The Asterisk War Sucks [Part 12a]: Chivalry of a Failed Knight Doesn’t Suck?

Edited by The Davoo

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At the beginning of the Fall 2015 anime season, a pair of light novel adaptations became the subject of ridicule based on the alarming extent of their similarities: The Asterisk War by A-1 Pictures, and Chivalry of a Failed Knight by Silver Link. Both shows happened to air on the same day, at the same time, and for the same number of episodes. Both stories take place at an illustrious academy which is home to students with special powers, who are put into tournament fighting scenarios and ranked according to their power levels. Each of them features a generic Light Novel Guy protagonist, who happens to walk in on a pink-haired princess in a state of undress at the start of the first episode. Each of these princesses has a tsundere personality and ends up challenging the main character to a fight–with the pretense that the princess is one of the stronger fighters in the school, whereas the main character is a yet-unproven newbie. In both cases, the characters get into a bombastic sword fight–with both princesses utilizing fire magic in addition to their swordplay, but ultimately being defeated by their respective light novel guys and showing some affection towards them by the end of the episode.

The similarities between these shows don’t even come close to ending there–in fact, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the story beats of each series are almost exactly the same, and even occur during the exact same episodes. However, over the course of this video, I’m going to show you how the many subtle and meaningful differences between these shows have dramatically affected their overall quality; and resulted in the seemingly impossible fact that Chivalry of a Failed Knight actually does not suck.

That’s not to say that the series is necessarily good; it’s still a pretty generic, middle-of-the-road high school action series that employs a majority of the same tired-ass tropes as The Asterisk War without adding much of anything new or interesting to the anime landscape. The animation quality is less-than-stellar, and the character designs feel even more generic and dated than those of The Asterisk War–though there is a bit more variety and personality behind each of them individually. Almost nothing about this show is anything that you haven’t seen a hundred times before, and I wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone who wasn’t predisposed to watching it anyways. However, I can honestly say that I think that this show ultimately succeeds at handling its subject matter with an acceptable level of competence. It does not insult the viewer’s intelligence to watch it, nor does it have very many faults which I would find outright distasteful. It’s a strong five to a light six–the bare minimum of what I think could be considered a worthwhile viewing experience; and in being that, it is sooooo much better than the Asterisk War.

The important differences begin as early as the opening scene of the first episode. As discussed in part one, The Asterisk War opens on a very poorly constructed and ultimately pointless action scene that sucks tons of ass and means nothing whatsoever. Chivalry opens on a news report which plays in the background of the main character getting dressed, and which explains the basic facts about our resident princess, Stella Vermillion. This shot follows a trend throughout the show of utilizing weirdly ambitious animation techniques that the team isn’t quite talented enough to make impressive, but nonetheless add a lot of character to the animation.

After the brief introduction of the princess, the show then immediately launches into Ikki, the main character, narrating about the driving themes of the series. Yeah, this one actually has themes! Ikki talks about how there’s a natural hierarchy between those who are born with talent, and those who are born without, and wonders whether the untalented should give up on striving towards what they want to become. We then get a flashback to a strange moment with Ikki in the snow being given words of advice about not giving up even though he’s the weakest one–which we will later learn was the moment that turned Ikki into the man that he is today. Ikki’s voice-over continues as he explains the concept of magic-using fighters called Blazers, and how the Blazers who are approved by the international organization–whatever that is–are known as Magical Knights; and that he is an aspiring magical knight himself. The narration is delivered over footage of him training with his sword, before thrusting it to the heavens, and cutting to the title.

This introduction is pretty barebones, and doesn’t exactly inspire much hype towards what’s to come–but the important thing is that it doesn’t suck. It doesn’t pull us out of the world entirely in order to show us some stupid, disconnected space computer monitors, nor bore us to death with a terrible-looking action scene. It immediately establishes its two main characters in the very first shot; then explains the main character’s ideology as well as how he acquired that ideology; then showcases and explains his powers; and, finally, clues us into his motivations. Less than two minutes in, we already understand who and what this show is about–and what kind of message it will ultimately try to send.

