Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 325 minutes
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
The bamboo sisterhood.
It started off as a selfish need to win and turned into something even bigger and more meaningful than just free sushi for Toraji Ishida – who is a part-time teacher and advisor to Munroe Private High School’s Kendo team – and this is what makes Bamboo Blade, Part 1, a good start to a compulsively watch worthy anime series.
As it turns out, Ishida-sensei is on a strict food budget thanks to the fact that he’s just a part-time teach at the school and he will absolutely never turn down hand downs from his students. Yet one day his old High school buddy – a fellow teacher and Kendo enthusiast named Kenzaburo Ishibashi – makes a bet that if the girls in his Kendo team can beat the girls on his team then he will get to eat all the sushi he wants for a year. Really, who can say no to that, right?
The trouble is that Ishida-sensei doesn’t have much of a Kendo club to begin with seeing as the only one showing up is a bubbly blonde named Kirino Chiba. Then, one day, while searching for more members with Kirino, a pint-sized cutie named Tamaki Kawazoe shows up and displays enormous talent right in front of them. Tamaki sounds like the perfect candidate only the girl doesn’t want to join.
“I’m not interested.” She dryly says as she walks away.
The truth is that Tamaki comes from a very prestigious Kendo dojo and her father and late mother were skilled at it as well so it’s no surprise that the girl has the right skills. On top of that she’s fast and surprisingly strong so Ishida-sensei and Kirino try to persuade her but it isn’t until a boy named Yuji Nakata and his diminutive friend Eiga join the team that Yuji is able to convince Tamaki to give it a try. On top of that, Eiga has an attractive girlfriend named Miyako Miyazaki who takes an interest in Kendo and is actually good at it.
With Tamaki as his secret weapon and sweet Miyako is actually a promising-yet-ruthless new member (who also seems to have another side to her that’s is actually sour), we meet a girl named Sayako Kuwahara who wants to right a novel and suddenly finds herself joining the team. While Sayako is still learning the ropes, Ishibashi-sensei takes his girls to Munroe to go up against Ishida-sensei’s girls. The results of the match-up is actually quite impressive as Tamaki manages to not only win her matches but also takes on Ishibashi-sensei.
Later, Ishida-sensei has a runin with an old hag who happens to know somebody in the school board so his job is in jeopardy unless he can redeem himself by taking his Kendo team all the way to the very top. This, of course, means he has to pit his girls against other school. So their only chance is to get a fifth member to join and that last member happens to be a girl named Azuma Satori who is a bad student and no longer wants anything to do with wooden swords despite the fact that she too comes from a known Kendo family. In a humorous twist of events, the girls get Azuma to check out their club only to slap armor on the girl and pit her against Tamaki and finally having her compete in friendly competition with another club from a different school.
Unfortunately, the series’ humor isn’t as comical as it should have been considering the fact that the characters are likeable. Miyako’s “scary” side is funny once or twice but it gets old too quickly in the 13 episodes that make up Part 1. Instead of good humor, the series excels in telling a good story about five girls that come to realize that they are more than capable of pushing themselves to do better. Even the moments that don’t have anything to do with Kendo are fun to watch such as Tamaki getting a job to buy an expensive anime box set or Miyako trying to deal with a female stalker.
What we have in Part 1 of Bamboo Blade is a series that is addictively fun and just a genuine joy to watch. It’s been a long time since a series managed to make me feel the sense of camaraderie that comes with joining a team and Bamboo Blade simply does this so easily. I cannot stress how highly I recommend this series and how I’m definitely looking forward to Part 2.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Flat broke and in desperate need for food, Ishida-sensei accepts a bet for free sushi for a year if his Kendo team beats his friend’s all-girl Kendo team. The problem is with only one member in the club, he has to convince a few girls – including the cute yet skilled Tamaki – to join the club and win the bet.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
The animation isn’t anything new but it works beautifully for this series and actually does look a lot like the comic. You just have to love how adorable Tamaki looks with or without her Kendo gear.
AUDIO QUALITY: A-
The Japanese voices are certainly the way I would watch Bamboo Blade but there’s just something a lot more adorable about Cherami Leigh and Luci Christian in the English dub. There’s the great opening theme (“Bamboo Beat”) and an even better closing theme (“STAR RISE”) by the female Japanese cast.
Aside from the clean opening and closing theme songs you find on the second disc, there’s a few scatter of trailers to look forward to after the last episode. That’s about it, Bamboo Blade fans.
While not a hilariously funny series, Part 1 of Bamboo Blade is wonderfully amusing and will not fail to make you smile. It’s the kind of anime series that is just as engaging as the characters that make up the series and believe me when I say that you will be cheering on these girls all the way to the very end. This alone is well worth the price of admission.