Ro-Kyu-Bu! Review

This is review number seventy six. It’s part of the Summer 2011 lineup. It’s Ro Kyu Bu! It’s twelve episodes of loli and loli and loli and more loli and sports. Sounds nice. I should say more things here but I actually write this part last and spend hours on the review. So f*ck it, read my review.

Story

Ro Kyu Bu is about Subaru Hasegawa who is a very talented basketball player. His school decided to disband the basketball team for a year and it left him crushed. His aunt has seen him neglect his passion for the sport so she decided to help him. She asks him if he was interested in coaching a bunch of elementary girls where she works in. They’re a group of amateurs willing to learn. He refused at first but agreed on coaching the team for three days. Can he coach a group of girls and can his love for basketball be able to blossom again like his aunt previously planned?

Taking the Pants Off

The Sports genre is a very precise genre. If you mix it with other genre, you should be faithful to the Sports genre above all else. If you don’t then you get a mishmash of a half-baked story about a team or a person attempting something you have absolutely no interest to see. The Sports genre should be about the sports and nothing else. The Sports genre is about heart and determination. It’s about the journey of a person or a team’s hardwork as you follow their underdog rise to success. The anime should mostly be about the matches where the characters get to shine and the viewer’s fall madly in love with the sports. It’s a tried and tested formula that makes a lot of Sports anime timeless classics. Captain Tsubasa, Slam Dunk, Eye Sheild 21 and Over Drive are among the list of successful Sports anime.

It is often a big gamble if you mix any other genre to the sports. Suzuka mixed Romance and Sports which ended up pretty nice but it could’ve easily survived without the sports. Moshidora tried to mix baseball with drama and ended up too short to be good. There are successful one though like One Outs that blends Psychological and Sports. Taisho Baseball Girls is also an underrated gem that combines “moe” and baseball. Mixing Sports with other genres can be done but it’s often a big risk. I mean the Sports genre thrives on the sports so making a lukewarm sports anime is like licking your elbows. Some can, others can’t. Lengthy introduction aside, how about Lolicon and Sports? Can they mix well?

Oh boy, the Lolicon genre. It’s the one genre where you don’t have to imagine hard until you feel you’re breaking the law. I’ve had my share of lolicon anime and some of them surprisingly work. I had my hopes up for Ro Kyu Bu thinking it’ll be another PapaKiki anime where the lolicon genre is used to lure viewers in then hit hard with another genre. I wanted a great surprise and I got one, but not the kind I was honestly expecting.

The anime was pretty straight forward. Subaru is just coaching the girls and they slowly improve. He manages to pin point their strengths and weaknesses which he uses to help them win their matches. They slowly form a bond together and their teamwork in the court truly shines. There is one catch though: the girls are all elementary students. They are under aged, under developed and they act pretty childish. The anime doesn’t let those minor things stop it from delivering fan service. Shower scenes, no problem. Panty Shots, they’re censored but it’s here. Childish flirting, we got that too. The anime is deceptively of the Sports genre but it slowly shows its true skin. It’s Lolicon. Big headed, bug eyed under aged girls charmingly flirting with Subaru. It’s a shame because the anime had legit basketball elements.

The first half of the anime is about the girls training with the help of Subaru. Sure there is a hint of lolicon but “Listen to me Girls I am Your Father (or PapaKiki)” had them too and it made the anime more intriguing. I didn’t mind all the girls seemingly having a secret crush on Subaru because the basketball elements shined through. Subaru nicely point out some great basketball techniques and the girls actually have a deep passion for the sport. Any basketball fan would gladly enjoy seeing cute girls dribbling the ball and making jump shots. The matches were pretty nice as well. When the girls are fighting an opposing team, they are all serious. The lolicon aspect of the anime is shoved in the background and the anime dedicates a lot of time for the matches. There is great pacing in them and they were exciting. You’ve seen them train and you’ve seen them try to overcome their short comings so it wasn’t that hard to root for them when they were playing an actual game. I was happily absorbed by the game because they were thrilling and they all had the elements of a good basketball game. I was thoroughly impressed by the fact that lolicon and basketball actually works. The first five episodes were great and I wanted more matches. I wanted more arrogant enemies belittling our heroes. I wanted to see more of their team work. I wanted to see Tomoka Minato do more jump shots.

I didn’t get it. We only saw one match then the girls decided to showcase a lot of fan service. The Sports genre suddenly faded and it was replaced by the Lolicon. The anime suddenly focused on the girl’s cooking lunches or bathing scenes. They would suddenly become clingy and more fan service was served. The basketball spirit of the anime was replaced by simple problems that the girls encounter. At first I thought it was for developing them but it was just an excuse to bring forth more fan service.

