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The Rolling Girls Complete Series (Essentials Collection) Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read
LIFE’S A JOURNEY. ENJOY THE RIDE.

LIFE’S A JOURNEY. ENJOY THE RIDE.

What They Say
Between super-powered fighters known as “Bests” battling across the city and fanatical vigilante squads cheering them on from the ground below, it’s easy for an average girl to gt lost in the shuffle. But when her town’s Best gets taken out by a rival, Nozomi Moritomo gasses up her motorcycle and sets off across Japan to take her place.

Joined by the fiesty wanna Best, Ai, the wandering artist, Yukina, and the spacy but mysterious Chiaya, Nozomi and her makeshift motorcycle gang cross the country settling scores between warring districts. In a world that favors the Best over the rest, it’s hard for an average girl to find where she belongs, but one thing’s for sure—until she gets there, it’s going to be a wild ride.

The Review:
Audio:
The Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 audio is strong but suffers from some odd issues. The biggest one is, ironically enough, not that I can’t hear the voice clearly, but that the ED and OP songs are muted. In every anime I’ve seen, the opening and ending theme songs are always the loudest part of any series. This time it felt like the songs had the volume lowered. While this isn’t necessarily an issue, it is interesting to note that the music except for the English song sang during episode 7 or 8 didn’t have much presence.

Video:
1080p is considered the highest of high definition. However, I’ve noticed that anime tend to have distinct differences depending on who licensed the series. As this is licensed by FUNI, the video quality doesn’t live up to companies like Aniplex, with their incredibly high-definition videos, but it gets the job done. The only issue I had with the anime was how the colors some times felt like they were blending together—and not in a good way. This could be a result of the color palette used for most of the backgrounds, which reminds me of watercolor artwork, but it made watching the anime hard on the eyes at times.

Packaging:
With a standard blue casing, The Rolling Girls The Complete Series features the four main characters on the front. Nozomi is the centerpiece, while Chiyaia is off to the side and crouched down. Behind them are Ai and Yukina along with the bikes the four use for much of the series. I believe the cover sort of shows off the importance of the characters. Since Nozomi is the main protagonist, she covers most of the space, but Chiyaia is important to the plot, so she also gets a larger focus than Yukina or Ai. On the back is all the information pertaining to this series, featured in front of a mosaic-like background.

Menu:
The menu is fairly standard and gives you all the options you would expect. You can select to play the series from the beginning, or choose which episode you would like to watch. There’s also the special feature selection.

Extras:
While some anime have amazing extra features like OVA episodes, this one does not. It comes with all the standard extras like textless opening and ending theme songs, previews for episodes 2-12, and trailers from Funimation. It does come with episode commentary for episodes 8 and 12. However, that is the extent of the features in this anime.

Content: (Please note that this portion of the review may contain spoilers):
I was really confused while watching The Rolling Girls The Complete Series. It starts off in space. A pair of scientist-like people are in a spaceship doing something… I’m guessing they were just testing the ship or whatever. However, a malfunction occurs because that’s obviously how these things work in anime. The man scientist tells the lady scientist to get in the only escape pod left, but she decks the man scientist in the face, which turns him into a tiny octopus and puts him inside of the escape pod. Then the scene changes to a girl named Ai who was knocked unconscious for reasons I couldn’t understand. Needless to say, I was confused.

Then I realized I was watching episode 10.

So I went back to episode 1. I was still a little confused. The anime begins with a woman dressed in red fighting a woman in a weird green Kamen Rider suit. The visuals for the battle were rather outstanding, and the fight has an odd stylistic beauty, with flowers and colorful explosions detonating all over the place and sending people flying, but it didn’t change the fact that I was still very confused. This confusion becomes even more apparent when the protagonist, Nozomi, comes onto the scene.

Nozomi is a regular girl in high school who idolizes the Best known as Macha Green—the lady in the green suit who was fighting at the beginning. However, she herself has no special abilities and seems rather plain. I’m not really sure why or how she is the main character until she ends up going on a journey to do Macha Green’s job because she got injured fighting against her rival. Joining her are Yukina—who she coincidentally met because Macha Green took a bottle of water from her and she wanted her money back—Ai—a wannabe Best who reminds me of background characters if you don’t count her personality—and Chiaya—a mysterious blonde girl whose cute and mysterious.

Having just finished watching it, I still find myself unsure of whether I can say I liked it or not. There is something charming about watching four cute girls with vastly different personalities going on a journey across Japan. I’ll admit I thought the dynamic between the girls was interesting. In fact, I would say it is this anime’s saving grace. At the same time, the story itself made very little sense.

During the series, we learn there are these heart-shaped stones that fall from the sky and grant people power, but we are never told what these stones are, why they fall from the sky, or how they give people power. I suppose we could pretend these stones represent some metaphorical “willpower” designed to make a person believe anyone can accomplish what they set their mind to if they try. Saying that, I don’t think this anime was well-planned enough to have such deep symbolism. More than likely, the directors left any information about these stones out because they didn’t want to fall into a plot hole.

Not only do we not learn much about the stones, but the main characters do not really feel like main characters. While watching this anime, I got the sense that with the exception of Chiaya,  the other three girls, Nozomi, Ai, and Yukina, were all side characters who only got to watch the main characters accomplish their goals from the sidelines. Whether it was helping a group of vigilantes look for a missing stone, saving a concert from destruction, or defeating a group of pirates, this group of girls was never the ones who solved the problem. From start to finish, the ones who actually fixed each situation were the people these situations were happening to. I suppose there’s something to be said for not having all your problems solved by the protagonist. It’s kinda like saying you don’t need a hero to fix your issues. At the same time, Nozomi and the others felt kinda useless, like side characters who didn’t have much purpose.

Of course, Chiaya is only a main character because she’s an alien. We don’t learn this until much later, but apparently, the entire plot here is that Chiaya is an alien stowaway who was on the ship that we learned crashed on Earth in episode 10. A woman who is her adopted mother has been trying to get her back home. However, forces out there are threatening to stop her—not because they care about what she wants and have the desire to get in her way. It’s all just a result of a bunch of people getting tangled together in this complicated web. Sadly, the web known as the plot of this series is so convoluted that I feel like a lot of the show got lost. I’m almost wondering if they had to cut a lot of content because it feels like half the story is missing.

It doesn’t help that this series is full of plot holes—the biggest one being none other than Chiaya. We learn near the end that Chiaya and her adopted mother are aliens trying to get back home. Throughout the series, we are given clues and flashbacks showing that her mother never let Chiaya go outside because it was too dangerous or something vague like that. However, in the last episode, we get a flashback showing that Chiaya was actually friends with Nozomi, Ai, and Yukina a long time ago… which isn’t possible because her mom never let her go outside. How did they become friends if she couldn’t go outside? I suppose she could have snuck out, but it doesn’t seem likely. Also, how does she know them when the other three don’t even recognize each other? Are their memories just that bad? There are a lot of strange plot holes within this series, and sadly, this is just one of numerous issues it has.

In Summary:
The Rolling Girls is not a great series. It’s cute, the four main characters are kinda okay, but this anime is not only confusing, it is also rife with poorly crafted cliches. I sometimes felt like the director focused less on the story and more on hitting the tropes he wanted, checking his tropes off a list to make sure he got them all. Maybe if the characters and story had been more important, this series would have been more cohesive, but as it stands, a lot about this anime confused me to the point where I can’t suggest it unless you just want to watch cute girls riding motorcycles.

Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: April 30th 2019
MSRP: $29.98
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
55″ Class AQUOS HD Series LED TV LC-55LE643U, Xbox 360 DVD player



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