Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 325 minutes
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: January 19, 2010
It’s not the sword that matters but the one that wields it.
While the world of Kendo never really appealed to me, it does now thanks to Part 1 of Bamboo Blade. The great thing about the series is that you don’t have to be a fan of the sport either, although you might just learn to appreciate the dedication required to master it just like the girls in this series. This is what made the first part of this series so endearing. Part 2 of Bamboo Blade is still an engaging romp into the world of competitive sports but it’s missing the right moves that made the first part a blast.
Don’t get me wrong, though, there’s still much to love about Part 2 and even more so since it fleshes out the characters a bit more to the point that you’ll come to really come to admire their commitment and dedication to the sport they come to love. As I said in the review for Part 1, this is no longer a teacher’s quest to win free sushi but rather this is a quest to be the best.
In the first episode of the two-disc set, Azuma Satori still can’t say no to the Kendo club and – with a little forceful persuasion from Miyako Miyazaki (or Miya-Miya, as her peanut-shaped boyfriend Eiga calls her). This makes Azuma the fifth and final member of the team as the group prepares for ranked matches. Ishida-sensei – still worried about losing his job – decides to set up a training camp in the school over the school break and invites Ishibashi-sensei’s girls to join them. Of course, Tamaki Kawazoe’s overprotective father doesn’t like the idea of his little girl sleeping over but he can see that Tamaki is really excited about joining her teammates as well as spending the day and night with enthusiastic female Kendo fans.
When the first tournament of the year begins, a scary moment for Kirino Chiba makes the rest of her teammates – especially Sayako Kuwahara – worry when the team’s Captain doesn’t show up for school for three whole days. Turns out there’s a family emergency in the Chiba family and while Kirino brings her A-game to the matches, her mind is still elsewhere. Meanwhile, there’s a girl named Konishi from a rival school that is known for sabotaging her opponent’s chances to win and this girl targets Tamaki. In the end, Tamaki manages to overcome an injury caused by Konishi to participate in the match.
The series takes a breather from training and Kendo matches when the series concentrates on Tamaki’s other interest, which is a Power Rangers-type show called Blade Bravers. Yugi, the other boy on the team, invites her to see a live-action Blade Bravers show at an amusement park only to find herself going head-to-head with a fellow Blade Blavers fan named Rin in a trivia contest. It turns out that Rin and a number of actors are crashing at her place with news that they’re making a Blade Bravers movie. It turns out that Rin is also a Kendo enthusiast who will go up against Tamaki at the tournament.
There’s also a funny little side story involving Miyako, Eiga and an American Kendo fan named Carrie who finds Eiga equally adorable as Miyako does to the point that he challenges Miya-Miya to a Kendo duel over him. Again, the show’s sense of humor isn’t laugh-out-loud funny as much as it is really amusing and this encounter with Carrie or Tamaki’s argument over which Blade Bravers character is better is just that.
The series gets back to business when Tamaki and Miyako lose to their rivals in a match when they go up against Carrie and Rin. It’s a stunning development, indeed, and both girls threat to leave the team and forget Kendo forever. Then both girls learn a lesson about the sport and loss. These are things that make this half of the series good but I must say that the ending was actually quite disappointing.
Part 2 of Bamboo Blade is yet another slice of charming and fun episodes that makes this series so irresistible. Yes, this second half of the series doesn’t quite win you over like the first half but there’s still much going for this series that continues to be totally delightful, oftentimes inspiring and always amusing. That’s a winning combination in my book.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
With a fifth member finally joining the team, the girls and boys of Muroe High’s Kendo club finally feels like a real team. As they train harder and participate in tournaments, the team goes up against new rivals as well as deal with their own personal problems. The once shy Tamaki begins to open up and accept friendship and the powerful lesson of loss.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
Like the first part of the series, Part 2 is still looks really good and Tamaki just keeps getting cuter and cuter. If you don’t believe me, just check out the episode where she attempts to sing the theme song from her favorite anime.
AUDIO QUALITY: A-
The acting is handled nicely when it comes to the original Japanese voice acting and the English dub is good … especially when it comes to Cherami Leigh. “Bamboo Beat” and “STAR RISE” are still great way to open and close each episode.
There’s nothing but a few trailers (the Soul Eater official trailer being the major highlight) and the option to watch the opening and closing animation sans credits.
While Part 2 lacks the charming fresh start of the first part of the series, Bamboo Blade as a whole does not disappoint. In the end, it’s the great cast of characters and lessons they learn that will not fail to win you over plus these girls simply rock. You definitely should not miss this one.