Then you suddenly notice that the anime isn’t actually about basketball but its more lolicon. Subaru is actually in a harem and he is happily living his days with a bunch of underage girls. A dream for some, I bet, but not for me. I was hooked by the moe Sports so I want to see some moe Sports. Not a bunch of girls in their bikinis learning how to swim or seeing an octopus wrap around a girl. If it was established in the first half then I would gladly accept it but it showcased sports so it should follow through. The anime suddenly spiraled into a harem lolicon anime which was heart breaking. If you were just going to objectify the girls then you should’ve done it more effectively on the first half.

The characters are all generic but they do offer something to the story. Since they all have pretty distinct personalities then it’s not that hard to like them. They were also given an episode to shine which was respectable. When they play basketball, their individual personalities shine brightly on the court and their teamwork is very nicely featured. The characters add a great depth to the game which I find very nice. A good sports anime utilizes the characters, both their strengths and weaknesses. Their passion for basketball is also nicely featured. Another Sports element the anime was able to utilize. Outside the court, they are very one dimensional because they often just try to act cute or deliver some fan service. The character’s personality was a great way to showcase the fan service though. An example would be Hinata Hakamada, the pink haired airhead, who often does the most daring of things like putting her crotch against Subaru’s face or grabbing someone else’s bikini.

The lolicon aspect of the show is indeed great. It just overshadowed the other genre. The girls are all great eye candy and they are all appealing to look at. Their generic look is a great strength because it’s not that hard to imagine another loli character in place of the girls. You can easily switch the girls of Papakiki to one of the girls in the anime. The lolicon genre is a genre you need to get used to though because the girl’s don’t feature their breasts or stunning legs. No, they showcase their undeveloped body and their childhood innocence to accentuate the fan service.

It’s a f*cked up approach, I’m sure, but you’d be surprised how many people love this kind of stuff. Hey, anime has dived into all type of genres so you can’t be that surprised it’s tackling a sick fetish like obsession for the prepubescent. As you watch the anime, you will find Subaru’s action a bit suspicious. There was a point where he was ditching his school work to be with the girls and his friend was actually concerned so she tried to stop him from being near the girls. His reaction is beyond normal but the anime covered it up with Subaru being mesmerized by the girl’s passion for basketball. I’m telling you now that the lolicon elements is strong and often uncomfortable to look at so watch at your risk (or pleasure, you sick bastards).

The anime is great and it proves that lolicon can mix with Sports. It just sadly showcased the genre I was hoping they’d just cover up with a nice story. I thought they’d take a page from Papakiki that featured the girl’s undeveloped appeal but never really used it to the story. They were cute girls but the viewers are more leaned to see them as vulnerable girls who lost their parents. It works because until now, I still get visitors who search for Listen to me Girls I am your father “hentai”. Ro Kyu Bu is a strong dose of prepubescent charm that is covered by the story. It’s a shame it couldn’t focus on more basketball.

Sight and Sound

The characters are all big headed bug eyed girls. It accentuates their cuteness which is a huge plus for this anime. The fan service was greatly achieved because of how the characters were designed. The girl’s look really complements their personality which makes them more memorable.

The animation is outstanding. I applaud the realism of the basketball elements. The way the character holds the ball and the way their body arcs while they dribble are all small details that makes it believable. I find it funny though that their heads are bigger than the ball but it’s also part of the anime’s charm. Tomoko’s jump shot is perfect poetry and I love how the anime really makes it special. The way the ball goes through the hoop is also outstanding. It’s done it CG and it’s so believable because the ball goes through and the net sways which is a nice touch. The matches are easy to follow because the anime really made the animation smooth.

The fan service is rampant especially on the second half and I don’t really want to explain it in detail so just look at the pictures below.

The anime also has these scenes where the girls are all chibi because they are in cyber space. It represents their avatar of some sorts and it is cute because they often have different costumes on while they talk. The preview is done the same way and it was cute seeing the girls try to deliver a preview while being pressured by the clock knowing the preview only lasts 30 seconds.

The opening song, “SHOOT!” by RO-KYU-BU!, is a nice touch because it was sang by the girls in the anime. It greatly captured the girl’s feminine charm while also reflecting on their strong love for the sport. The opening sequence featured all the girls and you can clearly see on the short montages how great their personalities shine while playing the sport.

The ending song, “Party Love ~ Okkiku Naritai~” by RO-KYU-BU!, has the same energy as the OP but it’s more “moe”. It was also sung by the girls and it was cute. It was hyper and their voice nicely follows the beat of the electric guitar. The ED sequence also features the girls and I love the nice jumping game they were playing. It was cute but it was also athletic.

Overall Score

5/10 “The Sports was overshadowed by the Loli which ruined the anime’s perfect balance.”

It’s a nice anime but it could’ve been better. The sports element was great though even though it was only featured in three episodes. The Sports genre was nicely set up and the anime was slowly getting stronger but it chose to be more loli delivering fan service than a decent story of an underdog aiming for glory.

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