Wednesday, January 18, 2012

REVIEW: Bamboo Blade

So I found myself with a bit of extra time last week and thought I'd catch up on some shows I've been meaning to watch. I wasn't really planning on watching any anime. However, I found this great site that has anime in PSP format. What else was I supposed to do? While I was marathoning Downton Abbey Season 1, I decided to download a few series, Bamboo Blade being one of them.

I remember watching the first few episodes of this series on Crunchyroll back in the day, but kind of dropped it randomly from my list. Anyhoo, here's me getting back into this series, years later.

Bamboo Blade follows the story of Toraji and his five-member all-female kendo team. The series actually begins with a bet between Toraji and his high school senpai wherein both would pit their kendo team of five girls against each other in a practice match. If the senpai wins, Toraji has to give up the trophy he won in a kendo tournament back in high school. If Toraji wins, his senpai would treat him to his father's famous sushi restaurant for an entire year. The luckless Toraji jumps at this chance at a free meal. Only one problem: he hasn't exactly been paying attention to his job as kendo instructor, much less his team, which has now been reduced to just three members. Nevertheless, he sets about looking for the perfect candidates to join his all-female team.

Bamboo Blade is a generic anime. Even the characters are generic. However, the series has made enough changes in the usual trope to set Bamboo Blade apart from other sports-based school-setting anime.

For one, the show spends more time on the characters and how they interact with each other outside of matches than within matches. This means that Bamboo Blade, despite being a show primarily about kendo, isn't really an action-based anime but more of a character-based comedy. Odd right. But this also accomplishes what few shows do: make us care for the characters. And make no mistake, there's plenty to go around. The girls may be cut from the same mold of the kendo girl trope but each has its own personality and ticks that distinguish her from the others. What's more, this anime likes to debunk the usual trope, for example, by turning the genius megane to a clumsy character who has poor academic grades, the pretty shoujo type is actually a yandere, etc. etc.

The soundtracks are great, especially the theme songs. Many of the voice actors used in the series are also singers so the studio has decided to capitalize on that. Both the opening and ending theme songs, as well as an insert song (ep. 26), of Bamboo Blade are sung by the seiyuu of the five girls. Speaking of which, the voice work for this show is really fantastic. You can really hear the effort that actors put into their roles, especially in the fight scenes where there's predictably lots of screaming. Of course, it helps that one of my favorite seiyuu, Toyoguchi Megumi, plays my second favorite character from this series, Kirino.

As for the visual side, Bamboo Blade provides some good animation. As said earlier, there isn't much action but what action there is is executed beautifully. The character designs, while not that awe-inspiring, serve their purposes well. My favorite would have to be Tamaki's design. Tama-chan! What can I say? She's just adorable. Even the girls want her.

Bamboo Blade is a comedy and it is pretty funny. Some scenes are even genuinely laugh-out-loud funny but other jokes take too long to unfold and are tried too often and for too long.

Overall, Bamboo Blade is not a great series but it offers good, clean fun.

Bamboo Blade @ Wikipedia
Bamboo Blade @ ANN
OFFICIAL (Funimation)


Bamboo Blade DVDs @ Amazon
Bamboo Blade Complete Series (S.A.V.E. Edition) @
Bamboo Blade OSTs and Drama CDs @ Play-Asia
More Bamboo Blade products @ Yesasia