Just like in the Asterisk War, the very next moment involves the main character walking in on the princess naked. This scene is still completely stupid, tasteless, and a major turn-off–however, it is nonetheless far superior to the similar scene from The Asterisk War. For starters, the logic behind it is, if typical, far more sound–Ikki has been assigned to this room and has no idea that Stella lives there, and vice-versa. The actual fanservice shot is more detailed and enticing than Julis’ lack of ass–and in fact, while Stella is even less of my type than Julis, it’s interesting how the series presents her as unquestionably the hot one; she’s even got the biggest boobs! But I digress. Before Stella and the audience have time to get annoyed, Ikki immediately says, “hold on. I know what you want to say, and I won’t make any excuses,” and then attempts to atone for his wrongdoing by immediately removing his own clothes to make it even.

Does this make any sense? Not really. Does Ikki even seem like the kind of guy who’d do this sort of dumb shit in the long run? Not really. In terms of the audience experience, does this incredibly brief glimpse of Ikki’s chiseled body make it an “even” exchange of manservice for fanservice? Not really. But you know… it’s a hell of a lot better than what I’m used to. If nothing else, it caught me by surprise, having come off the heels of another, similar scene in the show I was watching right before, and I think that’s probably the main thing it was intended to do.

From that mercifully brief fanservice scene, Chivalry launches directly into a nearly identical exposition sequence to the one from the Asterisk War–but, as usual, with some key differences. The biggest and most noteworthy change is that this show does not have a Claudia character, but instead replaces her with the director of the school. This alteration is vital, because it speaks to the biggest difference in the thought processes behind each of these shows. The Asterisk War is willing to strain the audience’s suspension of disbelief by having Ayato’s only contact with any authority figure in the school limited to a girl his own age who seems to basically run place–all in the name of keeping every relevant character in the show as a part of Ayato’s harem. Chivalry, on the other hand, introduces the idea that there’s some adult supervision in this society from the get-go–assuring us that the morals of this society haven’t quite been inverted yet, and that we may in fact find ourselves capable of relating to the characters.

The story behind the school is exactly the same as in Ass War–there’s a big inter-high competition which they used to always win at, but in recent years they’ve started going downhill. That’s about all we learn before the scene returns to addressing the whole room-entering fiasco, so let’s take a moment to consider what’s happening here. Obviously Stella gave Ikki the slap; but while it’s not all that clear what went down between then and this office visit, it seems as though the characters’ response to a confrontational situation was, honest to god, to go and alert an adult authority figure. As opposed to setting her apartment on fire like a fucking idiot, Stella actually took Ikki to the principal’s office to have her work them through their spat. I’m honestly a little bit shocked.

Of course, Stella then pulls some similar bullshit to what Julis did, where she frames a sentence in a way that seems rational at first, before revealing that she actually wants Ikki to make amends by killing himself. It’s not quite as jarring and ridiculous as the Julis scene, and doesn’t have the stupid weird dere moments, but it’s the same kind of dialog. Here’s the fun part though–Ikki’s response to her demand for suicide is to deride her for thinking that he’d offer his life for something so stupid. He’s just like, “Jesus dude, all I did was see you in your underwear!” Which is, like, a rational response that an actual human would have! And then, when Stella gets all pissed off and ready to blow the roof, Ikki disarms her by telling her that she’s beautiful, causing her to set off the sprinklers. If you can’t read the symbolism here: she literally gets wet.

So, in the midst of learning the dumbass reason that they have to share a room and watching them argue like the kids they are, we are told that Ikki is, in fact, the lowest-ranked magic user in this academy–and has thereby earned the nickname of the Worst One. However, when the principal suggests that they have a sparring match as a way of settling their argument over Stella’s overbearing demands, Ikki seems rather confident in his abilities, and states that he’s working very hard. This comment strikes a chord with Stella, who reflects before the match about why she decided to become a magical knight–(to be able to protect her fledgling nation)–and on her vow to learn how to control her powers no matter how hard she has to work.

