In Chivalry of a Failed Knight episode 8, "Sword Eater III," Ayase Ayatsuji is still haunted by the memory of how Kuraudo Kurashiki (a.k.a. Sword Eater) destroyed her father -- and her entire way of life. Ikki Kurogane and Stella Vermillion accompany her back to her old dojo where Kuraudo and his goons are hanging out. Will the goons outside even be able to slow Ikki down? If Ayase's father, the Last Samurai couldn't stop Kuraudo, what can Ikki, using the same style, hope to accomplish? And what does Stella realize before Ayase does?
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.
What's in This Post
3 Favorite Moments
Moment 1: Ikki and the Cell Phones
I'll give Kuraudo this: He's confident. Also dangerous. Good qualities for an antagonist. Capture from the Hulu stream.
Ikki, Stella, and Ayase just waltz into the dojo where Kuraudo is lounging. He seemed to be both annoyed and intrigued, so he started some trash talk about why he should fight Ikki when he behaved so cowardly in the restaurant. Ikki's calm and measured answer made me smile: "“It wasn’t the proper situation then" (8:15).
Then Kuraudo tried to get under Ikki's skin by asking how Ayase talked him into it. Ikki wisely ignored the taunt and pointed out that it's against school rules for him to fight, unless the master of a recognized dojo approves the match. And it just so happens that Kuraudo is the recognized master that that dojo (regardless of how he came into possession of it, apparently). It was then Ikki's turn to taunt Kuraudo by saying, "You're not going to turn me down, are you?"
Now Kuraudo's starting to get into it, but he has one ore condition. He says that he need to know fighting Ikki would be worth his time.
Ikki slowly reaches into his jacket and dropped the goons' cell phones and student IDs on the floor. The lackeys had been outside when Ikki arrived. He blew them them so quickly and silently that Kuraudo didn't even hear him.
No bragging. No boasts of extraordinary feats. Just hard evidence of his victories. I admire Ikki's style.
Moment 2: The Exhilaration of Battle
This was a moment of pure competitive spirit -- two world-class swordsmen hammering away at each other, both lost in the moment. Capture from the Hulu stream.
Almost since we met Ayase, we've heard about how powerful Kuraudo is. In the beginning of this episode, we saw him defeat Ayase's father in a flashback. The most important detail there was that he didn't cheat or even use Orochimaru, his device. He only used a bamboo sword. All of this emphasized just how powerful he was.
As he and Ikki went at it, we learned quickly -- along with Ikki! -- that raw strength alone wasn't the real problem. Neither was a ridiculously power device. His biggest advantage was his almost inhuman reaction speed. That's how he overwhelmed even the best opponents he'd faced. Ikki was skilled enough to figure it out, though Kuraudo filled in some of the blanks.
Turns out, though, that Ikki also had a few talents, like Irregular Guarding. I gave Kuraudo points for recognizing it immediately (12:59). But at that stage of the fight, both of them were loosened up, and the real battle began.
A couple of seconds later, Stella was surprised at Ikki's expression. He wore a feral grin.
At first, Stella seemed surprised to see how much Ikki was enjoying himself. Then she understood. She's a warrior herself, after all. Capture from the Hulu stream.
There's something about fighting an opponent who's skills force you to stretch. It was cool seeing Ikki start enjoying the fight, but it was equally cool to see Kuraudo respond with his own grin. For a few minutes, everything else -- Ayase's desire to reclaim her dojo, the Sword Eater's desire to simply stomp on another opponent -- fell by the wayside. Only the exhilaration of two world-class opponents remained.
Moment 3: Ayase and the Nature of a Swordsman
The true nature of her father's apology eluded Ayase for two years. It took Stella's insights as a swordsman herself to help Ayase understand. Capture from the Hulu stream.
Stella's the real deal. She's a warrior, at the peak of her game, and as she watches Ikki and Kuraudo fight, she knew why they were smiling. I just love how the show consistently portrays Stella in such a favorable light when it comes to fighting.
Ayase, though, couldn't get past her pre-conceptions. She could not understand why Ikki was smiling. Shouldn't he be taking this fight more seriously? Wasn't he also fighting to redeem her father's honor? She even said she was humiliated that Sword Eater cut down her father in "what should have been his peaceful years" (14:55 in the dub). She kept replaying his last words -- "I'm sorry" -- over and over again in her mind. She thought he'd been apologizing to her for losing.
