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CyanideBlizzard's Ro-Kyu-Bu! Tv Review

Ro-Kyu-Bu! Ro-Kyu-Bu! Screenshot What is this I don't even.. Ro-Kyu-Bu! Screenshot Subaru's first meeting with the young ladies. Ro-Kyu-Bu! Screenshot The power of teamwork!

Ro-Kyu-Bu! tv Review

Story & Characters

CyanideBlizzard (Cy) : Both myself and Distortion have been gone for some time from reviewing. We wanted to come back with a bang, but we weren’t exactly sure on how to do it. Do we come back continuing a review to a series we both despise? Do we choose to follow the same genre as the last review we did? Or, do we chose to instead cover something that is completely different. As in something that we might find enjoyable and entertaining.

Well, Distortion, did we?

Distortion (Dist) : I am not really sure. I know for a fact I did enjoy quite a few things about this show. I also admit I had a lot more fun laughing at parts of the show than I should have, and the two episodes I watched drunk were a blast.

Cy : Seriously? Well, maybe this explains why you were enjoying some of the show.

Finally! Could this be a show that both myself and Distortion didn’t find annoying? Is it possible that such a holy grail exists? I wonder what type of show this would be?

Why, it’s under-aged girls bathing frequently while two other secondary characters beat up the main character all the while accusing him of being a pedophile! Also the show was supposed to be about basketball, I think. It’s a touching, heart-wearing show about growth, the support of friends and that abuse is always the answer to every insecurity you have.

Wait.

What did we just watch? I think I’m mixing a few things up.

Dist : I feel weird about this one. It’s not that it didn’t offend me, because it did. It made me cry, laugh, rage in disgust, and despair. This is the kind of a unique story where it has a bit of everything. That’s also part of the problem. So let’s get to brass tacks and give an outline of what the hell this is all about.

Ro-Kyu-Bu : Fast Break, or Fast Break(because I’m lazy), is the heartwarming story of five elementary school girls, remember the elementary part for later, that decide to follow their friend Tomoka in playing basketball. The problem is that they need a coach, because the one they have is lazy and horrible. Now here’s where one of the problems of this story comes in. The main character for the anime and novels is the male coach Subaru, but the plot I just described for shows that the girls should be the main characters.

Since I feel really lazy, Cy will finally have to run down the characters, for once. Suck it.

Cy : No, you suck it. Well, for once I don’t mind actually talking about a bit of the story or the characters.

Fast Break starts off introducing us to Subaru Hasegawa. Subaru is a high school student who loves playing basketball. Only there’s one problem. His team was suspended after the team captain got himself involved in a scandal involving a younger girl.

Subaru, feeling melancholy and fresh out of after school activities, starts to fall into a slump when his aunt, the childish-looking and abusive Mihoshi Takamura, asks him to assist her in coaching some elementary school girls. Well, I should probably get into the reasoning a bit more as to why. Mihoshi is the girl’s basketball advisor at Kenshin Academy, a luxurious elementary school. However, due to her inexperience she feels that she can’t properly help the girls out. She gets the ingenious idea to blackmail Subaru. Her proposal is that the currently dejected Subaru needs to take over coaching duties for the girls and if he doesn’t do so she will spread around photos taken of him as a small child doing random small child things. After a bit of bickering back and forth, Subaru reluctantly agrees to accept one of the weakest attempts to blackmail an individual. However, he only agrees to assist the girls for three days. The goal? Well, I’ll let Distortion cover that one later on.

Subaru is introduced to our five heroines of the story, except instead of greeting them in a normal manner we are treated to the girls dressed up in maid uniforms and calling him master. Oh, so I see we’re going to be taking this route, Fast Break. If it doesn’t feel like it belongs in the series to you, well you better get use to it. This dressing up trope is used on and off throughout the twelve episodes of the first season and if it feels out of place, well then you aren’t the only one that thinks so.

However, when that is all said and done we are introduced to our heroines of the story. Or should I say potential waifus, as it seems to be the more objective of these girls rather than characters some of the time.

