt so they can be equally fine and dandy. Like literally, that was one of the few cliché breakers the series has and I was actually shocked by that, not really like oh my god, but I was actually surprised with that, and there’s actually more from that point onward, as the show slowly breaks its cliches and it's really something nice looking, unlike some shows that really do not break these cliches, instead they accumulated more.
For the fan service department so from what I can tell, it’s really not that much to drag the show into a hell hole. In fact, a few little of the fan service moments of the series between the two main characters works well for the case. For example in one of the few first episodes we get this washing scene which technically the female protagonist washes the MC, however it works because right afterwards she changes later on and can be noticed throughout the show after that. It sounds ridiculous but for me, my personal opinion it actually worked, and for the rest I will say the fan service for others isn’t really heavily focused on that, as I would the show focuses on the battle tourneys and the romance than that, so if you are not a fan of heavy dose of fanservice, then don't worry, this doesn't have THAT much.
And finally to describe the dialogue for this series in a short sentence, I would say it’s not one of the best dialogues, but it’s not one of the worst dialogues I can say. I had no issues with it considering it’s not supposed to be a complexity series, it’s quite simple and not that much to go and make it ground breaking. That’s a weak point for the story department in a way and to an extension around.
I would say out of these positive aspects of the show, I would say I only had one personal complaint in the anime which still bugged me even today. Which even though it’s not something ground breaking in the series considering it’s quite small and quite nitpicky, this wouldn’t affect the score of the anime overall a lot.
There was one of the episodes in the battle fight, where basically there was this one little cliché moment, which felt out of place and kind of weird in a way to defeat the guy like that. It just felt really out of place for my concern, but it’s not a big issue to say the least, it’s just pointing something out here.
In the overall story department, I would say Rakudai even though with its generic setting and plot, it still delivers things quite nicely and does a very good job with its execution execution despite these statements above about the judgmental idea other people would have about the show at first sight when it was announced. It’s sort of a treat for anyone that wants something new in a degree (from what I have just mentioned a bit regarding on the romance and would include on the characters). However from coming with this statement saying it would be a treat for anyone that wants something new, this would depend on the viewer at hand.
Of course, this series isn't really for everyone in terms of the story (in terms of the plot) so I will keep a warning towards people. If anything, if you want something rather originally executed and having its own spark, I would suggest this, however this all depends on your own hands and your taste on anime.
This is another department which is another strong point of the show. While the cast of characters are not really original, since they are all basically your archetype characters, the way they were established and portrayed in personalities wise is done well in this case. They all act in a mature way and at least most of these were developed nicely without any issues having with them. Most of the cast of characters have a motivation to fight and also their strengths can be shown throughout the episodes, which in my eyes the way they show it is very well.
Ikki, the main protagonist of the show is considered as the most mature character of the series, technically because in a few situations throughout the series, he’s more of a tolerable, patient and very knowledgeable character in a way. He shows also some determination in one of the episodes to help out when it was needed, and technically also he’s not a dense character either. To say the least this is one of the nicest characters I personally like, and Ikki is a prime example of it.
Stella is known as your tsundere, red hair with twin tails, with fire magic and princess archetype. However for her case she does care about Ikki after a few said episodes, and from that her change comes bit by bit throughout the series. Although my only complaint about her is nothing too personal, but I personally would want to see more of her fights with others in a full fight in a way. The last time we actually had that was by the first episode. But she’s overall a nice and loveable girl. Also this is coming as a personal view but
Mainly together with the two Ikki and Stella, as I stated before in this review, their relationship with each other feels very dynamic and nicely done, which makes them even more loveable in my personal opinion as a whole between the two.
As for the supporting cast of character, I will say the one that got most development outside of the established relationship between the two characters, Ikki and Stella, would be Ayase, technically she was one of the most developed characters alone in a way in her arc. She was nicely done in her little arc which I was actually impressed with it.
For the second it may be Shizuku, while many people would say she’s either fodder or annoying, I personally can see why people could get annoyed by her and hate her, but I personally don’t think she’s all that bad either. She shows some support towards her brother in a way (not in the incest way, not that) and throughout the episodes she does develop as well and does have determination to fight and become stronger.
