Ensemble Stars! Episode 18
I don’t know what it is, but I just feel like someone in the episode making process just doesn’t like knights. There’s always that one character/group that feels like they’re shafted in anime like this. Like Masato in Uta no Prince-sama (fight me) and Yugiri in Zombie Land Saga. It’s like someone has to get the short end of the stick and I think it was that way with knights. Just going off of that, this episode was very sub-par. They crammed way too many things in this episode and it’s disappointing.
I think anime knights suffers from just not being shown in the best light throughout the anime. For one, Izumi was mostly portrayed as a possessive border-line yandere at the start and Arashi just let him do it. While Ritsu and Tsukasa were not aware of this, they didn’t really make much of an impression when we met them. And after all that whole kidnapping incident, they just ended up disappearing for a really long time. I didn’t even know they took a hiatus until it was brought up. They COULD have mentioned that earlier, but chose not to. And while I’m a broken record of telling this series to show rather than tell, I wish we could have seen them in the background doing all the behind the scenes grunt work like they say they were doing to make up for the kidnapping incident. And because I haven’t seen them do anything relatively good throughout the anime, I really… didn’t care for them. Not to mention I haven’t forgiven Izumi for being a creep several episodes back. And when Leo threatened to disband them, I didn’t care whether they disbanded or not.
They keep hinting that Leo went through something traumatic that caused him to leave school for a bit. His actions apparently nearly caused the unit to be disbanded. I wonder if it’s a hint to “go play the game” or if they’ll touch more upon it later. Though at the pace they’re going, I don’t know if they’ll have time to fully address Leo’s past. Especially since it seems like knights has been in a rut since Leo left. Though even after this episode, I still feel like I don’t know the dude very well. I suppose they did talk about what he did during the war, but because they just TOLD me, I didn’t really feel all that engaged with the information. Felt more like I was being given a history lesson than actually getting to know him more as per usual with this series.
On a completely different note, I have realized why I was so interested in Leo just based off his looks. After staring at him for a bit longer, I realized he basically looks like a palette swap of Iori from Idolish7 (minus the ponytail). Wow, I’m simple. cough
This episode seemed to be really pushing for the audience to sympathize with Tsukasa. And while he was one of the least offensive knights member at the start, nothing about him really stood out to me. While I didn’t dislike him, I didn’t have too many feelings for him and couldn’t really grasp how much this unit meant to him since it was never really explained why he cared so much for knights in the first place. Not to mention he just seems to have built up certain expectations and when they don’t go a certain way, he’s left disappointed. I just didn’t feel like I understood his motives very well nor cared about them. And when Leo distracting him during knights’ performance by just watching from the audience, Tsukasa ended up making a lot of mistakes. And while I still dislike Izumi, I had to agree with him that it was Tsukasa’s own fault for letting Leo distract him and has no one to blame but himself. He also seems a bit too presumptuous at times. Not really my cup of tea. However, he definitely isn’t as bad as say Tsumugi.
The one character I did end up liking from the group is Ritsu though. While he may seem lazy, the guy does have standards, respects hard work and cares deeply for the other members. Not to mention it was heartwarming to have him say he needs to “wake up and give it my all.” For someone as sleepy and lazy as him to say that, it means a lot and shows how much he doesn’t want to let Tsukasa down. I am disappointed that we didn’t get to see his match against Eichi though. Probably because they already crammed way too many performances into this one episode.
While I care more about Ritsu compared to the other members in knights, I can’t say I care that deeply about him like I do towards the Eccentrics. In the end, it felt like they were trying to make knights look better, but I just came out of the episode still not knowing them very well as opposed to say Ryuuseitai where we were able to learn more about them and how they view their unit. So it’s a shame that they couldn’t give them a better adaption of their story. Especially since knights are a really popular group in the fanbase.
I really like knights’ songs and seeing how they didn’t really give them a decent performance was pretty disappointing. Was it just me, or did the CG models look worse than usual? Not only that, but the cinematography was just not good in this performance. The usual fluidity between cg and 2d shots wasn’t there and the amount of unnecessary moving camera was awkward. There just wasn’t a lot of actual full body movement like in the other performances, making it a little weird since it didn’t seem like they were moving that much. Some of their songs basically sound like K-pop songs so they could have done so much with the choreography if they cared enough.
What I did find interesting was that Leo was disappointed in the current knights and challenged his own unit to a duel. He even goes to create a temporary unit to go against them. The funny thing is that I had started listening to knights songs and there was one song that I thought was a duet between knights and fine, but instead it was just Leo with a ragtag team of other unit members. I like that Nito and Kuro were a part of it since I do really like those two. And despite my gripes with Eichi, I can’t help but laugh whenever someone pokes fun at him and annoys him. So I’ll give Leo a gold star for that. However, I did find it weird that Leo invited Eichi into the temporary unit despite apparently hating the dude.
They definitely did try to paint knights in a better light this episode, but it felt like a cluttered mess. Not to mention I didn’t like how they slipped MaM’s performance into the episode. Especially since it felt like it took time away from knowing more of knights or actually giving them more time for a better performance. They also still cannot ditch their nasty habit of telling me more about a character rather than showing it to me, leaving me indifferent to Leo and detached to what caused him to be like how he is now. I didn’t get to see how hurt he was because of the war. How hard he struggled. What tactics he had to resort to using. It also felt really silly for Leo to just talk about his feelings on stage in the middle of a supposed duel. I literally said: Are we really doing this now? It was weird.