Tomoka Minato, the pink-haired main heroine of the story, is the focal point. She greatly excels at basketball and works towards establishing the girls’ basketball team.

Maho Misawa, the wealthy and immature blonde haired member of the team. We come to find that she loses focus easily simply because of how quickly she can adapt and learn something. She gets Saki to join the girls’ basketball team.

Saki Nagatsuka the long-haired, twin-braided, glasses wearing member. Saki is the brains behind the girls, and generally shows to be the more mature of the girls in terms of social skills and interpretation. Her parents own an okonomiyaki shop, so she becomes super serious in the episode when they decide to make that. Because!

Airi Kashii, the tall and short haired girl who hates it when people mention anything about her height, despite the fact that I don’t think anyone ever made fun of her because of it. She’s very shy and not very confident in herself. She also has a phobia of water.

Finally, Hinata Hakamada, the living doll. The slow, cutesy talking girl who refers to Subaru as “Onii-chan”. She’s a bit slower than the other girls, but she makes up for that with heart. She also has an incredibly obsessive and over-protective younger sister.

These girls are the main focus of the series, and we get to spend a lot of time with them, understanding them, watching them grow, and numerous bath scenes that do absolutely nothing story wise except to expel copious amounts of expository dialogue alongside awkward angles and uses of censorship that ultimately create an incredibly uncomfortable experience for the viewer.

While we may be rather harsh on the series so far, the truth is these girls are actually decent characters. Everyone, except Saki, has a character focused episode and grows as the series progresses. We learn more about them, and even with Saki not getting an episode it is quite plain to see that she grows just as much as the rest of the girls. We watch them start off, and root for them with every battle along the way. Granted, each girl comes across as more of an archetypical stereotype or a mold, but at the end of the show they’ve become something more. They’ve become individuals. While some characters, as we’ll discuss shortly, end up still being far too confined to the stereotype the rest really do grow and you can’t help but to root for them to overcome whatever obstacle they may encounter. While definitely lacking in some areas and far too focused on other points, it’s definitely a much stronger aspect than either of us were expecting from this show.

However, this sadly isn’t the case with all of the girls and especially so with the secondary cast. I’ll let Distortion dissect that one.

That’s right, I’m tagging you in!

Dist : The secondary cast, is full to the brim with bitches. I am not exaggerating here. His best friend/childhood friend. Bitch. His aunt, the supervisor for the girl’s basketball team. Bitch. Even the male basketball team, specifically the captain of the elementary team. Bitch. Honorable mention, goes to the teacher for the all girl’s school in the end arc of the first season. I could honestly care less what her character’s name was, because to me she’s just a bitch.

Aoi the childhood friend, wants him to continue basketball and thinks he will be a lousy coach, not to mention she hates the girls at first for taking up his time. Also she thinks that he will force the girls to do perverted things. So she beats him whenever she deems it necessary. Charming.

The aunt, Mihoshi, is a lazy, manipulative homeroom teacher of the girls. She seems to barely give a damn about the team or the girls, but oh man if there’s a misunderstanding, such as Hinata wandering into the male bathing area with Subaru in it, hohoho, time to break out the can of whoop-ass. Oh, so funny.

Then there’s Natushi, the male basketball team captain of the elementary school. I was confused about him at first until I figured out his purpose. He is a plot device, and his stance or personality change depending on what he is needed for. First he is used as an antagonist. Then he is used as a foil. Later as a bonding, or fond memory moment.

Enough of that though. The basic premise starts with Subaru has 3 days to prep the girls for a game against the boy’s basketball team. If the boys win, then the girl’s team will be dissolved and if the girls win they get to continue to practice and play. Can he get them ready in time?! The answer is yes, because that’s only the first 3 episodes.

Alright it’s time to move on to art because I want to, I have so much to do there. Well not that much but I have my own difficulties with it. difficulties that Cy seems to have overcome long ago, or at least gotten used to. Isn’t that right?

Cy : Not so fast, Distortion. You may want to finish this up, but we’ve got the most important part to cover here. The summary!

