For some reason, reading the premise of this show I was reminded of the old Seven Samurai film. Trying to assemble a team of powerful warriors in order to protect a village from evil bandits… Only difference, the warriors in this version are all cute girls and the challenge is a harmless kendo competition. I am of course stretching it with this comparison but I couldn’t shake the feeling of how half a century ago Japan used to make these cool manly samurai stories and now is mostly throwing out moe shows left and right. And I don’t like that.
So anyways, Bamboo Blade is basically two things. One half is a motivational show, aimed to inspire people getting into kendo. The second half is slice of life comedy around the simple lives of its characters, most of which are silly girls. The problem here is that it fails to be captivating in both cases, simply because it is not extreme or fanatic enough. The kendo part for example is just dull. Although they teach you all the basic rules and moves of it, in practice all the duels never last for more than a few minutes and all you see is frozen images of people with speed lines to indicate what happened. Compared to the emperor of thrills, Kaiji was a super awesome show about a guy playing rock-paper-scissors. It felt a million times more exciting that people duelling with swords (even wooden ones). As for the slice of life part, it is still quite basic for the time the anime was made. Every episode doesn’t have more than a couple of funny/interesting moments when there already are similar shows with a dozen things to pay notice to in the same amount of time. So again, the flow of the story is quite slow and basic, becoming boring at times. As for the whole kendo championship, it couldn’t be shown any less exciting. They win or lose and you feel like nothing matters.
What further ruins it are the completely average production values. The characters and the sceneries are rather simplistic and with basic colouring, while actual animation is very rare. You mostly stare at frozen caricatures with flapping mouths, and even the duels are crummy motions based on speed lines, zooming and panelling. Voice acting and music themes are nothing memorable either. This becomes even bigger of a problem if one has already watched other school comedies with higher production values such as K-On or Suzumiya Haruhi.
Yet another problem are the unimpressive characters, who just like the humour and the production values are also average. You get this team of kendo chicks, their teacher and various friends, and nobody seems to be memorable for any given reason. That short fat guy is definitely standing out for being drawn completely different and for having a super hot girlfriend but is otherwise not memorable. As for the main team, only the airhead blond is given actual focus for watching most of the anime through her, and that other Super Sentai fan for being very dynamic and rather dramatic. All the rest are stock material and completely forgettable.
A thing which keeps you interested a bit more is the various references it makes to other anime. Being a parody of sorts, it uses them as both means to make a joke, as well as motivating the viewer to watch further (two early examples are Initial D and Super Sentai ). As funny as those extras were, they weren’t that many or that often after awhile, so compared to other major parody shows such as Gintama, this anime again fails to leave a lasting moment.
In all, I didn’t enjoy it much and I doubt it will be remembered in a few years. Anime are great when they are extreme and this one played out too safe and basic to even have a shot at glory.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 2/10