The Dream Monkeys is an ice hockey team based out of Nikko city in Tochigi. The team holds a hands-on instructional session in order to find new promising players amongst local junior high school students. Manaka is coerced into going by her younger sister Ayaka and childhood friends Kaoruko and Mami. After the intro session, the girls are enthralled with ice hockey and are eventually invited on to the team.
Occasionally, one stumbles upon a memorable and interesting anime cour which leaves a lasting impression...This ain't it. I'm not sure what this anime was trying to be, but it's a good time-killer. -- Story There's a story in here? Let's see...a couple middle school girls, on the verge of high school, decide to sign up for a free trial hockey class hosted by the local team (the Dream Monkeys). They enjoy it enough to keep coming back, and eventually join the team entirely. But instead of being regulated to second-string members, as one would expect of newbies to a team, for some reason they always seem to be on the starting lineup on the team even after only a year of playing. I'm...honestly not sure what story this anime was trying to tell. For a sports anime, it shows next to nothing about hockey and has zero tension during the 5-10 minutes it actually spends on actual games being played. For a slice-of-life type anime, it doesn't really allow the viewer to get to know the main five characters enough; I still can't name all of them after 12 episodes. And don't get me started on the entire "pop idol show" (their "Victory Dance"). Let's presume a moment that they're wearing boots which grip the ice so they can actually move around without slipping. Now, imagine that you're the other team and you just lost a tournament match...and then a few minutes later your opponents come out onto the ice in outfits any normal person would freeze in and start dancing and singing in celebration of their win. Ouch. Even now, I'm confused as to what I just watched. 2/10 -- Characters Double checking that there are actually characters in this show and not one-dimensional character tropes...hrm...getting an error; the system can't seem to find any interesting characters. We've got your typical go-getter with a good talent (I think? I mean, she's always starting off on the ice and not the bence), Manaka...yes, that's her actual name...who is your typical cheerful protagonist who isn't good at studying. Then there are her friends: The quiet yet dependable one (Kao), the little sister (Ayaka), the starts-off-as-a-lone-wolf (Yu), the kind one (Mami), the athletic cheerful tomboy (Riko), and the shy manga lover (Naomi). There's...really nothing else to say about them other than that; that's pretty much the depth of their character. Yu shows a tiny bit of character growth in going from a selfish player to a team-oriented player...but it barely takes her any time at all to do so and thus it feels rushed. I'd list the senior members of the Dream Monkeys team...if they actually had names. I think only one of them actually gets a name (Shino) as they're just sort of background characters. They don't even do the singing/dancing routine, either. Oh, right...and they have a coach who has an admirable ambition of bringing more attention to girl's hockey and an assistant coach who is down to earth. Flat, uninteresting, boring, predictable; those are the best four words to describe the characters. I didn't feel connected with a single one of the characters in this show. It might have been better if there was more of a showcase on the friendship between Riko and Naomi; their dedicated episode was the most interesting. 2/10 -- Sound and Animation No issues with the sound. The voice actors were cast well for their characters, but even they struggled to bring the tropes to life. Despite that, the opening and ending songs (as well as the occasional Victory Dance song insert) were upbeat and nice to listen to...despite possibly being more action-y than the entirety of the anime. However, where points really get deducted is in the games. There is no high-tension music or any sort of background music to help build any sort of eagerness in the viewer for the hockey matches; no high-stakes, blood-pumping soundtrack or suspenseful song, just...more often than not, complete radio silence. No BGM to up the tension? 6/10 for the sound The animation...well, it's weird. There are a lot of stillframe moments which sort of detract from the entire experience. If I wanted stillframes, I'd go read manga. The matches are fairly well animated, but they don't show the entire game (I suppose they would actually have to include the other members of the team for that, and they really wanted to skate around doing so). Instead, we only get the occasional bursts of action which then tend to lead to a stillframe or close-up of a character's face as we get to hear their thoughts. Lots of stillframes and close-ups, not enough action for a sports anime actually animated, occasional repeated footage...would have been a little more forgivable if it was a pure slice-of-life anime, but it's not. Thus, 5/10. -- Overall Again, this is a good show to watch if you need to kill some time but don't want to get invested in an anime. It follows the typical anime cour pattern of "12 episodes which you will forget about in a couple of days, particularly as you move onto another series' cour". There were a couple moments which got me to chuckle, and the friendship between Riko and Naomi is pure, but I don't really feel that this can call itself a "sports" anime. I came out of this show knowing no more about hockey than when I went into it (and I'm not as big on hockey as I am on sports like soccer/football and baseball). Even so, it's unrealistic that a group of newbies would wind up playing more than the more experienced players. It's one thing if they're all geniuses (like Yu), but I was scratching my head over their pink-haired friend who always was protecting the goal...especially when it was revealed (very