In the lead-up to the fight, we watch a flashback and listen to kids talking in the halls to inform us of how Stella is regarded by her peers. Everyone thinks that her life must be easy because of her natural talent and her status as royalty–which pisses her off because no one appreciates the hard work that she puts into perfecting her craft. What this is all building up to is a fight scene which takes on a bit more meaning than a simple spat over some dumb fanservice; now it’s turning into an ideological battle. Both characters have something to prove: Ikki that he can compete with the best fighters in the school despite his incredibly low ranking; and Stella that her hard work, in addition to her natural talent, has gotten her into the position that she has today.

Just like in Ass War, we then launch into a big dumb fight scene with some pretty lackluster choreography–however, there’s a lot more going on this time. For starters, the color design changes to reflect the tension of the fight, and to put more emphasis on the characters. In spite of both fighters using swords, their weapons actually look pretty different, with Ikki carrying a katana, and Stella carrying a golden, flaming broadsword. After taking her first swing, Stella explains one of the unique aspects of her attack–that it burns at 3000 degrees celsius–and that Ikki would be in trouble if he took it straight on. While this method of communicating the sword’s power to us is kind of lazy, it at least allows us to understand the circumstances of the battle, and whether or not getting hit would actually mean anything [in contrast to the fight from Ass War].

After Ikki spends a while dodging and blocking Stella’s attacks, he compliments her on the training that she must have undergone to master these techniques, and then states that he’s already seen through her attack patterns. He then retaliates and, for a brief flash, we see an image of Stella overlaid onto him as he makes his attack. This ingenious visual cue immediately communicates to us that Ikki is copying Stella’s techniques. Consider that we otherwise wouldn’t have known what Ikki’s regular sword style looked like in comparison to hers to begin with. We now instantly have a strong grasp of Ikki’s technique–that he copies the abilities of his opponents by studying their moves. He even sort of esoterically explains his methodology, by stating that you can understand the root of anything if you trace it back through the branches and leaves.

Ikki then turns the tide after Stella tries to change up her strategy by using a move which is uncharacteristic of her. Again, we only really understand this because Ikki explains it, but at least we do, in fact, understand it. Ikki’s turn-around doesn’t work out, though, as his sword is unable to cut through Stella’s magical force field. This is kind of an interesting moment for each character idealistically: whereas Stella was hoping to use this match to prove the reach of her strength beyond her magical abilities, she ends up in a position to cease victory only because of the strength of those abilities; whereas Ikki, who wanted to prove that he could win against a powerful opponent regardless of his lack of magical strength, is primed to take home the moral victory while losing the match. From this position, both characters have failed at what they set out to do–but then Ikki pulls his magical power out of his ass and manages a victory. His fighting style, it turns out, is all about studying his opponent until the moment that he knows how to beat them, and then unleashing all of the magical ability that he has in a single minute and striking them down.

Later on in the hospital room, Stella demands an explanation for Ikki’s bottomed-out ranking in comparison to his obvious skill. As it turns out, the school’s ranking system is based solely on a student’s level of magical ability–but not on their overall fighting capability; meaning that Ikki’s secret to success is being so physically powerful and mentally skilled that he can compensate for his lack of magical talent. So yeah, he’s an overpowered super-badass who’s already taken out one of the strongest fighters at school–but at least the reasoning is kind of interesting.

Chivalry of a Failed Knight is using what I like to call the “overdog posing as underdog” trope, which seems to have grown in popularity lately, with shows like Food Wars using it to excellent effect. Basically, the idea is to feature a main character who is obviously more skilled than most of the people surrounding them, but is unrecognized within the broken standards of the system. Rather than being on a mission to improve their skills and rise to the top, their battle is really against the structure of their society–and their ultimate goal is to shove the hypocrisy of the system back in its face and make it realize the value of the powers which it fails to recognize.

After the director causes Stella to realize the similarities in hers and Ikki’s goals, she begins to take an interest in him; and then, upon finding him asleep in the room, starts totally checking out his body. It’s kind of an interesting scene for reasons that we’ll get into later; but then, after some bickering that turns into flirting, the kids seem to find mutual camaraderie with one-another and share a totally radical fist-bump before the episode ends.

