This is review number one hundred and forty six. This anime is part of the Spring 2011 lineup. It’s called Soft Tennis. It’s a twelve episode anime about a bunch of girls in a soft tennis club. Nothing much to say, really. Let’s read on.
The anime is about a bunch of girls in the soft tennis club. They have a goal of one day becoming national champions but the journey will definitely be hard. It’s even more challenging when they’re a bunch of crazy people who spends more time fooling around and touching each other than training to get better in their sport. Is determination enough to keep this group of crazy people to achieve their goal?
Taking the Pants Off
I wasn’t expecting much from this anime. It looks like an ordinary club themed anime where the characters do stupid things together. It is but it’s somewhat different. It has some sports element in it. Sports anime are tricky because it should be all about the game. So a club themed sports anime sounds like a dangerous combination. It’s not as freaky as loli and basketball though but it has a lot of opportunities to fail. I feel conflicted though because I’m a sucker for club themed anime. It’s a new found love for me since starting this blog site. I hate to say it (I seriously do) but I finished the anime in one sitting and that only indicates one thing. It’s good. Definitely not for everyone but a good anime is a good anime. The anime had a lot of weak spots but there were certainly some things I personally enjoyed.
Like most club themed anime, this show has a simple format. The characters spend their time together in their club room doing crazy things to each other and joking around and stuff. In this case, the clubroom is the tennis court but the format is still intact. This kind of anime strives on the weird and the random to make every episode funny. Most club themed anime don’t have a story though. They’re loose individual subplots but nothing holding the anime together. Soft Tennis is different in this regard because there is a story that ties it all together. It’s the character’s passion for the sport.
The sports element in the anime isn’t that prominent. There is enough to establish some settings and use some elements to keep the anime unique. Some episodes usually revolve around the characters training or having practice matches but as soon as the activity commences, the club themed element of the anime reveals itself. During the practice, some characters would do stupid things and random things keep happening. A simple game of tennis would soon turn into a clusterf*ck of other random things. The funny part is that the sports element, despite being minimal, is the thing that makes the anime interesting. Club themed anime overdo things a lot because they recycle jokes or over use running gags. This happens in the anime as well but the moment it does, the sports element makes the save. Tired of seeing jokes about the club president’s zero sports ability? No problem, we’ll do a training episode and over use other jokes.
The best parts of the anime are certainly the sports aspect because it feels exciting to watch the characters play the game. The various elements of the sports genre are present in the anime. There are characters addicted to the sports giving it their all at everything they do that usually rubs off to the viewers. There are the interesting cast of opponents and rivals the characters meet and play against. There is the super strong player none of the characters can touch. There are basic moves explained and demonstrated in the anime like slide shots and curve balls. There is the good strong sense of camaraderie and friendship typically found in sports anime. BUT the anime isn’t focused on sports. There are just sprinkles of it. I personally think it’s a shame because the anime had the tools to be a serious sports anime but it doesn’t want to be a sports anime.
When things start to get serious in the anime, they usually lighten the mood by incorporating comedy into the scene. This exciting game the characters had against a rival school suddenly becomes comedic when the players started doing funny stuff. All the trash talking and the menacing aura of the opponents vanish because someone flashed their panties and other stupid sh*t like that. The aim of the anime isn’t sports but to ensure the club related aspects to fully shine through. It was a shame because I really enjoyed the sports aspects more than the fluff ones.
The Comedy aspect of the anime wasn’t strong at first. It takes a bit of getting used to the characters but once you do then you will definitely enjoy the comedy of the anime. Some gags are nicely executed and some jokes come out of nowhere to really make you laugh out loud. I personally enjoy this recurring joke of the cow escaping at night and the mother keeps yelling at her daughter to help catch the escapee. Some jokes are a bit flat though and others were so overused that it became dull. The random scenes involving the lizard and the club president lost its appeal because it was done over and over without any actual punch lines to deliver. It’s not that big of a deal though because the characters were able to keep the anime interesting.
