Monday, September 7, 2020

REVIEW: Bamboo Blade, Part 2 (anime TV series)

Bamboo Blade is a combination sports, comedy, and slice-of-life series. I own the series in two parts and opted to review them separately. My review of Part 1 is available here.

This review contains spoilers.


This is the second half of the season, episodes 14 to 26. Now that the team has five female members, they can finally properly compete. They take part in a training camp, and then a tournament in which Tamaki must face off against a cheating opponent, and Miya-miya finds her willpower tested when a girl from another school expresses an interest in winning Dan-kun as her boyfriend via a kendo match. As the series comes to a close, several team members struggle to stay motivated and committed to kendo, and the team's very existence is put into jeopardy.

Whereas the first half of the series was lighter and fairly unfocused, this second half of the series was more serious...and still fairly unfocused. It wasn't necessarily bad, and I certainly liked it more than the first half, but I found I didn't care as much about the characters' struggles as I was supposed to.

Ishida was facing the prospect of losing his job if the team didn't make it to the national tournament - or something, because honestly I had trouble keeping track of which matches they really needed to win in order for Ishida to be able to claim that he was too good of a kendo instructor to be worth firing for something that happened on his own time (he accidentally upset someone with connections to the school's principal). While he wasn't a bad guy, and I felt a bit sorry for him that he was losing his job over something like that, I had trouble rooting for him. I think the members of his kendo team learned more from each other than they ever learned from him. He wasn't a very good instructor, and the thought of him using their successes to try to keep a job in which he barely did anything rubbed me the wrong way. And anyway, there were times I felt like I was the only one who remembered that Ishida's job was supposedly on the line - even his own students didn't seem to care.

The incident with Kirino's mom felt like it came out of nowhere, in this series that, up to that point, had mostly been light fluff. Miya-miya's rivalry with Carrie was kind of ridiculous - Dan-kun clearly had eyes only for Miya-miya, and the revelation that Miya-miya liked Dan-kun because he resembled a pangolin she liked was both stupid and insulting. Dan-kun might as well have been Miya-miya's puppy.

Tamaki's story arc was actually not too bad, even if I found it a little hard to believe that the one person she'd ever met who could beat her was a girl only a little older than her. She'd fought multiple full-grown men and had been able to beat any of them as long as they never used the high stance, and even then it seemed more like it was the memory of her mother that was the problem than any lack of ability on her part. This part of the series might have worked a bit better if Tamaki hadn't previously been presented as basically being invincible. Still, seeing her have to come to terms with the fact that she still had some growing to do was nice.

Unfortunately, although I expected some sort of big revelation about Tamaki's mother, it never came. All that hint of a storyline boiled down to was that Tamaki's mother was the strongest kendo practitioner she'd ever met and that she'd since died, and I suppose the high stance must have been a signature move of hers or something, which was why it reminded Tamaki of her every time she saw it. That was pretty much it.

Overall, this show wasn't bad, but it felt like its silliness and more serious sport anime aspects were too badly stitched together. As a result, the attempt at a more emotional second half didn't quite work for me.

The animation, unfortunately, didn't help make up for it. The artwork had a tendency to be sloppy, and episodes 24 and 25 in particular had a noticeable number of reused scenes.

The very end of the final episode's closing credits included a scene that I suspect was supposed to lead to a second season, or perhaps encourage people to read the manga. Tamaki had an encounter with a girl who'd just spoken to Rin, her big rival at the end of the series. However, there's no second season, and I'm not particularly interested in reading the manga.


A textless opening and closing. I didn't like the opening and closing songs at all, so I didn't bother to watch them.

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