To say that this show would be the guiltiest of guilty pleasures would be an understatement, at least from my experience. Obviously this stems from the fact that the show’s primary appeal is something that is looked down upon by almost everyone who cannot stand the way anime has pandered to the moe and loli fanbase. Unfortunately, these people have obviously didn’t bother to go through the entire show than just the first episode; which is just a tiny fraction of what the entire show is actually built on.
Ro-Kyu-Bu SS, the sequel to the infamous Ro-Kyu-Bu anime, is a by-the-book moe show that shows cute
girls in rather suggestive positions and scenes related to sexual situations. Now with this in mind you’d think it’d be more focused on that aspect than the basketball which it is clearly also focusing on; to my surprise, the show does a great job of balancing out the fan-service and the basketball development so they don’t feel out-of-place. That isn’t to say all of the ecchi jokes or situations all hit the mark just right, as some of them felt overly long and drawn out at times, but for what it’s worth the ones that work are charming enough to overlook the bad ones. Again, it’s one of those things that you’re either going to love or hate and from my perspective, as someone who doesn’t like or dislike lolis, it isn’t anything too demeaning or offensive since the tone is very lighthearted. You can tell the writers are just having fun with the concept and putting it on-screen for us to see.
With the sequel in question, one thing that might disappoint some fans of the prequel who enjoyed the fan-service more is that SS doesn’t feature as much ecchi comedy and mostly centers on the basketball aspect more. One thing that Ro-Kyu-Bu actually does really well is how they handle the actual basketball strategy when a game has commenced. Any fan of basketball will feel at home with how the girls strategize their movements and giving out orders to their teammates just like an actual team would do. It is played straight without any needless fanservice in the game sequences which is nice to see that the writers aren’t trying to be forceful in trying to hard to entertain us. Now we come across new characters that are supposed to be the opposing team players for our main leads. The development they do in how these girls have grown to love the sport isn’t done with as much forced melodrama as the first season did, so I applaud the writers for at least showing some restraint. We also finally get to meet most of the girls’ family members so that we can actually get some nice background information in their family life so that we don’t see the lives of the girls as so one-sided.
The characters themselves are as about as cliched as you’d expect from a show like Ro-Kyu-Bu, but that doesn’t necessarily break the show entirely from this angle. Certain cliches have been done in many cases and you can make cliches in anime still work if you have competent writing and voice acting to go with it. Fortunately the voice acting is very good and fun due to a very stellar ensemble cast and the writing is competent enough to go through with less eye-rolling drama. To mention the cast, the casting here is fantastic from the very lovable Kana Hanazawa as Tomoka, Yui Ogura as the moe-tastic Hinata, and Kanae Itou as Aoi Ogiyama (the fact that she’s in here more works in benefit to the show.). With this casting, the chemistry with their voices and to the characters is quite strong and lovable at the same time. Making you laugh and go crazy with joy as they go through so much hilarity along the way.
The music in Ro-Kyu-Bu is mostly your standard J-Pop fare with pretty decent singing. With the sequel, I found that the opening was really nice and energetic just like the first season’s opening but the ending was rather weak and shallow in how it was written. The first season’s ending song was just like the opening and left the show with a nice, joyful atmosphere but the singing in SS’s ending just felt too simple and forgettable, even after repeatedly listening to it on multiple occasions.
With a genre that has a lot to do with Moe girls, your art has to convey some sort of emotion that tries to capture our attention, otherwise the we won’t get anything out of it. To Ro-Kyu-Bu SS’s credit, its art design is really nice and sharp to look at with the girls looking even cuter than before with their big giant basketball shaped heads and their hypnotic eyes that stare at your soul. The same cannot really be said for the animation as it is your standard animation that doesn’t achieve any new visual flair that we’ve never seen before. As I said before, not even the basketball scenes garner any lasting impact to this department, which is unfortunate.
Basketball and Lolis combined might not make for a grand experience for a lot of people, but for the roughly 2-3% of the people in the anime community who do this would be their holy grail. As for me, the feeling is mutual for both sides of this debate. I can understand why people will have a hard time trying to get through something that they can’t fathom should’ve been put into a budget but at the same time I can’t help but like it for what it is. It doesn’t try to be more than what it already is and it does succeed in becoming an entertaining comedy in this case. If there actually will be a sequel to come out in the near future, we most definitely need to have more of drunk Tomoka. ‘Nuff said.
According to legend, once in every generation, warriors from around the globe will gather on the field of battle in order to compete in the sacred martial art... of loliball.
Okay so maybe it's not quite that serious, but even mini-basketball can stand out quite a bit under the right circumstances. In the case of Ro-Kyu-Bu! SS it's not as much about winning as it is about playing for fun. Fortunately, it's not only the characters who are having fun, but also the viewers, because this series is in reality pretty damn entertaining.
The story picks up where the first season (and OVA) left off, so if
you haven't seen those you should go back and do so right now. Now given the premises, naturally the story itself is nothing special. We have a team of 11-12 year old girls playing basketball to their hearts' content while being coached by a guy in high school.
It is basically more of the same as we saw in the first season where you follow the daily lives of the little basketball team as they keep practicing and playing matches against other schools. There is a certain element of unpredictability to it though, as the games themselves don't follow norms specifically, and victory is not always guaranteed. On the side of that though there is a decent amount of loli ecchi scenes as the kids all feel very attached to Subaru, which also causes a lot of jealousy from his infaturated classmate and childhood friend.
It probably goes without saying, but the reason you'll be watching this in the first place is all for the sake of the characters. The protagonist Subaru is, like any male lead in any harem series ever, quite dense to say the least, but that asides he's a quite relatable person and you can really see just how much coaching the girls means to him. His hopelessly lovestruck and tsundere friend Aoi also got a bit more active role in this season which was nice to see.
