Beck

Alt titles: Mongolian Chop Squad

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monkeyDCluffy's avatar By monkeyDCluffy on Jan 1, 2011

before i kick off this review i should probable note that i have not seen most of the episodes.  but i have read all of the manga.  the manga was incredible but the anime defiantly didn't compare to it at all.  first off, in the story Koyuki has some kind of amazing voice which you can believe in the manga cause theres nothing to prove otherwise, but in the anime (especially the japanese version) you can tell there's nothing special about his voice.  also they replaced Beatle covers they did (more so in the english version) with other songs so as a music fan i was really disappointed.

the scenes looked very good though and the dialog was alright (not in the dub though, but thats the case most of the time)

 

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
6.5/10 overall
tyr's avatar By tyr on Nov 16, 2010

The anime which is not like an anime. That is Beck.

Beck follows a typical 14 year old Japanese kid who somehow runs into a older, cooler Japanese guy who has been living in America for a few years. The kid gets interested in music, learns to play the guitar and eventually winds up joining a band led by the older guy.

Its a bit annoying really that so much is given away in the synopsis of this anime and the opening titles. You know whats going to happen over much of it and you're just waiting for it to come to pass.

This series is...very strange. Very strange indeed. Unlike anything I've ever seen before. The style of this anime takes some getting used to. It makes a heavy use of long shots with not much happening. It really is shot more like a film than an anime.

Being a anime about a band the music is pretty decent. Though the main song by Beck is a bit...crap. A odd rock-rap (that hasn't been cool since forever) about tobasco. There is a bit of a problem with Beck that is common to most musically focussed media though: too many scenes just filled with music and shots of characters listening to it. Not particularly thrilling.

Also one annoyance for me- the English. Two of the main characters supposidly lived in the US for a long time and apparently speak 'fluent' English, they use it when communicating between themselves. Yet when they speak it just sounds...crappy. Not just crappy in the way a person who doesn't speak English would sound bad. Crappy in the way you can tell the actors are just reading something off a sheet without knowing what it means. I guess with this anime being a bit of wish fulfillment for 14 year old boys (get into a succesful band, start going out with a girl who despite being your age is hot and kind of adult like, etc...) the intended target audience generally won't notice the bad English but its a bit of an immersion killer for me.

Also a bit weird are the band names they mention. Some of the bands they talk of are real. Others are obvious warped versions for copyright reasons (Pixis). What is strange is that they speak of a false version of Joy Division in one line then in the next line use the real name of New Order...Its a minor concern but its odd.

Also odd is the name of the anime. I know its going to be explained later (thanks synopsis spoilers!) but...Beck? What's so good about him?

Sounds like I'm complaining a lot here but really. Overall this anime is very good indeed. I am a music fan so I'm probally not representative of the typical anime fan but yeah. Cool.

8/10 story
7/10 animation
9/10 sound
7/10 characters
9/10 overall
QueenofHearts13's avatar By QueenofHearts13 on Aug 13, 2010

I don't know if it is just me, but after the end an anime that I really became engrossed in ends I am left with a feeling of a sort of emptiness. I got this feeling after this anime.

"Tanaka Yukio, better known by his nickname Koyuki is a 14 year old who feels disconnected from life in general. Through the act of saving a mismatched dog, he meets guitarist Minami Ryuusuke, and becomes involved in Ryuusuke's new band BECK. Koyuki's life starts to change as the band struggles towards fame."- ANN

There are three kinds of music in this anime, the kind that is intentionally awful, the kind that was simple and catchy, and the kind that is awesome but you couldn't sing it unless you had the right kind of voice for it and studied the jumbled lyrics carefully. 

There is also no large romantic feel to the anime, which I love. Of course it's sometimes nice to have a couple formed in an anime, but it just doesn't really fit with the emotion of the story so I am glad they didn't force that. Not to say there is no relationship stuff in there, it's just a very very small part of the plot. 

All in all it's a great anime, and I would recommend it to any anime fans who like rock music, or who just need a new anime to pass the time.

9/10 story
7/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
RabidMonk's avatar By RabidMonk on Oct 2, 2010

Beck. Totally glad I got around to watching this anime. Oddly, I come from a past heavily involved in music, yet somehow I never stuck Beck on my watchlist. Having recently watched Nana, however, changed my priorities list. Thankfully.

