Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry: Sword-magic, Perseverance, and Stella’s Tits

Thanks to a helpful recommendation from Jay, I’ve finally finished watching Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry, which I’ve meaning to watch but somehow, just forgot. Anyway, the anime is pretty decent. I thought it was another cookie-cutter school battle with harem romance-comedy spices, but after 13 episodes, I was totally wrong. Rakudai delivers a decent story, with (mostly) solid characters, and a lot of life lessons meshed into the fabric of the story.

Not Your Usual School Battle Anime Protagonist

The main premise of Rakudai is Ikki Kurogane, the protagonist, having to battle his way to the top of the school in swordfights so that he can finally be acknowledged as a Knight. Simple as that. Yet this simple premise, often applied in many school battle anime, is delivered differently in Rakudai mainly due to the nature of the protagonist.

Our protagonist here is one of those “tragic losers”. Define as “a character that has above-average capabilities but always falls victim to external unfairness”. In this case, Ikki, though coming from a privileged family, is always treated unfairly by his father, who is the head of the International Federation Branch (yawn, magic politics) simply because his father does not want to waste time teaching someone who has no potential. Yet, Ikki is so determined. He trains by himself, even though he is bullied all the time for being “weak”. He accepts that he’s a social pariah at school, yet continues to bear a smile. Ikki’s perseverance is a trait that shines throughout the anime, giving his character worth. Unlike most protagonists in school battles that always dick around at school without actually training, Ikki is one of the rare types that continuously trains (and it is shown in the plot), making his accomplishments actually mean something.

12823478_553895398125190_8654429220547674148_o.png

And speaking of school battles, it is somehow mandatory for the protagonist in any school battle to have more than 1 love interest. Such is not the case for Ikki. From the get-go, Ikki is involved romantically with Stella Vermillion, a princess from another kingdom, who just so happens to duel him as soon as they meet. Though throughout the anime there are girls clamoring over Ikki, Ikki remains truly in love with Stella. The plot also acknowledges this and spares the fan service moments that are supposed to be romantic flags, allowing the story and battles to be put more in focus, rather than wasting valuable airtime and money on unnecessary romantic episodes with many girls at once.

Stella is a Strong Cheerleader

Surprisingly, Stella’s character is similar to Ikki in terms of circumstances, making these two people the cutest couple I’ve ever seen. Stella comes from a privileged family, like Ikki, but without the whole “tragic loser” stuff. She is what Ikki could have been, if only born in different circumstances. A bit hot-headed, but compassionate and similarly strong. As such, Stella is actually the best partner Ikki can ever have. However, her role in the story slowly diminishes, until finally making a strong comeback during the end arc. Sometimes I get the feeling that Ikki is not paying enough attention to Stella’s needs and at times, she’s only there as a cheerleader. We only get to see her fighting in the early episodes, but nearing the end, it’s like she’s been purposefully repositioned as a cheerleader.

vlcsnap-error327

She is the main target for fan service, mainly due to her large bust. In fact, a majority of fan service time in this anime is dedicated to the juicy tits of Stella Vermillion. God bless Stella’s tits! Though sometimes I feel that her fan service moments are too forced, such as the early bathing scene and the wood cabin incident, when she was essentially butt-naked. But fan service aside, she’s a strong female lead that’s a great match with the main character.

Tidbits of Wisdom

Taken at face value, Rakudai is an anime about individual perseverance and determination to face all odds and emerge at the top. This is related to the bushido culture, which the anime heavily draws influence from. Aside from the obvious references to samurai, this anime is basically a modern interpretation (though very diluted) of bushido values back in feudal Japan. A samurai, or Knight, is expected to train to impossible odds, to persevere until finally surpassing himself and others, and face hard challenges before achieving something. This is especially reflected in the Ayatsuji arc when Ikki comes face-to-face with Kuraudo in an attempt to win back the Ayatsuji dojo. The arc is riddled with bushido values such as no foul play, honoring thy opponent, and fighting to the end with no regret. In the end, Ayase realizes that she’s not a true swordsmaiden as she had lost her way when consumed by revenge and pride.

These values are essentially important in today’s society which glorifies instant gratification. Somewhere along the way, we became a species obsessed with instant gratification, often to the point where we just want the easy stuff without working hard for it. I think this anime is an attempt at social commentary delivered subtly within the guise of a school battle. Ikki continues to work hard, persevere, and stand when things don’t go his way. Added with his inability to access the privilege of his family, he soldiers on by himself.

vlcsnap-error627.png

The “modern” part which I mention here refers to the presence of supporting friends around Ikki, from the Director to Stella. This sends a message that even though you are the strongest, supportive friends are still a great thing to have. This is evident especially near the end when Ikki is falsely incarcerated due to a scandal set up by Ikki’s father. Alone in his cell, Ikki is pushed to his physical and mental limits and is on the verge of giving up. When suddenly, hemophiliac teacher gives him a lock of Stella’s pink hair, which encourages him to keep on going. Good friends are good.

Aesthetically Pleasing Battles

I watch a school battle for the battles. I don’t want too much romance bullshit. I consider romance to be the icing of Rakudai. The real buff is the fighting scenes. The fighting scenes in Rakudai are all intense and action-packed, delivered with glorious visuals that combine insane swordsmanship with equally insane magic that seems to shove a middle finger in the face of physics. Yeah, fuck you Newton and gravity! Out of all the episodes, there’s at least 1 battle in each, making this school battle anime live up to the genre.

Conclusion

Rate: 8/10

Rakudai is an anime that has an underachieving yet determined protagonist that fights against all odds despite being always set up. He is accompanied by a strong cheerleader that supports him all the way, and a bunch of equally supportive friends. Though there are elements of a harem, the plot doesn’t go out of its way to show all possible romance routes, which saves time and allows more focus on battles. The visuals are rather standard, but the story and strong characters make up for it. I gave it an 8 because of the many plot-devices used throughout the story that gives Ikki an unfair edge.

Anyway, it’s a nice anime that befits the shounen school battle genre with lots of fights and lots of wisdom!

Advertisements

One thought on “Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry: Sword-magic, Perseverance, and Stella’s Tits

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s