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.