During the onset of the 2010s, anime was dipping its toes into what would become the Isekai era. Series like Log Horizon, Sword Art Online, and Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers showed what it would be like to play in a semi-fantasy world, usually with some sort of stats or progression that the characters within the story can grow in. Though not exactly isekai’s themselves, I do think series like these would build the system of what a lot of Isekais embody when it came to the rules of the ‘new world’ Heading back to 2015 I decided to give one of these said shows a watch, a 12 episode series about a boy in school, wanting to become something the world and his family state he will never become, a magical knight. So let’s look at Chivalry of a Failed Knight.
Failed knight follows, well, failed knight Ikki Kurogane. One of the many children of the famous knight family Kurogane, it becomes apparent at a very young age that Ikki just doesn’t have what the rest of his family has. Naturally, this embeds venom within the young boy, if his family was just going to write him off as a failure then he would show them, he would force them to see him as a standing knight. So after working his ass off he gets into a prestigious Magic Knight school, but there is only one issue, though physically a fantastic swordsman Ikki lacks in the department of magic, the single thing the school grades on. Being slapped with the rank of F he starts out his career as the failed knight or ‘worst one’.
Returning to his dorm after a morning workout he runs into a girl changing her clothes. Frozen the two stare at each other bewildered as the girl (in some rather erotic lingerie) slowly does the whole anime scream before throwing shit at him. Enter Stella Artois.
Um, I mean Stella Vermillion. A princess of a foreign country and herself an A rank knight, she is just Shana from Shakugan no Shana but with big boobs, oh and a worse personality. Confronted by the head of the school Kurono Shinguuji informs the two that they are indeed roommates and need to suck it up, leading the duo to the dueling ground, the rules of the room at stake. This, of course, would have been the normal thing to duel about, but anime, and Stella can not NOT be horny so she sprinkles in the undertones that whoever wins, becomes the master of whoever loses.
She is feeling pretty good ya know, rank A, super strong, Ikki is an F, what could go wrong?
So she loses, and thus starts a story of a failed knight, and a princess, kinda. So the end goal for Ikki is to become one of the 7 highest ranked knights, this is done by winning all-rated duels throughout the year. It’s set up as this is the only way Ikki will be able to graduate, becoming a knight even with an F rank. He is reinforced in his conviction by his brocon sister Shizuku, a very talented knight in her own right, who has also turned her back on the Kurogane family for how they treated her older brother Ikki.
Outside of those three, there isn’t a how lot of characters that are worth mentioning other than Alice, the roommate of Shizuku. Alice honestly is the most interesting character within the whole series, he is a quirky guy, who is very in touch with his feminine side. He spends most of the day helping out the other three either physically or emotionally. It was a nice touch I wasn’t expecting as Alice finds himself in places where men usually don’t, IE the women’s bath. But how his character is designed non of the girls seem to care, using those intimate moments to confide in him.
So this is the part of the review I say all the things I hated about this series and boy, is there a lot.
First off, the villains. Now antagonist is one of the more difficult bits to write, there is a line that has to be walked. Relatability, reason, approach, and outcome all have to breathe some sort of logic or emotional understanding. One example that this series does RIGHT is Ayase Ayatsuji. Another student at the school she as well wants to get to the last seven but is forced to fight her friend Ikki. Hellbent by a personal matter to win she throws away her honor to get a hand up against the better swordsmen that is Ikki. It made sense, I understood where she was coming from, though the ending of Ikki just simple-minded strong-arming her honor back was idiotic, I was able to overlook it.
Sadly, this is the only time this show gets baddies right. Early on there is an event where another Blazer (the term that specifics people with power) holds a mall hostage where the students happen to be. With the hostages, Stella loses her cool confronting the terrorist, though initially in her favor the leader of the group calls her bluff, threatening to kill a mother of one of the kids. So out of all the things this guy could ask for, literally anything at all, he asks for her, Stella, to apologize, naked.
