First Impressions – Rolling Girls

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Well – that was certainly different.

I can’t shake the impression that Wit Studios’ Rolling Girls is trying just a little bit too hard.  Too hard to be clever, and retro, and cool.  And it never quite makes it over the hill, though it’s certainly an interesting attempt.  I think I get what this series is going for – a kind of post-Gainax vibe, right down to the very Trigger-like character designs and art/animation style.  It’s manic and nonsensical, certainly, and not a mass-produced model.  But it still feels more like a cover band than the real deal.

Largely casting exposition aside, Rolling Girls jumps right into the story with only a brief narrative prologue introducing us to a post-apocalyptic world where, ten years after the “Great Tokyo War”, Japan has been split up into independent fiefdoms, which use armies called “mobs” to fight for territory.  For whatever reason a band of girls roams the country mediating disputes between these warring “nations”.

Ultimately, it seems as if Rolling Girls is a cute girls being cute and fighting series, and the rest of the premise is really just window-dressing to make that sales pitch.  It’s tempting to compare it to Kill la Kill, though RG seems far less overtly exploitative and hard-edged – there’s a gentler tone to this series all the way around, and if less edgy it’s certainly more artful in the way it tries to cash in on its female cast.  That said, no one in that cast really made much of an impression on me – it was mostly vamping for the camera, really.

As far as plot, who knows whether this rather silly premise will yield any really interesting fruit.  I liked the sense of comic timing and it did yield a couple of amusing moments (the ramen scene was quite funny) but nothing was very filling – it was pretty much empty calories (unlike the ramen).  Frankly, I appreciate at least the effort to be interesting even if a series isn’t all that interesting in itself, so I give RG points for that and I’ll give it a couple more episodes, too.  But overall, I’d say this was very much a mixed bag of a premiere.

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6 comments

  1. A

    I enjoyed the first episode. While we don't know where it's going, it's showing promise that it'll be a fun ride. It set up a setting which I'd like to know more about, and that's a good thing.

  2. t

    What came to mind to me is Yozakura Quartet, except without ryo-timo's flair (and love of panty shots)
    The ramen scene was a standout to me as well and there's a hot blooded shonen feel to it I like, I do agree it was trying a bit too hard but I'm hoping that goes away in future episodes where the staff won't have the pressure of trying to hook in viewers.

  3. D

    Watching this episode, I couldn't shake this nagging feeling that something was off. I agree that it was trying too hard, and came off forced and mostly just kind of awkward. It was like watching a visual representation of what a non-anime viewer thinks the medium is all about.

  4. j

    I paused the episode to do something else roughly 10 times throughout the episode…should give you an idea of how interested I was.

  5. s

    Although i was able to keep myself focused on the narrative, i gotta say the way it provided its viewer exposition was not organic at all and so it comes of as messy. Disregarding all that though, this series is visually immersive in terms of animation; it's so refreshing to see frames moving in this day and age of anime (especially when ur able to pick up on small details like that) although god knows the budget of this series wont stay this consistent throughout it's cour-run. Story beats animation every time for me but if your story is going to be clunky then you best to have great animation to make up for that to still be enjoyable and rolling girls definitely has that.. At the end of the day, the best thing i can say about this series is that it's got great animation chops and it's looking to a be a quirky easy enough watch this winter 2015

  6. Z

    Felt like Yozakura Quartet. The overpowered females in a city type scenario which I'm none too fond of.

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