Fast Break has all the essentials to be a good story. A diverse group of girls work to overcome all obstacles and challenges while at the same time helping a young man find motivation to push forward. This show itself should be a slam dunk, or at the very least it should be an enjoyable watch for all ages. Sadly the show ends up alongside something that comes across as more of the middle of the road and geared towards more of the male demographic.

As a former basketball player and addict, I appreciated how the show handled the sport itself. Subaru focuses on training the girls in aspects that they either excel at, or else having them focus on a sole aspect so they can be efficient in that. This works as a fantastic element of building so that the girls can compete with the boys. After that, it’s about helping the girls continue to grow with the sport and overcome whatever adversity they may encounter. Dealing with personal problems, with fears. Or simply dealing with the fact that you can’t win every game you play. These parts are where the show shines and becomes enjoyable to watch. The show applies a realistic solution to the problem at hand. No crazy special powers are used, no fanatical plays. Real honest-to-goodness basketball.

However, Fast Break finds itself visiting Trope-ville and Creeperton too much. Far too often the girls are simply used as a form of fan service and honestly, it’s just uncomfortable when they are. The show constantly brings up the pedophile theme, essentially trying to point out how bad it is and what a negative it is. Yet, at the same time we’re treated to numerous bathing scenes with the girls. There’s even a great episode that focuses on Airi overcoming her phobia of water, only for the episode to boil down into a game of basketball where Aoi and her friends challenge the girls. While wearing swimsuits. What?

I get the feeling that this was meant to be a joke, but honestly it’s just bizarre and worst yet it’s completely out of place. Subaru’s basketball captain getting into trouble with it was a fine plot device, and Aoi being paranoid about Subaru being into the girls he was coaching worked because she’s extremely possessive and jealous. It doesn’t work when the show constantly hits you over the head with it. If you thought that it was an essential part of the story you wouldn’t be blamed, because it seems like it. This really made the show seem like it was going in several different directions, when the show was already focused on one specific direction.

Secondly, Aoi and Mihoshi. We don’t like to throw labels upon characters or use derogatory terms to describe someone or something. However, this is one of those rare cases that it almost feels there is no other way to describe them. Both of these characters, especially Aoi, act in a completely rash and almost inhumane manner. Aoi constantly stalks Subaru, beats him up severely and accuses of him being a pedophile. Mihoshi does so as well, though usually to a more joking degree, also contributes to a fair amount of the physical abuse. Why? This was a popular theme used back in the 2000s, but not only is this over played but it’s not comical or endearing. Other characters like Natushi and the coach of the All Girls school just come across as mean spirited simply to be as such. While Natushi has the excuse of being a child, the coach is far less forgiving. We’re to believe that between her and Mihoshi, these two managed to get jobs in a professional environment when they act like they don’t have a clue on how an adult is suppose to behave?

However, that is far from being the biggest problem. Aoi is suppose to be the main love interest. Or at least I would assume the show set her up as such since it seems to be heavily implied. Subaru doesn’t seem to express much interest in her and there was no real relationship development, but that certainly wasn’t the impression the show gave off. The amount of physical and verbal abuse alone really implies else wise though, and the general lack of interest that Subaru shows helps further support this.

Look, I know that this became a huge thing when Love Hina’s Naru Narusegawa was one of the first characters to have this trait. She wasn’t an endearing character because of this trait and it has never been endearing in any other character that has had it. Putting an abusive character with tsundere tendencies isn’t something that we, the audience will get attached to. Especially when that character doesn’t change or make any amends to rectify their actions. I don’t think either of us could understand why on Earth Subaru could stand being around this girl, much less why he didn’t tell her off. I would go so far as to say that Aoi itself is the biggest problem this show has, simply because every scene she’s present in just makes the viewer angry and frustrated. This is compared with the underage fan service too.