briefly) that there is another goalkeeper. Am I to understand that these girls, a few of which who had trouble keeping up at first, all became natural geniuses on the ice in just a year?And not only that, but enough to overshadow the more experienced members of the team? Plus, I've already made it known how I feel about the absolute ridiculousness of the Victory Dance (a pop singing performance by the girls). So, these girls automatically are all excellent singers, can move freely on the ice in normal boots, and aren't cold at all in the pop-idol outfits they had to wear during the performances? Excuse me while I laugh. It took me a few days to complete watching this because there was honestly no tension or anything which made me want to binge it or keep going. I'm perfectly fine with slow paced anime, but a sports anime? Yea, nah.A couple episodes even had mini cliffhangers at the end of them and that still wasn't enough to make me want to watch the next episode immediately. Re-watchability is also slim to none...unless you want to put it on for background noise. Such a chill "sports" anime that it should be put in the penalty box. 4/10
Some anime defy genres, and they usually end up being either very beloved or hated. PuraOre however defies them in a Frankenstein's monster kind of way, being a mess of different elements that barely achieves the barebones level of acceptable cohesiveness and results into a weird but ultimately forgettable and generic show. Episode one starts off with a high octane hockey match with wonderful animations and dynamic direction. Then we get an idol performance by the main cast all singing and dancing showing off their outfits and VAs singing skills in what amounts to an average but well made scene as far as your average idol anime goes. And then we get 5 minutes of the girls chatting while they drink tea and knit, discussing neither hockey nor music. If you watch that much and don’t mind how unconnected they are, then you have a chance at enjoying the rest of the show. If not, stay away immediately. Story & CharactersThe plot line belongs to a sports show, with the cast getting into a sport, learning the basics, improving and then ending on a final match with some rivals. Nothing innovative but after all it’s all about execution. The problem starts when the characters (read: stereotypes) and their means of progression belong in a Slice of Life show, which means the girls get self conscious about not doing too well, not communicating enough with the team or which taste of ice cream to buy. The dissonance wouldn’t be too bad if not for the fact that some episodes don’t feature any hockey and are instead just them spending a day at the beach. Moments dedicated to teamwork are of course needed but that’s all this show does to show us how they improve. The catchphrase of the show is not "Connecting the puck with the bond of our hearts!” for nothing. I have nothing to even say about the idol aspect of the show because it literally doesn’t matter to the rest of the show. The girls sing a few times after a match. No one then comments on it. It doesn’t matter. The songs are okay. VisualsAs mentioned previously the animations during the matches are surprisingly good and energetic, making it very easy to follow along what’s happening and get hyped when they are about to score. But the same cannot be said for the majority of the scene. Flat backgrounds, plenty of still shots, entire scenes of barely anything more than lip flaps. There’s nothing interesting going on during any of the SoL conversations unfortunately. To note the character designs however, which while far from original are still all pleasing and look great mostly thanks to the amazing use of vibrant highly saturated colors. as expected of a gacha game shill anime If you happen to like SoL, sports and perhaps even idols then sure give this a shot for the simple coincidence but all the elements are average on their own, and don’t raise each other up in any way.
It’s easy to dismiss Pride of Orange as forgettable fluff (which it is, make no mistake about that), but there’s still something about it that’s charming and even cute. Try not to be too serious about it and you’ll be rewarded with a nice, inoffensive way to burn a couple of hours. There’s nothing about this that grabs you immediately, but let it sink in some and you’ll soon find yourself cheering for the girls to win it all. Pride of Orange goes through its checklist of sports anime tropes so meticulously, so the minute it tries to do something a little extra – like that weird idol group gimmick – it becomes a nuisance that makes you wonder why they had to put it in at all. Almost as if the show was a little insecure about its cute girls concept, so it goes and forces the cuteness on you so you don’t forget what you're watching. Still, as far as all-girls sports anime go, Pride of Orange isn’t actually half-bad. At the same time, that also means it’s only half-good, too. It focuses more on the girls’ friendship than on them playing ice hockey, so your characters aren’t strong enough to carry the story on their own. Instead, they end up relying on their dynamics with everyone else to make you keep watching. Your characters have some depth to them to make them more than just empty stereotypes, but once they're all thrown in together, they become generic and so terribly cliché. The most you can say for Pride of Orange is that it really does make a genuine attempt to be halfway watchable for a general audience. With it, ice hockey becomes accessible and fun, but maybe that's only as long as you're able to recruit your other friends to join you so you can all take over the team together. Teamwork makes the dream work, but like the series shows us, it takes a little more than just that to really make the message stick. It manages to get the job done by making you feel good in the moment, but don't be surprised if you forget all about it a couple of weeks later.
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