Posted by psgels on 25 August 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews



Beck is a lot like the younger rebellious brother of Nodame Cantabile. While the latter is about students, classical music and orchestras, the former is about a bunch of middle and high-school kids who try to start a rock band. Nodame Cantabile was very much up-beat and a positive series, while Beck is much darker, more down-to-earth and loved playing with the darker sides of humanity. Still, both series are about a passion for music and the chemistry between the people you play with.

In terms of music, Beck draws on the shorter end, though. Don’t get me wrong, the rock-music that the creators selected for this series is excellent, but it doesn’t feel as part of the series in the way that Nodame Cantabile did. There seems to be no difference in a song when one of the band-members is missing, and that’s a bit sloppy. Koyuki, the lead character in this series was supposed to be an awesome singer, but I could never really see why. Sure, he was good at singing, but his singing was full of Engrish, which hardly anybody (even the Americans) seemed to notice. Okay, perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to watch Beck right after Nodame Cantabile (which paid attention to even the slightest mistakes), but this was a rather annoying flaw.

Thankfully, there’s more than enough to make up for that. Beck has a cast of downright excellent characters, with an almost haunting chemistry between them, due to the realistic approach it chooses to portray the Japanese Indie band scene. There are so many good amateur rock bands out there, that it’s going to be very hard to stand apart from them, and even as this series nears its end, it’s still a huge mystery whether the guys from Beck are actually going to get famous or not.

Koyuki may not have had the best voice-actor, but apart from that, he’s an excellent character, who grows a lot through the series. He starts out as an insecure little kid, and he gradually loses his insecurities, to become more outspoken. Nearly the entire cast is also well-defined and has its clear purpose in the series.

Then there’s the romance, which was actually pretty good. There was this strange sort of realism that actually made the bits of romance in this series engaging, rather than annoying, which is where most teenaged romances seem to head for, especially when they’re not the main focus of a series. There’s something memorable in the bond that develops between Koyuki and Maho, in the way that the creators keep teasing the viewer, although the creators may have spent a bit too little time on it in the series’ second half. They could have played with it a bit more, I feel.

Certain parts of the series are a bit unbelievable, though. Ryuusuke’s age of sixteen years old feels a bit unbelievable, considering the things he’s already done, or certain plot-twists seem to come from nowhere, which will raise some eyebrows at the realistic nature of this series. Nevertheless, though, Beck is a very memorable series that combines slice of life and the struggles to form a successful rock band excellently.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 8/10

12 Responses

  1. totali says:

    This has been one of my favorite series for quite a few years now. I actually like this a lot more than Nodame Cantabile, maybe just because I can relate to the lifestyle a lot more.

    I disagree with the music: I thought it was excellent, very realistic, and completely fitting to what the band, BECK, represented. It might have been hard to see why Koyuki was suppose to be a great singer, but it was more of what he was able to represent. It was the same with Ryuusuke. They became musicians because it was what they were meant to do, and they could see things other people couldn’t.

    But yea, awesome that you’ve finally watched it :D. I don’t think this series gets the attention it deserves most of the time.

  2. mori says:

    I like this series too but the Engrish annoyed me so I switched to the english dub (which was pretty good actually).

  3. ghostlightning says:

    totally agree with totali

    this also has been a favorite for a few years now, and i’m still following the manga. i even used beck’s version of “i’ve got a feeling” as part of the soundtrack of our wedding slide show.

    about the music, it’s great. koyuki’s singing is about his vocal chops, not songwriting. engrish is all about the lyrics. that said, i’m one of those fans who LOVE engrish. i can’t make it up even if i tried, so i just enjoy it (ever since i saw my classmates in primary school use japanese stationery with the oddest captions).

    i did not enjoy nodame cantabile, but not because it was a bad anime. it’s because the live action dorama is just so much more AWESOME! i promise you that you are missing so much if you don’t watch the dorama of nodame cantabile.

    my gripe about the anime is that it is indeed too difficult to animate a whole orchestra, and using stills to “animate” a performance just wrecks it for me.

    either way, i’m a fan of both.

  4. Ferdinand says:

    My top 5 anime, BECK is the first anime about music that I enjoyed a lot. the only thing I don’t like only the engrish thing.

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  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:12 AM)
    @Bam: The more you mentiom Synecdoche, the more interested I get. Malcovich was a creative idea for a film and Eternal sunshine was a good spin on the romance genre which gave Jim Carrey a film worth acting in.
    Riki-oh if anything is just a heck of alot of fun.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:05 AM)
    So I naturally offsetted the mentally strenuous movie with a healthy dose of Riki-Oh, which I also just watched for the first time. I think it goes without saying that it was magnificent! This is late 80’s gold condensed into two episodes. What’s weirdly jarring about it is that it tries to add depth to the absurdity by including some serious, and still relevant, themes about the private prison complex which made it an even better popcorn flick for some reason.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 05:58 AM)
    Charlie Kaufman is also responsible for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation and Being John Malkovich, so it goes without saying that his works are atmospheric and thoughtful. Synecdoche is by far his bleakest story yet, and it was a tough pill to swallow; although if you watch it you’ll see that sincerity regarding death is actually a crucial point of the movie.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 12:52 AM)
    Well in the case of Samuel Jackson playing nick fury, I never truly gave a crap about the comic book character. But I have never taken Jackson seriously as the head of shield. It hard to see him as a dependable leader.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Jan 30. 2015 11:29 PM)
    Synecdoche, New York:
    What a great film. Charlie Kauffman’s directorial debut is a post-modern surreàl piece about fear of death and mortality. There are few editing and pacing issues which a more experienced director could’ve ironed out, and the very nature of the movie begs to be called pretentious and boring by shallow viewers. Yet this is still an honest and meticulous piece of artistic filmmaking which shouldn’t be missed by those who enjoy the craft.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Jan 30. 2015 10:56 PM)
    I did think some of the outburst though in death parade 04 were verging too far on the melodrama though.
    Still like Garo this week, still a very watchable episode.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Jan 30. 2015 10:35 PM)
    Come to think of it In kingsman they changed the villain to be black also. Of course all this I consider pretty minor. Moreso I’m tired of seeing Samuel L Jackson playing himself in everything.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Jan 30. 2015 10:28 PM)
    But in the case of the Marvel stuff, with Nick Fury and Human torch, I know its a crap complaint but for me its a case of “He doesn’t look close enough to the comic”
  • Emma
    (Friday, Jan 30. 2015 10:16 PM)
    @Aidan: They think they are promoting diversity but all it ends up being is completely tokenistic to the core.
    The fantastic 4 have always struck me as characters that were too difficult to get right/write.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Jan 30. 2015 10:08 PM)
    Sort of like how skyfall made moneypenny black for that “OOHHH SNAP!” moment. Disregarding the point of moneypenny and not to mention making her a character who was so incompetent a secret agent that she was demoted to Secretary.Or like how they made Annie black. Just why exactly?

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