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The Summer 2024 Anime Preview Guide
Rising Impact Season 1

How would you rate episode 1 of
Rising Impact (ONA) ?
Community score: 3.3

What is this?


When third-grader Gawain Nanaumi's natural gift for golf is accidentally discovered by a pro player, the boy embarks on a journey to be the world's best golfer.

Rising Impact is based on the Rising Impact manga series by Nakaba Suzuki. The anime series is streaming on Netflix.

How was the first episode?

Rebecca Silverman

You have to hand it to Nakaba Suzuki: he knows what he likes, and what he likes is Arthurian legend. But where his more recent series in The Seven Deadly Sins franchise uses a modern fantasy background for tales of the Once and Future King, Rising Impact is about golf…with a kid named Gawain. I can't say that Gawain is the Round Table Knight who immediately screams "golf" to me – if I had to choose, I'd have to go with one of the guys named Bors – but presumably, the use of one of Arthur's most honorable and talented knights is meant to show that Suzuki's Gawain is gifted and an adherent of good sportsmanship. Given that The Seven Deadly Sins gives every indication of Suzuki having done his research, I'm choosing optimism here.

Arthurian lore aside, Rising Impact's first episode isn't all that different from a thousand sports series you've seen or read before. Gawain, a precocious third grader, is discovered by pro golfer Kiria when she goes for a getaway in the rural mountains. Gawain helps her when a footbridge is out, and she's instantly impressed by his balance and way of carrying himself.

When he pooh-poohs golf, she whips out her clubs to show him a thing or two, and Gawain is instantly hooked. His pride in having a good batting range in baseball is immediately squashed when he realizes how much farther a golf club can hit a ball, and even without caring about the physics of it, he is determined to master this new-to-him sport. He is, of course, preternaturally gifted, and Kiria is impressed enough to ask Gawain's grandfather to send him to Tokyo to train.

The episode hits all of these basic plot points capably enough. As an added bonus (or a detriment, depending on your preferences), Gawain isn't sexually precocious as well as endowed with sports skills. There's one or two comments about Kiria having large breasts, but that's it, and Gawain never touches them or falls into them or anything of that nature. He's a reasonably realistic, enthusiastic little kid, and that helps make this episode appealing. The backgrounds in his mountain hometown are also excellent, with each tree carefully drawn rather than a sort of monolith of a forest and the rocky trails looking familiar to anyone who's ever gone hiking. The character designs aren't great – they're much more generic looking than Suzuki's later art – but overall, the episode looks good enough. It didn't grab my interest, though, more because it feels very by the numbers than because I don't entirely understand golf. But it's good enough to check out if you do like golf or want to see where Nakaba Suzuki started as a creator.

How was the first episode?

Nicholas Dupree

Of all the decades-old manga that could suddenly get a new adaptation, I certainly wouldn't have pegged this relatively brief golf story from Nakaba Suzuki. I figured The Seven Deadly Sins did well, but I didn't realize it was big enough that Netflix was raring to revitalize a 25-year-old series on his name alone. That odd choice is probably the most interesting aspect of what is otherwise a pretty straightforward, middle-of-the-road title. This is one of those shows where there's nothing fundamentally wrong with it, but it fails to leave much of an impression if you're at all familiar with the genre.

Well, okay, the first ten or so minutes did leave an impression, just not a very good one. Part of it is that I cannot stand Gawain's voice – something about Misaki Kuno trying to portray children just grates on my nerves, and Gawain himself is an obnoxious little twerp through his introduction. Kiria isn't much better, the thin-tempered female character who starts beefing with children for calling her old or saying she doesn't have a boyfriend. It's a hoary old character trope that was already tired in 1998 when the manga started, and it has not aged gracefully since. Together, they make for an irritating duo who aren't funny nor charming and never shut the hell up.

Thankfully, once the topic of golf comes up, the show lays off the obnoxious comedy enough to be watchable and, from there, delivers a perfectly serviceable story with all the emotional beats you've seen in any other sports anime. In fact, those beats are a little simpler and less interesting just because Gawain, as a third grader, has an extremely simplistic reason for devoting his life to golf. He decides he loves golf because it lets you hit the ball farther than any other sport, and it's his lifelong dream to become "the longest hitter" in the world. Also, it feels nice when he hits the ball well. Those are our main character's driving motivations, and if that's not enough to get you hooked to follow his journey, tough luck.

Granted, I'll take a simple and unsurprising story over an annoying one, and once Gawain stops being an irritating ankle-biter, he's an unobjectionable shonen protagonist if you've ever seen one. Without his constant antagonism, Kiria even seems cool, seeing as she's an accomplished professional athlete in her own right. They might even make for an engaging duo as a pupil and mentor. I don't think I'll stick around to find out, though. Rising Impact manages to be more entertaining to watch than 20 minutes of actual golf, but that alone isn't enough to be worth your time, and there are plenty of better sports shows to try before this one.

James Beckett

I don't know when or why this "Adult Golf Pro Forms a Mentor/Parent Relationship With a Preternaturally Gifted Child From an Isolated, Rural Village" thing became a trend, but I will give Rising Impact this: It is heaps better than Tonbo!

A big part of that comes down to the combination of author Nakaba Suzuki's art style meshing well with the animation from Lay-duce Studio. Compared to the janky and flat presentation of last season's golf show, Rising Impact gives its lush forest setting and lively characters the attention and detail they deserve. Unless we go to the extreme levels of Birdie Wing, golf is not an inherently exciting sport. As such, an anime that will focus on sport needs to capitalize on its more scenic and meditative aspects, which this show does quite well.

Another point in the show's favor is that the dynamic between its protagonists feels at least a little bit fresh. As I alluded to earlier, we've seen this basic premise before, and even outside the realm of golf, there's no shortage of media out there that capitalizes on the back-and-forth between a grumpy adult character and their newly adopted child/ward/trainee/etc. Usually, though, we see an emphasis on father/child dynamics; it's not every day that you get this same setup with an adult woman as the lead. I won't pretend that every joke about Gawain's precociousness or Kiria being "too aggressive to get a boyfriend" lands. However, I still found myself appreciating the general vibe of these two as a duo, even if it works better in concept than in practice.

This is honestly a hard show for me to rate, and not because I don't like it. Rather, I'm just so far outside of the target demographic for Rising Impact that I find it difficult to judge how "successful" it is at what it is trying to do. So far as golf goes, I tend to prefer anime that feature more sapphic romances between Gundam-coded rivals and mafia-adjacent crime conspiracies. Still, if we're going to take the sport quasi-seriously, then I guess Rising Impact does okay? I've also seen much better Adult/Kid Odd-Couple Anime (check out Kotaro Lives Alone if you haven't already), but again, Rising Impact is perfectly acceptable in this regard. Will it become anyone's new favorite sports anime? I doubt it. I do think there are plenty worse ways to pass the time, though. Take that for whatever it's worth.

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