Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry – 12 [END]

Rakudai Kishi - Together at last

Stella finally gets her man

winter15-highw And now for the finale of my other show, Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry. We dealt with Asterisk and its by-the-numbers approach to finishing up a tournament arc yesterday, so today we’ll see how an alternative approach goes.

Get Me to the Church On Time

Rakudai Kishi - The support

Ikki’s support

They presented an interesting setup for the finals of the selection tournament. With 6 final matches, they hold them in 6 different arenas on the same day. And while those expected to win seem to win handily, there’s one final battle that has to be completed: Ikki’s fight against Touka. Just to rub it in, tho, Akaza the slimeball intentionally doesn’t bring Ikki, instead making him run to the arena. This gives Ikki some time to reflect on his past, and to face himself, but also gives him the opportunity to learn that he’s not just fighting for himself. I think it’s thought-provoking to compare the words of his father, that someone who achieves beyond their innate talent is just encouraging those who don’t have talent, to the effect that Ikki’s striving has had, that other knights at the academy are inspired to do better. The ones looking up to him aren’t those who are talentless. They’re the ones who have used his example to try to push themselves as well, to use their talent as much as they can.

Rakudai Kishi - The fire in Ikki's heart

The fire inside

But Ikki still has to face Touka, and he’s now not just tired from the ordeal of the interrogation, but also from having to run to the school. But there’s no time to rest, so he figures he’s got one chance against the rested, powerful Touka, and that is to call Itto Shura immediately and put everything he has into one attack. And I think they did a good enough job setting up Touka’s character to show why she’d meet his one-shot-offensive with her own counter, rather than evading and letting Itto Shura run out. Ikki closing to close range is coming right into her wheelhouse, and she’s never lost when she’s countered with Raikiri. Plus, there’s the swordsman honor that she’s part of, that she’s not going to back down from a challenge any more than Ikki is. It’s not about just winning. It’s about dictating and being the best: “I’m going to do this to beat you and you can’t stop me.”

Rakudai Kishi - lovely

Some great art here

It’s really not a surprise that Ikki wins. There was just too much for him to lose as the protagonist of the series if he did. But I liked the extra that they had afterward, where Ikki refused to do his usual collapse after the fight, until Stella was able to come into the arena to be with him. The part with her smacking the incredulous Akaza out of the way was a bit cheesy, but their exchange, on live brodadcast TV, at this poignant moment, his honor restored, and the focus of everyone, where he asks her to marry him was an excellent way to wrap up the series. This series hasn’t shied away from having Stella and Ikki be the couple, and this was the proud, public declaration of their love that Ikki wanted. Having Stella’s father call Ikki’s father and basically warn him off any future meddling with Ikki’s status as a knight was a nice touch as well.

Rakudai Kishi - Finally the public kiss

Finally their public kiss

Surface Similarity, Difference in Depth

Rakudai Kishi - Good and Bad

Good guys and bad guys

This season started out with a comparison between Gakusen Toshi Asterisk and Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry, which was certainly a natural comparison, especially premiering on the same day, for most people right after each other. It’s interesting to me to have these two shows that are so similar in their setup and especially in their first episodes, but diverged quickly in how they presented what, admittedly, is still pretty similar content. While Asterisk gave us almost exactly what we expected from a Magical Academy Battle anime, I really think that Cavalry has shown a different path for this kind of show. Focusing a lot less on the actual fighting in the tournament, the main focus of the show was the relationship between Stella and Ikki, and the path to redemption of Ikki himself, the Worst One. That doesn’t mean they didn’t show any fighting, but they used what they did show to great effectiveness, always making a point in the show that wasn’t “This person won and this person lost.”

Rakudai Kishi - Off color

Some really effective visual effects made the show a treat even without flashiness


I was very satisfied with the entire presentation of this show. I think it was obvious from the beginning that Silver Link and Nexus weren’t going to be matching the shiny graphical prowess of A-1 Pictures with Asterisk, but that doesn’t mean that Cavalry was cheap-looking. They had very effective use of color drains, highlights, distortion, and off-model, and judicious use of CG when called for. The show also kept the story as the primary focus, and the story could support the show. There was plenty of depth there, and it was used very effectively throughout the series. We heard of some places where Director Shin Oonuma moved things around, but I’ve found that I’ll trust him with the direction of the shows that I end up liking, like this show, Rokujouma no Shinryakusha, and Prisma Illya. Overall, I really enjoyed Cavalry, and would much prefer to see it get that second series.

