- Titles: Bakuten!!, Backflip!!
- Genre: Sports!, school, comedy, drama
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: ZEXCS
Shoutarou Futaba has never been great at sports. He was always good enough to make it on the team but once there, he generally just sits on the bench. He’s tried a few of them but nothing has ever quite been his spark. That is until he sees his senpais soaring through the air in the gymnastics club. And since they only have 3 people, he’s sure to make it off the bench. Now, this is the perfect club. And learning competition-level rhythm gymnastics can’t be that hard, can it? Shoutarou will be caught up in a week!
As some of you know, I am Canadian. That means a few things. For one, my sports of choice have to include skating. Those are the rules. They’ll revoke my passport if they don’t. Hockey, figure skating even curling if I must. There are no skates but it is on ice so it gets a pass. Let me tell you a secret though. But you can’t tell anyone. This is important. Given the choice, I would rather watch gymnastics. I just love the way the volt is around. It’s like Cirque du Soleil! Triple axels are really cool and I love the speed on them but backflips… There’s just something so fun about backflips!
I wouldn’t say there’s that much to talk about when it comes to the production of Backflip!! In a generally good way though. It was a production in all things competent just not that remarkable. Character designs were fine, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone found the boys attractive. Backgrounds were varied but mostly consisted of gyms. The voice acting was pleasant and the sounds of jumping around really brought a lot of life to the show. I have nothing but conservatively good things to say. I also wouldn’t be surprised if someone ended up with absolutely nothing to say about the production. No risks were taken… well maybe one.
If you have ever watched an idol show 1) you are welcomed here and 2) you know the deeply unsettling experience of having an otherwise perfectly traditional anime suddenly dive into uncanny CG without warning every time there’s a performance. Well, they did the same thing in Backflip!! The Gymnastics performances are all CG. They also often include fisheye perspectives and depth of field distortions for some reason and… it’s a choice.
As I write this, I don’t know how I feel about that choice. Backflip!! is a fairly traditional sports anime and therefore the gymnastics performances which are at competitions are a very important part of the show. But they’re also not that frequent. I do like that the CG allowed for some impressive movement that would have been difficult to animate otherwise and kept the character models perfectly proportioned. But I also found it distracting. The perspective flourishes made the performances stand out but also made them more difficult to follow. I just don’t know. Either way though, it’s not present enough to stop you from enjoying Backflip!!
Story & Characters
As I was watching Backflip!! I had a bit of an epiphany. A sports anime epiphany. Is that something that can happen? And that’s what I have decided to concentrate on for this post. Actually, wait, there are some of you good people that actually just wanted to find out about Backflip!!. I liked it. If you enjoy Sports! anime you should watch it. It reminded me of Run With the Wind often although I think Run is the better show. Still backflip!! Was well-paced, had a good cast of characters and created enough excitement and tension for the competitions that I really cared about the outcome. I would recommend it.
But I might be biased because to me, Backflip!! was pure unmitigated nostalgia. But a new nostalgia. A nostalgia for the genre of Sports! anime itself. Backflip!! doesn’t stray far from the classic Sports! formula. I find it’s a genre that tends to stick particularly close to tropes and narrative structures in general. But it does it well. As I mentioned it’s well-paced. The cast is different enough that there’s a balance. The sport itself, rhythm gymnastics is very fun to watch.
And as the episodes wore on I realized that to me, it was comforting. Watching talented people practice doing a sport they love is something that I really enjoy and it puts me at ease. It made my evenings fly by while I cheered for my favourite team. And because it’s anime, it’s uncomplicated.
One of the most used sources of conflict in drama in sports anime is the injury before a big game. It’s a very natural fit after all. Athletes get injured all the time and it can completely derail their careers. We’ve seen it enough that a story beat like that is going to get instant sympathy from the audience. It’s so relatable. And yes, Backflip does use the trope. In two different ways at that. But the thing is, when I watch an actual athlete go out and compete on an injury, you can pretty much always tell. The human body is an amazing tool and it’s going to attempt to preserve itself. Few people can pull off a perfect routine on a sprained ankle. And if they can, maybe they shouldn’t. But anime characters can. And I don’t have to worry too much about them. Anime characters can get into a boxing ring and take shattering blows to the head and they won’t get Parkinson’s or CTE. Or at least they don’t have to.
I don’t like watching people get hurt. Not in real life. In real life, it’s usually not meaningful. It’s not a dramatic beat for character building. But I don’t mind watching anime characters get hurt. I don’t like it either but I can accept it in a different way. And slowly, it helps me accept it in general. That’s part of the power of fiction. And it’s something that went through my head as I was watching Backflip!!
It’s not the only thing though. Backflip!! ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger. It does have a satisfying wrap-up but it still leaves off in a spot where there is clearly more story. A movie is coming out (or maybe has already come out by the time this post sees the light of day) and if I can find it, I will watch it for sure. However, I have had little luck with finding anime movies in the past few years so we’ll see. Maybe this will be one of these cases where I never find out the ultimate ending to an anime.
And I’ve made my peace with that. Throughout the years I have watched countless sports anime. A lot of them only get one season and never play out to the end of the tournament they were so excited about. In my mind there are dozens of teams suspended in time, eternally practicing for the big game, celebrating forever the small victory that is supposed to bring them one step closer to an ultimate goal that will be forever out of reach. In my mind, these athletes will be forever in their prime, full of hope and dreams. I collect them and I think in a way, I draw a little bit of my own hope from them.
That sounds a bit exaggerated, doesn’t it? It’s a silly little sports anime about a bunch of guys who want to do rhythm gymnastics. It’s not that deep… But well, that lack of depth is part of what I like. Not everything has to be huge drama and unbearable stakes. Sometimes it’s nice to just have a bunch of friends who want to jump around.
Also, their manager is awesome and I’m going to write a post about her and a trend I am loving in female characters lately.
The post was all over the place, wasn’t it? Well, Backflip!! made me think about anime and I wanted to share it. Sometimes I love anime just for being anime.
You might like this anime if:
You have been looking for a single cour Sports! anime.
My favourite character:
I think almost everyone in the series was my favourite at some point but I have to settle with captain Masamune Shichigahama. He was the dorkiest. You know how much I love dorks.
- Every time the art style becomes very different – take a sip
- Every time Futaba blushes – awwwww
- Every time the coach mentions his wife – gasp!
- Every time Misato gets called some type of Ace – take a sip
- if he says not to call him that – take a deep breath
- Every time the captain gets weirdly passionate about their school – take a sip
- Every time anyone says “backflip” – hey that’s the name of the show
- Every time anyone cooks – get snacks
- Every time there’s CG – take a small sip
- Every time Onagawa is watching an idol show – take a sip
- Every time Masamune brings up sasakama – it’s actually a type of processed fish snack. When I use to eat meat, I loved this!
- Every time there’s a bird – take a sip
- Every time we see a flashback to an injury – take a sip
- Every time anyone says “soar” – take a sip
- Every time the manager has a recording – take a sip
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.