March 19, 2013
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Title: Ro-Kyu-Bu!
Genre: Sports, slice-of-life
Rating: 6.2/10

Summary: Subaru Hasegawa, a high school student and member of his high school’s basketball team, lost interest in basketball after his team’s captain was scandalized for being a lolicon. In the mean time, Mihoshi Takamura, his aunt, asked him to become an advisor to the girl’s basketball team in the elementary section at Keishin Academy. He reluctantly agrees to do so on on a temporal basis. However he soon takes on a more permanent coaching role when he became inspired by the determination of Tomoka Minato, Maho Misawa, Airi Kashii, Hinata Hakamada and Saki Nagatsuka. This Anime series is a journey of self-discovery for both Subaru Hasegawa and the five amateur basketball players in Keishin Academy.

Review: Ro-Kyu-Bu! is a feel good anime that follows a standard sports story script. Despite that, this anime series left a lasting impression on me due to its very lovable characters and  the gorgeous visuals.

Ro-Kyu-Bu! is filled with kawaii fan service. At any and every opportunity, the guys at ASCII Media Works make it a point to depict the five girls in beautiful dresses, which range from maids to the ‘imouto’ theme to the ‘battle clothes’ of a sixth grader. While I usually find such strategies in Anime to be a rather low way to gain popularity among fans; I am rather drawn in by the sheer adorableness of Ro-Kyu-Bu! characters.

Despite having a predictable storyline, the character development are well thought out, making Subaru and the girls relatable to the audience. The faithful adherence to realism deviates from the more stereotypical, stock type sports story such as Captain Tsubasa. Subaru, for instance, is far from being the stereotypical all knowing coach. Instead, he is partially disillusioned with significant blind spots when it comes to making coaching judgments. In this way, his coaching experience with the girls of Keishin Academy is very much a journey for him to understand himself and his love for basketball.

The Five Dimensions of Girlhood

The Anime series makes a conscious effort to present the five girls as realistic dimensions of an adolescent girl’s growth.

Tomoka, a perfectionist and the best basketball player, learns to balance her obsessive need to win and the importance of friendship. In many ways, she is the representation of a girl growing acceptance of life’s bittersweet victories and defeats.Thus, in her attempt to come to terms with her self, her crush on Subaru becomes a focal point between her admiration for his basketball talent and coaching, as well as, her feelings for him as a love interest. With the framing of Subaru’s basketball captain as a lolicon, this love story is doomed to failure. Nevertheless, as with every first crush, the aim is not the fulfillment of love, but learning how to love and to accept about those feelings even if it means you get rejected.

While Tomoka is the picture of emotional complexity, Maho Misawa is representative the energetic drive of adolescent girls to aspire towards a dream that can call their own. Maho is therefore always willing to give her 100% in every activity that she takes part in, no matter how transient her interest in those activities are. I feel that this is because she doesn’t want to dwell upon foolish dreams that does not allow her to define herself.

Airi Kashii, on the other hand, is the awkward feelings that emerge from an adolescent’s realization of her physical changes. Airi’s shyness has made her unable to fully embrace her physical advantage in basketball. This is a common experience amongst teenagers growing up and I thought that the portrayal of a tall sixth grader basketball player is an intelligent way to bring forth these themes.

We also have Saki Nagatsuka, the rational and intelligent girl who is able to make level headed decisions all the time. Saki represents the growing intellectual maturity of teenage girls and how they balance their responsibilities in life. Thus, we see her portrayed as a young lady boss of her father’s okonomiyaki shop, as well as her motherly attitude towards Tomoka and Maho’s constant bickering.

Finally, we have Hinata Hakamada, my personal favorite in the whole anime. Hinata is the embodiment of moe and the feminine child-likeness that never really grows up despite a girl’s age. While she is child-like, she is never truly childish. Instead, she is a protector of the child-like realm, as indicated in her collection of plush toys.

The Verdict and the experience: Ro-Kyu-Bu! fails to become a genre defining anime series. There is nothing truly outstanding about what is depicted here and the general feel is more of a run in the mill anime series with a keen eye on realism. Overall, it is a light hearted and enjoyable series.

Recommended for: I would recommend this for a younger audience (the Ecchi isn’t all that bad) who will feel a strong connection with the Keishin Academy’s girls experience of growing up. This is also a good anime to watch on a Saturday/Sunday morning, as it would bring you much happiness for the weekend.

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