This also brings me to the last problem we had. Subaru and Hinata. Despite the fact that the girls really should be the star of the show, he is. Sadly, Subaru himself doesn’t have much of a personality. He works as a great motivator to help the girls overcome their obstacles and we can see why the girls in return become so attached to him. However he himself has very little in the way of personality. It’s even worse that he lets himself be labeled and bullied around all the while not saying anything about it. It’s also a shame too because Hinata also just ends up being a bundle of cliches and tropes instead of an actual character. She by far suffers from the least amount of growth and gave us both the greatest impression that she’s simply there to attract a specific fanbase. We really wish that both of these characters could have been developed more and that the series itself focused more on development and establishing our characters.

At the end of it all, these aspects really hurt the show. Unlikable characters, forced fan service for underaged girls, the unnecessary physical abuse, excessive use of tropes and stereotypes, and just a general underline creepy tone really prevent this show from being endearing or heart warming to the fullest of extent. The worst part is it really shouldn’t of. There are plenty of scattered moments of comedy, bonding and character growth throughout the twelve episodes. As a basketball focused show, it does a pretty good job. As a character building show, it also does a fairly decent job. However, too many cooks in the kitchen result in a mess and in return we’re left with a show that feels like five different individuals wrote a story and someone just meshed it all together. I cannot say if the light novels are like this, but we certainly felt that way when it came to the TV show.

Rating: 6

Art

Cy : I have to say the art is one aspect that really is just middle of the road. Fast Break, despite being a sports based show, has very little in the way of overall animation. The light novel artist for the series is Tinkle and as you can tell by the artwork itself, it’s not something that could easily be adapted for animation. The style that is created remains faithful to the series, but boy is it all over the place. Both in terms of consistency and in terms of animation.

The basketball scenes themselves, like the rest of the show, are the star player here. Or at least they aren’t warming the bench. By far, the most fluid in terms of animation and consistent in terms of quality. Sadly, not everything else in the show represents the quality shown in the games or practice. We get a fair amount of still based imagery, and the character design seems to slightly vary in certain episodes. The backgrounds themselves also seem to get a similar treatment with the basketball focused parts being the better looking scenes above all else.

I can’t really think of a good way to describe the art, because by no means is it top quality or bottom of the barrel. However, the show itself would have certainly benefited further from having more of the budget focused on the animation instead of the vocal work.

However, I think Distortion wants to talk about the fan service now, so I’m going to turn it over to him.

Dist : I have to admit the art is almost all over the place. The backgrounds are some of the worst I have seen yet. I know a background is supposed to be generic but they don’t also need to be bland. Though there are a few exceptions to that. The background art for the basketball courts was great and showed some decent detail.

Now on to the character art. Before I get into the fan service art this series has, I need to make mention of character height in this show. These girls are 11 years old, approximately, and they are almost eye level with Subaru, and his friends, who are in high school. Does everything on these girls need to shine? It’s this odd thing that starts off as inconvenient and then becomes irritating. Not to mention the outfits for these girls. Gotta have them in tight black shorts, and make sure you draw the ass of that 11 year old girl perfectly, because we are going to have most of our shots focusing on that. It was uncomfortable to say the least.

Cy : Seriously, this probably stems one of the greater parts of the uncomfort from the show artistically. You’d think with a school that looks as regal as the one they attend, they would've worked on getting the girls some proper uniforms at some point in the show.

Dist : And as mentioned before, all the bathing shots. I’m not even talking the cliche hot-springs episode. They would just have scenes of them bathing. In the locker showers, fine, but how many elementary teams hit the showers after practice? Then the really creepy shots of them bathing on their own. Do I belong on a predator list after watching this?

The art over all can be summarized as cutesy. Which if that’s your thing, fine. I found it awful after watching half this series.

But enough of me questioning the logic of the universe. Onto sound, because I oh, so loved the voice of Hinata.

Rating: 4

Sound

Cy : Don’t remind me about all of that, Dist.

Sound is, without a doubt, a stronger aspect of Fast Break overall. It also further supports our proof that this show is aimed at waifu material.

