What They Say:
Ikki Kurogane may have come from a long line of Blazers, people with the ability to create weapons or devices manifested from their souls, but as far as the Hagun Academy is concerned, he’s been a major disappointment in the magical powers department. He is so disappointing, in fact, that he’s earned the unfortunate nickname of the “Worst One”.
However, things change for Ikki in the most surprising way when Princess Stella Vermillion, the most promising Rank-A Blazer to come along in many years, decides to transfer to Hagun. When she challenges him to a duel where the loser must obey the winner for the rest of their life, the last thing anyone expects is that the Worst One might prove to be a match for the Crimson Princess… and the unforeseen consequences will push the boundaries of society itself!
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English language dub, both of which are encoded with the lossless DTS-HD MA codec. The show works a pretty good balance between action and dialogue so that each is well served, though the action pieces aren’t dominant in most of the episodes. The action itself is quite well done as the tournament side has some pretty engaging pieces to it and there’s some solid variety as well with good placement and directionality as needed. The dialogue side is simpler but it works just as well with the way it works, handling the highs of the more chaotic scenes and the quieter scenes between the leads and others. Dialogue is well placed as needed and everything has a clean and clear presentation on both tracks with no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by Silver Link, the series works a good color palette to it even while looking a bit plastic-y with the way the character animation is laid over the backgrounds. It’s a familiar technique that many shows use each year and it works here with the bright and vibrant colors, the uniforms, and the action with how that plays out itself. The encoding captures the richness of the colors very well with a solid look that sticks throughout. There are a lot of darker colors along the way with the tournament settings and it all looks good. The series has a is strong looking overall and has an encoding to back it up with.
The packaging for this release is done up in a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds both discs against the interior walls. The front cover uses the familiar key visual and Japanese release artwork of Stella with sword brandished. The colors are appealing, there’s enough sexuality to it without it being over the top, and it has a good sense of design with the reds and the darkness to let things stand out well. The logo is as good as it can be considering how awkward it sounds but it’s kept from dominating here. THe back cover has some mostly nondescript background elements to it with the black to give it some weight but it has a few nice shots from the show and the premise is covered fairly well. The extras are clearly listed and the production credits breaks things down well. Add in an accurate and easy to read technical grid and you have a good looking release that doesn’t have any artwork on the reverse side.
The extras for this release are pretty basics with a couple of Japanese promos included along with the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series by Riku Misora, Chivalry of a Failed Knight is an awkward sounding title that represents a fairly straightforward school tournament series. Airing as part of the fall 2015 season, it was animated by Silver Link with an assist by Nexus with Shin Onuma directing it. The novels are still ongoing with eleven volumes so far and it has a manga spinoff as well that’s been running for a few years. The property hasn’t expanded beyond that and it’s not too much of a surprise. The show is one that feels traditional and straightforward, serving as a wonderful little entry point for new fans and those who have been around for a bit but will not do much for the jaded fans. That’s not a criticism in a way because we need these kinds of shows to exist.
The series takes place on a very similar world to our own where a select number of people are something called Blazers where through the use of a special Device they can create weapons and use special attacks in order to fight. There doesn’t seem to be anything in particular to fight against, like an invasion or secret enemies (at least not yet), so that means most of what we get are the teenage set going through the special schools, such as Hagun Academy in this series, where they hone their powers and ranks against each other. Hagun has recently had a change in those who run the place as the new administrator was brought in to help reclaim the former glory of the place that hasn’t had quite as many wins in the Seven Star tournament that the various campuses compete against each other in.
The main focus is on Ikki Kurogane, an F-Rank Blazer who also comes from a distinguished family that makes things complicated (and offers up the “serious” threat we get in the last couple of episodes). He’s a pretty friendly guy overall, certainly skilled in a number of ways, but not of the significant power level that we see from A or S-Rank members. What complicates his life is that he now has a new roommate with Stella, an A-Rank Blazer that’s considered a genius. It doesn’t help that it’s mixed gender roommate time nor that their first full meeting has him walking in on her changing. Suffice to say, we get the sexy times set up with that but the show never really fully capitalizes on it or moves it forward in a really fun or consistent way. But, that said, there are other sexy times to be had and it’s a brighter point in the show.
As you can imagine, a few other girls are brought in along the way (guys, for the most part, are background characters with minimal interaction and only a villain or two) and one is Shizuku, who is actually Ikki’s younger sister. She’s pretty intense and is better ranked than him with a B-Rank and she brings a good bit of intensity to things. The cast expands a bit from there with two others and it at least avoids the “a new girl every episode!” kind of mentality. What the series wants to do once it has the base set up is to work through various tournament matches under the Seven Star piece that’s running, which seems to be going on for quite a bit of time, and that tends to dominate a lot of things. Each match is very well animated and there are some quirky personalities in the mix, but this is all fairly… predictable. For a long time fan you can pretty much map out the entire series within the first episode and it does largely hold true to form.
The fun episodes are the ones that step away from the tournament for a bit and let the characters actually breathe a bit. Stella’s obviously interested in Ikki but he’s done his best to not think of her in that way so as to not make things awkward. So she ends up thinking he’s disinterested and that makes for some fun during the indoor pool trip that the group goes on as she’s pushed to reveal her feelings to him. While one can roll their eyes at it being at a pool, there’s something to be said for loosening up the group by putting them in swimsuits and just acting silly. In a similar but different direction we get an episode later on that has Ikki and Stella stuck together in a cabin in the rain during a mountain trip. It feels like I haven’t seen one of these kinds of episodes in an age and it makes for a nice near confession, tantalizing near nudity, and a coming together of the pair in understanding each other a bit more done up in a really nice way. Again, it’s all so incredibly predictable but just competently and solidly executed. Which when combined with appealing character designs and a lead male character that’s not a milksop can make the difference.
Chivalry of a Failed Knight is standard fare by the numbers material. You can easily confuse it with any number of other recent shows working the same idea at first glance. There are some really fun things with it as I love the character designs and that it doesn’t overstuff its cast and the tournament sequences are strong in terms of action and execution. But the story has no real driving narrative to give it a sense of purpose or excitement as it gets past the introductory phase. That just turns it into a fairly standard school tournament piece where there are no stakes for a lot of it. While it does get a touch more serious toward the end you also know that it’s not going to radically upend anything because it’s adapting an ongoing original novel series. It’s a decent show in that it feels somewhat complete in what we get here so it’s certainly something worth checking out if this genre is up your alley.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Promos, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: June 13th, 2017
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.