Apparently the pirate was stealing Moonlight Stones to get her own alien into space. Why? Who cares. The people making this show clearly don’t.
Marlin’s Final Thoughts
That ending was a mess. In every possible meaning of the term, that ending was a mess. Animation wise we saw some of the laziest garbage. You may note this might smack of hypocrisy compared to my favorable review of Yatterman Night. However, this is not a single-time issue, this is a systemic problem that’s plagued the show from near the very beginning, and now reared its ugly head in the worst fashion. Coupled with the fact that this show does not have a good story to forgive its bad visuals ala the aforementioned Yatterman Night, and I started to become agitated very easily.
My absolute biggest problem about the finale is the absolute forced dramatic nonsense that was Chiaya’s departure. In case you hadn’t noticed, Chiaya was the only alien to leave by the end of the show. This is pretty messed up considering she is ostensibly the one with the least connection at all to her alien homeworld. What reason does she need to go back? She has a mother. She has friends. She has a place where she belongs. Why catapult her into the unknown just because that’s somehow “where she belongs”? It almost smacks of a xenophobic message, that aliens have no place in Japan, and that if they want to stay there they should maintain their Japanese facade. The sheer inanity of that decision soured a lot of the ending by itself, even without the other terrible parts.
My hatred for the characters of this show has been well documented, but I’d just liked to focus those thoughts. The Rolling Girls never became anything more than a great opening act because it decided to abandon everything interesting about its opening act in favor of three milquetoast girls and a genki moron that made every arc a slog. They contributed so little to the plot that we even had to have an arc about how they contribute nothing to the plot! I’m glad Ai got her time to shine in the Momotaro allegory, as she always seemed like the most proactive girl in the bunch of do-nothings. Sure, she was brash and crude, but she did learn to overcome that by the end of her own plot arc. All Nozomi had going for her was being nice. All Yukina had going for her is……. she got lost a lot? Idno. All Chiaya had going for her was she was a literal space case and you can see how well that did for her. I could keep espousing the many ways this show could have been better, but every single example comes back to the focal point that these girls shouldn’t have been it.
The Rolling Girls was what I imagine will come do be known as “classic Wit”. The studio can’t seem to go half a season without its budget becoming unable to support a weekly membership to the gym. Its story started out as a kickass battle of superheroes in the backdrop of a beautiful pastel Japan with animation that knocked everyone’s socks off. Now I feel like any time I see that kind of effort from a company I’m going to have to second guess whether or not they’re just trying to sucker me in and completely drop the ball. I’m all up for forget The Rolling Girls ever existed, and it’s pretty clear its makers already did.
I loved everything Rolling Girls tries to do. It tries to be a beautiful homage to the various regions of Japan, washed in gorgeous pastels and dotted with amazing character designs. It tries to deliver a heartfelt message about embracing who you are and finding your place in the world. It tries to have awesome action sequences, cute slice of life segments, and poignant, heartfelt epiphanies.
There are moments when Rolling Girls succeeds at all of those things. I actually enjoyed the characters and story a lot more than Marlin did. Sure the girls had pretty simple characterizations, but they each had a goal and they achieved it. More importantly they served as observers for the real star, the happiest post-apocalyptic version of Japan we’ve ever seen. Each arc pays tribute to a different region, interpreting them in incredibly stylish, creative ways. Not being from Japan I’m sure I missed a lot of the references, but even so I appreciated a look from the outside without getting too much GLORIOUS NIPPON nationalistic fervor.
Unfortunately, I ultimately have to come to the same conclusion as Marlin as technical issues tear this poor series to shreds. He’s already documented most of it so I won’t rehash them all, but the ending especially is inexcusable. Entire chunks of the episode are missing and plot points introduced way too fast or skipped altogether, making a lot of it incomprehensible. It feels like it was mean to be a 2 parter except they only animated half an episode to begin with. I can understand animation limitations (see: Yatterman Night) but there’s a big difference between looking bad and not being able to organize your scenes so they make sense.
It’s an issue the series struggles with more and more as it gets further away from it’s fantastic opening episode, and compounded with a train wreck of a final episode it cancels out much of the good that Rolling Girls does. As such, I want to recommend this series but I’m not sure that I can. It’s so beautiful and creative and ambitious and you can just feel the love the creators put into designing it. Unfortunately, it just makes it that much more heartbreaking to see it dragged down by technical execution. At least the soundtrack is great, maybe that can be the Rolling Girls legacy instead of its failures.