When the first episodes of Chivalry and Ass War first came out, I put up a tweet that the difference between these episodes was like that between a three-out-of-ten and a one-out-of-ten; and while I’d probably bump Chivalry’s opener up to a four upon analysis, I still think that this sentiment is an important one. So many people would look at the similarities between these episodes and immediately classify both shows as equally generic, uninteresting, and trite. However, I think that there’s a danger in failing to recognize just how much worse the first episode of Ass War is in comparison to that of Chivalry. If we simply group all of these things together as meeting the same bar, then I think it drags the overall standard of what can be considered acceptable downwards. I think it’s important that when something is really THAT terrible, then we can parse just how much worse it is than something comparable but better.

If the difference in quality hasn’t been made clear enough already, it rapidly becomes increasingly apparent as each series continues. Similarly to the same episode of the Asterisk War, episode two of Chivalry mostly serves as an introduction to Stella’s love rival–yet another frigid loli with a childhood connection to the main character and a cool-toned hair color who immediately starts fighting over which girl gets to ride the dick. But whereas my complaints with Saya being introduced in episode two were that she was irrelevant to the plot and had a completely unexplained connection with and interest in the main character, Shizuku suffers from none of the same problems.

From the very beginning, she narrates about her attitude towards Ikki–whom, as it happens, is actually her brother. Having been attached to him all of her life, she witnessed the way that their family and the society that they were a part of had treated him as a lesser being–and she gradually grew to hate those people, while becoming more and more enamored with her brother. Her motivation to shower Ikki with affection is pretty much the entire basis of her character–and while this makes her come off as fairly shallow, especially in the beginning, she plays an important role at this stage in helping us to learn about Ikki’s backstory; and she will continue to play an important role in the long run as a support character.

One of the things that never made sense to me about Saya was the way that she’d act so possessive of Ayato–fighting over him in front of his face and demanding his affection–yet would never just come out and confess her feelings or take a more provocative approach in her flirting. Shizuku cuts right through all that bullshit by instantly shoving Ikki to the ground and making out with him the moment she sees him, before ringing out all kinds of justifications for why it’s okay for her to do this with her brother, and outright stating her attraction to him publicly.

Understandably, I could see a lot of viewers getting annoyed with the fact that a little sister character exists in this series at all, given the ridiculous proliferation of the little sister who’s in love with her brother trope. However, I personally can’t help but respect the fact that this show doesn’t try to have its cake and eat it too in the way that so many other anime try to. When Ikki first mentions that his sister is coming to this school, Stella asks him if she’s related by blood, and then says that she approves of her arrival as long as that is the case–which is the show’s way of being self-aware about the nature of its tropes. The twist, then, is how in spite of Shizuku actually being Ikki’s honest-to-god sister, she turns out to be one of the most forwardly sexual characters to ever belong to this archetype. It’s a fun little bit of playing around with tropes, while both giving us a more obvious reason for Ikki to not be attracted to or seek out a relationship with this member of his would-be harem; and, in the long run, paying off in a decently handled character arc.

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t to say that I wasn’t annoyed with the scene that introduces Shizuku in the first place. I still can’t stand these unfunny, minutes-long scenes where the main girls just stand around bickering like idiots over who the dick belongs to. However, I think it’s important to call attention to just how much more effort was put into keeping this scene interesting than what we got out of Ass War. Aside from the fact that straight-up making out with Ikki is more provocative and arresting than any of the flirting from that show, we also get moments of expressive animation–like when Shizuku is anticipating Stella’s statement about her relationship with Ikki, and her entire body becomes dark and shrouded with ice; as well as moments where they actually attempt some comedic timing, like when Shizuku and Stella both make snappy insults at one-another, and then we pan out to see their contesting powers explode from the space. Plus, there’s a little bit of extra spice thrown into their rivalry, since Shizuku’s elemental power is to manipulate water–which, as she phrases it, can put Stella out. Sure, the fire and water dynamic is about as generic as they come–but it is, in fact, a dynamic.

