Bamboo Blade was originally a Manga created by Masahiro Totsuke, it’s a sports/slice of life story that was picked up a few years ago by Australian Anime Distributor Madman. Here we are in 2013 and the Bamboo Blade Series Collection has finally been released. In the time since it’s run there have been a great deal of sports Anime that have come and gone, leaving both good and bad impressions. Let’s dive into Bamboo Blade and see whether or not it holds up in this generation of Anime. Read on to find out.
I mentioned this just above but I’ll go over it again in a little more detail: The story revolves around a small Kendo Club that can’t seem to catch a break considering one of it’s members continuously quits then rejoins while another two are off fighting other schools and what not. One day the Kendo Club instructor, Toraji, makes a deal with an old friend of his who just so happens to be a Kendo Instructor as well. Toraji’s team would be going up against his “Sempai’s” team in an unofficial tournament, if Toraji wins he gets to eat free sushi for the rest of his life and this is enough for the broke teacher to put his all into turning his team into Kendo machines. This is the overall story despite there being little bits in-between and a whole other arc at the very end of the series. Tamaki is a small, Anime-loving, freshman who displays a great deal of skill in Kendo, Toraji recruits her and they begin their journey to victory and greatness. I would say that, out of all the characters, she is the main focus which really did my head in because she was also the softest spoken character. That’s not a very good combination in my opinion.
It’s about that time where I would usually say “I don’t want to spoil anything but…”, I won’t be saying that within this review because there is almost nothing to spoil, honestly. It is a very typical, very basic sports Anime and it doesn’t really inspire one to get into Kendo. The team recruits more girls, and two useless guys, as they continue to train throughout the year. They have their ups and their downs as one character is trying too hard, the other isn’t trying hard enough, so very typical. This is why I feel that I don’t entirely need to outline much because their isn’t really much to outline. My beef with this Anime is that, now bare with me on this, it is a story that revolves around a group of young women yet these young women are written incredibly shallow and all around badly. I can’t stand it when writters create these types of characters who fit into stereotypical tropes and that’s it. Tamaki is a shy girl who basically stays the same throughout the whole series with small bits of character development along the way, she was possibly the most well-written character out of the girls which isn’t saying much. The other girls are very typical; one is hyperactive, one is a drama queen, one is a nice girl with anger issues and so on and so forth. This wouldn’t be half bad if the characters’ stories were fleshed out a little more.
It’s a shame because Toraji and his old friend were extremely good characters; they were rivals yet friends, they interacted well and you could see a lot of what they learnt in the time between them as students and them as teachers. I just wish the rest of the characters could’ve been like this. I have to say that it did actually make me laugh at times and considering this is a comedy series I have to give them credit for that, the voice actors did a great job but I’ll talk more about that soon. The pacing of the series was also off, it could have been done in a shorter episode count if they took out a bunch of the useless, filler scenes and the unnecessary dialogue that just seemed to “float around”. Some scenes were great in it though! It was just unfortunate that those scenes where few and far apart and really had nothing to do with the main cast.
The series is dated and you can tell that it is but I’m not going to focus on that too much because I feel like if an Anime is done right it doesn’t matter how old it looks. The costuming was great, it looked authentic, it wasn’t too over-the-top and it fit in nice and easy with the slice of life vibe that the series gave off. I’m going to say that the characters designs were also good, they all had their own little features that, somewhat, defined them and it wasn’t too quirky as to put you off from it. Look, the animation was fairly bare bones but it did kick into overdrive when it came to the actual Kendo tournaments which were done very well. I’m not a fan of Kendo nor have a seen any real-life Kendo but it did look fairly realistic if not slightly over-exaggerated, which isn’t a bad thing at all, it’s good to put a little flare into these types of things. There was nothing wrong with the animation, it didn’t need to be extremely detailed and fluid when, most of the time, they were just standing around talking.
There wasn’t much music within the series, there were maybe three or four distinct tracks that they used throughout while mixing in other, smaller ones to fill gaps. The voice acting within Bamboo Blade was actually very well done. While a fair few of the characters were quite annoying and had almost monotone voices there were other characters who seemed to make up for what these characters lacked. I was actually very impressed at the skill that these voice actors showed. I love watching an Anime that has an incredible voice cast and a few of these voice actors really help the series up for me. The sounds of Kendo were also fairly realistic, the snap of the wooden swords and the squeeking of bare feet on wooden flooring seemed extremely true to life. I give credit when credit is due, they did extremely well in this aspect.
There were no noteworthy extras in Bamboo Blade. It came with the clean opening and closing sequences and a few trailers for other Madman titles. Bare bones which happens to be the norm for Anime releases lately.
I’m good to put this very simply: It’s NOT a bad Anime. It’s an Anime for fans of Kendo and fans of “slice of life” Anime titles because that is exactly what it is and nothing else. It’s animation is fine, it’s voice acting is fine, even it’s story is fine, it’s just that none of it stands out or is groundbreaking in any way. That’s not to say it’s worth nothing though, it’s still a good Anime and, hey, I didn’t hate it! I actually looked forward to watching it of a night because it was simple and easy and I could follow it while also doing other things, it just didn’t blow me away and I doubt that it will blow a lot of audiences away unless they’re big fans of this type of thing.
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