Sunday, December 20, 2015

Chivalry of a Failed Knight

Chivalry of a Failed Knight is by far one of my favorite series to have come out in recent times. This is a series that, in spite of its sorta cliche'd storyline, breaks many tropes and actually does a good job of developing characters and further telling an excellent story. While there is at least one anime this season that, storywise, could be considered better, in terms of pure personal enjoyment, this is the best.

The story itself is nothing new. It's about a young man named Ikki Kurogane, who attends a magic school where people battle using blazers, weapons formed from the soul, or something. The magic high school cliche has been quite popular recently, and anyone watching this anime would feel that this story is a stereotypical light novel adaptation. I've even heard snobs who call themselves anime critics claiming that this anime is "light novel trash" because its an adaptation. Of course, most of those people completely ignore the fact that most anime is adapted from something, whether it's a manga or a light novel - and they all have their cliches.

The story begins when Ikki, after doing his daily morning exercise, enters his dorm room to find a half-naked girl changing. Rather than blushing and stuttering out apologies, Ikki does what any good gentleman would do to make a girl feel less uncomfortable: Take of his own clothes so they're even. This is the first of many standard cliche's that are broken in Chivalry of a Failed Knight, and is one of the reasons I love this anime. I love how the main character's not some dweeb who follows standard harem dynamics. Ikki Kurogane is the only protagonist I have ever seen who's done this, and for that reason, he instantly became one of my favorites.

Following Ikki Kurogane, you've got Stella Vermillion, the princess to a small Kingdom who needs strong magical knights to protect themselves. Stella is, to put it bluntly, adorable. She starts off with a typical tsundere feel. However, the more you see of her, the less tsundere she becomes. In fact, rather than a tsundere I'd say she's a normal girl who happens to have some minor tsundere traits. And when she does show off her tsundere side, she's usually more dere than tsun, which is what makes her so adorable. Furthermore, unlike most tsunderes who deny her feelings and become unstable and violent for no reason, Stella doesn't deny anything. I like how she's able to talk about her feelings, rather than simply go, "B-baka! It's not like I want to be with you or anything!" Honestly, the standard tsundere traits get old, which makes her a more than welcome character.

While the story itself is nice, one of my greatest pleasures, and the reason this ranks as my top anime for 2015, was watching the growing relationship between Stella and Ikki. You almost never see a couple in anime who officially become a couple. Most of the time, the couple will dance around each other for the entire season, and when the season ends, you're left scratching your head wondering if they're a couple or just a tsukkomi duo who have a thing for each other. Not so here. In Chivalry, Ikki and Stella are the OTP. I don't even have to ship them! These two ship themselves! This is the only anime to have satisfied my desire for a good romance between the two protagonists so completely.

Everything else about this anime is pretty decent. The artwork is surprisingly nice, though not the best. I actually enjoy the artistic style and liberties taken throughout this anime. The person who made this must have been a woman, too, because their sense of fashion is impressive. I can't see a dude being so attentive to clothing. Furthermore, the animation is well-done. It's not amazing, but it's good enough that I didn't see any errors with the sequences or massive problems, like characters moving outside of their base models. The fight scenes, in particular, were quite stellar, and I enjoyed watching how the battles in this played out.

This anime does have its fan service, but the fan service is very mild and doesn't come around very often. The fan service was also tasteful enough that people who don't like it could probably tolerate it. I actually thought some of the moments were cute, especially since, aside from the first moment where Ikki walks in on Stella while she's changing, almost every single fan service-y moment was instigated by Stella herself - which is just another reason I like Stella so much. Like Ikki with his, "I saw you naked, so I'll let you see me naked," attitude, Stella breaks away from traditional tsundere tropes and becomes more than what her archetype dictates. Overall, this is my favorite anime of the season, and if it ever gets a season two, you can be sure I'll watch it.

Artwork: 9/10
Animation: 9.5/10
Sound: 10/10
Characters: 10/10
Story: 10/10
Personal Enjoyment: 10/10
Total: 9.810