Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad
Keywords: , , , , , , , , , ,
Notables: Original Concept - Kodansha Manga Award Winner
R1 License - FUNimation
Yukio (also known as Koyuki) is somewhat of a fourteen-year-old loser. He's not very popular, athletic or musically talented. In fact he is so lame that his favorite musician is a canned-mainstream-teen-idol singer. But when he gets reconnected with his childhood friend, Izumi, and meets up with the hip Ryusuke, a musician with connections to the very popular American Band, Dying Breed, his life gets turned around. In learning about rock-n-roll music, he quickly aspires to learn the guitar and gain a spot in Ryusuke's new band - Beck.

[TV series, 2004-05, 26 episodes, 25 min]

R1 license by Funimation

1:35min Series Opening (very rocky!) - YouTube Video
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 8 8 8 9 9 9 Ggultra2764 [series:861#1552]
Here's an anime that makes good use of its raw edge and attitude when it comes to exploring real life, especially concerning those struggling to make it into the music industry. Nana and Full Moon wo Sagashite were other anime titles I've seen featuring characters struggling to make it into the music industry. However, Full Moon's take on the music industry was more light-hearted with fantasy elements thrown in and Nana was more focused on the character relationships that formed involving some who were struggling to make it into the music industry. But here in Beck, there is a greater focus on music and the struggles that Beck go through to become a recognized band.

Beck is certainly different from the norm in terms of storytelling for slice-of-life. The storyline has a raw, slice-of-life feel to it as the series shifts perspectives on situations between different characters and you never know what others are thinking. For one side as an example, we have Koyuki gaining self-esteem as he hangs around Ryuusuke and the other Beck members and trying to figure out Maho's thoughts of him. We never get a sense of events from Maho's perspective thus we are left to wonder what she thinks, just like Koyuki is. This was a different approach for me as most past anime I've seen explored events from the perspectives of all characters involved. Like real life, Beck leaves you wondering just what some of these characters are thinking of others and the events around them.

The anime also devotes a great amount of focus on music and outside aspects of Japanese society. Maho and Ryusuke are walking aspects of people who stand out from conventional features of Japanese society being a contrast to Koyuki, a boy who is a stereotypical example of the proper and manner oriented Japanese person. The Minami siblings have gone to America being able to mix Japanese and English with their conversations and not being fully adjusted to aspects of Japanese culture (one funny example: Maho getting annoyed with Koyuki mentioning her difficulty in understanding kanji). Hearing the mix of English and Japanese from both characters, even if the accents were heavy with most characters, was a fresh touch to an anime series like Beck, especially when characters were shouting out profanity in English in response to different situations.

Music was the big focus of Beck's storyline and the series did plenty with it. Other than focusing on American rock and rap, the two musical genres that influenced Beck's formation, the series delves into other musical genres with teaching and focus which include British rock and blues. Beck's struggle and slow rise in gaining recognition for their band is also depicted through the improvements in the skills of the band members, Ryusuke's own experiences and connections with music, and the attempts made by the band at gaining fame.

Animation and Beck's soundtrack also went into the music aspect of the series. CGI animation was used at some points to show characters accurately playing specific guitar notes during performances from Beck and others. Many of the songs used by Beck were up beat and full of energy, going well with the hard style of many of the bands seen throughout the series, including many of Beck's sounds. Koyuki's vocals for the softer-sung music were decent, though there were times where I wondered how his voice could be considered talented for singing in contrast to Chiba's highly energetic rapping.

There were also some glaring flaws that I found with Beck. There were times where it seemed like the animation budget to the series showed its limits through still shots and reused animation clips. The final episode was greatly disappointing as well with events towards the final minutes of the series were turned into a clip show and there was limited movement from characters in the episode, a stark contrast to all the music playing and excitement of the earlier Grateful Sound episodes.

Despite these problems, Beck was quite a thrill for me to see with its unconventional approach to slice-of-life anime and covering a wide range of musical influences with its focus on the rise of fame for a struggling band.

Last updated Thursday, June 19 2008. Created Thursday, June 19 2008.
Buy 8 8 8 10 9 8 kudashy [series:861#2517]
this is a very sick show, i mean great it is one of my favorite, i would deffinetly recommend buying it.

Last updated Saturday, March 31 2007. Created Saturday, March 31 2007.
Buy 9 6 9 7 9 Allaryin [series:861#538]
Beck is ... unique. I've never encountered anything quite like it.

It's a collection of oxymorons and strange contrasts.

It's a show about music, but the music is really pretty mediocre. It's got some good art, but really repetitive and low budget animation. The story is engaging and most of the characters are just loaded with depth and personality and emotion... but half of the characters are flat and disposable and half of the plotlines go unresolved or even forgotten.

Lots of the dialog is in English, and that's a bad thing as it feels like the show was produced without input or QA from a single native speaker. The English frequently makes no sense (as if words or entire sentences were missing from the conversation), the timing is off, and it is frequently incredibly vulgar.

That said, I like it. I like it a lot. It is certainly worth watching, and (if you can tune out the engrish) it is worth adding to your collection.

