Completed View: BECK – Mongolian Chop Squad (5)

13Jan08

Beck

Media format: 1-26 Episodes of subs

Last viewed: 1 year ago

BECK is a great anime for any teenager.  It’s even good enough for those people that have grown out of it.

Plot and Storytelling:

At it’s very heart, BECK is a coming of age story.  Koyuki is just a 14-year old teenage boy in school.  He’s kind of bored and has no idea what he wants to do with life.  His musical taste is shallow basically clinging on any current pop idol.  And one day it all changed…he found a giant robot.  No wait, wrong anime.  BECK‘s plot is very down to Earth.  It’s not a fantasy or a murder mystery.  It’s just a slice of life story with some lucky but plausible encounters. 

The way the story advances is very realistic.  Yeah, there’s conflict, but nothing is over the top.  The pacing is well done and the story really sucks you in.  The focus of the story is not single minded and often deals with other things in life other than the music.

Characters:

All the characters made sense.  Even though you don’t know too much about each character’s past, the characters are fleshed out and portrayed consistently enough so that they all feel like someone you might meet in life.  They are real down to Earth with their problems and dreams.  Sure they want to make great music, but that doesn’t make them immune to life’s other problems like bills and love.  From the lovable bunch of misfits that is BECK to the shady record company owners, they exist and act as they should.

Animation and Audio:

Originally aired in 2004, BECK has a real distinct feel to it that separates it from other animes.  It doesn’t quite have the same clean, perfectly drawn feel that a lot of more generic animes have.  A lot of BECK feels like you are watching home video with it’s softer, darker colors which contrasts with more generic anime that feel candy coated.  With the way the lighting and shadows are handled, BECK feels like it’s trying to simulate real life which makes the whole story more believable.  Another really good touch was using CGI to animate the guitar work.  I don’t play a guitar so I have no idea whether the hand positions are right but it sure looks like it could be to me.

BECK is one of those animes that would lose a lot in translation.  I know FUNimation Entertainment picked up BECK and dubbed it, but it wouldn’t be as good as the original Japanese audio for a few reasons.  A lot of the humor in BECK is about the language barrier between some of the characters.  Koyuki speaking perfect English removes a lot of the awkward situations and makes some of events almost nonsensical unless the viewer actively remembers that many of the Japanese characters only know rudimentary English.  That being said, the Japanese audio is not perfect.  For living in United States for 10 years, Maho’s English is really bad.  It’s slurred and the intonation is off.  Also, the “American” documentary maker has probably the most fobbish lines ever.  However, a lot of English speakers in the anime obviously were actual voiced by English voice actors, which in my opinion is a good thing.  Ryûsuke’s English is also pretty good and fits his history pretty well.

Also, the music of BECK loses some charm when dubbed in English.  I felt the Japanese version with its grammar errors and off pronunciation make the anime seem more real.  Even with those grammar and pronunciation problems, the Japanese version of the songs are still effective.  After all, music is supposed to transcend language and physical borders right?

Afterglow:

Realism being the general theme of the anime, BECK doesn’t end with them taking over the world with their music.  They don’t sign big deals with big music executives and reach a level of superstar-dom.  But it’s not a  bad ending either.  Actually, I thought it was quite happy and touching.  It made me feel a warm and fuzzy on the inside, which is something rare for me.

Conclusion:

I love BECK.  The music is good and the voice acting is awesome.  The characters are well developed and alive in their own right.  The story is realistic and gripping which just the right pace and feel with an animation style that just enhances every aspect of the story and characters.  I would just recommend watching subtitled with Japanese audio and not English dub.  Too much is lost due to dubbing like the language barrier aspects of the story.  BECK is a very good anime and I would recommend it to anyone.

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