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Chivalry of a Failed Knight
Episode 12

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 12 of
Chivalry of a Failed Knight ?
Community score: 4.6

My father always says that you remember things by how they end. If that's the case, then I will definitely remember Chivalry of a Failed Knight as a pretty good show. While this final episode doesn't end the series on a definitive note, it does successfully wrap up two of the major plot points of the last twelve weeks, assuring us, or at least me, that a happy conclusion awaits Ikki and Stella eventually. It's actually a lot more conclusive than other light novel or manga adaptations that never get a second season and feels much less like a cheery, “Read the books, guys!” than other similarly sourced series. It isn't perfect, but I have to pronounce myself pretty darn happy.

Partially this is because the previous episode did such a good job of setting this one up. Last week Ikki was essentially kidnapped by Akaza, the Evil Rotund Man who, along with Ikki's father, was hell-bent on discrediting Ikki's unexpected rise to glory for their own selfish purposes. Akaza imprisoned Ikki and forced him to continue fighting his qualifying battles from his jail cell, all the while beating him down emotionally. The black and white and filter effects used last week are this week shown to be a reflection of Ikki's mental and emotional state – he feels like a useless shadow of himself, unable to give up, but not entirely sure why. It's pretty heavy-handed symbolism, but Akaza and Itsuki Kurogane (Ikki's dad) are so despicable and their actions so reprehensible that it works: by playing up the melodramatic factors of the villains, the hero is allowed a similarly Gothic (in the 18th century sense) path in reaching his triumphant conclusion. And this episode is fairly histrionic in its execution: Ikki is not only fighting Toka, he's also been forced to walk from prison to school (my interpretation, in any event) after weeks of emotional torture and physical privation. On the way he encounters visions of himself as he struggles to find his own self-worth before finally finding Shizuku and the rest of his friends, who motivate him to make his way to his grand finale. (Meanwhile, Akaza chortles in vicious glee.) If you look back on it, you can practically taste the cheese. But in the moment? It's hard to look away as the music builds, the animation improves, the colors brighten, and Ryota Osaka gradually increases the power in Ikki's voice.

The fight itself, although not lengthy, is also impressive and gives a sense of the amount of power on display. Here things do go a little overboard as Ikki starts to stream blood from pretty much every orifice and he and Toka scream about how they want to fight for the honor of fighting each other rather than any other, more selfish reason. Presumably this is intended to both set the kids apart from the adults who are attempting to manipulate both them and the competition for their own whims as well as to give us a picture of the eponymous “chivalry;” clearly it's not quite the so-called Chivalric Code laid out by Gautier, but more like the eight laws of Bushido. It works, in any event, at setting them apart from the villains, which is what's important.

Ultimately the final episode of Chivalry of a Failed Knight is a triumphant one in terms of Ikki's battle against his own insecurities, his place at school, and his relationship with Stella. It's exciting and romantic (and I love that Stella's not afraid to show that she has physical desires), and if it's a little over the top, well, it can be forgiven for the fact that it pulls you in so that you don't realize how melodramatic it was until you sit back to think about it.

I admit that I was leery of this show at the outset, afraid that it was going to be just another magic high school harem caper. As it progressed it proved me wrong, despite a few stumbles along the way, and I have to say that I'm pretty happy with this ending and I wouldn't be sad if another season materialized somewhere along the way.

Rating: B+

Chivalry of a Failed Knight is currently streaming on Hulu.

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