It’s been awhile since I’ve sat down and watched an Anime series from the first episode to the last, and even longer since I’ve blogged about it. I just finished watching Bamboo Blade. It’s a 26 episode series about 5 high school girls and their kendo club. The 5 characters, the instructor, and the other club members all go through their own personal dilemmas and challenges, and they are made into better people by way of the sport of kendo. Kendo is sort of like Japanese fencing. As the characters learn about kendo, the audience does too, so it’s an interesting look into the cultural aspect. All of this, in and of itself, is decently entertaining while typical of the sports anime genre. What really makes this show fun is that the lead character, who is the most skilled yet the most reserved personality on the team, loves anime and is crazy about a tokusatsu super hero show called “Blade Braver“. While the viewer only gets brief glimpses of this show-within-a-show as the main character watches it, it’s clear that there is a history to it and there are parallels between the heroes fighting their rivals and the actual kendo matches she’s in. The girls even assign themselves colours like a sentai team!

It’s pretty appropriate that a show about kendo would have references to anime and tokusatsu. Now that I know a little bit about kendo through watching Bamboo Blade, I can see how much influence the sport has had on Japanese pop culture. The visual similarities between kendo practitioners in full gear and masked heroes like Kamen Rider are pretty obvious, whether they were intentional or not. Koji Kabuto yelling “ROCKETO PUNCH!” while piloting Mazinger Z and other anime characters who call out their attacks is much like kendo, where the two fighters yell certain words depending on what part of the opponent’s body they are striking at. Actually, there’s a lot of yelling in kendo in general, which reminds me of a “powering up” sequence in any given fighting anime.

Anyway, Bamboo Blade is a fun and enlightening show. Apparently the original manga is being released into English. The anime adaptation is unlikely to be licensed in North America, but the fansubs are out there. I hope there’s a sequel. I’ll watch it. But I’m probably not going to take up kendo anytime soon, because I don’t think my brittle wrist could handle it!

Of course, what I’d really like if for “Blade Braver” to become a real show, because that would be awesome!



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