Rakudai Kishi - Raciest of all

Stella’s end? (this just struck me as the raciest one so far)


Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
Blinklist BlogMarks Delicious Digg Diigo FaceBook Google MySpace Netvibes Newsvine Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter

15 Responses to “Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry – 12 [END]”

  1. Wanderer says:

    Stella’s end? (this just struck me as the raciest one so far)

    What with the exposed breasts, maybe. You should see some of the LN illustrations, though. The author just loves giving us at least one full-color picture of Stella in some state of undress in each volume. The one from volume 3, for instance, is from that scene where she and Ikki were in the cabin, after Ikki had taken her soaked clothes off, and she’s lying on her back looking up at him with a feverish mixture of uncertainty and desire.

    • Rathje says:

      Well, hard to blame them.

      Hot red-head tsundere with twintails… that’s a magical visual trinity you got there.

  2. skylion says:

    Of the two, I found this one to be the best. Even in terms of animation Asterisk ended up on the other side as it made most of the weapons and combat look like sleek action figures with these sorts of “I lost it down the back seat of the family station wagon” accessories.

    In terms of characterization, this one comes out slightly better, as both shows grounded them firmly – almost pounding them in – in tropes. But whereas Asterisk ran the tourney into the ground, this one felt like the rounds were character extension and ways to underline the plot rather than be the plot.

    Good show, wot?

    • Highway says:

      Maybe it’s because I like Cavalry more, but it felt to me that there was a significant difference in how they used the tropes. Remembering that the reason most things are tropes is because they’re either reflections or exaggerations of reality, it feels to me like Cavalry had characters that could be described with tropes, or had particular traits that were informed by tropes, but in general were their own characters. In contrast, it seemed more like the characters in Asterisk were constructed from tropes, with their purpose being to check off boxes for fanservice and plot points.

      • Highway says:

        And in case it doesn’t come through, I found that Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry may be, from a story and character standpoint, the best ever of these magical academy battle anime. It certainly has an edge over High School DxD on that front, and probably only loses out overall because of the appeal of the girl characters in DxD.

        Those two shows are the only ones at the top of the same class, as far as I’m concerned.

  3. Rathje says:

    It’s kind of funny, but you actually have to point out to me that Asterisk has the better animation for me to notice. Most of the time, when I’m not thinking about it, it feels like Rakudai is much better animated. Better character designs, better action sequences.

    That’s how it feels while I’m absorbed in the show anyhow.

    But having it actually mentioned – yes, Asterisk did have the better animation budget and when you’re looking for it, it shows.

    So, why do Asterisk’s scenes and characters feel so much more derivative and cartoony?

    The only explanation I’ve got is that Rakudai focused on the characters and the story in a way Asterisk did not. So the whole time my mind and emotions were better-engaged – which actually supplemented the on-screen animation and made the entire impact much better.

    This is how any anime (or movie for that matter) can punch above its weight class in the visuals department in my opinion. Engage the viewers, and their own brains will make up for a lot of deficiency subconsciously.

    This is why Luke Skywalker starting his attack run in Episode IV on 1970s technology still looks better and feels better to me than anything that happened in Episode I on 21st century budget and technology.

    • Highway says:

      There are a lot of times where a lack of animation budget (and this includes budget to 1) hire better artists, 2) use higher framerates, and 3) choose visuals that are more visually interesting in the sequence, rather than “the top of someone’s face” or “someone’s arm”) and lack of directorial talent combine to make a poor product. And there are times where the director gets all the budget he needs to make the visuals he wants, and it’s good, but still meh, like Asterisk.

      What I think is great about Cavalry is that there were some obvious ways they cut the animation budget in places, and it was obvious from the beginning that it wasn’t going to be shiny and lush like Asterisk. But what they did was use what they had extremely effectively. They never missed the mark with what they were going for. There was never the obvious “Oh, that’s cheaping out” or “that could have been done better.” The effects they put in worked perfectly in tone. I’m not someone who dislikes CG graphics inherently, but I’ll agree that when they’re done poorly, they completely take you out of the show. Cavalry used CG just a few times, and it was entirely appropriate (the snow/ice effects with Shizuku, primarily). But overall, Cavalry did just what you say: engaged the viewer with story, theme, and plot, and then didn’t break the effect with bad visuals, a task that must be harder than it seems, given how often it’s done wrong.

    • Highway says:

      Also, in terms of character visual designs, when you get outside of the main couple as presented – Ikki and Stella and Ayato and Julis – I think that Asterisk had better supporting character designs, and that the drawing of the characters was probably a bit better in Asterisk. Claudia, Saya, and Kirin were better than Alice, Shizuku, and Ayatsuji, for instance.