Shizuku isn’t the only character introduced in this episode with an obvious parallel in the Ass War–we’ve also got a homeroom teacher with an immediately identifiable quirk; though this one is a lot more bizarre. The gimmick of a teacher who tries to come off as young and cute in spite of her age is one I’ve seen a few times [Hidamari Sketch and Nourin], but in this case, the schtick is that she tries to act cutesy and energetic in spite her sickly appearance and voice, and the fact that she’s constantly puking up geysers of blood. O… kay. Unlike the teacher from Ass War, who only gets like five speaking lines in the entire series, Yuri-chan here is actually relevant to the story, in that she’s the one who helped Ikki to get into this school and to be able to take classes in the first place; and we’ll be seeing a lot more of her as one of the few adult characters who’s actually looking out for him.

This show also has its own newspaper club member, which is about as close as it gets to a parallel to Ass War’s classmate guy–but in this case, she’s an incredibly cute girl, which makes her automatically superior to that asshole with the hoodie. She’s honestly not any more relevant to the story though, and is there mostly as a representative of the student body existing outside of the important characters.

This episode also briefly introduces us to one of the more interesting characters, who actually doesn’t have any immediate parallel in the Asterisk War–an honest to god trans woman named Alice who turns out to be Shizuku’s roommate. Alice doesn’t get much exposure in this episode, but she’ll be around to play a supporting role as the one who often listens to the problems of the other characters and gives them advice, and eventually guides the development of Shizuku.

Aside from introducing all of these new characters, the real point of this episode, and what makes it so much better than episode two of Ass War, is that it fills in more of the details of Ikki’s backstory and motivations and solidifies the tone of his narrative. We learn that Ikki comes from a very distinguished family with a long history of producing top-tier magic users, of which he is the weakest offspring. As such, the family has made an effort to sweep his existence under the rug, and has tried its hardest in coalition with the former school director to keep him out of this prestigious academy. However, thanks to the new director changing the rules and deciding that the school’s ranking system will be based on overall ability as determined through tournament fighting from now on, Ikki finally has a chance to prove himself; with the ultimate goal of hoping to one day be strong enough to inspire hope in a weakling such as himself in the same way that his grandfather did when he told Ikki never to give up when he was a kid.

Learning of Ikki’s motivations and the nature of his isolated upbringing makes him even more relatable to Stella, and she quickly finds herself wanting to support him, and falling deeper in love with him by the second. The episode then rounds off on a surprisingly forward fanservice scene, with Stella getting very blatant in her flirtation and sexual interest in Ikki. Once again, I actually find this aspect of her character interesting, but I’m still not quite ready to talk about why–so once again we’ll push that aside for now and talk about it later.

Episode three of Chivalry is probably the worst in the series, but for pretty different reasons compared to the Ass War episode that it parallels. Like that episode, it revolves around Stella going on a date with Ikki; but in this case, they end up with Shizuku tagging along as well, making it sort of like a portmanteau of the similar scenes from episodes two and three of Ass War. All of the characters in this series have exponentially better fashion sense than Julis or Ayato, with Ikki and Stella looking smart and far less out-of-place than Julis’ weird gown, while Alice outfits herself and Shizuku in some decently trendy fashions.

The first part of this episode consists mostly of obnoxious flirting–but at least it bothers to drop some lines into the mix which flesh out the characters. Towards the start, Ikki and Stella actually have a conversation about something which is neither directly relevant to the plot, nor sexually charged–making the connection between them began to sink in a little better. Ikki later talks about how surprised he is to see Shizuku opening up to someone in the way she does with Alice, and we get a lot of basic insight into the kind of person that Alice is.

