Well, after watching the second episode of Show by Rock!! and mulling on it a bit I have decided that I will pick up this series this season and blog it. Before it aired and I was reading through the previews and bits and pieces that were being trickled out there was something about it that kept catching my eye and made me wonder if it would be my sort of zany craziness – well, as it goes with pre-season series expectations sometimes one is off and sometimes on, but in this case it seems my guess was right. Thus far Show by Rock!! has been engaging and entertaining while utterly silly and over-the-top, and in a way that works for me (though I would be hard pressed to say exactly why). It seems to me that this series (and actually a fair number of series airing this season) are not shaping up to be financial successes much – a higher percentage of the series than usual seem to be throwbacks in terms of type of stories, manner of animation and presentation and the like. Which is plenty fine for me personally, but is a bit different than what seems to have been selling well the past few years. Well, however things turn out, I would not be surprised if the series did not not do well financially, was way too hastily dismissed or ignored, and drew a a lack of attention on various modes of online discussions. So maybe blogging it will help contribute to enjoying the series in general for myself, but also for others? In any event, here we are – I think we are in for a zany story.

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Well then, last episode we left off with Cyan being introduced to the stage where the band Plasmagica practices and before they can warm up the other band contracted with the BRR studio (the “boy’s band” named Shingan CrimzonZ) shows up out of nowhere and begins to introduce themselves. Well, this episode the introduction is in full – there are four members: Crow, the lead singer who plays an electric guitar named Red Tomahawk; Aion, another guitar player who plays an instrument named Holy Ark; Yaibu, the keyboardist (bass player?) who plays an instrument in the shape of a thick bladed sword called Ryukendan; and Rom, the drummer and general “leader figure” of the group as a whole, it seems. They are all quite … dramatic, over-the-top characters, constantly making dramatic poses and statements and flying off the handle at the drop of a hat. Cyan is understandably left speechless, although the other members of Plasmagica seem quite used to their carryings on. We already know that Cyan is painfully shy, and this especially is illustrated in her interactions (or lack thereof) with the members of this band.

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Anyway after this transpires Plasmagica finally gets their first practice together. I realized that in my “first look” post on this series that I did not name the other three band members, so may as well do so here. The rabbit girl is named Chuchu – she is a songwriter, guitarist and leader of the group. She also has an honor student image, it seems, and her guitar, according to other online resources and webistes, is named Antique Batman. (No – no idea why.) The bass player is named Retoree, and she is based on the Golden Retriever dog. She is a bit of an internet geek who is very shy but seems utterly charmed by how adorable Cyan is (and who wouldn’t be?). The drummer is a little more complicated. Her name is Moa and she is modelled on a black sheep, but according to her own inner dialogue she is actually an alien in disguise who has come to observe the activities of this planet and its inhabitants…. As if the setting were not already strange enough. Fortunately for Cyan, all three of the band members seem to like her and are interested to get along with her, but even with this it is still difficult for Cyan to interact with them on simple everyday levels – even in things like simply expressing her gratitude for inviting her to join their band.

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We are also shown a little more about BRR records. Apparently the bottom floor of the building it is located in doubles as a cafe and provides an extra source of income for the startup record label – the band manager Angelica serves as the chef and barkeep there, and it is also where both bands apparently eat their meals and President Maple goes to get drunk on occasion. One of the floors of the building also serves as the dormitory residence for the other members of Plasmagica, and Cyan is asked if she would also like to move in, an offer she gratefully accepts (at the moment it is not clear if the members of Shingan CrimsonZ stay there as well). During the time when Cyan is shown the cafe and treated to a delicious meal we also see a few more interactions amongst the members of the boys’ band, and discover that Rom works an outside job while being a member of the band as well. We also see that he apparently has a huge sense of rivalry with Shu Zo, the lead singer of last episode’s boy band focus Trichronika. This rivalry becomes an occasion of humor when President Maple is contacted with a request for Shingan CrimsonZ to be the opening act for Trichronika’s stage appearance on the next day.

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It is after dinner and being shown to her room that an unexpected infodump takes place between Cyan and her guitar – named Strawberry Heart, if you recall (voiced by Hiroyuki Yoshino – i.e. Takanashi Tarou from Shirobako and Nyaa from Space Dandy). The city the events of the story take place in is named Midi City. It is one of the twelve existing city-states of Sound World, and the inhabitants thereof are called myumons. All activity therein revolves around music and all myumons love music. Apparently the 2D to 3D transformations are a natural part of the story – when musically talented myumons perform they can turn into their 3D versions. The melodisian stones featured in episode 1 are the containers for “the sound energy hidden within all living beings in this world”, and when the music is of high quality and resonates with the audience the stone becomes a high quality crystal. When it comes into contact with dark music energy it becomes tainted, eventually transforming its owner into one of the “dark monsters” of the previous ep as well. All this is not a far stretch from the information of the previous ep, but there turns out to be more. Strawberry Heart claims that Cyan is the player who has been chosen to save Sound World, which he claims is on the brink of crisis, and will be done through destroying all the dark monsters, the ones who bring dark music. More than that, he says she will be unable to return to her own world until she does so. Even so, Cyan accepts his request, much to the guitar’s happiness and relief.

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While watching the episode I think the thing that jumped out the most at me was the guitar. It seems that the personality and voice in the guitar comes and goes – perhaps even sleeps or is awake. In the previous ep we saw that the evil owner of Unicorn Virtual Music (who reminds me of a tadpole with glowing eyes for some reason) had nigh-imprisoned a world famous guitarist named Grateful King with the intent to use his talents to help take over Sound World. Grateful King was asleep much of the time we saw him on-screen, but I wonder whether or no the personality in Strawberry Heart is either actually him or else belonged to him previously and is carrying out his instruction while he is biding his time? I would not be surprised. When Cyan was summoned by the evil owner we saw that a pink beam came out of nowhere and knocked her off the course she was flying along and made her land smack dab in the middle of Trichronika’s concert. I have been wondering who did this? Could it have been the guitar? Or Grateful King? Or an ally of theirs? Whoever it is, Cyan is slowly beginning to grow inch by inch both in talent and emotionally. By the end of the ep she is finally able to take a step forward and verbalize her gratitude to the other members of Plasmagica, yes, but while doing so the viewers see that someone else is watching them in the shadows. A middle school girl band that regards Plasmagica as a possible rival, perhaps? Going by the preview for the next episode, it could be. Tune in next week for more!

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Currently the “oji-san” of the staff members age wise (in his mid 40’s) yet the most recent addition, he is also a Japanophile from his teen years while not quite an “otaku” who lives in the United States. Came to actively following anime late in life (in 2008), but in general loves the traditional arts, history and culture of Japan as a whole, both ancient and modern.

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