Tanaka Yukio, known as Koyuki, is your typical 14-year-old teen: self-conscious, apathetic, chronically bored and looking to find meaning to his dire existence. He never thought that saving a strange dog would change his life. The dog’s owner, Minami Ryuusuke, is a talented teen guitarist looking to form the ultimate band. Before long, both are sharing their experiences and growing as musicians while trying to make it big.
summary by Soundchazer
Highs: Incredible music; original designs; interesting group dynamics; lotsa Engrish
Lows: Story elements left unresolved; story is slow paced; lotsa Engrish
Studio Madhouse has done it again. They had a cult-favorite manga, understood the essence of the story and made a successful anime adaptation. They also created the animated version of something like Making of the Band but actually made it have an interesting story, lighthearted in nature, with the right balance of dramatic and comedic moments.
Right from the opening, you can tell this is a different series altogether. The character design is very distinctive. Even though they get their inspiration from the manga, designers Hori Hotonobu and Kobayashi Osamu did a great job of making it a bit more appealing and dynamic. Here we have people who look real, with girls and boys in different sizes, change clothes and wear different hairstyles. It is also commendable that they focused so much attention on the details of the instruments. The Gibson guitars look like Gibson guitars, and the Fenders look like Fenders. It is important to highlight the vast array of rock material that is included in this anime. Unlike other series, like Full Moon wo Sagashite, that focus on the music, this one does a better job of presenting a wider variety of songs, therefore making it less likely that viewers will get sick of one particular piece. The music groups used in the series, especially The Beat Crusaders, are very good at their craft. We even get a cameo performance by a favorite of many in the last episode. Suffice it to say, I won’t give names.
One aspect which may be criticized is the pace. Although no one expects Beck to be “guns ablaze” since it is not action-themed, there are times when it feels like nothing of real substance is going on. There is also confusion about some of the characters: at some point we have a very relationship-oriented plot, and then it is suddenly forgotten, leaving you wondering why such an interesting element of the story was omitted. Another part that I found a bit puzzling was the ending; it appears that Studio Madhouse had constraints with time or money because they decided to use a very Gainax element and finish the series with plenty of stills. Don’t get me wrong; it was done in a very tasteful manner but does seem a bit of a cheap solution.
All in all, the Beck experience is a very uplifting one. We finally have a story that focuses on popular music and exploits it well, without missing a beat on character development. If your thing is not musicals, but you want good music, then look no further. This anime is more about loud guitars and microphone feedback than ballroom dancing and tap dancing shoes.
Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad is licensed in the U.S. by Funimation, and episodes may be viewed legally in the United States HERE.