The second half involves an action scenario in which the people in the mall are held hostage by a bunch of dudes with guns, led by some asshole magic user. This whole scene ends up being kind of ridiculous and out of nowhere, but it beats the hell out of chasing hooded dudes through the forest; since this hooded dude not only has a much more decorated hood, but also reveals his face and his unique powers as the scene continues. Unfortunately, this scene also involves the bad guy forcing Stella to take off all her clothes, in a sequence which is way too obviously meant to be titillating for the viewer in spite of the disgusting circumstances of the situation. At the very least, Stella herself seems to give less of a shit about this treatment than Ikki does, and stands with bravery throughout the scene, never becoming just a victim; but still, kinda gross.

If there’s any reason for this scenario to happen around these characters, it’s mostly to show us the dynamics of their fighting techniques, and to establish their moral compass as a group. Alice and Shizuku are both very careful with their planning and timing, to the point that Alice prevents Ikki from moving when Stella is in trouble so that he doesn’t interrupt the plan. Shizuku’s power is used for a defensive trap, whereas Ikki and Stella are more about rushing in and getting the damage done. Stella’s fire is even completely impervious to bullets–which makes her objectively better than Julis.

We also learn about the ridiculous but kind of awesome way that Ikki’s magical technique works. Apparently, he can pretty much reroute the synapses in his own brain to focus all of his concentration on a single point, by blocking out things like color and detail in order to hone his reactions and speed. It’s worth mentioning as well that Ikki doesn’t hesitate to sever his opponent’s arm, which is more brutal than anything that happened in the supposedly deadly tournament held in Ass War’s dark and violent city.

More importantly, though, the end of this scene introduces us to the asshole who’s going to be Ikki’s first opponent in the school-sanctioned tournament battles. This guy is introduced by having him easily take out the remaining bad guys whom the main characters had just been struggling against, suggesting that he might’ve been able to resolve the situation by himself from the beginning; and characters who were just established as powerful remark on how they couldn’t even sense his presence. He then mocks Ikki for apparently having run away from a fight they were supposed to have a year ago, and generally comes off as a massive cunt.

Right away, this dude is already a better antagonist than anything we got out of the first season of Ass War. Not only do we have reason to believe that he might be even stronger than any of the main characters, in spite of how powerful they’ve proven themselves to be already, but we also know that Ikki ran away from him in the past, suggesting that he fears this opponent. Not to mention the guy’s a total dickbag, so we’ve already got plenty of reason to hate him–and the grudge between him and the other characters is clearly running strong. This dude might not even remotely resemble a unique or interesting antagonist, but the fact that he comes off as threatening at all makes him a hell of a lot better than what we’ve had before.

So episode four rolls around, and just like before, it’s mostly centered around a big fight scene with our first primary antagonist–being as it is the end of the first volume of the light novels; but it’s the differences in the buildup to and payoff from this fight which sell this one as actual drama, instead of whatever the hell was going on with that fake chess metaphor bullshit. It starts off with Stella steamrolling her first fight in the knockout matches by sheer intimidation; followed by Alice and Shizuku talking about the quick work they made of their own opponents; while Ikki is cooped up in his room, watching a video of the bad guy’s last fight over and over again, and losing his shit.

There’s an important setup going on in the background here that you could easily miss if you aren’t paying attention. Back at the start of episode three, when Ikki and Stella were talking about their battle tactics, Stella remarked on how she prefers not to look into her opponents too much, but to consider her options in the heat of battle; whereas Ikki does extensive research on his opponents as a means of trying to decode their fighting styles. As a result of their differences in mindset, Stella doesn’t recognize how Ikki is actually getting really paranoid and shaken up about this fight, because she thinks he’s just doing his research as usual. For the next ten minutes, we see Ikki trying to match his determination against his fear, as Shizuku points out his untied shoelaces, while the mysterious and hilariously named teacher side-character Saikyou Nene is impressed with his lack of hesitation in confirming his intent for battle.

All of these things exist exclusively for the purpose of building tension–a concept of which the Asterisk War is woefully unaware. Even though everything we’ve known about Ikki so far suggests that he’s monstrously powerful–and even in spite of the fact that he only ran away from this guy a year ago because he would’ve gotten into trouble for fighting back, Ikki is nonetheless terrified of this opponent; and that’s more than enough to create some drama for the upcoming fight, whether we really believe that he has any chance of losing or not.

