Last week I spoke about Mahou Shoujo Ore and how its weird plot is actually making a relatively good parody of your typical magical girl anime. This time, I’m going to be talking about another relatively bizarre anime that’s currently airing – Uma Musume: Pretty Derby.
Uma Musume is pretty much set in this world, however… In this version of the world we live in, the greatest race horses of past times have a chance to be reborn as “horse girls”— girls with the ears and tails of horses as well as their speed and endurance. The best of these horse girls go to train at Tokyo’s Tracen Academy, hopefully moving on to fame and fortune as both racers and idols.
That’s right. Not only are these characters practically race horses, they’re idols too. Combining both sport and music anime in one? I’m sold. Add some equine-ness into the mix and I’m hyped. I was really looking forward to this anime since it was announced and, honestly? It hasn’t disappointed.
I actually haven’t seen many people talk about this show, which is a shame, really, considering it is genuinely a decent sport anime. The idol factor is so small you sort of forget about it until someone wins a race and has to perform in the winning concert. I’ll be talking more about this in a second, however, let me talk about the sport side of things first.
The majority of the show is fixated on Special Week (hereby known as Spe) and her other horse girl classmates working hard to become the best horse girls in the whole of Japan. No aspect of this is any different to Hinata and Kageyama working hard in Haikyuu! or Kuroko and Kagami working hard in Kuroko no Basket. It shows you the work they have to put into their practices as well as the intensity of the actual races themselves. I’ve been left hyped for every single race in the show thus far.
As for the idol side of things, in the first four episodes (I’m actually catching up on the fifth as I write this) I can count on one hand as to how many instances there have been where horse girls have turned in to idols. Of course, these instances may increase as the show goes on and arguably when they start to win more races, but I realistically wouldn’t want to predict how much more idol this show is going to go. Of course, if it does turn more idol further down the line, I’ll probably be expecting more songs like the OP, which is quite generic-idol in sound.
The dynamic between the characters is really well presented – those on the same team as each other are somewhat encouraging, whilst the rival teams are written as excellent rivals, something which is sometimes written poorly in sports anime. Take for instance the initial rivalry between Kageyama and Hinata in Haikyuu!, which, in my opinion, got quite trivial quite quickly. Saying that, however, I do agree with a lot of people who say the pervert trainer is getting somewhat repetitive by this point. There’s definitely no need for him to be feeling up every horse girl’s legs.
The actual animation and design of the show is incredibly pretty in my opinion. Sure, it sometimes has its low-budget moments, but which show doesn’t have any low-budget blips?
Many have said that Uma Musume isn’t a serious show, but it is. At its core, it’s just a simple racing anime. A sports anime with a horse girl gimmick. Sure, the outfits might seem a little too inaccurate, particularly with how they shouldn’t realistically lack aerodynamics, but that’s just part of the charm of the show.
Another aspect that makes up the charm of the show is that the show is actually based off of the history of actual race horses. So far, the show has actually been historically accurate and you really can predict what’s likely to happen by looking at the Wikipedia pages of these race horses – but who would want to spoil the show for themselves like that?
Combining horse racing with idols, two of the biggest markets in Japan, shouldn’t have worked as well as it has. Don’t take the show’s concept seriously, sit back and watch Spe-chan climb the ranks. Take it as a normal racing anime and you’ll much more enjoyment in it than being over-analytical about it.