Bonus points if you can identify more than 3 of the dead musicians Koyuki's dream sequence... Freddie Mercury looks weird as an anime character :)

Last updated Wednesday, February 28 2007. Created Wednesday, February 28 2007.
Rent Stretch [series:861#628]
(Rent+ or Buy-)

Beck was not exactly what I was expecting, but fun from start to finish. I was sure there would be some sort of romance subplot in which Koyuki would have to choose between several prospective girlfriends, but it never really happened. Likewise the angle involving an American promoter who just might be a murderer didn't exactly build to a shocking climax--this show doesn't seem to worry about following the "rules" of anime plotlines. As the series neared it's end, I kept asking myself "aren't these guys supposed to wind up in the US?"--you know, Las Vegas and New York, based on the OP sequence? Beck is manga based, and I wonder if the manga might have still been incomplete when the anime was made, leading to the US tour being just barely squeezed in at the end--it almost felt like an afterthought.

Still, I liked it a lot. It's all about the music, man!--well, that and the neat characters who play it--guys you can identify with and root for. I love the OP song (refrain: "I was made to hit in America"). The band seems to be named after a dog that was created by Dr. Frankenstein. The brutality in lower class Japanese High Schools got ugly at times, but all-in-all, this was a funny show. It was clear right from the start that Ryusuke and his sister must be familiar with America ("Who the f--- are you?!"). A number of people seem to consider the characters "Engrish" accents to be annoying, but I love them. Seeing Ryusuke swearing when he found out that Beck's American distributor had taken some liberties with the band's name cracked me up. You just don't see these kinds of characters often in anime. I took much too long to get into this series. At last, a series about which I can exclaim "It rocks!" (and not be accused of submitting an amateurish review!).

Last updated Tuesday, February 05 2008. Created Tuesday, February 14 2006.
Buy 7 7 10 10 10 9 Buzze [series:861#1034]
Update: having seen 26 episodes, this show is without doubt my #1 favourite so far. Except for ep 26 that is, where they've put some great chapters from the manga in one small slideshow, and a big part consists of stills, outside shots, ... One moment, Taira is playing in a band called 'heroes', and the song they're playing is 'Advice' from The Pillows. (You know, who did the FLCL soundtrack.) But then, ep 26 seems to be the last one, so I hope they'll pick up in a next season and do ep. 26 again. Yep, I've read a big part from the manga as well on scanlation, and in june 2005, Tokyopop will start releasing the official one. I'll order as soon as I can. The story moves better in the manga, but the soundtrack sucks ;-)

The story, although having a serious lack of explosions, meccha and ecchiness, is compelling. You can only have sympathy for the main characters. Saito sensei provides a comical note (especially his visit to the restaurant Koyuki works at) and the music is just great. The only downside so far is how the audience is animated. But then, who cares!
Yukio is a shy and insecure young boy who is still looking for his spot in the world. When he meets his old classmate and secret crush Izumi again, things start to change. He accidentaly meets Ryuusuke, a guitarplayer who has lived in the US and tries to build the best band in Japan. His sister Maho and Izumi introduce him to some more interesting people and before you know Yukio learns to play the guitar from Saito sensei. But, as Yukio starts to build some selfesteem, he gets bullied by some classmates.
So far I've seen 9 episodes, thanks to AE. It seems this anime is based on the manga from Harold Sakuishi, which I'm still trying to find.
Beck is different as usual. Not only the art (what you can see in the picture above) but the story as a whole is quite realistic. The music (and not only the themes) is great and the characters are real and likable.
If you're into rock and roll or stories about struggling bands, this is a must see. Beck also gives a great insight in modern japanese culture, which is a plus!

Last updated Monday, April 18 2005. Created Saturday, December 18 2004.
Buy Jan-Chan [series:861#967]
Having seen up to episode 16, I can only share a simple - wow! (I am going to use a word that I have never used before to describe this series!) What a gritty anime series this is! This is a very down-to-earth story about a shy high school student who dreams of being a member of a rock-n-roll band. A story in which each success of the main characters are counter balanced by (at least) a few setbacks. (My only comment is that I really hope that Japanese high schools are really not as tough as they are portrayed in this series.)
The story starts with a bunch of teenagers getting into trouble and loving loud rock-n-roll music. Yukio gets introduced to rock-n-roll music by Izumi, one of his childhood friends, and through her gets introduced to the older Ryusuke. Ryusuke’s band has just broken up and he has a dream of creating an ultimate band. Yuiko wanting to impress Izumi, (on whom he has a crush), so he takes up playing a guitar, but along the way, everything just don’t seem to work out in Yuiko’s favor.
We get to follow along with Yukio, as he has to deal with a lot of BS and bullying at high school, confronting all sorts of failures and setbacks. Izumi finds a new boyfriend and stops hanging with Yukio. Yukio starts hanging out with Ryusuke’s younger sister, Maho, but they never seem to get off on the right foot. Then Yukio gets blamed for breaking a guitar, and gets blackmailed into paying off the damages. But constant through the story, no matter how it turns and twists, Yuiko keeps on practicing and improving himself, never loosing touch with Ryusuke and his dream of starting a new band.
It is only later in the story, do Yukio’s successes become more significant and important. But is also at a time when Ryusuke’s friend, Eddie, the lead in the American band “Dying Breed” begins to have a very different type of problem. Some past event may have caused the death of Erika, a singer who was involved with Eddie, and it now appears that he is being threatened. But, what does this have to do with Yukio, Ryususke and the other members of the band Beck?
I don’t want to say more, as I do not want to spoil the story for you.
I will share an update later … (in any case, I am hooked in waiting for the next episode.)

Last updated Saturday, January 29 2005. Created Tuesday, October 26 2004.

Other Sites
Funimation English Language Web Site
Japanese Language Series Web Site
Anime Youtube Music Video #1
BECK - Face
Anime Youtube Music Video #2
BECK - I've Got A Feeling Music Video

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