You could also see Stella suppress a sigh as she started explaining that her father was a master swordsman. "How long do you think such a warrior could feel fulfilled by growing old peacefully?" Stella asked (15:10).
Her father's final words -- "I'm sorry" -- weren't directed at Ayase. They were directed at his opponent, Kuraudo the Sword Eater. The Last Samurai had apologized that he couldn't give his opponent a better fight.
I should have expected no less from someone called The Last Samurai. The realization, though, changed Ayase's world.
The fight was really strong, from start to finish. Ikki was his expected cool analytical self as the fight started. Kuraudo was the perfect arrogant jerk. After going at each other hammer and tongs, both their respect for one another and their joy in battle took over. Other shows I've seen that have presented a similar situation haven't presented the antagonist in such a favorable light. Kuraudo went from heartless jerk to force of nature, and that worked for me happy to finally meet someone worth fighting. Sword Eater's skill and power also brought out the best in Ikki.
I also liked what it brought out in Stella, too, especially in contrast to Ayase. Did you notice how Stella reacted at various stages of the fight? Early on, as Kuraudo demonstrated his superior reflexes, Stella calmly analyzed their tactics while Ayase looked on, apparently in horror (10:18). In Ayase's defense, it was hard for her to re-live the fight that had put her father in the hospital. On the other hand, Ikki is Stella's boyfriend, so I half expected her to be worried.
She might have been worried, but she was too much of a warrior to let it show.
The first time she looked even vaguely concerned was when Ikki figured out just how fast Sword Eater's reflexes were (12:10). Actually, she looked more angry than worried. She snapped back when Irregular Guarding protected him.
This is about as concerned as Stella got -- and it was more angry than anything else. Capture from the Hulu stream.
The first time she saw his feral grin, I wasn't sure how to read her expression (13:47). She looked almost scared, and not for his safety. Ikki's one of the only people ever to have beaten her. Was she momentarily afraid of him from that perspective? A little unnerved that even Ikki had this almost animal side? I doubt it was that, because she understood how battle feels. Or maybe she experiences it differently than Ikki? If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them!
We've already talked about my third favorite moment, where Stella not only demonstrated her deeper understanding of a warrior's code, but she also put Ayase on the road to healing. It's hard to heal when you've misdiagnosed the condition!
Stella's best moment was when Ikki proclaimed that with all his strength, he was going to reclaim the last two years (17:16) for Ayase. Stella got this really proud and happy smile -- again, not the smile I'd expect from a woman who's boyfriend was going into harm's way. But's it's now the smile I expect Stella to share with Ikki, swordsman to swordsman, two expert fighters who have pledged to face each other again, when the time is right.
Stella's all proud of Ikki. Capture from the Hulu stream.
Since episode 5, when Ikki and Stella cleared the air about how they really felt about each other, they've been so much on the same wavelength that it's almost been scary. Even the first time I watched the series, it was at this point that I started to get worried: If their relationship wasn't itself going to be a cause of drama (like it would be in so many other series), would it become the target for drama? In any event, it's a treat to see such a healthy couple on screen.
What did you think of the fight in this episode? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!
Other Posts about This Series
Other Anime Sites
- Reddit: [Spoilers] Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry - Episode 8 [Discussion]
- Random Curiosity: Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry – 08
- TheAnimeYoungin2nd -channel: Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry Episode 8 ( Live Reaction ) - Ikki The GOAT!!!!! (YouTube)
This Site (Crow's World of Anime!)
- Chivalry of a Failed Knight Episode 1: The Worst One I
- Chivalry of a Failed Knight Episode 2: The Worst One II
- Chivalry of a Failed Knight Episode 3: The Worst One III
- Chivalry of a Failed Knight Episode 4: The Worst One IV
- Chivalry of a Failed Knight Episode 5: The Experience of the Princess
- Chivalry of a Failed Knight Episode 6: Sword Eater I
- Chivalry of a Failed Knight Episode 7: Sword Eater II
- Chivalry of a Failed Knight Episode 8: Sword Eater III
- Chivalry of a Failed Knight Episode 9: Princess' Vacation
- Chivalry of a Failed Knight Episode 10: Witch of the Deep Ocean V.S. Raikiri
- Chivalry of a Failed Knight Episode 11: Another One: The Uncrowned Sword King I
- Chivalry of a Failed Knight Episode 12: Another One: The Uncrowned Sword King II