The Winter 2020 Anime Preview Guide
Show By Rock!! Mashumairesh!!
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Show By Rock!! Mashumairesh!! ?
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How was the first episode?
I never watched the original Show By Rock!!, but it is no secret that I have a supreme weakness for stories about rock bands trying to make it big. There's just something about the different personalities and their respective instruments coming together to make music that I find infectious. Thankfully, Mashumairesh!! seems to be a standalone type of thing, so there's no experience with the original series necessary. Plus, for a season that has tossed some very dubious entries into the “Cute Animal Girl” canon, the cute animal girls in this show are fine by me. It helps that the series doesn't seem to be leering right up the girls' rear ends every time they turn a corner, which is refreshing to be sure.
Really, Mashumairesh!! is charming as all get out. I love the fact that everyone in the world seems to be tiny little critters aside from the main girls, who are just anime girls with fluffy ears and tails. The four musicians we meet this week are all likable, even if they fit comfortably into their archetypes. I appreciated how Himeko was allowed to be a little standoffish without automatically getting labeled as difficult or antagonistic. She is the first to recover Howan's missing audition form after the latter arrives in Midi City from her modest mountain hometown, and she doesn't hesitate to invite Howan to perform with her and the other girls when they set up a very fun street performance for the band.
That impromptu concert is the centerpiece of the episode, and it's a heck of a lot of fun, showcasing Mashumairesh!!'s slick production values and enjoyable music in exactly the way a show like this ought to do. My biggest misgiving also came from this section though, when the concert scene abruptly shifted to a very plain looking CGI sequence, with all of the girls turned into chibified version of themselves. I really didn't like this at all, and while I'm sure the Sanrio tie-in makes sense of why it exists in the first place, the show would be better without it. It is hard to overstate how much drama a musical performance loses when the lead singer doesn't even have a mouth.
That said, I really enjoyed Show By Rock!! Mashumairesh!!. Crummy CGI bits aside, this is one of the easier recommendations I've gotten to make all season. If you like cat-girls, J-Rock, or series about musicians striving to achieve their dreams, then you would do well to give Mashumairesh!! a look.
Though I never finished the original Show By Rock!!, I can still remember being charmed by its overwhelming positive energy, as well as its clear reverence for guitar-centric music. After two seasons of stories featuring the original cast, Show By Rock!! has returned with a new group entirely, as a fresh group of musicians seek their fortunes in Midi City. So far, I'm pleased to report that Mashumairesh absolutely upholds the charm of its predecessor, and is looking to be an endearing and musically rich production.
One of the things that most stuck out to me regarding this episode was the confident, lackadaisical pace of its opening segment. While the original Show By Rock!! dazzled us with world-shifting transformations nearly from the start, Mashumairesh's first seven or so minutes are entirely dedicated to heroine Howan saying goodbye to her snowy village. Howan sings a daikon-centric song while strumming a daikon radish, gets encouragement from her diminutive family, and is offered a sendoff by her whole community. These minutes went a long way towards investing me in Howan's story, meaning that by the time she runs into trouble in the big city, it was easy to sympathize with her feelings of disappointment and guilt.
Over in the big city, the introduction of Himeko and the rest of Howan's eventual band felt a little more formulaic, with the band mates themselves seeming both underwritten and over-designed. In spite of that, the sequence where they attracted Howan's attention through a street performance was genuinely phenomenal. Himeko's lead vocal performance and even guitar solo are conveyed through fluid traditional animation, and their catchy song rises to a resounding chorus as Howan joins them for one of Show By Rock!!'s familiar chibi-CG performances.
Show By Rock!!'s comedic hit ratio is quite strong, its characters are charming, and its music is catchy. Though I felt the designs of Howan's bandmates were a little over the top, the show's overall art design is polished and attractive, and the animation of this episode's performance sequence was excellent. Show By Rock!!'s return earns a solid recommendation from me.
Having very much enjoyed the first season of Show By Rock!! and then being disappointed by the second (as well as feeling a little overwhelmed with animal-earred girls this season), I went into this episode with an abundance of caution. Fortunately it turned out to be fairly delightful, with all of the joy of the initial Show By Rock!! anime and a few added bonuses in the form of Howan's family and the people of Eiyatto Village, whose game-of-telephone approach to the news is so amazingly true to how every small town I've lived in operates that it grounds the show. (Plus it's funny – over enthused mothers can spread misinformation faster than a teenager on social media.)
It certainly helps that this season is using completely different characters and a narrative that's based entirely within the world of Midi City and environs rather than bringing in someone from our world. Rural fox Howan's desire to be a singer sends her on a journey, and she's really got to start from scratch instead of just falling into a ready-made slot. Not that there isn't an aspect of that – Howan teams up with the other three protagonists on the street as sort of an impromptu jam session, but it still feels more random than it otherwise might have. There's also an amusement factor to how it happens – ditzy wolf Ruhuyo's assertion that the person who lost their admission slip to an audition will just appear if they begin playing sounds awfully like the idea of baiting a trap. I'm not sure if pragmatic would-be loner cat Himeko asks Howan to sing with them because she realizes that Howan's who they're looking for or if she's just won over by her gently wagging tail, but I doubt if she's going to willingly admit that Ruhuyo was right.
Despite at least half the episode taking place in Midi City, the pieces with Howan's family at home are some of the best. Mostly this is because of her rocker grandparents, who met in Midi City years ago and are definitely not entirely over their glory days. (Although Grandma seems to be over Grandpa – he's alive, you know!) The gag about Grandma flashing signs and looking fierce just doesn't get old, and I'm hopeful that she'll keep popping up as the series goes on. Howan herself is a bit too sweetly naïve right now, but that does help her fit in with the personalities of her probable new bandmates, all of which do slot nicely into a few basic types. They aren't immediately annoying, though, so that's a good sign, and the character designs are all different and appealing enough that this is fun to look at and certainly makes you wonder about figures to buy. I particularly like that the wolf and the fox look a bit different about the ears and tails; still both clearly canine, but also definitely not the same.
All in all this is a fun, pleasantly poppy episode. I would suggest at least some familiarity with the franchise before diving in, but I don't think it's going to be strictly necessary to enjoy it. As of right now, this is just a nice time.
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