So the fight breaks out, and right away the opponent has some pretty interesting powers. He somehow spawns like a whole forest out of the stage, and his schtick is that he can turn invisible and fire arrows from a distance. There’s obvious symbolism here–even though this guy has been given the nickname of “the hunter” for his lack of knighthood in combat, and even though his technique is indeed terrifying and deadly, it is also cowardly. His tactics revolve around hiding and attacking from a distance, and he clearly gets off on picking on a defenseless opponent. This guy is a piece of shit right down to his powers, which makes him someone that we really want to see get his ass kicked–and that desire is compounded by the fact that he beats the living shit out of our main character.

For minutes, Ikki is just getting brutalized, while this guy laughs it up and plays to the crowd, who still sees Ikki as a powerless nobody. He whips the entire stadium up into a frenzied chant, and Ikki is more and more demoralized, giving in to his fear and failing to react to his opponent’s moves on time. All the while, Stella’s up there in the stands, realizing that she didn’t even notice how distraught Ikki was before, or just how painful his situation of being labelled as the worst one really is. She gets up and silences the crowd with an impassioned cry, and demands that Ikki get up and be a man, stating that he’s not allowed to be anything less than a badass in front of her. In this moment, both Ikki and Stella pretty clearly realize something–that they are totally in love.

Ikki is filled with determination. He gets up, recognizes what he’s been doing wrong, and finally solves his opponent’s moveset. He hulks out, puts the fear of god into the hunter, and soundly kicks his ass, to the astonishment of a newly turncoated crowd. Then he passes out.

Later on in the hospital room, Stella’s fallen asleep at his bedside. Outside the room, Shizuku is already realizing that she’s going to be the loser in this love triangle, and Alice gives her a shoulder to cry on over it. Ikki wakes up and he and Stella have some flirty dialog, before Ikki drops the bombshell that finally puts this show over into the realm of being actually pretty okay. He confesses his love for Stella, she reciprocates, and they kiss. Ladies and gentlemen, we are four episodes into a light novel adaptation, and light novel guy and light novel girl are officially a couple.

This was the moment when the conversation online surrounding Chivalry of a Failed Knight and the Asterisk War took a very subtle turn. This was when both the popularity ranking and overall score of Chivalry quickly started outpacing those of The Asterisk War. This was when people started talking about how Chivalry was kind of refreshing by comparison, and when the conversation about the similarities between the shows turned into the conversation about why Chivalry of a Failed Knight was better.

What happened in this scene wasn’t just a breath of fresh air for a light novel adaptations–it was a breath of fresh air for anime, period. I can probably count on one hand the number of anime with romantic elements in them, in which the main characters hook up by the end of the fourth episode. It doesn’t even really matter who these characters are, or what their relationship is like–this is such a big change from what I’m used to that it’s immediately interesting.

What this scene makes apparent is that the goal of Chivalry of a Failed Knight is not simply to be a generic light novel. It is not to follow the trends as closely as possible, play everything safe, and never try to do anything different. Instead, the series has goals of its own. Yes, it is operating very comfortably within the conventions of its genre–but it also has intentions of making a name for itself, and feeling like there might be some reason for it to exist–some niche for it to fill. And for that reason, this was the moment when it became apparent to everyone paying attention that yeah–this show is definitely better than that other one.

I’ve still got a lot more to say about the comparisons between these shows, but this video is already long as fuck, so we’re going to have to split it in half, youth novel movie adaptation style. Stick around for the grand finale of this monstrous series in The Asterisk War Sucks Part 12B. See you then!

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12 thoughts on “The Asterisk War Sucks [Part 12a]: Chivalry of a Failed Knight Doesn’t Suck?

  1. Pingback: The Asterisk War Sucks [Part 12a]: Chivalry of a Failed Knight Doesn’t Suck? | Just my guilty pleasure reblog.

