Secret Anime Santa 2015~ Show By Rock and Getting a ‘lil Shiki with it

First, apologies for my tardiness. Family and work, plus holidays on top made a whirlpool of things I never intended to involve myself with much of either this year. But it did! Also, I don’t want to keep Hisui waiting. He doesn’t seem like the type of dude you’d want to anger…

So, let’s get on with the show BY ROCK!!!

My secret Santa recommend me this series based on my high ranking of series on My Anime List that are tied with music in some way. That was quite insightful, as I do enjoy a biopic or just a few fun characters messing around with instruments. K-On!, Idolm@ster, Sound! Euphonium, Kids on The Slope; all involve music to some degree, either on the forefront or as a device to create drama — or a balance of both!

Does Show By Rock offer something to be added on that list top music series?

Nope! Not really. I’ll be fair. I don’t hate. It actually made me think for a moment about what this might have been something I could have liked. (That seems to be the case every time I participate in Secret Anime Santa, but I digress!)

What I didn’t know about going into this series was it was based off a mobile game. Looking back, it made a few things clear. One, what the hell was going on, and two, why? To answer the latter half, the characters were created in conjunction with Sanrio. Yep, the company helmed by the white, mouth-less cat who totally speaks from her heart. Apparently, this was a project where they aimed at “older males and young adults.” Maybe that was more true for the game that I’ve yet to play, ’cause I felt the anime was steered towards women. I’ll touch on that in a bit.

The premise, which I have to remind myself is based from a game, is pretty simple in a dramatic way. The protagonist is high schooler Cyan; a girl who loves music but is terribly shy and lacks the confidence to join the school music club. Trying to pick her spirits back up from her lack of courage, she lays on her bed and plays a game on her phone. Suddenly, she is sucked into a world (that resembles a lot like the hippest parts of Tokyo) where creatures who resemble cute critters that barely reach up her knees in height. I guess these creatures were by Sanrio, but to me they look like Monchichis.

The CG scenes are actually done quite well.

Normally, people would ask what the hell just happened, but we can roll with this, right? When it comes to film and music, not a damn bit of sense can be had, yet, still capture the fun and excitement of an adventure. Think of The Beatles in the wonderfully creative Yellow Submarine or The Bee Gees’ creatively bankrupt take The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band. Actually, The Beatles were involved in some crap films, too, but …Damn, what the fuck, Barry Gibb?

The plot is pretty simple, which is good, but done in a convoluted way, which isn’t good. See, I usually, drink whisky while I marathon an anime series, but once I got through the first episode, I knew I had to be completely sober to digest what was going on. There’s magic and some bad guy who stays in silhouette that resembles Slick from Sinfest.

Man, I wish Slick would have taken control of the story…

There’s a lot of jargon thrown around, but basically Cyan and her bands’ duty is as fellows: rock the fuck out to fight evil! That’s pretty much what the band, Plasmagica, does. Since the bad guys are so simple and the characters that are combating them seemed more concerned about staying friends than acting with any real urgency, I just let go of any expectations of getting any real enjoyment from this series. It wasn’t trying to be ambitious, I understand, but I also can’t let it get a pass for that, either.

It was the interactions between the bandmates that interested me. The characters themselves are paint-by-numbers archetypes. You have a dog-girl (Retoree) who is a standoffish bassist, the bunny-girl (ChuChu) who is fiiiine and plays guitar, and then the sheep-girl (Moa) who plays drums. While there isn’t much to their personalities, it’s the tensions and conflicts that arises while being part of a maturing band that adds some depth. Retoree, being the one seen as distant, gets angry at Cyan when she learns that she’ll have to return to her home-world eventually. The scene kind of draws out, but not in a too-long-didn’t-watch way. It handle the characters delicately and come across as sweet when they reconcile.

Another bit was when Chuchu starts to become insecure how when Cyan starts rising to popularity. She becomes so entangled with her negative emotions that the bad guys start to use that to their advantage and influences Chuchu to quit the band and join their ranks. The other members decide to play a song she wrote and remind her why Plasmagica isn’t Plasmagica without her. It’s moments like that I wish were more prominent in the series instead of a ho-hum good vs. evil plot. Actually, if they wanted to emphasize the good and the bad in the music industry, well, you have just about every famous music artist to retell that story, and it’s real, too! Behind The Music: Plasmagica.

While I wasn’t enjoying Show By Rock, I was still on board- that is until I came across these dorks!

Shingan Crimsonz. Shingan goddamn Shingan… Why? Why did they traipse onto this series? Not even these assholes seemed they wanted to be here. They even have a few moments where they’re the focus, and they are the worst. Lost in the woods? Stay lost. A member gets into a hissy-fit and quits. GOOD. They added nothing to the show and actually took away any development time that could have went into Plasmagica. Their music sucks, too; not that any of the music is memorable in the first place, but these shitheads didn’t help matters.

This is all the more curious when Sanrio exec. Yoichiro Shimomura said that Show By Rock was aimed at males who liked anime and games. If that’s the case, this was as broad as a stroke you can make. I didn’t watch the series as it was airing a few months ago, but I did notice a light buzz from people on Twitter. I had the impression that it was enjoyable for what it was and planned on seeing it eventually, but after it’s all said and done, to be honest, I’m a little puzzled. Again, I don’t think the show is bad, but it’s very surface level. There’s clearly a sizeable fanbase in Japan seeing as THESE FLIM-FLAMS GET TO HAVE THEIR OWN LIVE CONCERT!

I’m tired. Mr. Secret Santa, I’m very tired. I thank you for your consideration, but matty needs his medicine in a form of a Jack Daniels bottle now.


 

I should also thank you for recommending Shiki, as well. I do love horror series, movies, games, book – anything. This series even pulled a Hitchcock’s Psycho by killing off what I thought was going to be an import lead character. She’s important, though, alright… However, I have not finished the series just yet, so I can’t give a full impression (and I have about twenty  more episodes to go), but I’ll catch up to it soon enough and feel comfortable enough to recommend it others seeking a horror anime series.

What I also liked about Shiki was how gritty it looked. It reminded me how Boogiepop Phantom was, albeit not as hard to see.  If I hadn’t have looked it up I would have figured this was a series from the time TechTV was still around. It was only produced back in 2010, though. The characters have that sort of sharp style that kind of yearns back from around that era. What’s gripping about it is that it stars a lot of characters, but as quick as they come, they quickly die, too. Real urgency is felt since people keep dying in this small, country town in the mountain area in Japan and there is no obvious lead as to way. Is it the food? A new sort of flu? Or something else…?

I’m at the point where the answers start appearing, but as to how it’ll all go down, I haven’t a clue. I’m pretty excited to finish it is about all I can say for now, though.

My Secret Santa also recommended Symphogear, another series that combines music with …I dunno what. I only got to the first three episodes of that one, but it actually seems there’s more to it that’ll develop. It’s just after watching Show By Rock, I can’t take more of these so soon, you know? This one seems to have mechanical gear-girls or something, too.With katanas. One anime watcher can only take so much after a while…