By now, you should all know that I like sports anime and I like idol anime. They’re two types of anime with similar features and story lines, both just as dramatic and thrilling to watch. So, when I heard about an anime that had both horse racing and idol elements involved, I was certainly intrigued.
For those who don’t know, Uma Musume: Pretty Derby is an anime that is set in a world very much like today’s where the greatest race horses of the past have a chance to be reborn as horse girls. These girls have the ears, tails, speed and endurance of horses, but with the personalities of pretty much your standard bunch of high schoolers. Training at Tokyo’s Tracen Academy, they hope to find fame and fortune as both racers and idols.
Even from the synopsis, I knew I was going to enjoy this. It’s a mixture of everything I like about sports anime and idols, even if the sports take over and the idol aspect is just in the background. But, that’s fine. As soon as I saw the idol part, I didn’t want it. I just wanted to know what would happen to the different horse girls – I wanted to cheer them on like I would with the main team of any sports anime. I’m not saying the idol aspect is a particularly bad part of the show, but even if the show didn’t have it, it would have been watchable.
The story itself isn’t particularly interesting, but it sticks to the formula that make sports anime good. A new girl transfers, starts her journey, finds friends and rivals, they compete, there’s drama, the drama is resolved… It’s not imaginative in this sense by any means, but I can’t really complain. Aside from the Silence Suzuka story line towards the end of the series, I didn’t have an issue with the pacing, nor was I ever bored. It was a nice easy watch and, with a race every episode, the so-called adrenaline is always present.
One aspect I really did like about the show was the art style and animation. P.A. Works did a great job with this. The colours were bright and cheerful, but they weren’t in your face which is something that was of concern to me to begin with. The change in colour palettes at certain points as well really do bring out the characters’ emotions. My only gripe with the animation, really, is the animation when it comes down to the races. There was just something about the way the girls ran that just didn’t work for me.
The cast was great. With the amount of characters, you will certainly find one horse girl that you like the most. Personally, I loved the personality of El Condor Pasa, as well as that of Gold Ship. However, with a big cast comes with a great number of characters the viewer forgets or simply doesn’t care about. Every episode, you’re introduced to at least one new character and you probably won’t see that character again unless they’re in another race or in the background. It’s a shame, really, because every one of the girls is different in some way and I would love to get to know them all. (I do realise that would take a lot of episodes, however!)
Uma Musume is listed as a comedy, but, honestly? It’s not a ‘funny’ show. Sure, it has its moments, but a lot of the humour is making their trainer – Trainer – out to be a pervert as well as basically fat shaming. Some people may find this sort of humour funny, but I personally don’t and, really, it was quite a let down on that front.
What wasn’t a let down, however, was the soundtrack. Personally, I don’t think the OP is anything spectacular, but the music during the last episode is great. To say it’s not a particularly idol-filled show, the last few tracks, I would argue, are worthy of being in an idol show and I would love to actually be able to find one of the songs in particular. However, in my search for one of the songs, I’ve stumbled across some really good additional songs as part of the multi-media project. You can find these easily on YouTube, so go check some out if you’re interested.
Overall, Uma Musume was a surprise. I didn’t expect it to be good by any means. A lot of my thoughts here are consistent with my First Impressions post, so I would personally recommend doing the three-episode tryout method if you’re still unsure about this show. If by that point you’re not interested, you’re probably not going to enjoy the rest of it. If you like a good sports anime, though, please don’t be sleeping on this. It mixes together two of Japan’s biggest interests and it makes for a really good watch.