Subaru is voiced by Yūki Kaji (Accel World and Guilty Crown). Tomoka is voiced by Kana Hanazawa (she’s in virtually everything these days, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Kotoura-san, Ore no Imouto). Maho is voiced by Yuka Iguchi (Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Toaru Majutsu no Index, Senran Kagura). Saki is voiced by Yōko Hikasa (Campione!, Seitokai Yakuindomo, Hataraku Maou-sama). Airi is voiced by Rina Hidaka (Kono Naka, Campione!, Ano Natsu de Matteru) and finally Hinata is voiced by Yui Ogura (Oda Nobuna no Yabo, Kono Naka).

Dist : You know you’re just throwing names at me and everyone else now.

Fine, to sum it up it means that this is an all-star cast of hot talent. Especially the vocal works of Miss Hanazawa, Miss Iguchi, and Miss Hikasa. Granted, no performance really stole the show or really swayed us, but I personally felt that the voice of Tomoka and Saki really were the ones that showed the most promise. They portrayed a nice range of vocals and while there was never anything really dynamic or award winning, they fit into their characters nicely. I can’t really blame the actresses for not being able to expand more because frankly, there wasn’t much expansion to be done with the material they had to work with.

In terms of opening and ending, all five of the ladies performed Japanese mixed with Engrish songs. While certainly not being anything you’d be banging down doors for, it was a clever idea on the shows part. Each of the ladies are more than popular in their own right, and getting each of them a chance to sing and work together was a smart move. Although it is quite obvious that some can sing far better than others, it was a clever idea.

Sadly, like with the animation and the story, the background music is completely forgettable when they aren’t preparing for a game or playing one. When they were, the music was motivating and fit the scene. As for the rest, well, I can’t say I remember much of anything about it except for that it serviced the scene. By far not being bad, it was straight down the center and what one would expect from a show that is focused on slice-of-life.

Who knows, maybe Distortion felt that sound was less up his alley. I know he really dug the voice of Hinata. Didn’t you?

Dist : I’m not sure why but most of the voices I found grating. Though I get why they chose to do what they did and why.

Let’s just say there are a lot of high pitched, loud or quiet voices assaulting your ears. Most notably Hinata. I could hate her character based on her voice alone. Same with Airi. The others really didn’t stand out, and by others I mean everyone else in the cast.

Also Cy mentions music, and it’s funny but I don’t even remember music in the background of the show. Was it that bland? That’s not a good sign. The only music I barely even remember was the opening and ending, which I forced Cy to watch with me at least once, due to habit.

Overall sound is lackluster. Now we’ve been harping on this show for too long, and complaining too much. Time for it to redeem itself.

Rating: 5

Presentation

Dist : As much as we have been nitpicking, the story itself is actually not that bad. When it focuses on a character it does it well, when it focuses on the game it works, basically everything that a sports show should do.

It’s when the show decides to force it’s “humor” is when it falls on it’s face. It also spends way too much time focusing on Subaru, when no one really gives a damn, or should. The focus should be on the girls, but that too is a problem because when it does focus on them, they are almost always having the oddest conversations that make me feel quite uncomfortable. Thankfully these are fairly far and few between.

Overall I’m a bit mixed about this one. It’s not boring and will keep your attention throughout, but there are just so many bad cliche choices and directions to where I can’t give this more than anything but mediocre. It was an interesting watch but not one I would watch again. Let’s see if Cy’s opinion differs, and if it does he gets a cookie.

Cy : Sadly, there are no cookies for me. While we were rather harsh on the show itself, I ultimately found it to be an enjoyable experience. Yet, at the same time it’s an experience I would never want to do again. I had previously watched the show to do a review by myself, but ended up saving it for a collaborative experience since it just is such an interesting bird.

Fast Break, by it’s content, should be a pretty enjoyable experience. As Dist mentioned, the basketball and character elements work and work rather well. It’s nothing that truly stands out, but by no means is it bad. However, the poor secondary characters, some really questionable decisions for art and for direction really just shoot this bird out of the sky. The end result is we are left with something that I really don’t know how to feel about. Despite the levels of discomfort and poor characters, it still was an interesting watch. I’d be curious if the upcoming second season could do any better, but I don’t know if I could watch another season if they decide to keep everything the same.

We'd like to also note that those that do not mind excessive fan service and try to watch every show that the voice actresses are in will most likely enjoy this show far more, while those that do not like those elements should be highly warned, or else stay away.

