• Titles: BACK ARROW
  • Genre: Science fiction, action, western, Mecha, adventure
  • Episodes: 24
  • Studio: Studio VOLN

Lingalind is enclosed by the Wall. The Wall both protects and nurtures the land, granting blessings to all the people. Of course, some are considerably more blessed than others. And the people of Edger village, seem to have been entirely forgotten by the wall as every day is a fight for simple survival. That is until a naked man without a name falls from the sky and tells them he is from beyond the Wall. Clearly, he has gone mad. Everyone knows that there is nothing beyond the wall. But why does he seem so certain? And why does he command a powerful Mecha with such ease? Maybe there’s more than meets the eye to this strange man. And maybe, just maybe, there is something beyond the Wall.

Before I start, I want to point out something a bit strange that I’ve noticed about Back Arrow. I should mention that I decided to watch the show because a fellow blogger said on Twitter that they were having a lot of fun watching it. This was enough for me. But I noticed that on AniList the show is currently at a rating of 57%, which is rather low. The odd thing is, that aside from that blogger that was enjoying it, everyone I follow that has also watched the show, seems to like it. The lowest rating I see in the folks I follow is a 6/10 from someone whose overall average rating is 6 and everyone else has the show between 75 and 82%.

I have never seen such a huge split between the general rating and the specific rating from folks I know. I don,t have an explanation or comment on this. I just thought it was interesting.

well, you’re not wrong…

Production

There is something nostalgic about the character designs in BACk ARROW, Maybe like a hyped-up 90s design. The colours are super bright, that’s the hyped-up part. But the rest has this familiar look to it that nevertheless isn’t all that common these days. I personally enjoyed the visuals.

The animation is competent. I wouldn’t call it breathtaking but you have to keep in mind that there are several hi-speed aerial battles throughout the show and most of them look decent, which is more challenging than just having characters sitting around and chatting. In the later episodes, you start to notice some recycled cells and some out-of-place stills but it’s not excessive.

I watched this show in both languages and I enjoyed pretty much all the performances. I’m about to say something very out of character for me. I think my favourite performance was Shu Bi’s English voice actor. I’m not sure I can name a single instance of preferring an English language performance, and that’s including some famously beloved dubs but Brandon McInnis injected so much personality and smarminess into that character that it made him just irresistible. Apparently, he also plays Gen in Dr. Stone and I can see how those roles have similarities. Maybe I should watch a dubbed episode just to see how it compares.

believe it or not, this guy’s a smart*ss

Story & Characters

In many ways, Back Arrow is a classic shonen. Once again, jit gave me some classic 90s feels. The story gets pretty convoluted towards the end with a last-minute drastically expanded universe, a heavy dose of theology and some existential questioning thrown in. But in general, it’s a fairly fast-paced action/adventure with some spaghetti western inspiration and a lot of flying robots. The heroes visit one nation after another, meeting eccentric characters and finding out that things may not be as they first appear.

I have noticed that western aesthetics and science fiction seem to pair surprisingly well. You know, Cowboy Bebop, Firefly, heck, even Star Wars up to a certain extent.

Back Arrow is fun but it’s also a little childish. As in, I would have enjoyed Back Arrow a lot as a kid. The morality is fairly simple throughout and the twists are amusing and ever so operatic but kind of flimsy if you think about them too much. And maybe that’s were this review would have ended if it weren’t for one thing.

The aforementioned Shu Bi. Shu Bi is a main character. Aside from Back Arrow himself, I believe he is the most plot-relevant and present character in the entire series. I have now watched all of Back Arrow and I still can’t tell you which side Shu Bi is on. Most likely his own side but even that is debatable.

I promised myself I wouldn’t just use Shu Bi screencaps…

Shu Bi isn’t so much a morally grey character as a morally opaque one that seems completely unconcerned with hero/villain conventions or living up to any particular audience or even narrative expectation. And that makes everything else more interesting. It’s a wild card that’s kept constantly in the forefront.

