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
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:47 AM)
    I remember that same guy, during end of eva, pausing it over and over during that scene where asuka dies with all of those fast moving clips too.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:39 AM)
    I remember catching it also when I was young with a friend and we looked back on a fanservice scene with shinji and rei and he mentioned “You know if you think about it that scene is damn disturbing when you think she’s a clone of/modelled after you know who…”
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:36 AM)
    Before Eva, when I was 11 or so my image of a mech anime was Nadesico…then it was eva and then I was like…Whoah…whoah God halp! =O
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:34 AM)
    I suppose credit where I feel it due, the angel designs are excellent and I remember getting the shock of my life when shinji’s eva went nuts and then there was a bit with Bardiel infect Toji’s unit. I remember at least Masatos boyfriend being a likeable character.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:31 AM)
    I don’t think anyone was prepared for Eva, whether they liked the show or not, at 11 I can remember being horrified by end of eva and the series original ending as well as having my first moment of “Feck…theres a first…an anime that did something that scrambled my mind, I actually feel kind of thick now, this show is smarter than I am”.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:27 AM)
    It really wouldn’t have been that hard to put a satisfying ending to the original series, wrap up the threads nicely and put a pretty ribbon on the package to finish it off. But Anno and friends took a risk and went against the tide and end up becoming the trope-namer for the Gainax Endings. That took balls and made things unexpected and fresh, cuz god knows that ,good guys win the day ‘is tired and boring.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:26 AM)
    Requiem for a dream. I remember the guy who recommended that film saying to me “Even someone such as yourself who finds it hard to find/has high standards an emotionally investing film will get something out of requiem for a dream”
  • Bam
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:17 AM)
    @Emma: leaving a bad taste is pretty much the point of Eva, just as getting bummed out by Requiem For a Dream is the naturally intended effect. I don’t mind that you don’t enjoy Eva all that much Emma, l actually appreciate it over dishonest admiration. Just keep in mind that Eva deserves it’s special place in anime.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 01:32 AM)
    But Eva just left a bad taste in my mouth as a whole, I understand that Bam you are very passinette about it and thats fine, I wasn’t aiming to provoke. I just feel that its frustrating that like alot of certain anime, that I am not allowed to dislike it or have reason to.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 01:32 AM)
    If anything at least I found Ikuhara’s symbolism while obvious at least in utena and straightforward was at least visually interesting to look at.
    I love every David Lynch film and again I thought Lain was exceptional.

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