Attention all aspiring and current musicians, have you ever wanted to watch a show or anime that seeks your musical choices? Well, there is one that I finished just last week and it is called…Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad. This rocking coming of age anime will have you thinking about what it is like to perform in a local band, trying to land gigs and local agents in the wonderful yet adventurous world of music, and the lives of aspiring musicians outside of performing!
Beck follows a boy named Yukio Tanaka, a fourteen boy who does not know what he wants to do in his life…until he watches a band at the local café in his town. He then meets one of the members of the band he views, Ryusuke Minami, and begins to learn how to play the guitar. Throughout the series, he learns a lot about the music business and what it’s like to grow up as a teenage boy.
Since this show is considered to be in the Slice of Life category, there are many episodes, especially in the first half of the series, that have to do with the main character’s life and how he is feeling about joining a band and how he struggles to fit in at school. The creator, Harold Sakuishi, does a great job showing the slow development for Yukio and his love life and the relationships between the band members, but at the same time, I was almost disappointed because he is the only character that gets the most attention as an individual. There were some characters in this series that deserved their own episodes on how they came to love music and what they do outside of the show business, but the relationships between the characters make up for it.
The animation in this series is mediocre compared to other music series such as Your Lie in April and Nana (I will post my review for Nana as soon I finish a series I’m currently watching). The characters’ designs are unique in their own way, with different eye shapes for each character, but their movements are a bit awkward at times. During the performances, there are some instances of recycled animation, an example being the way the leader singer, Chiba, bounces up and down for a half a minute. Also, there are some three-dimensional movements for the band performances, which I sincerely disliked at first, but I got used to it towards the middle of the series.
For those of you who have read one of my previous posts, Your Lie in April: Review, you already know that I enjoy listening to all kinds of music, but what you do not know is my favorite genres of music: Rock, Alternative Rock, and some Metal. Beck’s original soundtrack, composed by various different rock bands in Japan, is mostly filled with rock music, which makes the series very entertaining. There is also an English soundtrack for Beck, with songs performed by a few of the voice actors for the series, and it is wonderful, just about on par with the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack! All of the songs in this series will have you singing along, especially the catchy theme song, Hit in the U.S. Gosh, I would listen to the song constantly whenever it came on before the episode would come on, and even now after finishing the series over a week ago, I still listen to the song!
(This is a small pro, but I loved how the characters cited some classic rock bands and guitar players, such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Steve Vai.)
When I saw this series, I watched it with English dub audio, which excels in so many ways. The English voice actors in Beck give realistic tones and voices for each of the characters, especially Greg Ayres, who voices the main character. He does not just voice the character, he also sings the songs the character performs, which totally blew me away when I first heard his singing! I would also like to give credit to Brina Palencia, who voices one of the awesome female characters, Maho. When Maho speaks normally, her voices seems soft and fruity, but her sweet soprano voice is like music to my ears.
After having some time to think about my rating on this series, I am giving this music anime a four and a half stars. Although the character development does not shine in this anime, the music and voice acting surely make up for it. But wait, there’s more! This series changed my point of view on how the music business works and also sparked my interest in classic and punk rock. If you are interested in music, more specifically rock, then you will definitely enjoy this series. Just as a forewarning, this show is definitely not for everyone. Beck has a lot of profanity throughout the series and some suggestive themes that are aimed for older teenagers and adults.
Well, come grab your guitars and friends as you jam out with the band members throughout their performances and follow the main character’s journey in and outside the music business.
(I would like to thank one of my friends from school who recommended this entertaining anime to me right before Christmas break. I had one heck of a time binge-watching it over the last week of break!)
Started watching: December 30th, 2016
Finished: January 7th, 2016