Saturday, July 2, 2011

Ro-Kyu-Bu! - 1

Get owned, triple teaming doesn't work.

小学生がやってくる ヤア!ヤア!ヤア!
"The Elementary Schoolers are Coming, ya! Ya! Ya!

Basketball isn't exactly the most popular sport in Japan, so it's always nice to see an adaptation with it as a prominent feature. This time, we get it with Ro-Kyu-Bu! and in the form of some loli sixth graders.

The story begins rather auspiciously, with the five main characters playing some basketball against a team with a dubious triple-teaming strategy. More telling, perhaps, is the scene that comes right after. What would you do if you were greeted by a bunch of girls in a maid outfits calling you "master"? Or "onii-chan"?

Most notable is all the cutesy fan service so early. Aside from the cosplaying and the various pantsu-shots, there is also a bold shower scene (reminiscent of similar scenes in Dog Days, which director Kusakawa Keizou also worked on). It would be nice if the show didn't exacly focus on the loli fanservice, though, since the overarching plot isn't that bad.
From left, Maho, Airi, Tomoka, Saki, and Hinata. Is it me or is the basketball rim attached curtains?

We are introduced to the main male lead, Hasegawa Subaru (voiced by Kaji Yuuki), who has been drafted by his blackmailing and manipulative aunt, Takamura Mihoshi (Itou Shizuka) to briefly coach the girls' basketball club at her school. (Somehow, Mihoshi looks like she's around as old as Subaru. Moe?) The club consists of five members: the small and cute Hakamada Hinata (Ogura Yui), the energetic and certainly unabashed Misawa Maho (Iguchi Yuka), the Amar'e Stoudemire imitator Nagatsuka Saki (Hikasa Youko), the rather quiet and shy Minato Tomoka (Hanazawa Kana) and the taller than average Kashii Airi (Hidaka Rina).
Who do you think is older? (From left, Subaru and Mihoshi) Also, she's frying the sun.

Right off the bat, the problem is that they really have no idea what they're doing (Maho gets confused about the shot clock), so it is daunting work for Subaru to get the kids up to level. Notably, Tomoka is the only one with experience, and she is also a bit reserved about Subaru being their coach, suggesting that she might have a rather tragic past that we don't know of. Maho shows a different side of her when she runs away after Subaru tells her that they won't necessarily be good after just three days. There's also the story behind Subaru, where he has given up on basketball because of his high school's basketball club's suspension due to the club president's crush on the advisor's daughter (who was much younger). And there seems to be a problem with Subaru being the girl's coach, as he's confronted by some grade school boys at the end. It'll be interesting to see how they develop the characters, especially since I haven't read the light novels that the story is based on.
Cleverly placed shower stall doors are cleverly placed...

The cast definitely has some pretty big names, like Hanazawa Kana, Noto Mamiko, Itou Shizuka, and Hikasa Youko, so the voice acting should be a strong point of the show. I rather like the animation too, since it's always nice to see the colorful and bright scenes. As for the opening and ending, they're a nice listen but not anything too spectacular. Watching the opening animation reminded me a lot of the KyoAni-Key adaptations, probably because they had the same style of introducing each of the characters, but I go off on a tangent.
Most intimidating factor: giant red ties.

Going into the show, I didn't really have the highest expectations, so it'll probably be something that I watch for fun. The first episode was a bit odd with the fan service (are maid outfits that common that grade schoolers can get them?), but I'll probably hang on into the end. Hopefully, the show can focus on backstory and basketball instead of getting trapped in the ever-alluring trap of lolis and moe and cute.
Vibrant and colorful artwork? +1.