Rating: 6

Final Verdict

5.50 (average)

Reviewed by CyanideBlizzard, Apr 29, 2013

Comments

  1. gioeli76 Apr 29, 2013

    That line "Gotta have them in tight black shorts, and make sure you draw the ass of that 11 year old girl perfectly, because we are going to have most of our shots focusing on that." had me laughing my ass offf! I swear, I had to make sure Chris Hansen wasn't spying on me while watching this show. Maybe if the girls were.....older?.....this show would atleast be tolerable. Maybe theres some people who like that stuff, but i just don't. Also, i know very little about basketball sooooo, this show was just "ugh" to me.

  2. happytail73 Apr 29, 2013

    Very Informative and enjoyable collaborative review coming from both of you. It was far more enjoyable than the whole series itself.

  3. SnickerdoodleNinja Retired Moderator May 14, 2013

    Here are the judge comments from the contest! I included score breakdowns per Cy's request.
    Judge 1:
    Thoroughness: extremely thorough, basically filled to the brim with details - sometimes too many, especially in the characters section. While the first part of the section is entertaining to read, my interest gradually diminished when I kept scrolling down and there was no end to it. Not every aspect needed to be analyzed. Overall, this comes across as more of an essay than a review.
    Score: 3/5

    Style: very interesting way to review a series - as a team! It almost sounds like a movie riff: dynamic, objective and thorough, with a great opportunity to present opposing views and arguments. Disguising said arguments as a simple dialogue between friends is a great way to engage the reader and make them feel like they're actually part of the conversation and not just being lectured/read to.
    Score: 5/5

    Objectivity: while the review is written in an informal manner, there's quite a number of actual facts presented, facts which are backed up by either personal or universally applicable reasons. Some parts could be worded more objectively and the language could be more refined at times, but it ultimately comes down to the reviewer's style.
    Score: 4/5

    Balance: ratings-wise, the review is well done: all the grades are fully explained, so we're not left in the dark about the reasons behind the lower numbers. However, the balance is thrown off by the sheer length of the sections: the Plot section takes up twice as much space as the others, with most of it being quite repetitive (character descriptions) or overly analytic (characters' actions). The varying tones somewhat make up for the ensuing boredom, but they're not enough to completely sell this review.
    Score: 4/5

    16/20

    Judge 2:
    This is the sort of review that pulls in readers and makes them want to read more despite its long length. The collaboration effort alone would have been impressive, but the unique voices of each reviewer and balance between the two really played off of each other well. Very thorough, although at times it did seem to give up some objectivity in favor of style. Still, the review was surprisingly fair given the subject matter and the clear opinions of the reviewers. Maybe try to keep things at shout-box level language next time, but excellent work! A great review. (Oh, and the basketball phrases worked in casually? I see what you did there.)

    Style: 5
    Thoroughness: 5
    Objectivity: 3
    Balance: 4

    17/20

    Judge 3:
    A unique review style that although lengthy, I didn't mind because I enjoyed the tag-team format. Both reviewers had their own unique style, but together they worked! Lots of pertinent information. Objectivity suffered due to the format of the review, but despite that, both reviewers made sure to point out both positive and negative aspects of the series. Fabulously written!

    style: 5
    thoroughness: 5
    objectivity: 3
    balance: 4

    17/20

    EDIT: Secret Judge comments:
    Style: 4.0 points I really enjoyed the interesting review done in a form of casual banter from each of the reviewers.

    Thoroughness: 4.75 points The review was extremely fact filled and included a very good overview of the series.

    Objectivity: 3.5 The review ended up being very objective due to having the opinion of two reviewers.

    Balance: 3.0 Also, because there were two viewpoints from the two sides of the reviewers, there was a fair balance to the review.

    Miscellaneous: -1.5 points Although the review was very well done it was redundant in portions and in my opinion, copiously lengthy.

    13.75/20
    ----------------------------------
    Thank you both for competing, and congrats on third place! :)

    On a side note, the Psych link/reference made my day. :'D

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