Anime Secret Santa 2010: Bamboo Blade

23 12 2010

I would like to give a shout out to reverse thieves for this opportunity and fnsna (from twitter) for going through with this on his end. This is my first time participating in Anime Secret Santa. Right off the bat, I’d like to mention that I’m technically not an anime-blogger, I’m just a guy who happens to have an anime blog tucked into the corner of the internet somewhere. That said, let’s begin. Just… please don’t expect much.

What I had expected Bamboo Blade to be about was an all high school girls kendo club, and essentially only kendo matches. The only thing that I knew for certain is the ED song “Star Rise” is awesome. Oh look, here it is right now!

I’m convinced you can find a great synopsis elsewhere, so I won’t be providing one. Personally, I try not to look at them when I go into a series.

Things this anime does well include:

  • Animation changes to the sillier kind for comedic effect.
  • Catchy ending song.
  • Wide variety of characters, definitely more relatable than K-on!
  • Not bad humor. Humor that pretty much dies out near the end.
  • Fun facts thrown in, more so than the average series.
  • Plot comes together nicely.
  • Nice handling of the soundtrack to manipulate the atmosphere for comedy as well as melodrama.
  • It begun and ended on a note that was welcoming and friendly to people who aren’t familiar with kendo.
  • Tokusatsu/Anime in the anime as a sort of microcosm.

Good to know:

  • It teaches a bit about kendo, not as much as one may expect, but it’s easy to understand by watching the process.
  • It had elements of a hero’s journey/coming of age story, but since there’s no “main character”, the anime couldn’t follow through with that. Instead, the anime tried an approach where everyone got something different out of their experiences in the kendo club.

Overall, I think the anime appeals to all audiences. Normally, I find series that revolve themselves around sports and music to be unaccommodating. Especially because I’m very much removed from those circles. Bamboo Blade, however, was able to present itself in a more universal fashion.

This is possibly due to that “coming of age” and “hero” cycles that one guy who taught my senior English class kept on talking about. Coming of age stories are present in many famous myths of yore, and span until some of the more recent Hollywood blockbusters. Bamboo Blade grounded itself in this. Kendo and and kendo club were just vehicles that made the backdrop for the plot, not the driving force behind it.

For the most part, the Coming of Age archetypes are true for the “main character Tamaki, whereas with the other characters it’s just plain character development (possibly a more subtle coming of age).

Anyways, if you’re here just for the recommendation, then yes it’s worth the watch. For me, it sets the standard for any sports(ish) anime (don’t think I’ve truly watched one before). Also, I heard the manga’s good. Didn’t sample the dub, but the original CV’s were great.

*WARNING!* Possibility of Spoilers beyond this point.

For no apparent reason: Character analysis!

I feel like I’m allowed to do this for this series, because there’s a whole bunch of interesting characters that the show features. Of course, some of them hog all the spotlight. This is for the unsung characters.

The Three Characters: Sayako Kuwahara, Iwasa, Satori “Satorin” Azuma

Sayako Kuwahara: Generic, Highly Enthusiactic, Good friend of Club Leader Kirino, and somehow my favorite character. She’s the only one who I don’t see get any character development. Perhaps she started out as the most mature? I’d say so.

Iwasa and his younger brother Makoto Iwasa: Yeah, I’m a sucker for those “bad guys” who are competent and not really a bad guy. Iwasa was just that. Makoto Iwasa felt like a reincarnation of his older brother when he joined, although one of the members said “they seem completely different”. The relationship made it so it ended on a good note for me. (No picture of Makoto Iwasa)

To the right is Iwasa, left is what's his face.

Satori Azuma: A klutz, unresolved grade/test scores issue, glasses placebo, kendo placebo. Supporting role for “Miya-miya”.


Tokusatsu/Anime in the anime:

The main one: Sword Squadron "Blade Bravers"

Yeah, there’s an anime in this anime called “Blade Braver” (or something) that serves as a microcosm for some of the events in Bamboo Blade (especially surrounding the Rin Suzuki and Tamaki rivalry). It’s a tricky move to do something like this, though. The last time I’ve seen anything that was executed like this, was the “Gekigangar” anime series with “Gekigan Flare” within the series of Martian Successor Nadesico. But, honestly, I still don’t see a clear thematic reason as to why Gekigangar was incorporated into that series. It’s different with Bamboo Blade. Not only does the plot, rivalry, and symbolic transcendence (near the end) correspond with Rin and Tamaki’s part of the story, but as a person who grew up with Tokusatsu series like Ultraman, Kamen Rider, and Power Rangers, I think it ties in nicely with the Coming of Age theme of the series.

Noted Hero/CoA Cycle stuff:

There are a couple of things, but here is the most notable: The mother figure that the Tamaki has to come to terms with. Textbook definition too, since it’s normally a dragon. We have no idea who she is or what she does, I think she practices kendo. Apparently anyone who uses the “high stance” comes off as Tamaki’s mother.

Skillfully executed plot, like-able side characters, relevant “fillers” all help to push this series above average. It even did well in the ending department.

Well, this concludes my post. Looking forward to participating next year, it’s been fun.

*Disclaimer* You may see a Funimation watermark, images are property of Funimation.




3 responses

25 12 2010
Secret Santa 2010 Project Reveal « Reverse Thieves

[…] reviewed Bamboo Blade recommended by […]

26 12 2010

Good that you liked it =P, though I kinda cheated since I remembered that you tweeted about wanting to watch Bamboo Blade (or something like that) before…

good review =)

26 12 2010

heh heh heh, I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to watching it if it weren’t for this.

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