It’s probably a pretty safe bet that fewer people who follow this blog follow Tribe Cool Crew than any other show I’ve blogged about, but at the very least it’s in the top (bottom) five. As I look back I realize that I didn’t even do a First Impressions post on this series, though I have mentioned it in check-ins and RC podcasts. It’s been quite a solid week for all the series I’m watching but not covering, so I thought it would be a good time to follow up my Ronja post by talking about this little gem from Sunrise.
Yeah, this is nominally a kids show – though that’s never been a deal-breaker for me when it comes to anime. Funny thing is, I really don’t care much about the main theme of this series, street dance, either. Yet Tribe Cool Crew manages to be consistently entertaining – a kids show with enough wit to appeal to adults, and enough manic energy to appeal to the younger set. Sunrise obviously isn’t putting their biggest budgets behind TriCool, and the dance sequences are mostly CGI – but for the type of series it is, this one looks quite good. The cast is strong and the soundtrack – though again, not along the lines of my usual tastes – is excellent.
TriCool also has a thorough knowledge of history, which is vital if a show centered on two 13 year-old street dancers is going to have cross-appeal. The protagonist, a little jumping bean of a boy called Haneru, is into the kind of dance you’d expect, stuff like hip-hop – plus things like parkour and basketball. But the female lead Kanon is ballet trained, and the crew of college-aged (though not college-attending) dancers the two kids eventually team up with incorporate a wide range of styles from breakdance to ballroom. Probably the best example of this awareness was this week’s “Sunday Morning Fever” episode, which featured Haneru (while trying to master his “Galaxy Walk”) discovering the joys of disco through the old man at the community center where he and Kanon practice, Wakui-san. Given the obvious debt street dance owes to disco, this is wholly appropriate (and damn funny, too).
The larger story involves the gang (collectively known as the titular Tribe Cool Crew) working their way through an underground dance olympiad organized by slightly Jacko-esque dance superstar “Jay-el” (that’s what the “J” Haneru paints on his face stands for). Given the weirdness with everything connected with the mysterious Jay, it seems likely there’s a sci-fi element involved here – a lot of stuff we see wouldn’t be explainable every other way, and if it would be the book-smart Yuzuru (my personal favorite character) would be able to explain it. Then prevailing theory seems to be that Jay-el is an alien, but I’m not quite ready to buy that stock yet.
So why should you watch Tribe Cool Crew? Well, you’re not going to anyway… But if I were to make the case, I’d say this show is simply a great deal of fun – the kind of fun clever and energetic shows about and for kids often are. It has something of the upbeat, good-hearted vibe of Ginga e Kickoff – though it’s certainly not quite that good, it’s definitely in the same family group. This is a different sort of show for Sunrise, and they’re damn good at it – it’s easy to tell that everyone involved with Tribe Cool Crew is having a good time, and so am I in watching it. I’m even learning stuff about dance that I never knew – so maybe TriCool can help keep you young, too…