Ten years before the start of Rolling☆Girls, a massive battle called the Great Tokyo War devastated Japan. Over the course of the war, most of Japan's political and economic leaders vanished, leaving a vacuum of power in their tracks. To restructure the country, Japan was divided into ten territories that soon became independent prefectures, with each vying to conquer its neighbors to become the sole ruler of what was once Japan. Many of the heroes from the Great Tokyo War have taken on leadership roles in the different nations; these individuals are now known as Mosas and lead groups of supports called Mobs.
A young Mob named Nozomi Moritomo is instructed by her Mosa to go on a journey with three of her friends in order to grow stronger and observe the other prefectures. Along the way, these four girls search for moonlight stones, heart-shaped jewels said to give their wearers great power... but will the power of the moonlight stones bring about an era of peace, or will they send the nations plummeting into another abyss of devastation?
#1: "Hito ni Yasashiku (人にやさしく)" by THE ROLLING GIRLS (Ari Ozawa, Rina Hidaka, Risa Taneda, Yumiri Hanamori) (ep 1) #2: "Tsuki no Bakugekiki (月の爆撃機)" by THE ROLLING GIRLS (Ari Ozawa, Rina Hidaka, Risa Taneda, Yumiri Hanamori) (eps 2-3, 5-7, 9-12) #3: "Noutenki (脳天気)" by THE ROLLING GIRLS (Ari Ozawa, Rina Hidaka) (ep 4) #4: "STONES" by Kaoru Kubota (ep 8)
Watching Rolling☆Girls is like watching a newb play a video game. You helplessly look on as they mash buttons and hope something substantial will come from it. You grit your teeth as they ignore all the opportunity to advance or even score a few points. But as much as you'd like to take the controls and show them how it's done, you're simply delegated to being an onlooker, as you watch them run around aimlessly with no sense of thought or direction.
With the chance to truly make something worth watching squandered, the show seems to lack any proper direction or purpose. Instead what we get is another moe-blob adventure with cute girls going around engaging in silly shenanigans. They hint at some kind of "bigger than life" plot involving magical stones, which when ascertained gives the holder power, but that never seem to manifest itself as it is simply overshadowed by the blaring attempts at cuteness and dull comedy.
As a "road" anime it fails since we get no real sense of progression or proper world building. Nothing is ever truly explored and the only setting exploration we get is in a form of a cheap info dump in the 1st episode. They simply attach a quick backstory of a territorial war between prefectures in Japan, which we're told resulted in its current state. This later leads to gang disputes where magical stone holders known as "Bests" duke it out to show dominion over other rivals. But it isn't until 9 episodes in the show that anything substantial happens in terms of plot. The show jumps around aimlessly from one location to the another just to allow our moe dango balls to get caught up in some sort of fluffy tension-less conflict, for it to simply be resolved without any sense of accomplishment. They repeat this monotonous cycle without any cause or context. They simply arrive at a new destination, silly shit happens and then they leave for the next location like it never occurred, that's literally it. The show seem to simply exist as an excuse to show "pretty" visuals and silly hijinks. They didn't even attempt to flesh out any of the 1 dimensional cast, which made them fail as even basic archetypes... how do you even fail basic archetypes is beyond me, that's like failing to write your own name.
The only saving grace to speak of is the bubbly up-tempo art and consistent animation. The world of R☆G looks like it was colored within the mind of a hyper active 10 year old, which makes every episode appealing to look at. It was vibrant, eye catching and made the experience more palatable. But that's about it, outside of the art and animation R☆G offers nothing to sink your teeth into. The show is trying to entertain but doesn't seem to have a clue as to what a "plot" is.
It's simply a moe-blob show with pretty visuals. Other than that it's soulless, forgettable and lacks any kind of purpose. This is as "bottom of the barrel" as an anime can get and only seem to exist to simply pander to the viewers with blatant escapism. There's nothing here that warrants 12 episodes. Your time is better spent elsewhere.
For other titles that does the same thing but to a more refined degree I point you towards:
Kill La Kill: Crazy over the top presentation but have a more focused structure and a sense of progression. It feels like it's doing something with its premise and not squandering it for silly moe/cute girls pandering.
