OP: 「Make Debut」 by The Main Cast of Uma Musume
「夢のゲートっ!」 (Yume no Geto!)
“Gate of Dreams!”
All bets are off if Uma Musume will turn out to be the sports anime to watch this season, but it will surely be one of the most unique. The level of ambition the series has for its concept is riding high as they dedicate a bulk of the first episode to having us understand the logistics behind the horse girls with names inspired by history’s best racehorses, the Twinkle Series, and its rules. For it to be just racing with horse girls is one thing, but the series is also wants us to understand that they need to be idols as well in order to gain the acclaim, glory, and prestige they seek out. The complete package, if you must.
But what’s impressive is that the series wants to painstakingly tell us the ins-and-outs of the concept its constructed with leagues, classes, and skillsets dividing many of the horse girl groups. The series is reminiscent of Keijo!!!!!!!! in how it manages to take an idea for a sport that otherwise sounds like a joke to pander to a specific demographic, and then transforms it into a legitimate sport to be treated with the upmost respect as a technical feat unparalleled to anything like it. The concept, in relation to its phone game origins, seem like a joke, but the anime seeks to let viewers know that it’s more than a punchline or mishmash of popular ideas, as the girls of Uma Musume see the Twinkle Series as a way of life, a discipline worth mastery, and lifetime commitment to showing the audience who will go down in history in the upper echelons of horse idol racing.
The first episode, however, is only getting started. Special Week (Waki Azumi) is an admirable lead as she aims to be the best horse idol in history all the while dealing with her origins as a country horse, the new classmates she has in the big city, and her creepy new coach, who bogs down a good chunk of his screentime with his desire to feel up poor Special Week’s legs. It can be a little daunting to see how many characters are being introduced all at once, especially since we are starting out so soon, but it shows the level of ambition the series is working with to be able to showcase a large amount of the cast within the first episode. My personal favorite at the moment is the American horse El Condor Pasa, who ordains herself as Special Week’s masked rival. It might not be the best of the new arrivals this season, and doesn’t do as much to push the envelope as far as stories about aspiring champions following/worshipping their role models goes, but it is an ambitious series with a quirky concept and a fun cast of horse girls. It’ll be fun to see how far this anime makes it as it heads towards the finish line.