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

15 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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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:59 AM)
    I say this because people often like to hype up the genre or those elements. I bring this up/think about it now because I played a game called undertale lately on my brothers recommendation and he was all like it emotionally destroyed him but I never ended up crying, I mean don’t get me wrong its a good game, there were laughs to be had and there was sentiment but it wasn’t THAT sad/funny.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:44 AM)
    Given how many people cry at some drama, clannad included.
    That reminds me…
    I can’t actually remember the last time in my life where I cried, I draw a blank.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 07:58 AM)
    @Aidan: Something always feels off to me when you criticize clannad, I mean I’m critical enough of key these days too but it seems odd that you rank it as an 8 on MAL when you’ve always made it sound its more of a high 6 or a 7.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:45 AM)
    But I’m no fan of gung-ho soldier games/most fps games so I am glad clannad, a visual novel outsold call of duty.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:44 AM)
    I said it once I’ll say it again. I preferred the clannad movie over the tv series, had more style, a more mature feel to it and cut out all the superfluous arcs/comedy for the better. It also concludes better than the series. The emotional involvement in the kyoani version doesn’t work for me anymore, doesn’t hold up. However the film remains emotionally engaging after revisiting it.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:19 AM)
    Holy hell Clannad is selling like hotcakes on Steam. Even beat Call of Duty in sales at one point.
    Kinda happy to see a VN get recognised and it would help open up the market for more titles to come over. But..well..Clannad really isn’t all that great.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 02:29 AM)
    I can remember when I first got into anime when I was a whole lot younger I always said I would watch lodoss war, El Hazard and slayers, yet I never ended up doing so…
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:34 AM)
    Ha, the child in me would love to see a film like that I’d imagine, when I was young I was pretty crazy about Egyptian supernatural stuff.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:23 AM)
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:22 AM)
    @Kaiser: yeah, even tho it was his highest grossing movie it managed to brought his career to a stand-still. His next film Gods of Egypt looks like it could be fun, albeit it’s just as much as a CGIfest as I, Robot. Egyptian stuff is admittedly rather intriguing, I remember a 2004 French film Immortel ad vitam that blended that with modern themes that became popular for a while.

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