In a dystopian future where Japan's political organization has crumbled after the Great Tokyo War, Japan is broken up into 10 independent nations, with each nation controlled by a gang led by a "Best," a human-proclaimed prophet with destructive superpowers. Nozomi Moritomo is a "Rest"—a normal girl that has just started out as a rookie in the local gang. She wants to help the Best Masami Utoku, her childhood friend and role model, in the ongoing territorial dispute.
When Masami becomes severely injured and unable to fight, Nozomi decides to go on a mission to complete the requests sent to Masami from all over Japan. Along the way, she meets Yukina Kosaka, a shy girl with no sense of direction; Ai Hibiki, an upbeat girl who loves eating; and Chiaya Misono, a quiet and mysterious girl that wears a gas mask. Together, the four girls travel all over the country on their motorcycles while getting involved in territorial wars, disagreements, and even suspicious conspiracies.
Rolling☆Girls utilizes music from the late 80s to early 90s punk rock band The Blue Hearts as an influence within the series. The opening and closing songs are covers of The Blue Hearts tracks and several of the episodes are named after songs written by the band.
#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.
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,
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.
Rolling Girls came into the scene with plenty of promise. Following in the path of the widely known Kill la Kill, Rolling Girls, with a variety of vivid and artistic colors had a fair amount of potential to become the next big thing. But does it live to the expectations? Not quite.
Set in a period where all the territories and districts inside Tokyo are divided and ruled by various people, the first glance you'd get from Rolling Girls is a positive one. If you just started this anime you're in for a good ride for the first couple of episodes as Maccha Green, the
"Best" for the Tokorozawa district is up against Kuniko Shigyo who's the "Best" for Higashi Murayama. The fight scenes at the start is extremely cool and stylish with great aesthetics and a wonderful art style. However, it only lasts for a couple of episodes as after that the show clearly loses its charm. After the fight, both Maccha green and Kuniko get injured and are unable to defend their own territories and thus Nozomi, a "Rest" and a substitute for Maccha Green's squad, sets on a journey to various districts and places in place for Maccha Green and search for the heart-shaped jewel, which is believed to give power to the one who wears it and thus helping them to get stronger and be a "Best".
The greatest asset for Rolling Girls is its art, without a doubt. Following the trait of that of Kill la Kill, Rolling Girls uses an extremely unique, elegant and an exaggerative art style. The way the characters are depicted is truly beautiful and the backgrounds which match that of an oil paint art, is pleasing to the eyes. As the show progresses further, Rolling Girls gets very boring and tends to be repetitive with our girls going from place to place. And as a result the plot seems to be all over the place but the one thing that kept me hooked into it was certainly its aesthetic visuals.
I really hoped to see more of Maccha Green and the next fights she would encounter but that was quickly thrown away into the water as the show focused a lot more on Nozomi and her friends that she makes in the way as they travel from place to place. The development for each of the character isn't progressive too as they vie for the stones that would make them stronger but instead mostly end up causing a mishap.
Perhaps another redeeming factor for Rolling Girls is the soundtrack. The opening theme is catchy and gets inside your head quickly and also with wonderful visuals. There are several tracks inserted into each of the episodes and it perfectly suits the scenario. The art plus the soundtrack of this was a good enough reason for me to keep watching Rolling Girls.
Rolling Girls tries to be adventurous and wacky but eventually fails as the show progresses. It had all the things you need to turn it into a good anime, but not a good plot. I really tried to enjoy this show for what it had but alas if the core of the anime itself is bad then there's no way I could. This doesn't mean Rolling Girls is a horrible show, you may easily come to like just by its superb art style and visuals. I could only wish for a second season but it ends on a note where it's pretty satisfying and shuts itself down so there's little chance for it...
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.
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.