With this newest season of anime I decided to just try out anything and basically everything that was new. As long as it wasn’t the second season or a spinoff that I hadn’t already been following that is, I mean no sense in being lost the entire time. Show By Rock! Is not the type of show I would usually watch. In fact I’m not sure why people would watch it outside of the humor and over the top cuteness. Though the humor would be the only thing to bring me back for the second episode. We open by meeting a high school girl that’s waiting outside of a club room. Her name is Cyan and she’s really nervous about handing in her application for the club which is a rock band. Not nervous enough to stop singing outside of the club room for all to hear… all but the band, but nervous none the less. After being embarrassed we jump to later in the evening in her room. She’s strumming her guitar and has actual skills with the instrument. At this point I was thinking “so this is just K’On” and I was wrong to think that.
She plays a Guitar Hero style of game on her cell phone in order to boost her courage and ends up with a high score and unlocking a Strawberry Heart guitar… and then is warped into the game… or somewhere… they haven’t decided to tell us yet.
And here’s where it gets confusing and crazy and slightly better.
Cyan is sent flying into this digital looking world and is changed into a cat girl (the costume is quite awesome) and we see a band performing and they’re all animal hybrids as well. Oh and they’re all in “Super Cute” mode or as we call it here in the States “Super Deformed” due to a translation error we’re stuck with that terminology. What’s weird is the show jumps between the CGI super cute and the regular 2-D animation and the switch is really, really random at times. At one point we’re introduced to new characters in 2-D and then back to CGI and then back to 2-D and then CGI, CGI. It was a mess and the CGI/super cute mode was pretty generic and shitty. When the characters look cuter in 2-D mode then you’ve failed at your mission.
Cyan saves a boy band from a dark creature trying to take their music stuff away from them. Honestly the terminology didn’t matter to me as it was super cheesy. Afterwards Cyan is approached by an Egg, no joke a fucking egg, about joining his label and band the Plasmagica which is a terrible name. It’s not even fun to say. We meet the band members and they’re all animal or food gimmicks as well and it becomes clear that everyone in this world will have an animal or food gimmick.
We meet the villain at some point and Cyan joins the band to fulfill her dream and in a very meta way she acknowledges the fact that she doesn’t know where she is, why’s she there and what’s up with the world… but that she also doesn’t care because she’s in a band. It was like, “hey viewer, we know you’re wondering about this stuff and why we didn’t address it… but it doesn’t matter because everyone’s playing music and has an animal or food gimmick and that’s cool right?”
And I was okay with that… maybe not cool, but okay.
Because the story is a mess. It leaps ahead, it doesn’t jump. It’s pacing is frantic when in 2-D mode and hangs out way too much when in 3-D/CGI mode. If it hadn’t been for the humor in the last third of the episode I would have turned it off by then, though I can see the Egg dude wearing on my nerves with his gimmick already. He basically freaks out over everything and goes on a tangent.
I dug the classic anime tropes like the teardrop, the red anger mark and the super detailed face when angry. My favorite was when Cyan would “Meow” and the character Retoree would blush and fall madly in love with her for a second due to the cute factor.
The CGI designs are a real put off. They were so smashed together that it looks like a head with legs and arms coming from somewhere. It wasn’t cute, it looked like Reboot and I mean that. It looked like dated ass CGI from Reboot. You may have liked Reboot back in the day, but I guarantee that you still looked at it and were like, “this looks shitty.”
The 2-D animation was fantastic and if it wasn’t for the CGI I would have loved the look of the show. Unfortunately the 2-D is interrupted so much in the beginning that I didn’t even pay attention to the art until, again, the third act. The character designs are great and they’re appropriate for their age and for younger audiences. It’s cute, not sexy and I was glad to see that given the age of the character and the world.
Man oh man, that story. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to ignore its flaws and obvious appeal to a younger crowd, but I’ll give it a shot. If the story was tighter and actually tried to explain what was going on rather than making a joke about how they’re not doing that, it would be pretty cool… well if it dropped the CGI it would be even cooler. For now it’s just okay and it’s a shame because elements of the story and art really are great, but they’re held down by the parts that aren’t. Unfortunately the parts that aren’t dominate the episode.
Show By Rock! 1.1 - "Have A Nice Music" Official Website