Speaking of Shizuku, there’s also her partner which is Alice. Alice is more considered as a supporter for both Ikki and Shizuku in the series, although she doesn’t get any specific spotlight in the battle tournament aspect (of course it is implied that she's pretty strong at the end and at the end she did made it to become one of the seven participants, but that's just it so far), she really shows as a supportive character who wants to help Ikki and the others in a way. Also as a personal income, I personally love her character design and voice acting. I will say that as a bonus.
As for Todo Toka, I will say she doesn’t get as much screen time as the others since she’s introduced at the near specifically almost near the end of the show by being introduced in episode 9 of the show, which is actually saddening considering she shows a lot of strength and proving herself as the strongest female character in here at the moment. However that doesn’t really mean she’s bad in here to say the least I will say that as a bonus.
As for the other cast of members in this series, there are a few of them that don’t get as much screen time as the others, making it look kind of underwhelming in a degree.
A few others gets a few more than the other characters and become more relevant, but in that I will say it’s quite sour mouthing and it really feels like they should have some sort of actual role later on (for those that only get a few appearances) and it’s kind of the disappointment here.
In the overall characters aspect, this is the other strong point of the anime series based upon the overall curriculum, being the story having a lot more going forward than this, thanks to the other cast of characters excluding the supportive cast feeling a bit underwhelming and could have been done better giving them a sort of relevance later on in the series. The overall cast I would describe the main and support cast as the good part, the other characters being more of the below average part of it.
To describe the art and the animation in a simple sentence, I would say it’s not in all honesty in the masterpiece level, but it’s very eye catching and nicely done in terms of both aspects of the series in this paragraph, along with a lot of things to explain from this. To explain the art firstly, its quality isn’t really one of the best out there, but the studio does a nice job at making the art style eye catching and colorful and at the same time, in its own way.
The color palette has some sort of pop into the anime that it looks actually very good and it’s nicely catching the eye and clean, also the use a variety of color palettes in different sceneries of the anime that makes it look very appealing for the show. The character designs also look very appealing with the backgrounds of the art of the anime, which I have no issue with it at all.
The pallets used for the show also were used in the fitting mood of the atmosphere of the series, from the very heart warming rainbow colors and the cherry blossoms flying around in symbol of the love relationship towards the dark shading black and red in one of the episodes, when the use of the colors were the symbol of depression and it’s ominous as well.
Animation can be describe in many ways, sure it’s not one of the best animation departments out there of all time, and I am not going to put the show on the masterpiece level of animation department, however it doesn’t mean I can’t say it’s good either. In fact, if I go through this, the animation does take an approach of fluid motion and it doesn’t look even inconsistent, the angles they take for the anime does looks very nice overall, it’s actually very appealing and clean, without any type of ground breaking motion or anything like that.
They take different directions and angles in order to make the fight scenes look very organized and also another entertaining treat to watch. They sometimes take a slow motion in the anime which looks nice for the anime to do that type of approach to it.
The fight scenes does look very fresh and it doesn’t keep me as the viewer with burning eyes out considering I hate when I see something as bad as Lance N Masques or Mars of Destruction level. In all honesty overall both got a lot of points for giving a treat towards me and it’s nicely, clean and freshly made, with a lot of sparkles in the show and a lot of directions they took into it.
As for the character designs I would say they’re not really original, however their designs looks good and without feeling very eye soaring or anything ground breaking towards me.
Despite the art not living to its Light Novel Illustrations as a whole (I have not read the Light Novels yet, but I checked their illustrations and I like it a lot) the anime does a nice job to at least keep its anime designs at most. That will be a bonus from them to that point.
Overall the Art/Animation department is one of the other essential parts of the anime, keeping the show strong and consistent without feeling like its inconsistent, choppy or anything like that along the lines.
Now for the final point of the anime series of Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry, the last thing would be the sound department, the music and the voice acting tones. This is probably the component that makes the art and animation very enjoyable with its soundtrack and its sound effects.
To start off with the music department, the music composer is known as Kotaro Nakagawa, the same person who composed soundtracks such as Code Geass (seasons 1 and 2) which I personally find it very pleasing for Rakudai's soundtrack. The music soundtrack as a whole for Rakudai is considered as pleasing and ear catching, it just makes the fights engaging and also the moments dynamic, entertaining, and enjoyable. To give an idea, I will give you some examples.
One example being "Nimrod" (soundtrack #20) which gives a mixture of a fast paced along with a more jazzy tone by combining upbeat, the piano and along with the trumpets which gives a more dynamic and fitting feel for the fight.
