Brave Beats – Season 1

Brave Beats – Season 1

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Hibiki Kazaguruma is a young boy who meets an amusing little robot named Breakin while coming home from school one day. Breakin, a dancer from an alternate-dimension dance world, challenged the dance king for his throne and lost. He has been deprived of Dance Stones (the stones of dance power) and sent to the human world. To restore his power, Breakin must collect all the Dance Stones scattered around Earth. Meanwhile, the Dance Stones cause chaos on the human world. To retrieve the Dance Stones, Breakin fuses with Hibiki and transforms into a Dance Hero.

A51335B3-70D7-4B70-B754-0D13947BE3C4.jpgWritten and produced by the team behind Tribe Cool CrewBrave Beats obviously popped out at me. Since watching its predecessor was my biggest guilty anime in a long while, I knew I had to give this one a watch – especially when I heard that the producers were continuing to work with the Japan Street Dance Association is returning from Tribe Cool Crew to supervise the character dance sequences.

On the whole I can say that Brave Beats is quite surreal in a completely unashamed way. Where Tribe Cool Crew had some semblance of convincing plot, Brave Beats has gone completely off the rails. Instead of using their dance abilities to win an underground competition and the chance to dance with a world-renowned performer, dancing aliens from a foreign galaxy are merging with schoolchildren to become dancing superheroes that are collecting stones that represent certain dance moves. We have standard ‘magical person’ transformations, action sequences and yelling an attack’s name before unleashing it. But combining all of this with dance? I’m not sure this concept is going to work as well as its predecessor.

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Now THAT’S the kind of optimistic naivete you need to win a supernatural dance battle for the world as we know it.

There are lots of noticeable similarities between the two, Hibiki has the same voice actor as Haneru and Breakin’s voice actor is the same person who voiced Kumo. It’s all  can hear when they talk. The settings are also the same – home, school, general places in town with an innocent chemistry between our young male and female lead.

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However, there are some things that I don’t quite understand. For one thing, why do Hibiki and Kotone’s bodies mature rapidly during the transformation? What is the point? I believe they glossed over this saying that the characters’ bodies adapt so that there body can endure the force the transformations put them under, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Haneru and Kanon danced perfectly well without having to suddenly grow into teenagers whenever they wanted to throw some shapes. I think this is the reason why the 3D animation this time around seems a little bit more jarring. You would think it would have evolved, but the complete change in character disrupts a certain fluidity and the personality behind their moves. Haneru made up for his lack of height by being energetic and Kanon used her long slender limbs to her advantage.

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Also, Flash Beat and Wink Beat don’t really have particular dancing styles and get all of their moves from gathering Dance Stones. In Tribe Cool Crew you watched the characters training, finding out their responsibilities within the group and developing some cohesion. These ‘dance powers’ were sort of forced on our characters here, so it’s a bit more of a ‘learn to dance properly or the world is at stake’ sort of situation but without any real sense of urgency. I know I shouldn’t compare the two shows so much, but since they are from the same production company and Brave Beats was clearly executed because of the surprising success of Tribe Cool Crew, you can’t help but weigh the good against the bad.

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We also seem to have some generic bad guys to inconvenience our heroes – Mink and Tank. They don’t seem enough to be a threat, but they pop up once in a while to fill out an episode. I can’t help but be reminded of Jessie and James from Pokemon. They have recently come to have a more motivated role within the anime but I don’t think that they will develop into anything other than token amusing-yet-incompetent bad guys. I had higher expectations for the personalities and motivations of the supporting characters.

IMG_3824.PNGSince it’s a dance anime, you can’t deny that the opening and ending sequences are toe-tappingly catchy. They have a bit more of a techno sound to them this time around, which I guess gives things a bit more of an instant ‘cool’ factor and is quite well-executed animation-wise. I do enjoy the dance-offs that they try to include into the plot, but I have my doubts about how they’re going to really gel into the story. I’m not sure the fate of the world is going to hand in the balance as to who wins a dance-off, but we’ll see how things go.

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I have my initial reservations about Brave Beats but on the whole, I remain positive. I absolutely loved Tribe Cool Crew and I’m willing to give its successor a second chance to prove to me why I should watch it. It’s certainly a different take on what was clearly a successful anime theme mixed up with an extra dose of wacky comedy and superpowers. For now, I hope they stick with this concept and really bring it out of Tribe Cool Crew‘s shadow and create something fun and vibrant able to stand on its own.