SKE48 member Rena Matsui about to go all “MEN!” on my head!
That is the shout that one might make when making a kendo strike to the head. Another older anime series that I have found and enjoyed recently is “Bamboo Blade” (2007). This is the opening theme song (English subbed). Later, you can also watch some segments form the show (mostly English dubbed) on YouTube. I watched it Japanese with English subtitles on Netflix DVD.
It is the story of a girl’s high school kendo team, and their “lovable loser” teacher. Actually there are boys enrolled too, but after several boys were expelled for bullying, only the girl’s team remained large enough for competition. It is pretty good story, the animation is typical anime, but it holds up very well. The series is “realistic” in that there are no vampires, ghosts or superpowers. I do not usually go for anime series about high school, but this one is unique, and you can learn something about the sport of kendo. One of the things I learned is that a strike to the head is called “Men”.
At first when I saw the girls practicing their over-head “men” strikes I thought that they were angry at boys or men, or males in general. I thought the shout was a motivational battle cry for the high school battle-of-the-sexes. The shout reminded me of all of those women’s self defense classes in the 1970s where the women learn to knee a male assailant in the groin and shout “NO!!!” The practice partner was always well padded in class, of course!
I SAID NO!!! This guy is very sorry he tried to take advantage of the nice lady by impersonating Ash Ketchum!
Bamboo Blade is funny at times, but it is also dramatic and poignant. There are inspirational themes about facing one’s own weaknesses and overcoming adversity. There is also a lot of animated humor, and each character has a caricature used for comic relief. (A good anime series knows how to balance seriousness with silliness — think “Rurouni Kenshin” which this reminds me of.) There is a running joke about the teacher’s run in with a mean old lady, and his bet over a lifetime supply of sushi.
The main character of Tamika (Tama-chan) is a kendo prodigy. She is troubled, but very likable. Tama-chan is a big Anime and collectibles fan! She follows a Samurai anime series that looks like the “Power Rangers” but with darker overtones. We also see Tama-chan’s relationship skills build over time; a satisfying part of the drama. Bamboo Blade is good at showing positive aspects of sports, and despite some “jiggly” locker-room scenes, the show should be motivational for young women. It definitely stimulated my interest in Kendo! I like that the series is only two season’s long, and so the story is not too dragged out. The series does have an ending, and it is satisfying, although they do leave the door open for a sequel. I would love to see a “live action” version some day!
Nice! A “Bamboo Blade” Tamaki Kawazoe figurine.
Check it out, you can rent it from Netflix. The following is their DVD description: “Tamaki’s a little girl with big skills when it comes to wielding a blade, and if down-on-his-luck Kendo instructor Toraji can get her to turn off the cartoons and step inside his dojo, he knows they’ll both be unstoppable. The trouble is, Toraji’s a second-rate teacher with a third-rate school, so attracting anyone, much less an apathetic anime addict with a short attention span, is a bigger challenge than he’s faced in a long time.” There is a lot more to it than that …
Interested in more kendo graphics? Please see my board on Pinterest.
It took seven years for the starlight from “Bamboo Blade” to reach my world.