Anime Review: Show by Rock!! – Complete Season 1 (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 18.02.2017

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Show by Rock!! - Complete Season 1 (UK Rating: 15)

Based upon an addictive mobile rhythm game by Geechs, Show by Rock!! follows Cyan, a young girl with a passion for music but lacking the courage to put herself out there to join the school band, and so is limited to staying at home playing the game the show is based on. When she finally manages a new high score, she unlocks a special guitar and is pulled inside her phone to a world within her rhythm game called "Sound World" where bands battle for the hearts of their fans. This complete collection is out 20th February and comes from Funimation via Anime Limited in the UK.

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When Cyan arrives in Midicity, she is transformed into a gothic loli catgirl and part of the audience for a performance by the foxy boy-band Trichronika. Just as the concert ends, though, the band and Cyan are transported to a Tron-like digital world where a huge Oni-looking dark monster attacks. These monsters can take the special Melodesian stones from performers and corrupt them, turning the performer into another dark monster. Cyan saves the day as the special guitar she unlocked - Strawberry Heart - turns out to be a magical device that can talk to her and fight back the dark monster by busting out some Dragonforce-style fretting.

After defeating the monster, a little egg-like creature introduces himself as the President of Banded Rocking Records (BRR) agency and offers to add Cyan to his band of other animal girls. As Cyan joins up with Plasmagica, she grows out of her shell and becomes more confident, along with developing close relationships with her friends and new band mates, who each have a chance to tell their stories over the course of the show. Plasmagica has numerous other bands to compete against for rock dominance, but there is also a shadowy figure lurking in the background that is using the dark monsters and has captured the greatest musician in Sound World to enact a mysterious plot to take over the world.

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The cast is filled with funny and likeable characters. Within Plasmagica there's a strong leader in Chuchu, an older bunny girl who plans to use the band as a launch pad for her own solo career. Then there's Retoree, a Golden Retriever girl who is something of a hikikomori and tsundere, who has quite the crush on Cyan. Finally, there is Moa a sheep girl who happens to secretly be an alien invader on a mission to investigate Sound World and its people. BRR has its president, too, a weird little moustachioed egg guy who likes being disciplined by his secretary. Not to mention the another band on its books, too, called Shingan Crimsons - a visual kei style team of J-Rocker boys who are the centre of some of the funniest moments in the show.

Studio Bones has produced plenty of stunning series over the years and has played with numerous art styles and animation techniques. Its work on Space Dandy, Full Metal Alchemist and, most recently, the insane Mob Psycho 100, showcases the spectacular quality it is capable of. Show by Rock!! looks to be a familiar enough slice of life style when the first episode opens, but when Cyan is sucked into Midicity, suddenly there is a weird 3D CGI-style, which is a little reminiscent of the recent World of Final Fantasy, and it's not particularly enjoyable to be honest. Thankfully, it's not used too often, and Bones gets a little experimental throughout, with some moe moments for a rival chirpy band, and some huge luminous effects here and there.

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The series' music was composed by prolific composer Yasuharu Takanashi, who has previously produced for many big names over the years, including Gantz, Naruto Shippuden, Fairy Tail, Log Horizon and plenty more. His work here is filled to bursting with toe-tapping J-Pop beats and, in an unusual move, the English dub actually translates the songs, too, instead of just including the Japanese versions. Honestly, both the English and Japanese dub are fantastic, with the voice actors on both sides delivering great performances during the show and while singing, as well.

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
Show by Rock!! is an indisputably original show and a genuinely pleasant surprise. The strange CGI styles are off-putting at first, but they seem to be used less and less as the series goes on, and the regular style art looks delightful. It is definitely worth giving a shot for the great tunes, inventive story, and genuinely funny moments. The show did well enough to justify a second season in Japan and, hopefully, it will receive a UK release soon.

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