Jan 14, 2022
Chrismas95 (All reviews)
I wanted to watch Uma Musume because I wanted to see the characters’ personalities. After all, the mobile game this is based on is pretty popular…but not translated to English. I actually wouldn’t recommend watching this anime for that reason on the grounds that anything that can influence you into playing a gacha game (and therefore risk you sinking money into it) can be very dangerous. But even if that’s not a concern, the anime actually focuses on one girl — Special Week — instead of providing wide view of the characters.

Despite not really getting what I wanted out of the anime, I ironically ended up liking this approach more. It makes Uma Musume feel like an actual anime that could’ve been conceived without the mobile game.

Plus, I think the Special Week was a good main character! She’s very endearing despite being awkward, which works well. Silence Suzuka ends up as the second main character, and her aloof personality eventually makes way for a character you root for. Ironically, the characters in their rival group end up with more personality than the members of their own group. Despite their limited time on-screen, most of the other horse girls didn’t feel shallow. I actually liked how much the Trainer actually cared for his team…even though his introduction was deeply regrettable.

This anime suffers from corny writing and tropes, especially around the beginning. For every joke or gag that lands, there’s at least one that doesn’t. But I would rather have that than pervert jokes, which thankfully aren’t present in the anime at all…besides the three or so times the Trainer does the leg thing. The dialogue can also get repetitive at times, but thankfully repetitive jokes only rear their head a lot in the beginning.

It’s unfortunate that those things are the first impression you get of the anime because it actually starts to become more sober after a handful of episodes. The early races did good setup, but later races start to have actual stakes. The races themselves aren’t anything special. They really only focus on two girls and upsets only ever happen because one girl could run faster. Yet despite that, the races can still be heart pumping thanks to the buildup and potential payoff thanks to clear motives for each girl.

It feels like the anime is written to be inspirational and I think it works (even when it’s only felt empathetically). It can definitely get emotional — especially in the second half — and I’ll admit I teared up a few times. And when the anime isn’t pulling at the heart strings, it just has pleasant, fun vibes all around. For example, everyone is surprisingly sportsmanlike.

Uma Musume may start off feeling worryingly inane and hollow, but grows to be surprisingly sincere…especially for an anime about girls doing horse racing…based off of a gacha game. I can’t guarantee that it’ll have the same impact for everyone, but I would describe it as a pleasant surprise.