Kabukibu! – Preview
Original Air Dates: April 5th, 2017 – ???
Synopsis: Kurogo is a high school first year who loves Kabuki, a traditional Japanese performing arts. Unfortunately upon starting the high school year, he discovers there’s no Kabuki club! Kurogo and his best friend, Tonbo set out to form a Kabuki Club by themselves. But first, they’ll have to hunt down a few extra members.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Kabukibu! is not great to look at. The first thing that pops out at you is the washed out visuals, the simplistic character art that lacks defining detail in many shots and generally unimpressive animation for character movement.
Linny: It doesn’t help that the main theme of the show is Kabuki, an art form that’s considered antiquated and might not be very popular among the Westen audiences either. It’s an art form that could struggle to find new western fans as it’s slow and grandiose that uses prose and feels stilted unlike Rakugo, which managed to churn out an extremely popular series recently aka Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju by being an entertaining art form in and of itself.
Tom: Kabuki isn’t exactly a big western phenomenon, heck I’m not sure it’s really big in Japan anymore either. This is going to be a niche show no matter what as its entire premise hinges on your interest in Kabuki and the series makes little effort to ease you into the topic if you aren’t already a die-hard fan. But this isn’t aided by the show’s incredibly weak writing. The series has a ‘unique’ premise, or focus, as I can’t immediately think of another Kabuki focused anime in the past five years. But the show chooses to take that unique idea and present it in the most standard, played out way possible with cliche dialogue and plot progression you’ll have seen in near every other club based anime.
Linny: If you are already interested in Kabuki, or you can focus and enjoy the character study/drama, you might be won over by Kabukibu’s earnest protagonist, Kurogo who’s so sincere and devoted to the art form and his quest to form a club to appreciate it alongside him. He’s cheerful and determined and doesn’t let rejections defeat him, all while aided by his quiet and intelligent best friend, Tonbo.
Tom: Kurogo is okay, and at least he’s gung-ho about Kabuki, making him a more compelling lead than say, the emotionless robots of Sagrada Reset. We briefly get introduced to the rest of the club’s potential members, all who exhibit a disinterest in Kabuki from the get go, but you know will ultimately come around in the next couple episodes. None of them are particularly memorable and tend to fall into general club member stereotypes. Although I will say I enjoyed the introduction to Akutsu Shin, a wannabe rockstar lead singer who’s vocals are so badly performed thanks to the talent of Shin’s VA Oosaka Ryouta. Oosaka really manages to sell Akutsu Shin as one of the worst singers I’ve ever heard, making for a solid cringey comedic sequence.
Linny: Though not memorable, the episode does try to make sure that they all come off as a mixed bag. From the talentless wannabe rocker, to the popular and friendly Kaoru. Since so much of the episode is spent on Kurogo and Tonbo running around trying to recruit them, very little time is actually ever spent helping us really get to know each character and maybe the following episodes might help all these future club members really come into their own.
Tom: Kabukibu! is hindered by bland writing, boring/off-putting visuals and remains closeted by focusing on such a niche subject like Kabuki. With better production values and writing, I could imagine a version of this that lends itself to far greater and wider appeal. As it is now, Kabukibu! is best left to fans of the performance art and those intensely curious about this particular aspect of Japanese culture.
Linny: If you aren’t already intrigued by the idea of a show based around a love for Kabuki or by Kabuki itself, there isn’t that much to win over the average and casual western anime viewer. The content matter at heart is so particular and specific coupled with how the show just throws you into the midst of it, it isn’t exactly friendly or approachable for newcomers either. Sadly, based on the first episode alone, it’s hard to believe Kabukibu could win a huge following, though it might still have a shot with those interested in watching a bunch of bishonen high school boys dress up and perform an antiquated Japanese art form.
Kabukibu! is available for streaming via Amazon’s Anime Strike Channel.