This is a series i feel obligated to review (partly due to my mixed feelings about the second season) but also because it’s rather unique choice of how to tackle things, but most of all is because the mixed feelings the whole internet spout of the show.
I will say now though, you will hear non stop things around the net about this series being good and bad, it’s partly down to your own preferences but part of this will be explained, my personal thoughts on the show is don’t knock it until you have tried it but we will get to that further in. One thing i will say though is i hate sports anime in general but this one didn’t quite.
The story follows Subaru who is a talented basketball player, unfortunately due to circumstances (i can’t remember the details, not sure if they was never mentioned but either way it serves no purpose to us knowing) his basketball club is shut down, his aunt then sets him up to coach the elementary school team in hopes to not only keep him active but keep his spirits up due to his slowly degrading motivation in the sport. Subaru accepts un-willingly, counting the days until he is able to to ditch the team. Shortly after coaching he learns of the girls team he is coaching is in threat of being disbanded should they loose a match against the boys team who want to use the gym fully for themselves as they see the girls as only messing around and not serious. Of course the girls want to keep their club, Subaru (probably) sees his own club being disbanded in them and so decides to help the girls team out. The story is mainly focused around the team and their practising as well as general life for them. If you have seen a school life show, it’s like that combined with basketball, some times we watching the girls enjoy a game or training session whilst other times we might see them enjoying a trip somewhere, it’s pretty mixed so this for me scored quite well as full on sports would probably drive me insane.
My personal thoughts for a sports anime was it was actually quite enjoyable, the plot was simple (though most plots simplified are) but enjoyable. As mentioned I'm not a sports person, i tried the series on a whim partly for the cuteness (will cover in characters below) but in the end i actually took a liking to it.
The series in rich in colour, this is actually a understatement, anyone who has seen much from PA Works is probably aware they don’t mind exploring the colour pallets a little more and they enjoy dabbing bright colours around (Angel beats for example). This isn’t by any means a bad thing, the bright take on this does well reflecting the characters, they are after all a team of elementary school kids, who we usually like to depict as being bright and cheery. I feel the animation is quite consistent and smooth, of course I'm no professional on animation so i can’t go into much detail but as far as art work is concerned i think the series as a whole does well here.
Characters are the series selling point, though this will probably be mixed throughout people. The characters aside Subaru and his friend Aoi and mainly within the elementary age bracket, or to a more frequent anime watcher you will probably hear the term “loli” in application for this series. Some people are put of here as there are mixed notions of age choice, there is no real focus on creeps between ages but there are several flirty advances from the infants to Subaru, this does creative a bit of mixed feelings between fans, some feel it’s a bit disturbing, some (lolicons) love it and some think nothing of it either way (myself). I should clarify there is no actual receiving shown from Subaru, meaning he doesn’t act on the advances or show any real interest in stepping down the pedophile path. There is no real things between them here but i felt relevant to mention it, though it is questionable as sometimes he shows developing interest in Tomoka (the main of the girls). Also there are some episodes which focus on which i refer to as "weak fanservice" it's fan service but not to high in volume, it's best to warn though as though i think people over throw it, it is undeniable at times...
Anyway moving on, the characters are quite likeable, Subaru is okay, nothing special but half the main guys are the same but the girls are nice characters with some mix of personality, from Airi’s height complex to Maho’s stupid energetic side they are a nice bunch in all and quite likeable. I find the personalities rather befitting of their group and age. The supporting characters aren’t to bad either, at first i was a little “off” about them side characters as some was kind of annoying but as the series develops they become rather likeable.
There was small segments offered into each character giving them something of a backstory, these however was rather light in size and really didn't last much more than a episode (if that in some cases), really it's more just to say "this character is this because..." and that is close to being it, so i can give a thumps up for giving us something but i wouldn't go giving out medals for greatness here either, it's pretty much a good for what it is but could be better thing.
