We’re sampling all the new pilots this Winter. Check out our thoughts on…
- JOJO’S – BATTLE IN EGYPT ** ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM ** DEATH PARADE
- MARIA THE VIRGIN WITCH ** YATTERMAN NIGHT
Due to the fact that the list of things I enjoyed about “TheRolling Girls” episode 1 was relatively brief, this review shall becorrespondingly brief.
First and foremost, allow me to start with thepositive. The art and animation for thisepisode were positively stunning. Thedirector of the series, Deai Kotomi (who has worked on such shows as “ErgoProxy” “Silver Spoon” and “Michiko to Hatchin”) clearly put a great deal ofenergy into making sure this show’s visual design. And as a result, audiences who sit down towatch episode one will be rewarded with a treat for the eyes. Incredibly fluid motion. A vivid color palette. Lovingly detailed backgrounds that add asense of warmth and ambiance to nearly every scene. And well-drawn characters with livelymovements and great facial expressions that can convey a wide range of emotionswhether the characters are playing, fighting, or just sitting and eating ramen.
The negative: Everything else.
This show’s characters may have been enjoyable to look at,but they were nearly all as dumb as rocks. The villain of this episode had exactly 2 intelligent thoughts over thecourse of this pilot, (and I’m using a VERY broad definition of the word“Intelligent” here). This may not soundlike much, but was still enough to allow her to triumph over the heroes (whohad 0 intelligent thoughts during this pilot).
Why do I say this? For that, let us explore the bizarre, disjointed, meandering, confusednarrative that (again, using very broad definitions) we will call the story.
“Rolling Girls” takes place in a near future where Japan isno longer a unified country, but rather has broken down into a series offiefdoms (which are each controlled by a local gang called a “Mob) who battleeach other for territory and power. Sofar so good. I’m on board. But the logic problems start piling up whenthe show introduces the super-powered heroine “Macha-Green.” (For those checking their watches, this isabout 2 minutes into the episode.)
You see, it seems that each of the mobs fighting for controlof Japan employs a “BEST,” a super-powered hero (or villain, depending on yourpoint of view) to fight on their behalf. Exactly when where how or why these BESTS obtained their super-powers isnever really explained, but that’s the least of the show’s story problems.
The protagonist of the show, Nozomi Morimoto (who didabsolutely NOTHING to advance the plot in any way shape or form, and as far asI can tell is only the protagonist because she takes up the most space on theshow’s promotional posters) idolizes Macha-Green, the BEST who is in charge ofdefending Nozomi’s neighborhood. Nozomivery much wants to be introduced to the masked superheroine, but when she asksher neighbor “MA-CHAN” (who soundsexactly like Macha-Green, is about the same height and build as Macha-Green,and who is the person in the community who always runs off to find Macha-Green whenever there’s trouble, and who is never seen in the same place asMacha-Green, but who Nozomi neversuspects might be Macha-Greenbecause… the people in this world are kind of dumb) Ma-Chan refuses, saying theworld of BESTS is too dangerous for a civilian like Nozomi to get directlyinvolved in. Instead, Ma-Chan advisesNozomi to let Macha-Green handle the super-villains while Nozomi sticks withwhat’s safe: Working for the neighborhood mob at the local community centerdowntown.
A safety recommendation that…sort of makes sense? Until…GASP…horror of horrors, the super-villain BEST who’s been employedby an enemy fiefdom deduces Macha-Green’s secret identity…due to the fact thatshe discovered Macha-Green’s superhero mask JUST SITTING RIGHT OUT IN THEF@%&ING OPEN in the sidecar of Ma-Chan’s motorcycle after Ma-Chan carelesslyleft it lying there for any looky-loo passing by on the street to see!
(P.S. Connecting thedots and realizing that there was a very high likelihood that the owner ofMacha-Green’s mask might…y’know…beMacha-Green was intelligent thought #1 for the villain. It’s not exactly a Sherlock Holmes leveldeduction, but it still puts her one step above of anybody else in this show.)
Intelligent thought #2 was when the villain decided to goafter Macha-Green by targeting her friends and family. How did she do this? By sending an anonymous postcard to the Moboffices where Nozomi works, inviting everybody in the building to visit thelocal amusement park, and promising they’ll all be given free rides.
“Who sent this card?” Nozomi asks. “Why is a stranger offering us freestuff?” “Due to the fact that we live ina city where we’re effectively at war with several rival factions who want towipe us out, should we consider the possibility that this strange unexpected invitationmight be some form of trap?”
HA HA HA!! I’m justkidding. Nozomi didn’t ask any of thosequestions. NOBODY in the officedid! Because…people in this show arekind of dumb. They all just go down tothe amusement park (without telling Macha-Green about the card first) and geton a roller-coaster which…SURPRISE OF ALL SURPRISES…turns out to bebooby-trapped.
As Nozomi and her friends head toward a section ofroller-coaster track that’s been blown out by the villains, the credits beginto roll and…I’m pretty sure I’m supposedto care whether Nozomi will live or die in the next episode…but I kindof…don’t.
As I said before, this show is visually amazing, and if you’re one of those anime fans who likesto watch shows for the art and animation, then you’ll probably enjoy this verymuch. If you’re like me, and one of themajor factors in whether or not you like a show is the story, “Rolling Girls”might strike you as a narrative kick in the crotch. If anybody out there in internet land wantsto watch episode 2 and let me know if this story gets any better, feel free anmaybe I’ll give it another shot. But asof now, I think I’m going to be Rolling along to other, more palatableshows.
Watch this pilot and decide for yourself.
(Special thanks to Hyper-User Takashichea for the screencaps)
Kaita Mpambara works everyday to try and create shows, stories, and characters that are as exciting,energizing, and entertaining as the very best works that have been given to theworld by both the western and eastern animation industries. Keep up withhis musings on life, the universe and everything by following him on Facebook.