No Game No Life: Striking similarities in visuals and also excessive pandering. But unlike R☆G, it has a clear goal and a better grounded plot. It doesn't payout in the end, with a "read the manga" ending, but at least there was a sense of direction to begin with.
FLCL: Similar over the top presentation with a unique artstyle but handled with finesse and is more self-aware. Has a more clear cut objective, great usage of motifs and allegories, but most importantly, it contained a sense of "fun" that R☆G seem to fail at capturing.read more
The first two episodes of Rolling Girls are an explosion of light and colour, leaving the viewer wondering what sort of show this wacky, crazy and interesting thing is going to be.
The answer is: not a whole lot.
Rolling Girls never lives up to that original promise. The story decides to focus on entirely different characters than the premier, introduced in about the third episode. It jumps from city to city, introducing characters but never spending enough time with them for the viewer to actually care about them. The Rolling Girls themselves, Nozomi, Yukina, Ai and Chiaya spend most of their time failing to achieve, well, anything.
Now to explain the art rating. Man, this show is pretty, and the duel animation is a thing of beauty. Every background is a watercolour-style painting that gives the show an interesting atmosphere.
Unfortunately the rest of the show is something of a letdown. The writing basically backs itself into a corner, and the show goes out with a lot less of the energy it came in with. The end of the story leaves you going-or at least, it left me going-"Wait, what?" The show had some okay arcs, but on the whole it was something of a flop. read more
Rolling Girls is what happens when you sell out. It’s the embodiment of relinquishing your own vision and creativity to ensure that your product sells rather than ensuring its actual quality. This anime is a great exemplification of the profit-over-quality mindset that has plagued the anime industry with its indistinguishable moe garbage for nearly a decade. Now, I’m not being so hard on this show because it’s the worst offender of lazy moe-blob entertainment, but because it has the structure and budget to be something that’s actually good, yet consciously chooses to be something stupid and generic instead. That, to me, is the ultimate offense. You Rolling Girls fans probably want me to elaborate after that seething intro, so let’s jump into this:
Synopsis: In an alternate reality, Japan is split into a multitude of factions, each of which is controlled by one or many moe-blobs. Hijinks ensue.
After watching the first episode or two of Rolling Girls, you might be fooled into thinking that this show has an actual plot, actual characters, and a fleshed out setting. Well, don’t be, because this anime has none of those things. The only imaginable reason that you could enjoy watching this show is for the flashy animation with no rhyme or reason behind it and the copious amounts of moe. It’s the epitome of mindless entertainment. Now, that’s all fine and dandy if the show was honest about what it is, but it isn’t. Rolling Girls tries to convince you that it develops a coherent story and legitimate, multi-dimensional characters when it so obviously is not.
The whole idea of Japan being split into factions seems like a cool and imaginative idea, until you realize they are merely using it as an excuse to change the show’s setting and supporting characters every episode or two. Following a largely episodic style, characters come and go before you’ve even committed their names to memory, much less their personality or motivations. Every single subplot is incredibly shallow and pointless, and ends in the same place that it began. To reiterate, NOTHING of significance happens in this show; there is no coherent plot, no matter how hard it tries to convince you that there is. The only reason to watch it is for comedic, moe hijinks, which you can get in so many other shows without the deception.
The characters, as you might expect from a moe-blob show, are completely one-dimensional, boring, and indistinguishable. They all have the exact same sense of humor (which, again, is moe) and even the exact same face. They are completely uninteresting, unoriginal, and zero-effort. However, yet again, the show will try to trick you into thinking they are more than that. The first two episodes strongly indicate the backstories, motivations, and personalities of the girls will actually come into play at some point. Needless to say, they don’t; this is a plotless comedy show and nothing more.
The one and only thing that Rolling Girls deserves praise for is its bright, colorful animation. When they actually decide to animate something of note, this show is absolutely beautiful. Fantastic (though seldom utilized) choreography combines with vibrant colors to really pop off the screen and make you want to never look away. This is really the only reason to watch the anime, as it goes quite well with the whole theme of mindless entertainment that the show has. The soundtrack is pretty unremarkable, as the opening is a pandering idol-girl sequence and the OST is bland. The voiceacting is your standard series of moe quirks and not memorable either.
