Tuesday, July 10, 2007

BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad Volumes 1-7

Overall Rating: A+
Synopsis: Beck is a manga by Harold Sakuishi that follows Koyuki, a junior high nerd. At the beginning of the series, Koyuki leads a boring life, with a pervert as his only friend. That all changes when he saves a strange looking dog named Beck, and meets the dog's owner, Ryuusuke. The two become friends, and Koyuki starts down the path to being cool.

Beck centers around a band formed by Ryuusuke, and its rise to fame, but that's not what the series is about. The manga primarily follows Koyuki, and focuses on his trouble with girls, trying to learn to play the guitar, getting extorted for money by a bully, and his failing grades. Oh, yeah, and his swimming lessons from Saitou-san. The series touches on Koyuki's struggles in a way that makes the fact that he is becoming famous (at least at his school and in underground clubs) for his singing.

As the story progresses, it focuses more and more on the fledgling band, and its rise in popularity. At the end of volume 7, there is even an interesting subplot based around Ryuusuke's guitar, Lucille. It's these little things, subplots that don't focus on the band itself, but on its members that make Beck one of the better manga out there. It makes the characters intriguing, and I identify with the geek in Koyuki. Maybe one day, I can be in a Japanese punk band...


-Hen Da de Lao Wai said...

I also really like Beck. It combines just enough shounen anime tropes, but also quite a few scenes that just feel real. For example, characters who were important in middle school aren't around in high school and just naturally fall by the wayside.

It was also clearly made by a music nerd, and it acknowledges the other Becks in music.

The thing that Beck is best, at, though, is gradual change. Most anime and manga series have fairly distinctive time breaks. Beck doesn't. Time passes very naturally, and many times you don't even notice the characters changing. It started when Koyuki was a nervous little 14-year old nerd. At this point in the series he's 20 years old and an accomplished musician, and while there are still hints of the nervous kid in him, he's a lot more confident.

Damn good series.

Nick said...

I don't think I'm quite as far along in the series as you are (I just finished volume 9, and Koyuki is still in High School), but I definitely agree. I love how it feels like you're growing up with him, and get to watch him develop as a character very naturally. IMO, it helps elevate Beck from a good series, to a great one, and it's easily one of my favorites.

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