In short, a nice group of girls which some do over rate because their age, in all if you don’t want young kids don’t watch, if you are happy watching anything regardless, it should be fine and if your a lolicon it’s your paradise (sorry couldn’t resist adding that one xD). Really though don’t be put of by ages, it’s no different from anything else you could watch really, and if you like a bit of cute in your shows, well it’s more enjoyable.
Finally we come to music, i admit im having troubles recalling the series BGM's (despite only finishing it within the last week) so i suppose i can start saying they aren't to impressional but i wouldn't take that to heart much as my memory just isn't good and i watch episodes from more than 10 different anime across a week so it's hardly surprising one i finish doesn't stick in my head. As for the OP/ED, well the OP actually was very likeable to me, i found it a catchy song which kind of worked well with the series, the ED is actually a pretty similar story as well.
I will comment on the music used for matches, my mind isn't great but i do recall the setting being set fairly well, and as anyone who has watched a few animes can tell you, music plays a massive role in setting, so i don't think there was any major flaws in the music departments.
In my personal opinion the series is good for what it is, if you are like me and want something cute with some light comedy and "awwww" moments this should be worth a watch. I mentioned i generally dislike sports anime and i think this one did well for me to compliment it well, so i didn't find the minor problems ever really over stepped into something serious. As mentioned the series is knocked both ways on the net, some love it and others says it's a lolicons heaven, whilst true the age focus is a group of elementary school girls i honestly think people look into things too much. There is no progression into any romance inplied situations between Subaru and the girls, sure time to time their advances might have him feeling a little awkward or getting a blush going on (primarily Tomoka) but i don't think it deserves the names some give it, the way i see it is, it never once really crossed my mind, i have watched plenty good shows based on lower age groups which are absolutely brilliant (Usagi Drop being first which comes to mind), i think it more depends on the persons mind and how they process things, if you once who is instant thinking "Paedophile" because a girl under high school age is on screen for more than a minute well maybe give this a miss, but if you just want some sports/jokes or something cute im sure you wont even give it a second thought. The sports in the series isn't too bad either, we get some episodes of strategy meetings and the team learning to work together, we watch their friendship bonds put to the test and developed as they grow and we generally enjoy the aspect that Subaru wants to teach, that winning isn't always important, and fun is the main factor in playing, this truly hit points with me as growing up playing sports or even video games i only wanted to enjoy some fun and a laugh and never cared if i won or loss, but some people like my brother only cared for winning so i was happy seeing it encouraging the fun factor. The characters are great and loveable, as said their back stories are a little lacking but honestly i wont go too harsh here as really... why would elementary kids have a huge life story to go with them. I think my biggest issue in the series is the story, whilst i can't judge how sports anime stories are (though all the ones i watched sucked) i admit it was a step up from what i expected but i can't deny after half way it lost some of it's passion on the story front, not that it dried up or anything but lets say episodes began to shift attention elsewhere, personally i enjoyed this as it felt a bit like a school life/slice of life mix (which i love) but them who want it true to it's focus might get a bit wound up on that one.
My overall advice would be to give it a shot if you like cute comedy, maybe even if you enjoy sports/basketball, it sure changed my view on some sports series. The characters are likeable and the art is colourful, it's not going to throw you the story of the year but it sure can fill up a weeks anime when you got 30minutes free here and there and honestly it's some good fun, clean soft jokes and realistic characters made a good mix with the cute feel the series offered. It's worth watching if any the listed sounds appealing, if however you want serious to the bone, maybe pass on this one as you probably wont be to happy.
If you live in Japan, Ro-Kyu-Bu started off as a series of light novels with highly suggestive and sexualized drawings of 12 year old girls on the cover. Of the following adaptations, the anime came between some moe manga and a psuedo-H game for the psp. All of this was marketed with terrifyingly pornographic merchandise and otaku fodder of the creepiest variety.
If you live in America, Ro-Kyu-Bu is an anime available on Hulu with a tragically confused identity. Some would have you believe that this is an innocent show about sweet little girls growing up and learning how to play basketball. Others will tell you that this is actually a grotesque depiction of lolicons and pedophilia galore. Neither are true. This show doesn't know what it wants to be, which leaves me wondering who it was actually made for?
