- Titles: Bamboo Blade
- Genre: Comedy, Sports!, School,
- Episodes: 24
- Studio: AIC ASTA
For as long as she can remember, Tamaki has been swinging a shinai around. It’s not that she has a huge passion for kendo or anything but when your parents own a dojo and have been teaching you kendo since you were born, it’s just something you do, you know? Tamaki’s never really wanted to compete or prove she’s the best at it. She’s never even practiced outside the family dojo. And that’s a shame because Tamaki really is very talented. However, all of that may change because her school’s kendo club desperately needs members. Will Tamaki finally discover a passion for the sport once she has a chance to compete with kids her own age or will she finally suffer defeat and abandon the sport forever?
For those of you who are new here, I have a soft sport for Sports! anime. I also happen to be something of a Japanophile. And not just when it comes to anime. So when Scott started talking about a show that combined my love of Sports! anime with the traditional Japanese art of Kendo, it was way too good to pass up.
I looked it up and Bamboo Blade aired in 2008, or 12 years ago. Now for me, that’s still what I would call a newer series but it is starting to get up there and honestly it’s showing its age a bit. Part of the issue may be that I only had access to this show on Funimation and the best available quality for 480p. That’s not tragic or anything. As you can see from my screencaps, it’s not as if all the characters looked like 8bit sprites, but the image just wasn’t very sharp.
Everything looked a bit fuzzy and the colours are rather desaturated and in a limited palette. On top of that, the character designs do embrace a style that was more popular a decade ago and the animation uses a lot of repeated cells. When you put it all together, you can tell this is not a new production or one that had unlimited resources.
Not that this mattered to me. In fact, I personally found it added something to the experience. Sports! anime is almost ubiquitously about celebrating the underdog, Bamboo Blade included, so a visibly scrappy production that relies more on charm than style just works for me. And make no mistake, in every important aspect, Bamboo Blade fared quite well. The art is incredibly consistent for instance. The kendo equipment is detailed and authentic looking. Facial expressions are exaggerated and frequent. You shouldn’t underestimate underdogs!
The story is pretty much a classic school sports team arc. The kendo club is in jeopardy due to a lack of new members and an unimpressive tournament record. However, a kendo prodigy has just started and may save the team. In time more members join and slowly discover the love of the sport. In time they all learn to work together through shared hardship and victories, overcoming personal hardships in the process. It,s basically the exact storyline of 75% of all Sports anime out there.
So why watch Bamboo Blade instead of another Sports! anime? I may be the wrong person to ask. I say watch all Sports! anime… Ok, so what does separate Bamboo Blade from the fray? Well, maybe that it’s a girl’s team. Female cast sports anime are becoming more frequent and are attracting new audiences which I am psyched about! But in the case of Bamboo Blade, there are boys in the club, and they have important parts to play, but the girls are either better or simply more numerous so the club’s resources mostly go to them.
There’s also something sort of unusual about a protagonist that isn’t passionate about the sport, simply talented. Even after starting to truly enjoy kendo, Tamaki still isn’t the biggest enthusiast in the club and she never becomes captain. She likes it more and more but there are other things that she’s more interested in. Like anime! So seeing the sport through her eyes makes you come to love it slowly instead of getting swept along by an absolute fanboy, like in a lot of anime.
Finally, it’s kendo! Need I say more? Yes? ok, fine then. kendo is a sport I have known about for a very long time. kendo clubs or practitioners have been featured in numerous anime and I have always had a superficial understanding of the sport. I took fencing in highschool so some things looked familiar but others made no sense at all. This is one of the first anime where Kendo is front and centre.
The rules and equipment are explained as well as the different stances and steps. Most sports anime tends to turn into informational dumps on the sport itself and for one of the first times, I can remember, I wished they had gone into even more detail about it. Still, I learned a lot and it was great.
I thoroughly enjoyed Bamboo Blade and I don’t see any reason not to recommend it but I can’t pretend it was perfect. The characters are rather superficial. They have one to maybe three character traits. You can pretty much sum them up as the nice boy who explains things or the over-dramatic artsy girl. I found them quite endearing but I can’t pretend that these were deeply fleshed out.
Also, the conflicts that come up tend to be dealt with quite swiftly. Logically mind you so it’s not like you’ll be left wondering what just happened but occasionally it can be a bit less satisfying.
And of course, it is very much a Sports! anime. Expect most of the standard tropes and archetypes to be present. So if you are one of those people who doesn’t like the Sports! genre for some reason, well I say give it a try anyway. Sports! anime are great… You can trust me, I’m completely unbiased…
Favourite character : Kirino!!!!! Love her so much.
Suggested drink: Bamboo cocktail
- Every time Kirino is inspirational – take a sip (depending on your definition of inspirational)
- Every time Tamaki plays hero – take a sip
- Every time Coach is hungry – get a snack
- Every time Miyako and Dan are lovey dovey – awwwww
- Every time Dark Miya appears – gasp!
- Every time the boys are being sweet – also awwwww
- Every time Saya is being dramatic – take a sip
- Every time we see “the trophey” – take a sip
- Every time we see a cat! – cat call
- Every time anyone gets starry eyed – take a sip
- Every time we see or hear about Tamaki’s mom – pour some out
- Every time Tama is being a weeb – relate!
- Every time anyone thinks Tmakai’s cute – take a sip
- Every time we see Ishida and/or Ishibashi young – take a sip
- Every time Azuma undoes her pig tails – take a sip
- Every time Tamaki inhales her food – put the snack down
- Every time Tmakai’s dad has an inner monologue – cheer!
In case you’re new here, I have a Pinterest with all my screencaps (there are a lot!). If you can’t find a show you are looking for in my main boards, just go to Anime Screenshots. I move the shows I have reviewed there. Of course, I’m still going to add a few images here!