I hope you’ve had a nice summer, because now autumn has snuck up on us, and it brings along a new sports comedy show called Bamboo Blade (バンブーブレード), airing Mondays at 25:30 JST on TV Tokyo.
It’s taken nearly three years for the manga to garner enough success, but with 6 volumes out someone decided it was time to bring out an animated version of Igarashi Aguri (art) and Totsuka Masahiro’s (art) collaborative work about a high school kendo club. At the reins we find Saitou Hisashi, whose experience mainly lies with key animation for a number of shows, yet seems untested as a director. Much more reassuring is the presence of Kurata Hideyuki as screenwriter, because his CV is so impressive that it leaves a sticky mess in my pants: Now and Then, Here and There, Read or Die, Kamichu!, and the list goes on.
As to the plot, it consists of penniless teacher Ishida Toraji, who during dinner with an old friend makes a simple wager where he’ll get a year of free meals if he wins. All he has to do is have the school kendo club he manages beat his friend’s students in a friendly match. Unfortunately, he needs an all-girl team, and there’s presently only one female member. Thus he sets out to recruit four new girls and train them to be victorious. First on his list is the unwilling kendo prodigy Tamaki.
The HD craze seems to be in good health, because this is a high resolution delicacy with a cheerful palette. Less cheerful is the choice to have ridiculous CG floors, but perhaps it won’t turn out too bothersome. The studio’s called AIC ASTA, with a history of shows like GUNxSWORD, which means it’ll probably be alright. Musically it’s a bit retro to fit the swordplay theme, but to be honest I barely even noticed it was there. Instead my ears were busy trying to convince my eyes that I was in fact watching Kamina, since the teacher’s voicework is done by Konishi Katsuyuki in a tone so insanely similar to his previous role that it’s impossible to overlook. The rest of the cast is similarly high profile, with Toyoguchi Megumi (Revy in Black Lagoon) as the blonde Kirino, Hirohashi Ryou (Sora in Kaleido Star) as the small Tama-chan, and Kuwashima Houko (Clare in Claymore) as the two-faced Miya-Miya. Most remarkable is Ishida Akira (Nagi in Mai-Hime) in his hilarious role as Miya-Miya’s boyfriend. It’s a great cast that’s only going to get better as more girls pop up in later episodes.
Judging an entire show from the first episode is always hard, but especially so when it’s about sports, because it really is the matches that define them, and there’s no sight of that part yet. Luckily the humour managed to carry me through the episode, even pushing me to laugh out loud on occasion, thanks to entertaining supporting characters. The end of the first episode promises an upcoming battle, so I remain hopeful and optimistic, particularly since I’ve been yearning for a proper “just-one-more-episode” anime now that OverDrive has finished its run. Rumour has it the manga really picks up once the entire team is assembled, and at this pace it should be around episode 5-6. My main concern is that it won’t be given enough time to develop properly.
Reminds me of: Slam Dunk