Yeah, so, not only do we not know why this man is doing this, or really what his end goal is. He is so vile and evil he would kill another human being if he doesn’t get to see this underage princess naked. This is the type of stupid cringe shit anime as fortunately moved away from in recent years. Many series have had these moments, SAO comes to mind. But it’s poor writing and the shock value is so low, it’s almost comical. He could have literally asked for anything else and I would have found it more acceptable, but na, this is where the show wanted to go.
The second baddie that is shit comes from the Kurogane family itself. The right-hand man of Ikki and Shizuku’s father, an ugly bastard of sorts Mamoru Akaza. Doing everything in his power to make sure Ikki doesn’t get anywhere near the title of magical knight, Akaza blackmails Ikki, using his relationship with Stella against him to somehow keep him imprisoned for two weeks on seemingly no charges at all. It is at this time the show does a really weird shift in production as well, honestly, it looks like the budget was drying up. Sticking with monotone colors and rough animation, the last two episodes are well, not great. But back to Akaza, his whole bit is he hates Ikki so much he would go out of his way to do illogical things to keep him from progressing, which is fine I guess. Wearing him down with countless hours of interrogation, subjugating him to solitary but still making him fight at the highest levels of duels.
I think this part of the show was to instill some sort of hopelessness, which does sorta-kinda break Ikki but it seemed forced and unneeded. I think there would be a lot of better ways to lead up to the final episode in respect to hurting Ikki and this was without a doubt a weak showing, but it is what they went with so there is that.
The last bad guy would have to be Kuraudo Kurashiki, but his whole bit is he just wanted to fight the strongest swordsmen even if he was over the top dick. I can let it slide.
The second thing I want to address, Stella and Ikki’s relationship. These types of anime have one of the stranger takes on romance. I could dwell on the pacing or how they miss each other time and time again but honestly, I don’t feel like it. Their romance reads like any other romance that takes place within the space. It’s a more awkward Asuna and Kirito, but there is one scene that drove me insane. It comes later in the series as the two join the student council at a summer house they help clean. A hike away from the house is a waterfall, Stella being the romantic she is, wants to see it with her boyfriend and they set off. On the way there something seems off with Stella and it is discovered she has a cold, naturally, it starts raining around that same time forcing the two to take refuge in a nearby cabin.
What follows is Stella being too confused and out of it to even undress herself, Ikki being a good boyfriend, doing whatever he can to take care of her. So she doesn’t feel uncomfortable he undresses to because he has shit for brains but that’s a different argument. So at this moment, both of them fundamentally naked, Stella asks if he wants to sleep with her, because like I said she is always horny. But instead of saying, “my girl, you got a fever, your sick, you need to rest,” Ikki is whole ass like “I am a knight, I cannot do something so indecent to someone who is not my wife” I’m paraphrasing but the scene was stupid. This ends with Stella rolling over, thinking to herself that she is just naughty, which is kinda true but she is a teenage girl so I mean, comes with the territory.
Finally, my biggest issue with this show. Why the fuck is Ikki ranked F. Failed Knight sets up the story by stating that since the ranking system was only done by magical power, Ikki was an F for not having any, all of his traits being physical. I call bull shit. What is really strange about this story is how it always sets up Ikki to be the underdog though he never actually is, I mean he beats an A rank in the first episode easily, he was never the underdog.
He is the embodiment of strength and speed, his magic IS his physical ability. In the world where this series takes place physically impossible things, like most of what Ikki can do, would make 0 sense to rate this on a different scale other than magic. It is on its face, magic. Add the fact of Perfect Vision, Blade Steal, and his Ittou Shura are all themselves abilities that allow him to not only beat some of the strongest of enemies but the most powerful close combat specialist in one blow in episode 12.
I feel like I’m beating a dead horse so I am going to wrap this up. A Failed Knight gave me a lot of the same feelings Assassins Pride did. I had fun watching it, not a lot but it was entertaining enough. It’s by no means good. A Failed Knights characters are flat, boring, driven by simple and meager emotions that in some cases make little to no sense. The world is whimsical and fails to meet its own standards from time to time. I don’t remember the music so that is all I can say about that and the animation feel off hard near the end of the series. So with that, I match my Assassin’s Pride rating of 4/10 for this series. Now it’s on to the next.
Thanks for the read!