Beck has become one of my favorite anime. There are some issues that definitely reduce the overall score, but on the whole it's a really engaging story with a whole lot of plusses. So without further blabbering, here's my positives and negatives.

Positives: The characters and the overall feel of Beck are fantastic. Starting with the main character(s) through the supporting cast you'll find a good mix of both personalities and relationships. The best part of it all is that they come across as believable. There's nothing that destroys a story for me faster than poorly designed characters. Here you'll find that they come across much like you'd expect, and in this case that's a fantastic thing.

I also really enjoyed the whole musical aspect to the show. Sure, the engrish at times was a bit off (more on that in a short bit...), but overall I really find myself enjoying and still humming the tunes.

One final plus I want to comment on is perhaps something that many of you won't be able to relate to on the same level as I do, but for me it was a big part of why I loved Beck. This show is so about the teenage life I sort of experienced and wish I had continued. It was, surprisingly, a sort of blast through my past and while on one hand this was a really rewarding experience, it left me a whole lot melancholy as well. Needless to say I've brushed off my bass guitar and I'm finding myself wondering if I can't "get the band back together." That's got to be a good thing, right?

Negatives: Not a whole lot to complain about other than a few "cosmetic" issues. There are times that the scenes seem to touch on something that likely was covered in the manga much better. I am going to see if I can't get ahold of it and prove my theory right or wrong, but either way there were a number of times where something happens, but then is more or less dropped. It's never a core issue (maybe that depends on what you are expecting from the story...), but it still bothered me. This is especially true with the romance arcs which seem to be very secondary...and yet not at the same time. It does "work," however, and in the end I felt satiated in this regard.

Another tiny bother was the voice actors rather horrible grasp of the english language. Sure, if they weren't portending to be fluent Japanese who had lived in the US then it wouldn't bother me, but to a native English speaker it was just a bit distracting. In the end I was able to look past it, because, quite frankly, it doesn't really matter. Still, would have been nice to get some native speak to help coach on those lines a bit more.

So in summation, I really enjoyed Beck and highly recommend it to most anyone. There's great music, a fantastic story, well drawn up characters relating and behaving in ways that feel realistic, bits of romance, and a lot of fun. The issues that hinder it are little more than superficial. I only wish there were another 20 episodes!

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
8/10 overall
VivisQueen's avatar By VivisQueen on Jan 16, 2008

Story

Boy makes it big with a band, thus overcoming the loneliness of being an outcast. Using this unremarkable foundation, the series proceeds to erect an impressive plot quite unlike a lot of other shows around. It's mainly the style of presentation, the attention to the details of this musical world, and the fantastic characterisation that allow the story to shine.

If there were one literary word to sum up the entire story, it would be ‘engaging'. It doesn't grab you with stunts or sick twists, but with drama that is textured and intricate in delivery. How does this show make you feel? Well, being a sucker for long-haired men in baggy jeans and Vans trainers, I immediately wanted to blast out some Silverchair, stick posters of Kurt Cobain all over my wall, dig out my tattered jeans from days past, and lounge in a smoky room pretending I know a lot about Hendrix.

On the one hand, the most fun episodes portrayed the practical obstacles in the way of the characters' dreams. For example, the episodes where Ryuusuke, the lead guitarist, hunts around for various characters to enlist for the band, all the while considering the compatibility of these individuals, are excellent. Koyuki's awkward progression from rookie to decent guitar player is believably slow, and the way he and his friend Sakurai Yuuji come to form the final additions to the band comes across as a well-deserved triumph. On the other hand, the personal dynamics found in the bullying side plots, Koyuki's love triangle, and Ryuusuke's semi-gangster background added real value.

In a more general sense, this series also celebrates the universal power of music to shape a person's life. We all have a song that means something to us, or an album that describes how we think about the world, or a band that first bonded us with our friends, and this fact of life makes it easy for us to connect with Beck's central theme. Not once does this series lose pace or divert into silly unrelated subplots in order to bulk up the mid section. If anything, the level of entertainment rises consistently until the very satisfying climax.