Another example would be "tension feeling" (soundtrack #17) which gives the same tone upbeat but a bit more intense for the moments that are important for the cast of characters, its just soothing at the end which gives a uniqueness of its own (seasonal wise).
My final example would be "worst one" (soundtrack #1) give more of an instrumental composition approach and the tone of the music is just very enjoyable, probably one of my most enjoyable soundtracks of the OST pack Rakudai has released, since it goes to my personal taste actually.
The soundtrack just goes and give a more enjoyable feel to the series and that’s what makes the show a bonus for me. However, the soundtracks could be considered a little bit overused, but that doesn't mean the soundtrack overall is bad with that standard. It could have been done a bit more to compose more soundtracks in the end except there were a few that were used not so often which is nice.
Overall I will say the soundtrack as a standalone is enjoyable and iconic to listen to, along with the anime battle scenes. The soundtracks can be found since it got released around the moment so its easy to be found.
For the sound department, I can’t say the soundtrack is quite the best one I have ever heard, however it does a nice job with its effects in the right time and place, it just makes the show more gripping with the swords clashing and many things to describe.
By the voice acting approach, considering I am watching the series weekly and in the seasonal, I would say this at least. The voice acting tone fits to their respective characters, I had no issues with that actually.
Each one of the voice actors did a nice job with their performances and making the characters sound a bit more mature at least, and the emotion, etc, does fit nicely in the perspective. Rakudai of course has some few little mediocre voice acting, considering I could say the voices from the other casts (outside of supportive and main cast) do not actually have enough time to get me impressed at least, that’s another point to go for the little while.
As for the Opening and the Ending songs I will say the Opening is quite unique out of the others from the fall season, but not unique overall in the spectrum of the media. It gives a more jazz and upbeat component and it does fit with its visuals, which gives the black and white color palette with the red, symbolizing the blood in some areas. I would personally say, I like the Opening, TV version.
I would say this, for me personally the full version kills in a way the experience I had with the Rakudai Opening. Not that the whole Opening is bad, because music is kind of subjective/personal, but I felt like not hearing the song again.
As for the Ending song of Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry, themed performance by ALI PROJECT (the same person that did the performances of Another OP, Code Geass R1 ED1 and R2 ED2, Katanagatari OP2 and ED6 and .hack//Roots ED), The ending for this is composed with a mixture of bits of techno in some parts and the most of it is instrumental, which I personally like the tone of the song, however with its visuals I will say it’s not as creative as the Opening song with the visual standpoint, but it looks nice.
If you’re a fan of fan service, since the ED has some shots of the girls naked in still frame and the motion goes from upscale and down. Not a big issue there, but to say the least the song is beautiful in a way. Good Job ALI PROJECT.
Rakudai is one of those shows that may be considered as an overlooked show based upon the synopsis (not that it’s actually underrated, it’s just people skipping this show because of the setting is what I consider overlooked). Yes, it can be generic but towards a degree where its romance and the mixture of the battle tournament trope handled nicely and not ground breaking and nice characters, despite them being generic, shine the show along the way as the episodes passes by.
The animation and art would not be one of the best out there of all time, but thanks to it palette and backgrounds, the angles and the colors they use towards the sceneries and the mood displayed also was a nice direction towards the anime series, and also with a nice and eye catching soundtrack that gives a well-deserved complement.
In the end in my humble opinion, Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry had exceeded the expectations I never thought I could find in this type of trope of anime (for my experience), and in my personal opinion, Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry got towards the absolute potential and became one with it's actual "identity" of it's own. It became something I would actually recommend, if anyone likes the battle tourney trope with something a little sugar on top, which turns into a nice thing to love an enjoy.
If a second season also comes around, I would be glad to watch the continuation of the show, just because of my statements above and how much I love the show (this is rather personal).
Who should I recommend and who should I not recommend? The answer I will state this simple down below.
I would only recommend this show if you into:
- Generic synopsis but nicely executed
- Straightforward Romance
- Battle Tournaments
- Simple Story wise
I would not recommend this to people if you are into:
- Something ORIGINAL (in terms of the plot, if you dont like the synopsis/plot)
- Developed Romance (as in the show develops the relationship bit by bit until their confessions rather than going straight forward to it)
- Complex Storytelling