      But as far as character development and diversity, it was all in Cavalry. Having the little sister whose clingy protective nature was borne out of the severe injustices she saw visited upon her brother. The princess who had to fight against the perception of privilege to gain acknowledgement for her effort. The deadly badass who is also a recognized (and fully accepted!!!!) trans person, and never played for cheap jokes either by her or at at her expense. And the main couple that committed to each other quickly, accepted their feelings for each other, and worked harder to become the people they wanted to be.

  4. zztop says:

    Focusing a lot less on the actual fighting in the tournament, the main focus of the show was the relationship between Stella and Ikki.

    The 2nd arc will have more focus on tournament fights, based on what I’ve heard.

    There’s enough material for a Season 2, but the 7-Star Games arc spans 6 volumes.
    To properly cover the whole arc at an ideal pace, it would need at least a split 2-cour season, similar to what Asterisk War’s getting.

    The question is whether Rakudai can rack up enough LN/Bluray sales and fan support to convince the producers and related parties to give it the abovementioned treatment. The worst case scenario is that only 1 cour is approved, which results in a very rushed adaptation of the next tournament arc.

    • Highway says:

      I don’t really see that as something that would necessarily happen. If there are breaks in the LNs (since it takes 6 books), they could find some sort of break to stop the anime if they wanted to. I have to say that I really doubt there will be another anime series, although I haven’t seen any indications of sales (because I haven’t looked for them). It’s against the trends I’m seeing lately for a show without too much hype or a big studio behind it to really have a lot in sales. I think it’ll do fine, but I’m not thinking it will be a slam dunk.

      But just repeating, a good director won’t screw up even a single cour.

  5. zztop says:

    For those of you interested, you can read Vol 1-4 here. No word on when the translator plans to continue though.
    Show ▼

    If there’s one weakness of the source material, it’s the worldbuilding. Not much effort’s made to expand the reader’s view of the world, and the parts that are feel a bit made up on the fly. So far it’s not a problem if the narrative focuses on just Ikki, Stella and Hagun, but it could be problematic if the author wants to write a more global adventure.
    Show ▼

  6. akagami says:

    Another show marathoned and finished off my backlog~

    I thoroughly enjoyed this show, although I did notice some differences in the manga vs. the anime, but they came down more to style than anything material plot-wise. The final battle wasn’t as long as the battle with Toudou and Shizuku, but still visually impressive in it’s own right.

    I guess you can’t help but compare this and Asterisk because they have common themes and aired at the same time, but Asterisk, while having good production value, after all all was said and done felt pretty average, while Rakudai Kishi left a pretty strong impression.

    Having strong characters helped, and I like how the relationship started out strong, for once. I suppose you could sort of say the same for Asterisk, but the characters didn’t feel like they had any life in them… the MC in Asterisk (already forgot his name) was pretty much a blank slate with some cheap paint slapped on to try unsuccessfully hide the fact that he was a cardboard cut-out.

    Asterisk did have Claudia and the interesting student council presidents. However the main cast didn’t really stand out in any particular way to me.

    • Highway says:

      Isn’t the manga really another adaptation of the light novels? So there are going to be differences in all three presentations. And of course, the final battle isn’t going to be as long because of the circumstances. There would be no believable way that Ikki could win anything other than the fight that he won, but I liked that it suited both characters extremely well.

      To me, the main difference between the presentation of Cavalry and Asterisk is that Cavalry is what you get when you have the characters create the form the story is going to take, and Asterisk is what you get when you have the story points create the characters. You can have a good enough show to watch if it’s done the latter way, but as you say, the characters don’t really hold up to scrutiny. Perhaps a lot of the reason that Claudia seems so interesting in Asterisk was because she just didn’t get much focus time, so that the shallow nature of her character wasn’t exposed the same way that Ayato, Julis, or Kirin’s was. With more spotlight on her, maybe she’d feel less interesting, like she didn’t deserve the amount of attention.

      • akagami says:

        That’s true, but I’ve only read the manga, so that’s all I have to really compare against. At least the changes were minor, and not complete plot point revisions or character design overhauls.

  7. akagami says:

    I will say that the anime version of Ayatsuji Ayase didn’t come off as strong as in the manga. I think the manga made her out to be pretty backstabbing and remorseless (where you felt you wanted to root against her) while in the anime the intensity of her actions wasn’t quite the same.

    I don’t think having Kobayashi Yuu VA Ayase was a good fit though. Her voice didn’t quite fit the image I had of the character.

Leave a Reply