Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry – 01 (First Impressions)

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Fall 2015 is the season of battling magical school anime, and after previously sampling the very similar Gakusen Toshi Asterisk, I’m going to come right out and declare Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry the week one winner, and it wasn’t really close. Rakudai had the smarter, fleeter, more engaging intro, and featured far stronger characters and an actual arc. It even handled fanservice better, as Ikki manages not to use any boobs as handrests.

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Stella Vermillion, like Asterisk’s Julis, is also a pink-haired princess with high-ranked magical skills and initially reacts in a similar fashion when Ikki, a much lower-ranked student accidentally peeps on her. But her later reactions are a lot more nuanced, as she’s actually impressed by Ikki’s “manliness”, and is disarmed by his appeal to her rare beauty.

The show is also pretty cheeky in witholding the reason Stella (finely voiced by Ishigami Shizuka) was even in Ikki’s room changing. The director of the school, in an effort to shake things up, brings together the strongest and weakest Magic Knights at her school by making them roommates. When the two quibble over house rules, she also suggests they settle matters with a mock battle.

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The method in her madness becomes clear when the two knights clash in the arena. Ikki may have the least natural talent, but he works uncommonly hard to overcome his weaknesses.

Stella, who came to Japan to escape the box labeled “Genius” her people put her in, wants to prove she works hard too, and isn’t just gliding on her natural talent.

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To Stella’s surprise, not only is Ikki not a pushover, but he notices how hard she works in the way she’s fighting. He also steals her sword skills in order to keep up, and uses a once-per-day trump card to nullify her coup-de-grace and nab the victory.

In the hospital, Stella realizes she wasn’t any better than her legions of worshipers, putting Ikki in a box labeled “The Worst One.” But as the director asserts, and what is proven in their battle, is that there’s no reliable way to evaluate Ikki’s true strength. And there’s value in sticking around someone like him if she wants to grow as a knight.

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In a nice inversion of the scene where he walked in on her dressing, Stella almost grows up too much when she comes home to find Ikki asleep, and can’t help but touch him, curious as to how a man really feels. He’s a twist-and-turner in bed, so she gets snagged by one of his arms, and seems on the verge of having a crisis when he wakes up asking what she’s doing on top of him.

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And that gets to the strength of Rakudai so far: its central couple, Stella and Ikki. When they meet they misunderstand one another, but they never outright hate each other, and by the end, they fully embrace sharing a living space and learning more from one another.

This is partly because Stella lost the duel and is merely honoring their arrangement, but also because she gained a lot of respect for Ikki, now that she knows more about him. And while Ikki does slip up early, he is, well, very chivalrous. This isn’t rocket science: decent characters can go a long way towards making a decent show.

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Author: sesameacrylic

Zane Kalish is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

9 thoughts on “Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry – 01 (First Impressions)”

  1. All of my YES! You sir have good taste. The Stella Ikki pair is simply more compellling than the Julius what’s his name pair.

    I never got a clear sense of why What’s his name was so interested in Julius.

    And Stella being superior in every way to Julius clinches it lol. I like how Stella is more honest with herself than Julius. She breaks off from her generic tsundere roots earlier too. Also her plots are better XP.

  2. “To Stella’s surprise, not only is Ikki not a pushover, but he notices how hard she works in the way she’s fighting. He also steals her sword skills in order to keep up, and uses a once-per-day trump card to nullify her coup-de-grace and nab the victory.”

    Just a note, this was repeated twice. ^^

    And glad you enjoyed the show; I might just have to give it a try.

    I will say that the opening that was the ending this episode was extremely impressive.

  3. Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry got off to a nice bright start. It had nice character pair building, a well choreographed battle, and the promise of possibly interesting secondary characters. I agree it might be the best of the harem/action/romance shows this season. It certainly won’t win the most dubious ecchi show this season, not with a second series of Testament of New Sister Devil about to start soon. I think this show will pleasantly pass my time so it’s on my viewing list as of today.

  4. I am quite happy with the execution of this first episode. I thought that the anime’s adaptation of Ikki’s “blade steal” definitely showed off how he was using Stella’s sword style to defeat her. While the anime definitely adapted most of the things quite well, a few minor details got left out:

    – In Stella’s flashback she was seen covered in bandages. The hard work that she has gone through includes her trying to control her abnormally high fire magic output and burning herself badly during the process several times.

    -The old man in Ikki’s flashback is his grandfather. Although the first episode didn’t go too deep into the flashback, it is fairly central to the story so there’s no way that they aren’t revisiting this so I’ll leave it at that.

    -The current director to the school is actually a new one that joined just this year. The system that pairs students together based off of similar potential was something she just introduced. I also won’t go too much into this point since I think the show will go more into the other changes she will make.

    -In the mock battle, Ikki and Stella were using their weapons in “phantom mode” which meant that attacks would only drain stamina and would not inflict flesh wounds. Later on, they will not necessarily be using feature.

    -The rankings for Stella and Ikki are quite rare. While Stella is the only A rank in their school, there are several B rank character whom are definitely not pushovers. Also, even between characters that lack in innate magical talent, Ikki is also the only F ranked character so far.

    -Although having characters with ranked abilities and the main character being low ranked is not original (thinking of irregular at magic highschool) this show does place emphasis on the fact that innate magic talent is priority. In normal circumstances, Ikki’s attacks would not be able to penetrate Stella’s magic defense which would render things like training in swordsmanship completely useless.

    -Ittou Shura allows Ikki to expend his full potential within 1 min. Even if he doesn’t use the full min, he can only use the ability once a day. Since he is literally using his full potential within that min, if he does use the full min, he will literally faint at the end.

  5. Really liked this.

    The combat/setting/powers explanation was stereotypical, but competently handled and I appreciated that the weapons were just weapons, not flying robot space gun lightsabers. Sometimes a magic sword can just be a magic sword.

    What really got me though was their relationship. It was well-handled from the beginning with nice touches all around. The fact that Ikki managed to short-circuit her whole stereotypical tsundere flare-up by telling her she was gorgeous AND IT WORKED, because SHE WAS FLATTERED, was really nice. It changes the whole tsundere dynamic. Instead of being a crazy lady with her brain set to ‘pissed/will not listen’ at all times, it makes her into someone who was angry, but then reacted based on the situation when it changed.

    2 scenes really got me though:

    1. her groping him: Such a nice turnabout. To go a little feminist for a second; this was a scene that established that a young girl can be sexually attracted to a guy’s body, and it’s not weird. And she was even a bit of a pervert about it, but it wasn’t treated as we just learned she’s secretly a hentai, but just that she’s a normal young girl and she’s attracted. And it made the guy the sex object instead of the other way around. Which is both nice, and actually adds to Ikki’s awesome factor.

    2. the fist bump: Just a nice moment that establishes this is going to be a different lead pair. Comrades from day one instead of the weird tsundere love/hate abuse/friend thing that so many anime do.

    1. Those were all really nice tone-setting moments that made me very optimisitc about Stella and Ikki. Asterisk didn’t have anything close to moments that good.

  6. One major weakness Cavalry has compared to Asterisk is its 12 episode run, which means they is a risk of rushing. It doesn’t help that Asterisk boasts better production values compared to Cavalry.

    1. The livechart website says they both have 12 episodes so I’m not clear what you’re getting at?

      1. zztop usually knows things I don’t, but I’m guessing it’s a case of the first 12-episode run this Fall and a second 12-episode run in, say, Spring 2016, taking a season off.

        But whether there are 12 or 24 episodes of Asterisk is irrelevant to me; if Asterisk doesn’t wow me, it’s getting the hook.

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