Show By Rock Review

To say Show By Rock has the most divisive first episode is an understatement. Seemingly unsure of what exactly it wants to be, it created a storm of confusion all over the internet. Despite this uncertainty, those that stuck with it were puzzled by the strange shift in tone to something worth salvaging.

Synopsis
Cyan is a normal school girl who has desires to join her school’s band club.  However her shyness gets the better of her and she’s unable to even open the club door to introduce herself.  Feeling defeated but determined to apply before band camp, she takes her mind off the situation by playing a rhythm game on her phone.  But suddenly a ray of light beams from her phone and Cyan finds herself transported into a digital music city called MIDICITY.

After being transformed into a cat eared gothic outfit version of herself, she finds herself at the frontlines of a battle of bands and a battle against dark beasts that threaten to corrupt the Melodisian stones within everyone’s hearts. Though she’s not alone as she is quickly scouted into a small record label and joins the Plasmagica band with 3 other members. The lead singer Chuchu, bass Retoree, and drummer Moa.

showbyrockiosStory
To understand the strange beast of Show By Rock, one must realize that it is indeed based off of a iOS and Android rhythm game. Thus the odd appearance of a rhythm game at its beginning to transport Cyan to MIDICITY. Although I believe it is a bit unfair to completely judge it as a whole on that factor. As proven by successful shows like Rage of Bahamut. Instead, giving the entire show a chance, I found myself rather entertained.

The show as a whole follows Cyan as she struggles with issues of self-doubt while aiding the Plasmagica band in reaching the top. All the while she deals with her secret identity as not from the world she finds herself in, and ultimately fighting against a sinister plot to corrupt the Melodisian stones. It’s simple, but not entirely void of progression or reason to everything.

Sprinkled within this ongoing progression is a constant supply of cute, fun, and entertaining exchanges between the members of Plasmagica, managers, and other bands. While not as cake obsessed and childish as something like K-ON, it still has the same feel of rainbows and cute puppies. The lighthearted and often silly humor never tries too hard but also never asks too much of its viewer. It’s entertainment that you can just relax to. At the same time, it isn’t breaking any new grounds either.

The cast is what really sells the show. Cyan is innocent, shy, and adorable as she struggles to break her shell and build her own confidence. Moa shares Cyan’s struggle of being foreign while also just seeking to have a place to call her home. Chuchu seeks her dreams while struggling with her own doubts. Retoree struggles with communication while being adorable in her often tsundere and closet loving side. Then there’s the other bands of pretty boy Trichronika, the dark prince Shingan Crimsonz, the moe Cristicrista, and more.

Animation
Show By Rock is great when it wants to be, while also troubling when it wants to be. Though I would assume that it wasn’t Studio Bones’ choice, the aspects of the mobile game invade in one of the most terrible ways possible. At any point that the bands perform to an audience, the standard anime characters are transformed into what can only be described as CGI Hello Kitty style knockoff characters. Though the funny part is that the mobile game has chibi characters but not to the effect of Hello Kitty.

Equally as odd, it almost seems as if the studio felt some sort of backlash as the use of these CGI characters is very limited. Often having entire episodes where they do not perform. As if to avoid using it. Besides the heavy use of it in the first and last episode, the rest of the show is left almost untouched by it.

CGI use aside, the rest of the show looks good. I’d even go so far as to say the character designs are some of my favorite. Cyan is adorable, Retoree’s blushing tsundere look is huggable, and the rest of the cast are varied and likable in their own right. It wasn’t hard for me to overlook the annoying CGI use and love the rest of it.

Verdict
Show By Rock is definitely a tough sell. Especially with such a jarring first episode. However underneath the confusing use of Hello Kitty CGI is a show that I found myself enjoying from episode to episode. It’s a mixture of cute and likable characters, heartwarming friendships being created, and funny exchanges that kept me involved. While it doesn’t attempt to break new grounds and it does have a few dry points, it’s also not something I would sway someone from giving a shot.

Want to check it out? Funimation has licensed and is currently streaming on Funimation.com!

THUMBS UP!

REVIEW VERDICT:
Good

Goods:

  • Lighthearted fun
  • Cute and likable characters
  • Decent plot idea
  • Satisfying struggles
  • Some good laughs

Bads:

  • CG battles are out of place
  • Hello Kitty Merchandising
  • A few repetitive skits
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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.