In short, is Rolling Girls a bad show? Not necessarily, but it certainly is an uninspired one. It can be actually funny at times and the colors are pretty, but when it comes down to it, there is no reason to recommend this show over any other moe-blob comedy; especially when many other shows do the comedy part far better and don’t pretend to have depth to their plot and characters when they actually don’t. I do not recommend Rolling Girls, though I can see how people would enjoy watching it.read more
I don’t even know where to start complaining about this one. I thought I had gotten over my dislike for bizarre nonsensical anime, but then Rolling Girls came into my life and reignited my hatred like that guy who your ex-wife cheated on showing up to your office as your new boss. And just to rub it in, he fucks her constantly in his office whilst leaving the door open so you can hear her yells from your cubicle across the room and feel pain akin to being skull-fucked yourself with each thrust. Did I mention this anime was written by the guy who wrote Bible Black and a bunch of other crappy anime about fucking? I’m surprised True Blue isn’t on his resume, because I sure felt like as much of a useless statue as the girls who got fucked in that atrocity after sitting through this pigshit!
The main reason for my irritation regarding this anime is how it seems to have this incredibly smug attitude that thinks anime fans will watch anything regardless of context as long as it looks cool. Hey, anime fans love cool-looking fights right? Let’s put them into this show. Hey, anime fans love rock concerts right? Into the show. Oh yeah, they also like cute girls and bizarre nonsensical objects and aliens and heart-shaped puke? Who cares if it doesn’t make any sense and without any context, it just comes as pure undiluted filler that’s completely charmless, nonsensical, and just plain unfunny? Put ‘em all in the show, whilst fucking "character development and having some sort of hook" up its unimportant ass. Seriously, how much of an idiot does this show take me for?
And I'm serious when I say this show is as context-less as it gets. It does have a plot of course: after two rival gang leaders injure each other to the point that they're hospitalized, a girl who looks up to one of said leaders as her big sister named Nozomi decides to take over her job of delivering peace notices to different parts of a post-war Japan that mutated into some sort of saccharine version of Tokyo Tribe years after said war in order to gain confidence or something. Joining her on the quest is a new recruit named Yukino, a girl from the opposing side named Ai, and a complete stranger named Chihaya, each with their own personal reasons for joining. As such, the majority of the anime is focused on these four's travels whilst something cooks in the background. However, it's not the plot, but what you use the plot for that creates context. And if you were to ask me to detail the plot any further let alone tell you what said context is, I'd be at a loss because I'd be surprised if the people behind this anime cared, let alone knew.
Okay, anime writers? I want to establish another new rule that you’re not going to listen to, but I’ll say it anyways. You know that sort of non-stop “we want to be comfortably wacky” style of humor that Gainax popularized with stuff like FLCL and junk? You’re NOT allowed to based every single element of your show around that! Not saying you can’t have it. After all, there’s a reason Edgar Wright is so popular amongst the movie community. But you’ve got to have something else to contrast it, even if it’s just some loud-mouth giving non-stop questions about the logistics behind the existence of a 20-tooled swiss torture machine. Why? Because worlds where craziness is the norm are boring! They don’t work in the majority of Tokyo Shock’s output, and they sure as hell don’t work here.
To the show’s credit, it does try to contrast the wackiness with some personal character drama. What kind of character drama? Oh, the kind where I’m supposed to believe that a bunch of people are in danger of dying from falling off a roller coaster despite the fact that I saw them get blasted into the sky Team Rocket-style and land safely on the ground with no injury a few minutes ago. You know, the hypocritical and completely awful kind of character drama that rests on the terrible side of Don Bluth’s resume – with a scooping of We’re Back: A Dinosaur Story piled on top of things.
