Katt: I…was totally supposed to blog this series episodically. But, well, you all saw that HSA! kind of fell into a hiatus during the seasons that this series was airing. As things happened, I watched the first episode, liked it, but then stopped watching it altogether for no apparent reason until I had to watch it to talk about it at my and Tea’s “New Anime in Japan!” panel at Otakuthon. Since catching up, I have been completely hooked–this is the series that I most eagerly look forward to watching every week…er, it was. But it’s over far too soon, in my opinion, leaving a void in my anime-watching routine. Especially when there is apparently still so much source material that wasn’t covered! But okay: let’s focus on what was covered and what makes it a worthy anime to watch, in my opinion, while keeping in mind the criticism and praise that I’ve read others giving it.
Archive for the ‘Katt’s Recommendations’ Category
Katt: This is a recommendation that I have been meaning to write for a looong while. Originally I was waiting until I had the time to watch the whole series through again, but with K-ON!’s presence on this spring’s anime schedule, I feel that it’s appropriate to bring this band-oriented series up. It has been a couple of years now since I got into this series, drawn in by the commercials on Canada’s music TV station MuchMusic and having had nothing else to watch when the first five episodes were marathoned. I was hooked from start to finish, totally willing to stay up until the wee hours of the morning to watch the final episodes since I’d missed earlier airings of them–even though I had obviously gone ahead at watched subs of all of the episodes online. This series came at a time where my interest in anime was waning and it brought along a story of the rock n’ roll lifestyle that I just couldn’t pass up.
The storyline: the rise to fame
It’s a simple story, really. A version of the regular rise of an aspiring rock band, from the challenge of forming the ultimate band to finding the band members to jamming, playing clubs, recording albums, all to reach the goal of making it big. All of this drama doesn’t initially enter the life of the main character from the beginning, though. Koyuki is an awkward kid whose knowledge of music is pretty much limited to what’s “in” in the pop world. His inability to fit into the rock world is…painful to watch. Nothing goes right for this kid. He loses girls’ interest to the more appealing rocker types, he can’t hold his own in a fight, he can’t have his voice heard in a crowd…
In short, he is not suited to be a rock star at all. When Koyuki gets his first taste of the concert scene and is pushed forward by former Serial Mama guitarist Ryusuke, he has a chance to mend that. He becomes enraptured with rock music. His friends lend him tunes to listen to, he finds a mentor to teach him how to play guitar, and Ryusuke’s younger sister Maho helps his self-confidence grow all around. Will he be able to join Beck and become the rock star that so many people dream of becoming?
Character relationships: bromance AND romance!
BECK is a really great example of how I like to see slice-of-life done. The interactions between these characters are sometimes insignificant, while at other times they’re really important. Some conversations work out great while others leave the characters–and viewers like me–feeling horribly uncomfortable. It isn’t a perfect world. Friendships are up-and-down and relationships don’t just magically happen, but they are all there. The plotline is just as much about Koyuki’s unstable ties with his friends as it is about his ambiguous relationship with Maho or his trouble with bullies.
Just as friendships and relationships aren’t solidified from the get-go, the band isn’t either. Line-ups change, some people are just better for the band than others… Heck, the evolution of Beck is sort of like a reflection of friendships. You don’t stick with the same friends forever; sometimes you’re just not compatible, sometimes they have more important things than you, sometimes you’re just better than them. People come and go, but at some point you just get it right and you know that you’ll stick it out for the long run. It’s all about the chemistry.
Oh, and on that note–the band members are great. Each of them are totally different people and yet, as bassist Taira often says, they just have chemistry. Ryusuke is the lead guitarist who puts the band before anything else; Taira is the bassist, the most skilled and serious band member; Chiba is the lead singer, not at all serious or skilled but who has great stage presence; Saku is the drummer, a pretty easygoing and modest guy; Koyuki is a second vocalist and guitarist, providing a softer second sound to Beck. With such contrasting characters, no wonder this show has a lot of drama, right?
Music: in the forefront and the background
Music is everywhere in BECK. It’s explicit in the plotline, but it also frequently fits itself into the background, and it is never played as what I would call BGM. Its inclusion is alway sdone so that it is a key part of the setting, whether blaring while two characters talk at a concert or just playing quietly on a CD player at someone’s house. It really shows the importance that music has in the lives of the characters–and in the show as a whole.
And let me say this–I love BECK’s soundtrack. Of course the majority of the songs on the soundtrack are those of the main band Beck, but there are many other songs included to. You can listen to the music stylings of Koyuki’s favourite pop singer, or Chiba’s rap group, or Ryusuke’s ex-bandmate’s new sell-out band, or the rock legends Dying Breed.
And you know what else is amazing about the music in this series? The concert scenes. I absolutely love concerts and I find this anime’s representation of concert settings fabulous. Sometimes the fans are absolutely psyched and at others you might see them dulled by an opening band. There are all kinds of different people at the shows: the moshers, the fangirls, the hardcore fans, the music buffs. I’m sure that any concert-goers watching these scenes often find themselves thinking, “God, I hate people like that!” or, “That is so me!” You just know that Harold Sakuishi loves music.
Sub versus Dub
With a series so centred on music, the change from Japanese to English was obviously huge. Lyrics change and so do the voices that sing said lyrics. Naturally a change like this has sparked a lot of disagreement among watchers of this series, and I won’t bother spending a lot of time justifying my preference (dub, if you’re curious, though I do like both). Instead, here are videos of Koyuki’s major song in both languages–which do you guys prefer? Oh, and um, videos contain spoilers.
Like I’ve said, though, this is only one type of music among many in this series. I totally suggest searching for other songs from this series in both languages because they are so amazing! Scratch that. I totally suggest watching this series! I’ve obviously made it clear that it’s a favourite of mine and why that is (at least I hope so! I didn’t meld into gibberish halfway through, did I?), so if that was convincing to you then you should definitely check it out.
And that is why Katt recommends this anime!