  2. Man, this saga of videos is just awesome, but this one is just poetry. You are so right regarding the importance of that final scene in episode four of Chivalry, that I have no words to express it properly. I have had so much arguments with friends because of that trope of having the main characters becoming a couple in the final episode, that I decided to stop fighting. I just hate when writers use romance as fan service, I can understand the use of nudity and sexual scenes as fan service, but using the romance is just dreadful. (That is the reason why I don’t understand how could you recommend Eureka Seven as an anime with good romance). From the moment you mentioned that this video would be a comparison of both series I counted the hours to watch it, and it was worth the wait. I just want to see the part b asap, but I really had to say these words right now.

  3. Man, this saga of videos is just awesome, but this one is just poetry. You are so right regarding the importance of that final scene in episode four of Chivalry, that I have no words to express it properly. I have had so much arguments with friends because of that trope of having the main characters becoming a couple in the final episode, that I decided to stop fighting. I just hate when writers use romance as fan service, I can understand the use of nudity and sexual scenes as fan service, but using the romance is just dreadful. (That is the reason why I don’t understand how could you recommend Eureka Seven as an anime with good romance). From the moment you mentioned that this video would be a comparison of both series I counted the hours to watch it, and it was worth the wait. I just want to see the part b asap, but I really had to say these words right now.

  4. The anime of Rakudai covers the first three volumes, but you really must read the fourth one before making the last video. The way Rakudai overpowers Asterisk in that volume is just so huge that is insane

  5. I won’t spoil anything, but in that volume (the fourth) it gets clear that Rakudai is serious business. For example, we get perspective in the scale of powers. In a way it is like History Strongest Disciple Kenichi. The students (Ikki, and the other participants in the Tournament, included) may be very powerful, but compared to the teachers they are just little brats. The skill and power of the adults warriors (teachers included) is an order of magnitude above (at the least)
    The importance of the Tournament is also shown, and the reasons given for letting the young ones decide the fate of things are good enough to support the suspension of disbelief.
    Furthermore, it gets clear that people can get killed in some horrible ways, and there are revealed some very interesting political issues.
    In short, it would be great if you could read this volume before making the last video, in order to have more perspective in the real magnitude of the gap between both shows. Besides, you don’t need to read the previous three ones, because the anime adaptation is great and covers them well enough to skip them.
    Regards.

      • Unfortunately indeed, but well, I still want to watch that part and I still recommend you to read that volume. Chivalry is far from being a masterpiece, but I think you are right when you said it wanted to step forward. With each volume, the story gets better and the series shines more.
        When I was reading the scene where Ikki fights against one of the adults, I remembered when you said in one of the previous videos that in Asterisk, the adults were almost null. In Chivalry, one woman showed Ikki the difference between brats and the real thing. It was Ikki who said that his power was at least one order of magnitude below hers.
        Furthermore, there are three levels in the main conflict: 1) The tournament where the students will fight, 2) the fights between teachers and mentors (these ones are awesome) and 3) the political struggle where even Japan’s Prime Minister is following his own agenda.
        If you have the time, I strongly recommend you give a try to that volume, I started to like the show in episode 4 of the anime (you exposed the reasons flawlessly), but I started to love the show after volume 4; in fact, I just start reading volume 5.
        Best Regards and thanks for your reply.

  6. So I watched Rakudai based on the good things you had to say in this video, and I am very glad I did. However I wanted to point out a glaring mathematical oversight in the tournament arc of Rakudai that really bothered me. In a single elimination tournament structure you can deduce the number of participants based on the number of rounds in said tournament, we do so by taking the number of participants each round and raising it to a power equal to the number of rounds. For example in a 3 round single elimination tournament you have 2³ or 8 participants. Basically in order to have a 20 round tournament for 6 eventual winners you would need ~2²¹ or 2,097,152 total participants (Technically this only gets you the top 4 participants, but adding an extra round bumps the number of participants to 4,194,304 and I figure 2.1 million students is absurd enough) Yes I am a nerd. Anyway the point is that the math doesn’t make sense and I hope you caught that in your next video.

    Love your channels senpai. keep up the great work!

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