Club themed related anime relies solely on the characters and it’s the same for this show. The characters are the strongest draw of the anime because a lot of jokes and gags are about their personality or circumstance. I like the members of the soft tennis club because all of them had some interesting personality to them that makes them valuable to the cast. The incorporation of the sports elements in the characters was also interesting. There is the goal oriented girl who takes on all challenges but also has a crush on their club adviser. There is the fast receiver who is an open pervert. There is the airheaded club president who has zero skills in soft tennis. There is the exchange student and there is also the quiet yet weird yet talented one. The interaction among the characters was pretty interesting and it certainly made the anime a lot more appealing.
The rest of the characters were also nice. The opponents they once face soon become side characters and they also have some pretty interesting traits to them. The incorporation of the sports elements was also nicely done. The side characters play their role well and the matches against the characters were a lot more interesting because of their demeanors.
There is another element into the anime. It’s Ecchi. Yes, there are a lot of perverted scenes in the anime. Like the comedy, it’s usually done in random and they’re usually nicely executed. At first, it feels a bit forced and unnatural because it doesn’t match well with the sports element of the anime. After a while though, the panty shots and boob grabbing became everyday part of the anime. The animation was pretty nice so the Ecchi was very cute. It’s not as shocking as most Ecchi anime but there are certainly some daring scenes here and there. I find most of them pretty funny but it does certainly need a bit of getting used to. It’s all good though because it doesn’t really ruin the momentum of the anime because of Ecchi is incorporated to the Comedy aspects of the anime.
Sight and Sound
The character design is pretty nice. It has some moe aspects in them but I love how the characters all have different body types and skin color. The bright colors of the hairs are also a nice touch. The character design looks a bit loli but there is certainly some room for the perversion to come through.
The Ecchi in the anime is pretty nice. There are some detailed scenes and it ranges from simple boob grabbing to nude scenes. There also some pretty imaginative scenes that often comes out of nowhere. The pink haired girl often imagines them up and some of the things she thinks of are downright over the top. I downloaded the BD version and it has some exposed nipples in it. It doesn’t really add anything to the scenes. They just exposed too much. I’m not sure how it was on the censored version though but you can enjoy the anime even with the censors. The panty shots, boob grabbing and lewd scenes are enough to fully enjoy the Ecchi of the anime.
The animation is pretty great. The sports element shines through pretty nicely because of the smooth animation. The movements are natural and the posture is nicely captured by the anime. The hand positions when holding the racket was also spot on. The smashes and the receives are also smoothly done. The matches had a lot of details in them to nicely capture the spirit of the sport so I admire that from the anime. They could’ve half assed this aspect but they didn’t. There are not a lot of sports in the anime though. The facial expressions are the best stand out in terms of animation. The random fight scenes were also pretty smooth.
The anime’s OP is “Rule Book wo Wasurechae” by ULTRA-PRISM with Shirodama Junior High Girls Soft Tennis Team (Kanae Itou, Eri Kitamura, Shizuka Itou, Satomi Akesaka, Sayuri Yahagi). Ultraprism did the OP for Shinryaku Ika Musume and that song is energetic and upbeat. It’s the same for the OP song of this anime. I love the intro with the amazing guitar riffs and the lead singer’s voice is also upbeat and cute. Towards the middle, the voice actresses continue the song and they had little lines but their voices still nicely stood out. The song nicely captures the sports element of the anime. It talks about never giving up and keeping up the motivation. The OP sequence features all the characters and some of the gags in the anime. It also features the friendship of the characters and their bond while paying the sport.
The ED song is “Tsumasaki Dachi ” by Kanae Itou. She voiced the pink haired pervert in the anime. I like the song because Itou has a really powerful voice that can really catch your attention. The song is about determination as well as friendship. It’s pretty good. The ED sequence features the girls falling down the sky after jumping of a fence. You’ll understand when you see it.
4/10 “Sports, Comedy and Ecchi. Hard to pull off yet the anime makes it look easy.”
I still believed the Sports should’ve been heavily focused on but the anime still presented a fun sports theme story about a bunch of crazy girls. It’s like K-on. It’s not about the music and practicing to be good, it’s about the girls doing cute stuff. In Soft Tennis, the girls are doing random and thinking dirty stuff. If you love comedy then you’ll enjoy this anime. I recommend it.