A heads up – I have to review the first episode of season 2 of Fate/Stay Night, but I can’t guarantee when I’ll get it done. In the mean time, have some adorable animals.
Cyan Hijirikawa is a shy girl who really wants to join the music club at her school, but her own anxiety stops her from being able to do this. Instead, she listens at the door whenever they practice and assures herself that she’ll go in for real tomorrow. After going home again without entering the club room, she plays her favourite music game on her smart phone and manages to unlock some kind of rare item – a guitar called Strawberry Heart. Then she gets sucked into her phone, becomes a cgi cat and ends up having to save a famous (fox)boy band from a giant monster…with this guitar, which can also talk. As if that wasn’t enough for her to take in, her music ability didn’t go unnoticed – the boy-band (Trichonika) now seems to be in her debt while another band (Plasmagica) wants to recruit her.
I’d been really looking forward to Show By Rock!!, as it had my interest for a few reasons. First of all it’s Sanrio – as in that one cute empire responsible for Hello Kitty – so I knew it was going to be absolutely adorable even if it wasn’t very good. Secondly, when the character designs were revealed last year I was immediately struck by the fact that the girls are all super, super moe, but so are the boys. It’s actually pretty rare to have a show where both the male and female characters are clearly appealing to both male and female otaku – usually it’s moe girls and bland boys (or zero boys) and vice versa. It’s interesting to see a character roster that caters to both fanboy and fangirl tastes simultaneously to this extent. Thirdly, it’s based on a mobile rhythm game, and hey, those are fun. All this had me excited in a show that would, at the very minimum, be an adorable load of fun.
And that’s exactly what it is. This might actually be one of the cutest things I’ve ever watched, and yet not in a cloying overly saccharine way like some cutesy anime are. I absolutely loved the character designs when I saw them before, and I love them even more after seeing them in motion. There’s clearly a lot of love and energy put into the animation and artwork – not just in the characters, but in the world itself. The music land Cyan gets transported to is a neon wonderland full of colourful lights and kinetic energy, and it really makes a great backdrop. Other scenes such as her room back at home have a nice warmth to them. There’s also a crowd-pleasing roster of vocal talents – including Mamoru Miyano as Syu☆Zo (which is apparently the correct spelling), the lead fox-boy in Trichonika – but I was most impressed to learn that this is the debut role of Cyan’s seiyuu, Inagawa Eri. I look forward to seeing – or rather, hearing – more of her.
The most interesting thing about the show that seemed to have taken quite a few people by surprise – myself included – are the cgi animal forms all the characters have. Cyan actually spends quite a lot of screen time as a cgi cat, and the boy band Trichonika spend more time as cgi foxes than as 2D fox-boys. These little critters seem to be called Myumons, and apparently exist within a special field that Cyan shouldn’t have been able to enter. Why they needed to enter this field to play music is unknown, but it’s also the field that the monster appears in. Reaction to these ‘Myumons’ seems to be pretty divided – some people hated them and thought they looked tacky, others found them adorable. I’m in the latter camp myself… I mean hey, this is a Sanrio show, and I actually really like the way they resemble figures. I’ll be very surprised if this show doesn’t end up spawning a bunch of figures, both of the Myumons and the 2D characters, and I’ll honestly be sad if it doesn’t, because this designs are too adorable to not be nendoroids. I know I’d get a Cyan.
One of the main downsides to me so far is the often misplaced humour which is almost entirely the fault of the annoying band manager character, who is…an egg, for some reason. Nothing he says is ever funny, but it seems like it’s meant to be, and he talks a lot. There’s also a kind of weird disconnect in the fact that the show seems to be so Sanrio-approved family friendly for the most part, and then there’s suddenly a busty secretary giving this egg implied S&M sessions. It’s…uh…weird.
But that aside, so far this is a really fun, really adorable show that’s currently a candidate for me to blog, although it depends on whether I like anything else better, seeing as I can probably only do one other show besides Fate/Stay Night. If you like shows with more substance to them, or aren’t a fan of blatantly cute things in general then this show is probably your kryptonite…but otherwise this seems to be the designated shameless cutefest of the season. You can probably tell if you want to watch it or not based on the screencaps alone.