Anime Original by Wit Studio
Streaming on Funimation
In some weird future Japan, prefectures fight for dominance. Almost every young person belongs to mobs who patrol their own cities, but the battles are one on one fights between the Best as the Rest cheer them on. It’s pretty awesome.
Even if I wasn’t so burnt out from the terrible cavalcade of anime that has paraded through in the past week, I would have found this show to be a delightful surprise. Starting out with a fun and frenetic fight was just what the doctor ordered. Everything seemed to trip that same sense of whimsy that often exemplified the best parts of Yozakura Quartet. Even in ramen battling the show manages to have some fun without taking itself seriously. Sometimes the best thing a show can do is throw out its world as is and refuse to apologize for anything. Why do some people have super power suits? Why are all these people in the cheeriest youth gangs since the Kids Next Door? Why is that guy wearing a crocodile mask? The best answer the show could give is “Who cares? It’s awesome!” and I was obliged to agree.
Iro’s verdict: Rolling Strong
Right around when a gang leader used a giant safety pin to club a toku hero into the air, leapt up to continue the attack, then tossed the safety pin away to follow up with her fists, I was sold on The Rolling Girls. It carries the same sort of manic, comedic energy as Yozakura Quartet, and feels more cohesive despite its absurd premise. Wit Studio seems to be putting all that Attack on Titan cash to use, dumping plenty of budget into even the slower slice-of-life scenes. Though much of the dialogue during these scenes is rather generic, little details like Shigyo recoiling from hot soup or Masami’s subtle frown as she drives Nozomi home inject a bit more heart into the show, elevating the presentation above the rest of the show’s ilk. If The Rolling Girls can keep up the energy as things move forward, I can see it being the sleeper hit of the season.
Just like that, the art school hit of the season explodes onto the screen. The Rolling Girls is a candy-fueled, adrenaline-rushed punch in the face, a flash flood of colour washing over the drab wasteland of bargain-bin anime with infectious glee, boasting bouncy animation and fiery, over-the-top action choreography crossing over into even the most mundane of scenes. Yet the inevitable comparisons with Yozakura Quartet are based not only on The Rolling Girls‘ similarly carnivalesque vim, but also on their shared ability to fuse together the most outrageously nonsensical of shenanigans with nostalgic, atmospheric, quieter scenes, to create a unique setting the show draws upon for all its worth. Getting the audience in on it is a whole other pair of trousers, however. The Rolling Girls loves to have its characters answer unasked questions and reaffirm facts no one on their side of the fourth wall needs to be reminded of. As soon as its somewhat puzzling premise has sunk in, though, The Rolling Girls is smart enough to drop the expo-dumping and pick up the pace, flaunting its absurd setting and bizarre characters without ever begging for attention with ambulant bombast and noise it can’t be proud of. With its quirky cast and significant lack of skeeve, The Rolling Girls is a bubbly, triumphant celebration of creativity, girliness and the art of animating. Few shows this season, or probably even this year, will be able to outshine its exuberant jubilance.
Gee’s verdict: I Watched the First 5 Minutes Like Five Times
It would not be inaccurate to say this season is one of the weakest we’ve seen in a while. Coming off the whirlwind of quality that was Fall 2014, most of the shows worth watching this season are continuations of older anime. Most of this season’s offerings have ranged from boring at best to offensively poor at worst. As a result, it’s all the more pleasantly surprising that something like The Rolling Girls exists. It’s a perfect example of how to do a first episode. The hooks are there, and it possesses a kind of energy and charm that few can match. Whether it’s people hanging out in crocodile masks, heated ramen eating competitions, or rowdy student gangs, it brings a real dynamic quality to the table. The animation is frantic and full of character in a way that harkens to old Gainax or the Ryo-Timo fueled Yozakura Quartet. The characters themselves are fun as well, with Maccha Green being far and ahead my favorite out of the bunch. Based on the promo material, it appears she’s only a side character, but if the rest of the cast turns out just as interesting, I can’t really complain. I’m not ready to say this is the show that will fill the Kill la Kill shaped hole in my heart. With Wit Studio at the helm, it’s just as likely that all their budget and efforts were blown on the first episode and that this is it for The Rolling Girls. Despite that, I’ll be damned if it isn’t doing a bang up job all the same.