Rolling Girls – 01 (First Impressions)

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I didn’t quite catch all of the enthusiastic narrator’s talk about a “Great Tokyo War” That resulted in Japan’s prefectures breaking off into independent nations, nor the various mumbo-jumbo exclaimed by several characters. What I do understand is that this Zvezda-style politics-through-Kill la Kill-esque-stylized-warfare milieu is a ton of fun.

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This show was classified by MAL as “slice of life”, but what a strange life it is for the titular girls! Though not on the surface: Moritomo Nozomi is a normal girl attending normal school whose normal parents own a normal restaurant, and she has a normal senpai-kohai relationship with her neighbor Masami Otoku.

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And that’s about where the ‘normal’ ends. In this world, the various prefectures pick fights with one another and their ‘armies’, essentially mobs of mostly normal young vigilantes, meet on fields of battle in lovely weather In this case, Tokorozawa is under attack by Higashi Murayama, which means The latter’s “Best” peacebroker-for-hire Shigyo Kuniko battles one-on-one with the power-ranger-looking Tokorozawa Best, “Maccha Green.”

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The comparisons to Kill la Kill (without the nudity) Zvezda (without the loli fanservice) continue as the combatants mix in kicks and punches with supernatural attacks as well as tickling, in some very slick and satisfying combat. Maccha is able to make Shigyo and her mob retreat by summoning a giant robot, but she will be back.

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It doesn’t take long for us to learn that Maccha Green is none other than Nozomi’s close neighbor, Masami Otoku, though she’s not yet aware of this. Masami doesn’t want Nozomi so close to Macchas (i.e. her) battles, as the “Rest” grunts tend to end up as collateral damage.

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As you’ve probably already noticed from these screencaps, Rolling Girls is very rich and colorful and lively in its presentation of everything from a semi-magical scrap to a touching sunset meeting to a nighttime ride in Masami’s motorcycle with sidecar.

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And while this show has the trappings of a magic battle show, it sticks to the slice-of-life fundamentals, like taking a breather for a character moments between Nozomi and Masami, or the goings-on in the Hiyoshicho Propellers’ (the name of the mob they’re in) HQ, or a casual meal at a ramen stand…which turns into an eating contest, as Shigyo suspects Masami is Maccha Green.

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But what put this show over the top for me into “8” territory was the chess game Shigyo and Higashi Murayama played to put Tokorozawa on its knees. As Shigyo distracted Masami, her Rests arranged an amusement park trip for the Propellers and takes them hostage, even blowing up the roller coaster track they’re on.

I’m not under any illusions real blood will be shed, but Shigyo is definitely playing for keeps and seems to have the upper hand on Masami. But Maccha Green has already pulled victory out of the jaws of defeat in this episode, so I’m confident she can save her Rests, Nozomi among them. Rolling Girls is off to a stylish and promising start.

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Author: sesameacrylic

Zane Kalish is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

2 thoughts on “Rolling Girls – 01 (First Impressions)”

  1. Loved loved loved, but it’s up my aesthetic road so no surprises there. My only criticisms would be the opening and the ending.

    Opening: the explanation of the world was so confusing and silly that I don’t even think it needed to exist in the first place. We either can figure it out (scifi/alt world/weird) or don’t need to know at all or could have been told via bits and pieces over a few episodes. We did not need a narrator to break us out of an otherwise hyper engaging, visceral wacky good time!

    Ending: the ending was fine, in the sense of an episode comes to a close and has a hook to make us want more, or to leave a dilemma facing our heroes next time. Still, this ending felt like what an episodic show should do a few episodes in, after we’ve fully bought into the world. So it felt less complete as an idea, less hooking than it should have.

    Over all? Man I like this show as much if not more than anything else this season. It scratches my Drrrr x2 interesting world with mysterious relationships and wonderful character design… but is totally new and fresh. It also does it without being sexualized and ‘edgy’ like Yuri Kuma! Definitely a high 8 or a low 9!

  2. The guy with a twisted alligator head for no apparent reason just being there was great on a level I cannot really describe.

    While I disagree with your ratings of Assassination Classroom and Death Parade, I hold full agreement on this.

    This was all sorts of fun.

    :)

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