OP: 「SHOOT!」 by RO-KYU-BU!
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「小学生がやって来る ヤァ！ヤァ！ヤァ！」 (Shougakusei ga Yattekuru Ya! Ya! Ya!)
“The Grade Schoolers Have Come, Ya! Ya! Ya!”
I suspect a good measure of how you’ll like Ro-Kyu-Bu! is going to be tied to the question of how you feel about a series that introduces itself with an extended scene of five 6th-grade girls in the shower.
There’s more to it than that, of course. There’s one of the most brazen panty-shots you’ll ever see in a mainstream anime – but that’s an adult, at least. And there’s a little plot too, based on a popular LN series by Aoyama Sagu (in turn adapted into a PS game and two mangas). First-year high schooler and basketball Jones Hasegawa Subaru (Kaji Yuuki) is devastated when his school basketball club is suspended for a year due to an indiscretion by its Captain, whom Subaru idolized. Apparently the lad ran off with the adviser’s daughter – who happened to be in grade-school. Thus, the stink of lolicon is on the club and Subaru by extension.
Enter his sexy Aunt Miho (Itou Shizuka) who more or less blackmails him into coaching the grade-school girls team she just started. The club sits at exactly five girls, and they’re pretty much all copied straight from the textbook. There’s basketball whiz Tomoka (Hanazawa Kana, fulfilling her contractual requirement to be in at least one show every night of the week) who seems to be the reason the others formed the club. There’s tall and busty Airi (Hidaka Rina), uber-sensitive about her size. Along for the ride is gamer and genki girl “Maho-Maho” (Iguchi Yuka), brainiac/romantic/glasses girl Saki (Hikasa Youko) and babyish Hinata (Ogura Yui). We’ve also got a preposterous gang of knee-pants schoolboys apparently hell-bent on keeping Subaru from staying on as coach and a couple of school chums from his high school, including a possible love interest, Aoi (Itou Kanae, apparently reuniting Ohana and Kou from HanaIro).
But really, this show is all about cute little girls and showing them off. It probably tells you all you need to know about this show that the girls decide to greet their new coach dressed in maid cosplay and call him “Master”. When that doesn’t work, they switch to “Onii-chan”. There’s not too much pretense about the fanservice here – there’s lots of it (though some of it fairly innocent) and the girls are awfully young. Character designs are over-the-top cute, which either helps or makes it worse, depending on your POV.
The thing of it is, though, that the execution isn’t half-bad. None of the three studios credited has ever been a lead studio on a series that I’m aware of, but director Kusakawa Keizou is a real veteran – he did the 2nd and 3rd seasons of Nanoha, the Nanoha movie, Sekirei and Dog Days among others. It’s a solid cast, headed by Kana. The pacing is peppy, the animation is bright and cheerful and the story could just be mildly interesting if they don’t totally give it over to fanservice and moe. There are a few funny moments in the episode, including a very clever bit where the girls converse online via chibi avatars on a tiny basketball court. The OP is rather bland, but I quite liked the peppy ED – although it does sound uncannily like the first OP from Minami-ke, “Keikenchi Jōshōchū”.
If you don’t stop and think too much about what’s happening, this one might be sort of enjoyable. I’m not looking for brilliance here by any means, but if Ro-Kyu-Bu! develops it might just cross the threshold of “amusing”.
ED: 「Party Love〜おっきくなりたい〜」 (Okkiku Naritai) by RO-KYU-BU!
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