At a Glance: Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad
Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad is neither about motorcycles nor is it about the guy behind Odelay and Devil's Haircut. It's instead about a Japanese band that just happens to be called Beck, with no relation to the American rocker of the same name. The show focuses on the band's struggles to make it to the top along with following the life of average teenage boy, Yukio "Koyuki" Tanaka. Koyuki has a pretty dull life until he meets guitar prodigy Ryusuke Minami, who acts as the equivalent of a "manic pixie dream girl" in his life, spicing it up a little. But when I say a little, I mean, his life and Ryusuke's are still pretty dull. What follows is an average slice-of-life anime centered around rock-and-roll fandom.
The show is about how rock music can create opportunities and build relationships. Music builds confidence in our otherwise average protagonist.
Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad
Manga by Harold Sakuishi
Slice of Life
Game, Guidebooks, Live-Action Film, Soundtracks, Guitars
Beck hits a high note every once in a while, but the show overall wasn't really compelling for me. I think hardcore music geeks might enjoy it for the music, which is probably the best aspect of the show. The worst aspect is the "Japanglish", which can range from fluent/native sounding to... uh... not so much. If you watch the subbed version, expect to hear Japanese characters speaking English about once an episode, and it will most often be cringe-inducing for a native English listener. This show relies a lot on the fact that Japanese youth think of American culture as cool and want to imitate it, but a real American watching will see instantly where they fail in the attempt at impersonation. It kind of all tends to feel like how I imagine a Japanese person feels when a bunch of us weabs get together and try out basic Japanese with each other, repeating stock phrases and basic slang terms.
At any rate, I think if you can look past that (I had trouble doing so), this anime has qualities that one could admire. As realistic slice of life animes go, it was entertaining. The boring everydude main character is not bad, it's just a character type I've seen often before. It will appeal to people interested in music, specifically American rock guitar. I just don't think it really does that much for me, and I thought the gratuitous English kind of subtracted too much from the experience for me. But I think the English dub by Funimation might be better than the subbed version for this reason, even though I usually don't recommend dubs.
I just think, you know how it looks silly and off whenever a foreigner who doesn't speak English wears a t-shirt or gets a tattoo of English words that mean nothing to an English speaker or seem totally out of place? Well, this is an anime that cranks that feeling up to eleven.