But it's all about the lolis in this case, and they're all extremely likable both in appearance and personality. Hinata especially is one of the most moe characters ever made, but Tomoka's blushing face will melt the heart of any man as well. In addition, this season introduced a whole bunch of new characters to the cast who, while not being quite as adorable as the main cast, also gave the story a nice change of pace and direction.
You can clearly see just how much fun all the girls are having while playing, and even if you're not too hyped about basketball originally, you might find that their passion and love for the sport will get through to you anyway.
The art style is in all honesty really good. It feels very fitting for the loli theme that the anime has, with some beautiful work on the eyes and hair especially. Naturally the series' main selling point is just how damn moe the basketball team members are, and you won't be let down by looking at them with a smile on your face as their cuteness is very well animated and presented. The more general art style of the anime is perhaps not quite on the same level, but definitely good enough to be pleasing to the eye.
The soundtrack of Ro-Kyu-Bu! SS is not particularly memorable. At the time of writing this I can't even remember what the opening sounded like. The ending theme is a bit better and also has some pretty funny lyrics to it, but other than that the OST is nothing special.
What is absolutely worth mentioning when it comes to the audio department however is the voice acting. Take a look at how few people there are that have actually watched this show, you'd think they wouldn't be able to get a very notable seiyuu cast for it, right?
Well guess again, as one way or another, they somehow got their hands on what is basically an all-star seiyuu lineup. Kaji Yuki, Itou Kanae, Hanazawa Kana, Iguchi Yuka, Hikasa Yoko, Hidaka Rina and Ogura Yui together make up the main cast. I'm not quite sure how they managed to pull all of those together, but I'm glad they managed because as you might expect given all that, the voice acting all around is essentially top notch. (I'm especially a fan of Ogura Yui which in this case performs Hinata's dreamy voice, but the others' aren't exactly bad either.)
All that being said, the most important aspect of any piece of media is the enjoyment factor, and Ro-Kyu-Bu! SS delivers fairly well in that aspect. It isn't much in the way of actual humour, so I sadly can't go ahead and say that it puts the lol in loli (was so proud of that pun t.t), but you'll probably be watching it consistently with a smile on your face. The reason for that is quite simple: you'll like what you see. Now I don't (necessarily) mean that in a creepy way, but rather that it is extremely cute while still having a lot of fighting spirit to drive the show onwards. It's not something you're going to end up putting in your favorites list most likely, but it's hard to really dislike it either despite its simplicity... unless you're part of the moe-hater train that is, but then you wouldn't be watching this show in the first place.
Overall, just like the first season, Ro-Kyu-Bu! SS is far from a masterpiece of any sort, but in all honesty I don't think people will go in with the mindset that it will be when they decide to watch it. The point is: that doesn't really matter. It's a heartwarmingly cute and simple series that'll leave you with a fuzzy feeling once you're done with it. That's all there is to it really.
Hopefully, you readers would have already seen the original series, and so, despite how the set up of the show is self limiting in terms of plot - those who enjoyed season 1 should enjoy SS greatly aswell! :)
During this season, i was quite pleased to see an increased focus on the technical, sporty-side of things, be on the lookout for the unexpected because there are a lot more epic game scenes, and hoops to keep you amused too!
Fortunately, i found the show becoming more action-oriented, raising a more competitive atmosphere, as the girls team does battle with a variety of opponents. These edge of
the seat matches always boiling down to their final moments, i feel worked really well in inducing that sense of "what's gonna happen". - in the short term of course, as the actual structure of the matches was a tad repetitive.
In many ways, the show has remained its cheesy self, there's still some ecchi elements too, but i'm personally quite pleased to see they subsided A BIT - not as "in your face" as the first few episodes of season 1 that's for sure.
The more i watched through SS, the more i came to appreciate the shounen feel of the presentation, it's a classic form, and for sport it was a good choice.
Last but not least, there's still a great sense of intimacy shining through, as the show still develops the characters rather beautifully. Their friendship and cooperation is tested, and so that even throws some drama into the mix!
All in all, is it a worthwhile sequel? Yes, definitely - if you enjoyed season 1. So prepare once again for this unique, "kawaii" take on basketball!
I said in my review of season one that I was hoping for some, even a single dunk out of SS, and I'm sorry of this counts as a spoiler but in this I was very disappointed. No dunks at all, not even from Subaru in his showdown with his aggressively blonde rival.
I was, however, greeted with a variety of no-look passes, floaters, jab steps, and all sorts of other advanced techniques. The team really stepped up their game in this one, and so too did the show creators, riding on the success of season 1 to create a show with just as much heart
and much tighter animation and writing to boot.
If you liked season one, SS delivers. It's a different beast, for sure, focusing more on plot and introducing a hoard of new characters on top of our established cast. I liked most of the new characters a lot, but with the growing cast some of the older characters are sidelined into supporting roles that make them feel even flatter than before. Not that there's necessarily a problem with that, but it's a matter of flavor - S1 was distinctly a harem show, S2 is more of a drama with some of the more goofy ecchi aspects of the first season ironed out or collected into a few episodes rather than throughout. I liked this better, in a way, although the stress upon adding more characters for more conflicts instead of exploring the existing cast felt a little thin.
The animation's also been stepped up, I assume through the success of the first season. There are still some rough points, of course, but overall it's a much better-looking show.
If you enjoy the subject matter, r-k-b! is a simple but satisfying show that's pretty good at what it does. I came to it with very low expectations and was pleasantly surprised to find a show that was both cute and endearing. I'd be surprised to find another show with such an odd mix of elements that works as well as this one, and I'm happy I followed through with the second season.