In fact, many of this show’s problems are reminiscent of the films that caused Don Bluth’s downfall, particularly Rock-A-Doodle and A Troll In Central Park. You’ve got some good animation – although several episodes suffer huge dips in production and the character animation itself is consistently terrible – but it’s all in service of nonsensical filler, a non-existent story, bland characters, and plot points that don’t make the least bit of sense. This show has the advantage of having decent rock songs to contrast Rock-A-Doodle’s Tweedle-ly Dee bullshit, but it’s also a lot longer than that film, so said advantage is cancelled out. And whilst Edmund himself was a pretty annoying character mostly due to being played by a kid who acted as well as a Full House cast member, he is freaking Hamlet compared to the characters that Rolling Girls chose to focus on.
The main four are so nonexistent in terms of personality and story importance that you wonder why they’re even in the show, let alone following them on what’s probably the most banal attempt to do a “finding yourself” journey I’ve seen in a while. I understand that that style of main character can work in something like The Great Gatsby, but not only do the girls not represent anything of real importance in their outsider role, but there is no Gatsby to be the heart of the show. And it doesn’t help that all the characters they run into on their journey are lazy cartoon stereotypes that are too focused on being wacky to be interesting, and their personal stories are always based on simple misunderstandings and resolved so cleanly through poorly conceived coincidences and nonsensical hyper-real logic that would embarrass shows on the Disney Channel that it’s hard to feel anything for them.
For example, one story starts with a rocker girl getting kidnapped by some people with a completely nonsensical robot-like device, only to shift entirely into a completely different story about how said rocker girl and her miko friend split apart when they were younger due to the former’s mother instructing it but the miko girl not being made aware because it would be too distracting. Yeah, because breaking your friend’s feelings is so much better. But then after everything is made clear, they’re suddenly best friends again through the power of rock despite the fact that you can’t solve a grudge that lasted what looked like years so easily. I have no idea what the point of that story was, how it makes any sense, or what the titular Rolling Girls contributed to that story. But the concert is so fucking pretty, so who cares…I CARE GODDAMMIT!
And just to add insult to injury,the final climax of the show is that one of the main girls is a squid alien and there’s a conspiracy to take over the world with a giant robot that was never foreshadowed and looks completely stupid. Why? Because the writers thought they looked cool. Fuck the fact that the setting is too crazy for those sorts of dramatic elements to have the least bit of weight. Fuck the fact that none of the other stories contribute to these plot twists in the least. Fuck the fact that the final climax ends up being an unspectacular let down of nonsense visuals with too much going on before ending with a very undeserved happy ending stating that the main point of the show was that all titans need support and friendship is good.
Which isn’t a bad message, except the main characters supported jack throughout the entire show. The truth is, they achieved nothing, learned nothing, moved the plot about as efficiently as a mailman with a hunchback, and in the end, are nothing! I don’t remember their names (I had to look them up for this review), I don’t care about their existence, and I sure as hell ain’t gonna put more effort into defining their roles than the creators did. Because they were about as empty as the visuals, the logic, and the entertainment value this piece of shit gave me.
There is NOTHING FUN about this anime! No story! No sense! No laughs! You’d think with four girls riding across a post-apocalyptic Japan full of quirky settings and character archetypes, something interesting would happen. But nothing ever does! I’ve been informed by some people that Rolling Girls is supposed to be a parody of anime/animation showcase in the same vein as Guilty Crown or Space Dandy. Maybe, but it’s a bad one, because Rolling Girls doesn’t seem to have anything interesting to showcase within either of those genres. When I watch this show, I don’t see an insightful analysis into its topics. I don’t see a meta-commentary on the fanbase. I don’t even see a simple story greatly exaggerated to the point of absurdity like Code Geass and Sunrise’s attempts to copy it.
All I see is puerile, poorly-written junk food written by a bunch of people who treat their fanbase like they have no intelligence whatsoever and whose story felt like it was made up as it went. Fuck this show. Fuck the creative team. Goodnight.read more
Kill la Kill seems to stick out with its over-the-top action, visual style, memorable characters, and so on. It pulls no punches, but somehow still keeps itself grounded in many respects. As a whole, Kill la Kill is a fun series for those who aren't bothered by all that skin.