First (and Last) Impressions: Ro-Kyu-Bu!

Something about basketball, sports conflicts, and…

Holy crap, they’re naked!

I’ll go ahead and say that I’m not a major sports fan, save for random Olympic events, and I rarely watch sports movies (except for A League of Their Own and Cool Runnings, both of which are awesome). Hence I usually shy away from sporty anime. However, Special A so impressed me that I decided to change my tune and give sports anime a chance. (To be fair, sports play a very small part in Special A, but I’d still never have found one of my fav shoujo series if I had rejected it based on the description of episode one, which is about wrestling). And so I decided to check out the first episode of a basketball series that popped up on Anime Network On Demand called Ro-Kyu-Bu!

Sad Subaru is sad. I'd be sad if I were in this anime, too.

We begin by meeting a teenager named Subaru, who is reluctantly beginning a three-day stint coaching an all-girls sixth grade basketball team at the behest of his aunt. He’s gloomy because his own high school team is suspended due to his team captain’s suspected predatory intentions toward a much younger girl, and Subaru himself is rather down on the whole sport. Ironically, he’s greeted by a troupe of young girls dressed as maids who call him “Master.” It turns out that these are his young players. Subaru asks them to change into sports clothes, which prompts one girl to lift everyone’s skirts to prove that they’re all wearing “shorts” (which are so short and tight that they look like underwear) but the girls do finally go and change. Practice goes well enough, and Subaru discovers that one of his players, a girl named Tomoka, has some real talent on the court. There’s a shower scene, the girls talking about how playing keeps them together as friends, one girl gets upset for no reason at all, and the episode ends with Subaru being confronted by a random group of schoolboys asking if he’s the new coach.

Annnnnd the problems begin. The Kewpie doll with the huge chest actually made me throw up in my mouth a little.

I hated this episode. Where to begin? How about with their ginormous heads, which were the first things that I noticed. Seriously, they were like bobble-heads on toothpick bodies. I see why some people hate moe: it can be downright freaky. Then there was the cavalcade of underage girls calling the older boy “Master” as they wore maid outfits, which was creepy as hell. Luckily Subaru seemed uncomfortable as well, which kept this episode in the ecchi zone and not hentai territory. Speaking of ecchi: there was the scene in which we see up every girl’s skirt, soon followed by the all-too-revealing shower scene, during which one girl kept squeezing another’s incredibly developed breasts. Did I mention that these were supposed to be sixth-grade girls? I have enough trouble justifying Highschool of the Dead‘s immense fan service, but at least there’s blood and gore and cursing to go along with the ecchi crotch shots, clearly defining the series as adult material. Then there’s Dance in the Vampire Bund, with a girl in lingerie who appears to be prepubescent, but at least she’s actually a super-old vampire. (Still very icky, imho.) But shower scenes with actual middle school kids is where I draw a firm line. Seriously, anime? This is why people get the wrong idea about anime fans. They see shows like this and think that we’re all perverts.

Subaru's aunt, who also looks twelve and also gets a full-on panty-clad crotch shot. *shudder*

I don’t care for anime series that revolve around fan service. I find Queen’s Blade distasteful, sexist, and pretty stupid, too. But at least it involves adult women. Cutesy anime about young girls can be great when it’s made for young girls. Stories about growing up and dealing with family and first love and life in general are wonderful, and anime has some of the best out there. But cutesy anime about young girls that is clearly not made for young girls begs the question: who is this for, and why are anime studios catering to that demographic? When I was in sixth grade I didn’t want to see shows with naked young girls, and I certainly don’t want to see them as an adult. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to watch this series any further. Whatever small glimmer of a story there was got overshadowed by the entirely inappropriate fan service. Maybe it’s a cultural difference, and I’m trying my hardest to be non-judgemental, but naked elementary school girls is disturbing, even animated ones. So I’m judging this show: it’s gross, and I hope that I never have the misfortune of seeing another episode of Ro-Kyu-Bu! again.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Justin
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 00:07:12

    “Who is this for?”= Otaku.
    “Why are anime studios catering to that demographic?”=$$$

    On that note, I too watched it on Anime Network VOD…and couldn’t comprehend why everything that just happened happened. I knew there was a reason why I avoided it during the summer. Yeah, I found out why!


  2. LLJ
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 12:45:28

    Yes, Big Windup is almost a shoujo anime, with its big emphasis on feelings and team building relationships and such. It may help to know that the creator is a woman.

    On the other hand, Big Windup gets very technical about the complexities of baseball. I’m a casual baseball fan so I dig it, but if you’re not interested about stuff like pitch counts, super-detailed analysis of every batter’s hot and cold zones, and the intricacies of good fielding, then you might want to dip into the show hesitantly. Certain individual baseball games can last up to 6 episodes. Maybe more, even.

    Entertaining baseball shows for non-sports fans would be Princess Nine and perhaps Taisho Baseball Girls.


    • Miss Pink
      Jan 13, 2012 @ 14:25:51

      Ooo, shoujo sports anime, that sounds like a win! Not sure if I’ll get into the technical aspects of baseball, but I do love to learn, so I’ll give it a shot. thank you for your recommendations as well! I’ll definitely look for the latter two, especially Princess Nine. Anything with “princess” in the title usually works for me. 😉


  3. LLJ
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 14:38:56

    Haha, well, I don’t want to give the wrong impression about Big Windup. It’s not like there are tons of sparkly backgrounds and flower petals or anything of that nature, it just displays a sort of emotional sensitivity not find in most sports anime. There’s also no real romance…although you COULD say that it does feature what some may consider a “bromance.” So it’s almost, but not quite yaoi!

    I also have to echo Justin’s recommendation of Cross Game.


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