Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad is part slice of life, part Rock ‘n Roll and all around one of the greatest anime to come out in the last ten years. Based off of the manga by Harold Sakuishi and animated by Studio Madhouse in 2004, Beck follows 14-year old Yukio Tanaka, nicknamed Koyuki, as he enters junior high school. A shy and quiet boy that likes pop idols and also keeps to himself a lot is changed from his fateful encounter with a boy named Ryusuke Minami. Minami introduces Koyuki to rock music and even gives him a guitar to learn how to play. Koyuki accidentally breaks Minami’s guitar and once Minami finds out, he breaks off his friendship with Koyuki and vows to never speak to him again. A year later in the midst of high school, Koyuki learns how to play guitar and ends up filling in Minami’s new band named Beck, after the freaky Frankenstein looking dog that he owns. With the two of them teaming up with a few other friends from school, they decide to do whatever it takes to become true rock stars and make it famous.
While Beck doesn’t have the best animation or even the greatest looking character designs, it has some of the best written characters I’ve ever seen in a show, with real heart and soul. Generally, I typically watch the intro song only once to an anime series and then skip the rest, in order to get to good stuff. The moment that I heard “Hit in the U.S.A.” by The Beat Crusaders, I was just plain hooked on this show. It serves as the perfect introduction, in the sense that you get all of the quirkiness from the characters, the dynamics between all of them and the sense of style, all within the intro song. Seeing the character arc for just Koyuki alone, from the shy and quiet kid to becoming a full blown rock star is both compelling and astonishing.
While at times the music from the band can get very repetitive, the portrayal of how being in a band works, is very accurate. We see Beck playing show after show and steadily building their arsenal of songs, as well as practicing them a lot, in order to show the amount of creativity that goes into these songs, as well as the hard work it takes to being in a band. Another great thing about the show is that each of the characters are very different, from their personal styles to their individual tastes and yet they manage to come together through the universal bond of music, a theme that is sure to resonate with anyone that loves music.
Beck :Mongolian Chop Squad was out of print for quite a long time and I’m not even sure if it was a big hit for Funimation in the first place. People could easily get turned off by the visuals, limited animation or thinking that the show would be boring because its only about music. I’m here to tell you that if you’re dismissing Beck on those merits, you’re surely missing out on a fantastic show, full of comedy, great music and wonderful character’s that will surely stay with you, even when the shows over. Do yourself a huge favor and pick up Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad immediately and enjoy its great tunes and awesome vibes. Highly Recommended!