I viewed Try Knights with the outlook that all the reviews have bashed the series for any number of reasons. So, I took in the 12-episode season wondering what was so bad about TK.
Bad? Try horrendous! And I can’t decide whether it was the so-so plot or the appallingly bad technique.
The scenes in Try Knights are extremely static, almost like each episode was constructed around a series of posters. People shots (whether one character or two in conversation) ... pitch shots (whether of the whole field or the space in front of a goal line) ... various line charges (always three in line changing to a different trio of Soren Azul Nova Rugby Club and that to a high degree of predictability) ... tremendous amount of file footage (always a sign of weak performance). The technique used in Try Knights reminded me so much of the approach used in the 1960’s Space Angel. This animation had good story drive (the historical context of this time taken into account) with imaginative interspace adventures, not bad for B/W presentation other than the fluttering eyes and mouth of Synchro-Vox (granted Akira’s wolfish grin was an unbearable grimace). The adventures of Scott McCloud were unsettling for a young boy who was getting into animation. Try Knights has just as many unsettling elements for a man on the other end of life’s spectrum (and as welcome as a borscht Dreamsicle Nightmaresicle).
Even the so-called educational snippets at the end of each episode looked awkward in explaining the rules of rugby. Again, static animation, flat and unappealing. There were interesting explanations of the game, but in 11 episodes (the final episode lacked this feature), you can’t do justice to the game, not with 30-second spots.
The characters were too thin and predictable. Two brothers, Riku and Reo grow up, both with a love for rugby, with the older disdaining the younger for being too scrawny for this manly sport. Then divorce splits the pair. An injury has hampered Riku from pursuing the sport as a youth, and so he tries chess as an outlet (the key trait of Riku is his incredibly skilled tactical mind) but he comes back to rugby when success in chess fails to satisfy. He is lured into the club by Akira, a semi-wild classmate who plays the game as if stalking prey. Two contrasting personalities, one thinking tactics the key to rugby, the other athleticism.
These two approaches make up the theme of the series. Soren High School is rebuilding their rugby team after a tragic loss in the championship which soured the veteran third-years. Soren Azul Nova is made up of first and second years. As Riku and Akira argue tactics versus athleticism, the team captain Tori prepares for the season. Guided by Riku, Soren sets up a practice game with the defending champion's second team, netting a victory and needed confidence. In the tournament, Soren is matched against a surprise team that had knocked off one of the elite teams. This is the best plot twist in the series, weak as it was. That team created the upset with the help of an amazing tactical genius. He just happens to be Riku's nemesis from chess-playing days, a youth whose analytical mind seeks revenge for all the times of coming in second to Riku at the chess board. But Riku proves that victory comes through treating your teammates as players, not pawns. Then the rematch between Soren and Sekirei which pits brother versus brother.
The championship game was clumsy, featuring a strategy of cheap shots, the return of a prized third-year to the team at the last moment, and a miracle comeback. Frustrating are all the game stoppages for team meetings, brotherly taunting, major introspection ... far too weird in a game of continual movement.
Sad, because I really love the gridiron sports, football, soccer, rugby. Try Knights just gives you a bad taste.