Subaru is a talented basketball player who has just started his first year of high school on a hard-earned sports scholarship. But when his coach is fired for inappropriate relations with a young student, it leaves Subaru with no basketball team and no way to play. In order to keep him motivated, his aunt forces him to coach for the elementary school girl's team. Subaru must now guide five young girls towards becoming confident basketball players while avoiding the dreaded label of 'lolicon.'
Ro-Kyu-Bu had great potential to be a touching story about coaching kids. It really did. The characters are written well enough to have intensely adorable moments that are true to the realities of working with children. But when the girls introduce themselves in maid outfits, you have to question the overall direction.
Throughout the entire series we are exposed to twelve year old girls showering, losing their swimsuit tops, losing their panties, and putting their crotches in inappropriate places. Thankfully, the main character remains vaguely disinterested. While there are many incidents that imply he is developing an attraction towards one of the girls, they are quickly given an alternative innocent explanation, leaving you to chose which one to believe in. Nothing is ever resolved.
To further confuse the issue, there seem to be a limited number of ecchi moments per episode and many inappropriate actions (or misunderstandings) have consequences. Most of the cast act disdainful towards lolicons and pedophilia, which results in the audience often getting scolded after fan service.
This means most of our time is spent giving generic lessons on teamwork and the importance of having fun. Unfortunately, in the spirit of Care Bears these morals are spoken literally in trite speeches that are largely unbelievable or bland. And with little to no sub-plots to cut in the monotony of encouraging words, the back-and-forth seesaw of children's cartoon to ecchi has a serious lack of flow.
This is where most of the show's potential lay. Many of the character's reactions are quite realistic, especially in the depictions of absurd-little-girl logic. Our main character does not blush and embarrass himself every time a 12 year old girl hits on him (though there are many unnecessarily awkward moments). There is even a certain amount of consistency in our characters, leaving them easily definable and sufficiently distinct.
The main failing here is in development. We learn a little backstory on each character, but it's limited and lacks depth. Most of the obstacles are overcome in simple ways that involve little discussion, such as a race or basketball game. Even when an emotional conflict arises that could lead to two characters growing and understanding each other better, it is resolved through a physical match or simple observation and the opportunity for character substance is wasted.
It should also be mentioned that our main character, Subaru, has been made bland in order to avoid committing to any particular direction. The girls force him into a semi-typical harem situation, but he doesn't strongly react to any of them. He has a love interest his own age, but he seems disinterested when she isn't naked. In fact, he seems to only have hormonal or emotional responses when it is blatantly unavoidable. Otherwise, his main goal is pacifying everyone with a kind smile.
In our theme of combining Care Bears and suggestive materials, the show is filled with really bright colors. The five girls are color coded like magical girls, and look like pretty basic loli's. The animation style seems to lack detail unless focusing on someone's developing breasts or panda bear panties. Additionally, some panels fail to properly show movement, leaving eyes to spread further apart or mouths to stretch oddly wider.
All in all, it was bright and lazy.
I imagine the music would be most appropriate in a Japanese day care. More shiny happy encouraging words sung by high-pitched voices. Nothing I haven't heard a million times, and kinda annoying. Also, a little creepy considering the actual content of the show.
I have to imagine what a lolicon is actually looking for in this kind of show. Is there a specific type of creeper who wants to see little girls naked, but wants it all protected under an umbrella of misunderstandings while being told how disgusting he is?
What am I saying, of course there is. Duh. The real question is, why is the Japanese market catering to them?
To conclude, I did not enjoy this experience, but the show is not entirely devoid of entertaining elements. There were times when I was bored, scenes where I was revolted, and moments when I actually yelled out "How cute!"
So, if you have watched absolutely everything else, don't mind the pedo fan service, and really want to see little girls be cute, you might watch this. Just try not to spend any time actually thinking about the intent of the ecchi, or you step into the fridge horror of Japanese sociology.