Usually, these types of characters are memorable and important supporting characters or villains. They make a huge impression of the cast and are often fan favourites, but when it comes right down to it, they aren’t all that present. Because their simple presence is a disturbance.

But Shu Bi is always there and somehow, Back Arrow manages to keep him both unpredictable while still maintaining a coherent enough storyline for us to easily follow along. To me, that was impressive and it helped keep me invested. I was never entirely sure how the next episode would go because there was no guarantee one of the main characters wouldn’t just sell them out, or save the day or turn into a clown made out of cotton candy…

that’s not cotton candy

In general, that’s actually a good description for Back Arrow as a show. It’s mostly a classic action sci-fi with some light-hearted humour peppered throughout and then once in a while, it throws a crazy wrench in the works and you’re like, where did that come from? But it still works. Not as in everything makes perfect sense but more as in, the show never asked you to take it all that seriously so this is just fun.

I’m guessing that this is the element that didn’t work for some viewers, explaining the low overall rating but if you don’t mind wackiness and enjoy classic 90s anime adventure, then Back Arrow might be what you’ve been looking for!

You might like this anime if:

Oh, I just spelled it out… a wacky adventure with some nostalgic feels. Also Mecha. I feel like I haven’t given you enough of an idea of just how mecha-centric this show is.

My favourite character:

well duh, Bit! I’m kidding, it is Shu Bi although I did like Bit a lot. He’s a comedic relief so I obviously would. I also liked Kai and Ren. I thought they played off each other quite well.

Suggested drink:

A Stone Wall

  • Every time anyone mentions their conviction  – raise your glass
  • Every time Shu and Ren bicker – take a sip
  • Every time someone talks about the wall – bow your head in reverence
  • Every time a Brihard is sumoned – take a sip
  • Every time Shu Bi calls himself a genius – yeah yeah
  • Every time Shu doesn’t like gambling – take a sip
  • Every time grandpa disagrees – take a sip
  • Every time princess Fine Forté dislikes violence – take a sip
  • Every time the villagers gets to eat – get some snacks
  • Every time Kai roars – take a sip
  • Every time anyone calls Bit “admiral” – salute
  • Every time the Elector Supreme shows up – take a sip
  • Every time the choir sings – cheer!
let me stress how much I love the choir!

I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.

6 thoughts

  1. I would say the art style is more 2000s than it is 90s. In fact, it really reminded me of Code Geass and s-Cry-ed. I don’t know how much of that is Goro Taniguchi’s involvement or not. But I agree that it is inspired by old robot shows. Maybe it’s what would happen if Taniguchi directed Gurren Laggan.

    This show is really right up my alley, and I hope that more of these types of shows come out.

    1. Code Geass? As in CLAMP? I have to admit, I really don,t see it. And I’m a huge fan of that art style. It’s so unique. I guess maybe the pink haired princess a little bit.
      Now I want to see a CLAMP version of it. I bet it would be awesome.

  2. I really enjoyed that sense of fun that you mentioned, the brightness of it all, and I definitely agree about Shu Bi – he kept things very interesting, yeah.

    1. I’m glad so many people had fun with this show. Sometimes a slightly silly anime is just what you need.

  3. I never knew mad science is better with choir commentry!

    That was fun from start to finish, and, yes, it felt very nostalgic in terms of style. I’m pretty sure “Back Arrow” is pun for bakka yarou, and that’s the motto for the show, too. It works.

    I doubt the show made my top 10 of the year, nor would it have been near the top of its season, but it’s just so damn consisterntly fun, that I can’t help looking back on it fondly. 6 or 7 out of 10 sounds about right. Probably 7. I’m no good at rating. 3 out of 5 stars, that’s easier.

    1. Man I loved that choir! I had the same experience as you. It’s not an amazing show but I had fun with pretty much every single episode. And that’s worth something!

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