This is the second part of a three-part review series. Click here to view the first.
As you should be aware by now, two very similar anime are airing this season: Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry and Gakusen Toshi Asterisk (henceforth referred to as Cavalry and Asterisk, respectively). They both involve schools with weapons and magic and romance and ecchi and stuff, but just how similar are they really? That is what this review series aims to analyze. I will post one part per four episodes aired of each anime, and this is the second. Keep in mind that these will be released late on the Saturday they’re due because I have to spend a whole day thinking and writing about the last of the series of four episodes. (Well, it’s not so late now that I thought to build upon this review after every episode, rather than waiting until the last moment.)
Again, this review may contain spoilers. Please proceed with caution.
12/19 EDIT: Part 3, where I sum everything up from start to finish, is released. Click here to view it.
Random things I feel I should note
Shizuku (Cavalry) and Claudia (Asterisk) are voiced by the same actress: Nao Touyama.
Another voice actress in common with the two series is Chinatsu Akasaki, who voices the Tsukuyomi sisters (Hangetsu, Mikazuki, and Mangetsu, commentators of the Seven Star Battle Festival) in Cavalry and Ernesta Kuhne in Asterisk.
- Alice’s voice actor (Shintaro Asanuma) also voices Izayoi Sakamaki in Mondaiji-tachi (which I find…kinda funny, actually).
- Yuuri Oriki, the teacher of Ikki’s class, bears a strong resemblance to Tomoko Kuroki from WataMote—same restless eyes, same messy dark hair…same voice actress, even. I made a mistake omitting her from my previous post, because she’s not actually that minor, at least not in comparison to, say, Kurono (the director).
- The story involves six academies. The one where Ayato is enrolled is Seidoukan Academy, and Claudia is its representative. The others are: Le Wolfe Black, Allekant, Jie Long 7th, Garrardworth, and Queenvale.
- Saya is often seen arguing with Julis over Ayato. Don’t call it a love triangle, though, because there are other women attracted to Ayato. (That’s harem for you.)
- Saya’s voice actress (Shiori Izawa) also voices Mega Drive in SeHa Girls. Because of this among other things, I am fairly convinced that Saya is my favorite character in Asterisk.
- This reaction image (from episode 6):
Newly Introduced Characters
Any characters not mentioned in this section are not introduced yet, don’t need a description because they’re so minor, or cannot be described without spoiling anything.
- Ayase Ayatsuji – A shy senior who follows in her father’s footsteps, taking a great interest in swordplay.
- Kuraudo Kurashiki – A troublemaker who took over the Ayatsuji dojo and kicked Ayase out. He seems to like picking on other swordsmen.
- Dirk Eberwein – Representative of Le Wolfe Black Academy. He has a brutish personality with the gall to slander others.
- Shuuma Sakon – Representative of Allekant Academy. He has a polite personality and accepts a joint agreement with Seidoukan Academy without knowing the full details.
- Xinglou Fan – Representative of Jie Long 7th Academy. She may be young for a leader, but she is an excellent mediator of conflict between the representatives.
- Ernest Fairclough – Representative of Garrardworth Academy. He is a capable swordsman with a sense of justice that notably responds to Dirk’s slander.
- Ernesta Kuhne – A playful and energetic student of Allekant who is behind the creation of Silas’ automatons. She takes great interest in Ayato when they first meet. As playful as she seems, she is quite the schemer.
- Camilla Pareto – A student of Allekant whose stern personality makes her a foil to Ernesta. She serves as Ernesta’s assistant.
- Kirin Toudou – The #1 ranked fighter at Seidoukan Academy whose uncle is abusive towards her. She doesn’t really have the appearance of a top fighter, though. I find this character somewhat dislikable due to her distracting breasts and high-pitched voice, but not as dislikable as Claudia. Also, the more I think about it, the more she seems to me like Iris Freyja 2.0 (which is not a point in her favor).
The Story So Far
I decided (as of November 26) to relocate these summaries to Google Docs for two reasons: (1) to minimize spoilers, and (2) while I enjoy writing them, I realize that they seem out of place in a review like this, and I wouldn’t blame anyone if they lost interest because of them.
To be honest, Ayase was not all I’d hoped for, but I suppose that’s because I set the bar pretty high. (I find her at least better than Stella, though.) Saya, on the other hand, is a really cool character (in more ways than one), and I’m glad she’s had more screentime over the past few episodes of Asterisk, even though Kirin has been more prominent. Also, in regards to Shizuku, I really don’t have any issues with her character (contrary to what I said before); it’s just that she doesn’t stand out too much, especially considering her role over the past few episodes of Cavalry was diminished to practically nothing (and she refers to this exclusion at the end of episode 8). Speaking of which, Alice hasn’t had much of a role in these past few episodes either, although that one moment in episode 5—where they show off Stella’s swimsuit, Shizuku’s swimsuit, Kagami’s swimsuit, and…Alice’s swimsuit—was pretty funny.
My opinion on other characters, however, is unchanged, insignificant, and/or completely obvious. On that note, I can say with certainty that I like Ikki more than Ayato, simply because the former is more “psychotic” (as Kuraudo would put it) than the latter. Even though Ayato can get reckless at times, he seems more duty-bound when doing so, whereas Ikki actually enjoys getting reckless (or so it seems in episode 8).
As a whole
The similarities and differences between Cavalry and Asterisk are largely unchanged from what I’ve already mentioned in the previous installment of Cavalry vs. Asterisk. Now that I think about it, though, the fanservice situations in Asterisk seem more oddly forced than those in Cavalry. I mean, in Asterisk episode 1, why would Julis leave her window wide open while changing? In episode 2, how did Julis’s and Saya’s shirts open up as a result of Saya blowing up the fountain? In episode 3, why would Claudia, before calling Ayato to a private meeting, wear a bathrobe that doesn’t even cover her chest properly? Most importantly, in episode 7, how did Ayato and Kirin end up in their underwear in such a way that Ayato didn’t notice until the end of their conversation (which I’m assuming based on the way that moment was portrayed)? Also, why do Claudia in episode 6 and some minor character in episode 8 wear such revealing swimsuits? I realize it’s a work of fiction, but I honestly can’t help pointing out how odd some of these situations are, especially considering the context behind them remains a complete mystery (maybe explained in the light novel (which I haven’t read), or simply to be left up to the imagination). In Cavalry, on the other hand, every moment of fanservice has some reasoning behind it.
Also, I failed to mention the key difference between Cavalry and Asterisk: Asterisk has significantly more sci-fi elements. In Cavalry, the arena and the “student handbook” are the only things even remotely sci-fi. Asterisk, on the other hand, is 90% sci-fi, give or take.
As for which I like better now, I’m leaning towards Cavalry this time. Even though I like sci-fi (to an extent) and there is no character in Cavalry that I consider better than Saya, I feel like the saga in Asterisk starting when Ayato met Kirin was less interesting than the one in Cavalry starting when Ikki met Ayase. Also, the happenings in Cavalry seem a bit more coherent than those of Asterisk (case in point: Asterisk’s odd fanservice moments mentioned earlier). Like before, this decision is tentative, because there is still more plot to be revealed, plus one more pivotal character on the cover of Cavalry who has not yet been introduced (the brunette with glasses and braids), and sometimes my judgement can differ between one moment and the next. I’m hoping in the next and final four episodes that Cavalry will keep going strong and Asterisk will step it up a bit.
À la prochaine! (Until next time!)