The Gymnastics Samurai

Alt title: Taiso Samurai

TV (11 eps)
Fall 2020
3.567 out of 5 from 990 votes
Rank #5,035

Jotaro Aragaki, former member of the national team, had given his whole life for gymnastics and was fighting against his age and physical strength. However, one day he is told by his coach to start thinking of his next career. Jotaro struggles, but his daughter, Rei, is always there by his side. But with one fateful encounter, the Aragakis’ lives change drastically.

Source: Funimation

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There are many problems with Taisou Zamurai and the biggest, most disappointing one is its dullness. There’s nothing about this that gets the blood pumping or the heart racing – which, okay, I guess is fair since this is more a slice-of-life anime than a sports show. It looks good on paper: aging sports star gives his career another shot, only this time, he’s also got to think about the daughter he’s raising by himself and the foreign ninja who just randomly decided to play house with them. Written another way, this could have been a realistic look at your shonen sports hero years after high school. Much like Hinata Shoyo or Sakuragi Hanamichi or Sawamura Eijun, Aragaki Jotaro is a pure athlete, born with a narrow-minded focus for his sport, raw talent, and a short attention span. But he is also a single father with a dead wife and a daughter and a bum shoulder to think about, all of which really should have made this more interesting than it actually was. You could say Taisou Zamurai already had everything going for it, even before you hit play on that first episode. As it is, the show is boring, its characters are bland, and even more unacceptably, its sports montages are some of the anime’s more boring moments. This is less an actual story and more a messy hodgepodge of unnecessary storylines all competing for your attention. It’s got conflicting tones – serious drama one minute, then demented bird bullshit antics the next – and half-baked character drama, with some of them acting a certain way just to fulfill the sports anime requirement bank. In short: Taisou Zamurai doesn’t quite know what it wants to do with itself. It clearly knows some of what it’s talking about, but as if to compensate for its lack of direction or budget or both, it talks over some of the key gymnastics moments, like it’s hoping we’ll be wowed by how amazing it sounds instead of looks. Add cringe jokes it thinks is funny, forced movie references it thinks makes it look smart, and an opening song it thinks makes it more fun, and you have a pretty loud mess altogether. Gymnastics crash course, this is most definitely not. But if you're willing to put up with a scruffy dad for a protagonist, a small daughter who’s definitely smarter than a fifth grader, a weeb ballerina-turned-ninja, or even a bald acupuncturist who calls himself Britney, then there's a chance you’ll end up enjoying maybe at least ten minutes of the thing overall.

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