Animation

Created in an era when glossy animation, flawless movement, and bold colours are the trend, Beck presents us with something directly opposed to the norm. Nothing but deliberate stylistic choice could explain what the creators did with the visuals; for one, movement was generally awkward and what I can only describe as ‘easygoing'. The animation also had an unrefined quality because of the muted colours and simplistic character designs.

Yet, I could tell that different did not mean shoddy in this case because the attention paid to capturing Japan's rock counterculture was fantastic. Everything appeared lifted from real life, from the various phrases on people's T-shirts, the labels on their baseball caps, the layers of colourful outfits, to the fashionable glasses, their distinct hairstyles, their peculiar mannerisms, and the posters and shop signs that depicted where these people went to have fun. I was also impressed with the CG shots of instruments being played, and the realistic way in which the musicians moved. In the end, the high rating is deserved simply because the quality of the actual product - the effort put into capturing the culture - is so high, and the unconventional, unpretentious style works so well to enhance the mood of the story.


Sound

Well, it should be clear by now that Beck is very much about sound; in fact, making beautiful noise is all Ryuusuke and his band care about. Do they achieve this? Most definitely. Is it worth buying? Hell, yes. That is, if you like that kind of music. ‘Hit in the USA' by the Beat Crusaders is such a catchy rock opening theme, that I insisted on listening to it every episode (maybe even rewinding to hear it a second time before the story started). ‘My World Down', the ending theme, reminded me a lot of classic nineties Brit-rock bands like Oasis. Whilst the songs during the rehearsals and live gigs often had nonsensical English lyrics, the heavy riffs and hard guitar sounds were right up my alley. Interestingly, unless a radio was present or the characters were in a rehearsal, music was largely absent from the everyday scenes, with natural sounds being used in the background instead.

Just like the animation, the voice acting has a laid back quality to it which I find captivating - moreover, all the voices are well suited and competent in straight Japanese. A few of the characters, like the bullies in the first episode, have genuine American voice actors, however, Ryuusuke, Maho, and a couple of other Engrish speakers sometimes did not make the grade. With lines like ‘Who do you think I'm making me scary?' Maho is the second worst Engrish speaker I have yet come across (Black Lagoon's Revy being number one). Ryuusuke's is more weird than bad because he has the accent down, but not the pronunciation. Fortunately, although Engrish features relatively often in this show, it doesn't detract much from the overall quality.


Characters

Beck's approach towards its cast is very well considered. I got the impression the creators allowed these personalities to be themselves and to develop and drive the plot in the way that suited them. The characters, in essence, felt natural.

Yukio Tanaka (generally called Koyuki) is introduced in the first episode as an isolated individual. For example, he gets embarrassingly tricked in class, but rather than get upset or angry, he just sits down again, as if this were normal. However, Koyuki isn't a simplistic introverted dork, nor is he strictly antisocial, because he does have friends of sorts. Moreover, he will unreservedly stand up for a physical fight even against three massive American bullies to protect his friends. It is only in the face of conventional social situations that he rolls over. He is not a coward, exactly, but a person who is so overwhelmed by group dynamics that he can't comprehend being a part of ordinary society.

Ryuusuke Minami is a company executive's son with a legendary guitar, well-travelled, well-connected, and charming in that mysterious musical genius sort of way. Like Koyuki, he is disconnected from the norm, but unlike Koyuki, he gets noticed. One of the first instances he is introduced, he's coldly and publicly breaking up with a girl, showing no sensitivity whatsoever. At the same time, he is a passionate and inspirational person who helps Koyuki to find meaning in music. Ryuusuke is not straightforward, and the several facets of his very subtle personality are revealed incrementally throughout.

Other band members worth some limelight include my favourite, Taira the bass player, who has a calm, self-assured attitude, and Chiba, a silly, aggressive front man who provides some classic comedy moments.

A host of important but less central characters include Maho Minami, who is Ryuusuke's sister and Koyuki's love interest, and Saito the perverted former Olympic swimmer, who makes for a good comedy addition. He links seamlessly into the plot by helping Koyuki build a sense of self-worth through swimming and work. Izumi Ishiguro, Koyuki's childhood love and Hyoudou the bully make enlightening contributions too despite being minor characters.

8/10 story
8/10 animation
8.5/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall