Beck – Mongolian Chop Squad
Mimi:So…you want to watch an anime that’s all about music. If you pick Nana, you’re in for a teary soap opera. If you pick Nodame Cantabile, you’re in for a romantic comedy. If you pick K-ON, you’re in for a moe fest. And if you pick Beck, you’re in for the real thing.
What makes Beck particularly special is how it incorporates elements of realism to represent the music scene, and the ordinary, everyday lives of teenagers. Sure, the above mentioned anime also pertain to the slice-of-life genre, but their bouts of romance and comedy are considered highly exaggerated and excessive. The point of those shows is really to laugh or cry…a lot. Beck feels much more down-to-earth with a stronger emphasis on music, specifically boy rock bands. It makes a ton of references to classic rock, which creates a strong atmosphere of nostalgia and culture. The story follows a 14-year old boy named Yukio who is passionate about music, learns to play the guitar, and eventually joins an underground rock band called Beck.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of rock. I went into this show expecting the music to be average at best, but I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. Beck comes up with some pretty catchy tunes that are worthy of putting on your mp3 player. Perhaps an even bigger element of surprise is Yukio’s wonderful singing voice, as voiced by Greg Ayres. I best remember Ayers’ role as Kousuke from Spiral and Heihachi from Samurai 7, but I had no idea that he could sound like this! In fact, all of the English dubbed voices are superb, and I prefer them to the Japanese dub, which is full of awkward Engrish.
The characters in Beck are truly excellent, especially Yukio. His polite demeanor and ordinary appearance make it difficult for him to fit in with the ‘cool crowd,’ but his enthusiasm and talent for music take him very far. The other band members, Chiba, Ryusuke, Yuji, and Taira have fun, mixed personalities and a deep bond that really draws in your attention. Like all new bands, they face serious competition, and fame isn’t handed to them on a silver platter. It’s both addicting and suspenseful to watch them work hard to reach their dream, which is to become the perfect rock band. Of course, this is a work offiction, so some of their circumstances are rather extraordinary for entertainment purposes. But again, Beck is really good at portraying the characters and setting realistically, so it’s easy to feel like you live in the same world as Yukio and the others.
It has been a few days since I’ve completed the series now, and it still remains fresh and exciting in my mind. I really love Beck, even though I’m only into nerdy techno music. Definitely give this one a try if you haven’t!
Mimi’s Score: 9 Meeps out of 10 (Great)