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Old 12-09-2010, 10:41 PM   #1   [permalink]
MeMyself
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Wink Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad

I really don’t know what images come into your mind when you see “Mongolian Chop Squad” in the title. Whatever it is, you are wrong.

Beck is a coming of age story. Fourteen-year-old Koyuki’s life is going nowhere. His is an uninspiring existence, when he unexpectedly runs into an old friend, 16-year-old Izumi, and unexpectedly makes the acquaintance of a 16-year-old Japanese-American named Ryusuki. I am not too sure what brings Ryusuki to Japan, or where his parents are, but he is out to form the ultimate rock band. Between Izumi and Ryusuki, Koyuki’s world suddenly opens up. He is exposed to new music and new interests. Oh, and he has a crush on Izumi, and Izumi and Ryusuki are attracted to each other. But then there is also Ryusuki’s 14-year-old sister Maho, and an attraction develops between her and Koyuki.

So much for the set-up. There are others Koyuki meets who effect his journey through life and inspire his new interest in music. I watched disc 1, episodes 1-5, and already the story is moving.

One note before anyone else watches the series. You really have to watch each episode in the original dub and the English dub. The original is mostly in Japanese with some English. If you only watch the English dub, there are moments and lines which make no sense if you do not know which lines in the original are in Japanese and which in English. If you watch only the original dub, the subtitles seem incomplete. So you have to watch both.

Also, beware that there is a bit of nudity and quite a bit of profanity in this anime. So if you have young children, watch only after you put them to bed or out of the house.

I will soon start disc 2, so if anyone has any comments --
PLEASE NO SPOILERS!
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Old 16-09-2010, 10:56 PM   #2   [permalink]
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I've finished disc 2, episodes 6-10. These cover about a year in Koyuki's life in which he battles bullies, develops his musical talent and has a growing friendship, and possible romance, with Maho. Meanwhile, Ryusuki's new band, named after his dog Beck, takes form.

The artwork and animation in this series is just average. But the characters are very well defined having their personalities coming across strongly. The only notable thing about the artwork is that there are subtleties in the facial expressions which help put the characterization over.

With the exception of a few schoolyard fights, there is no real action. This is an anime for those who like a character driven storyline.
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Old 20-09-2010, 11:30 PM   #3   [permalink]
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I've finished disc 3, episodes 11-14. Koyuki's talent develops. Beck gets a few breaks. Koyuki's love life. . . . Well, watch it to find out. Anyway, it looks like soon Koyuki will have to make a difficult choice.

It's interesting how the story varies slightly between the English dub and the original. Because everyone in the English dub speaks English, there is a lot left out concerning communication between various characters. The American characters who speak English in the original dub sometimes speak with a Japanese accent. This is not too surprising since it was done with Japanese actors, but only two or three get the American accent right. There is one minor character who speaks with an over-the-top Italian accent, which really was not necessary.

I watched half of the commentary, which had the voice director and a few of the American voice actors who did the English version. Mostly they just laughed silly like they were drunk or smoking something. So I didn't bother with the rest of the commentary.

It's a good series so far. You really do pull for Koyuki and his bandmates.
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Old 27-09-2010, 10:02 PM   #4   [permalink]
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I’ve finished disc 4, episodes 15-18. More time has past. Koyuki is in high school. Beck is moving onward and upward. But a dark and dangerous secret from his past is about to catch up with Ryusuki.

I don’t like the way they handle the storyline dealing with Koyuki’s and Maho’s relationship. It is as if nothing happens as time goes by. Then suddenly, something dramatic takes place. Only it seems that there are two different teams writing the scripts. One handles the Koyuki/Maho line and the other the rest of the series plots -- only they don’t talk to each other. It also seems that there are about 3 or 4 writers on the Koyuki/Maho story, and they don’t talk to each other either.

There are two English soundtracks to choose from. One is 2-channel stereo and the other is 6-channel. Usually, the 6-channel stereo on other animes is muddled so the dialog is hard to hear, but here the dialog is clean and understandable. Plus with the music, the 6-channel is what you want to listen to.

Next, the final disc and my final review and recommendation.
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Old 03-10-2010, 08:17 PM   #5   [permalink]
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I just finished disc 5, and to correct what I stated earlier, there is one more disc to the series.

Well, I finally found out why the series is subtitled Mongolian Chop Squad. Watch the series to find out. Anyway, the band is getting its biggest break yet, but Ryuski must make a deal with the proverbial devil -- named Leon Sikes.

Koyuki finally tries to ask Maho how she feels about him. I will say she doesn’t hear the question, so that storyline remains unresolved. What gets me is that Koyuki asks about a kiss they shared “the other day.” Actually, that kiss would have been a year ago. As I said before, it seems that there is a separate writing team on this particular storyline, and that they don’t seem to be talking to each other or the rest of the writers. Anyway, Koyuki does have this rival for Maho’s affections. Maho doesn’t realize what a jerk he is, or doesn’t care. But Koyki’s eye is also set on a schoolmate named Hiromi. Again, this storyline is a jumble. It is as though each scene has a separate writer who is not aware of what others are doing.

Still I am enjoying the series. The characters are well developed. I just need to get disc 6 for the final three episodes. I will give my final review then.
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Old 07-10-2010, 11:22 PM   #6   [permalink]
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I have completed disc 6 and the series.

In disc 6, opportunities open up for Beck as their fame grows. But there are also outside forces working against them that seem too great to over come. It doesn’t seem that Ryuski can handle the pressure of success. Can the band survive it’s greatest moment?

For a series with not much action, there sure is a lot of suspense. You really pull for Koyuki as he pursues his dream against all naysayers. The storyline with Maho could have used a bit more effort. Also I think they could have made Koyuki seem a little less naïve. He never seems to know everything about what is going on. But Koyuki and Saku, a schoolmate and the band’s drummer, are the youngest members of the group and often not told of the more darker issues. Still Koyuki is the heart and sole of Beck -- both the series and the band.

If anyone wants to discuss anything that would include a spoiler, please start a seperate thread and label it as a "Spoiler."


Odd we never see any of the characters parents in the show. We do hear the voice of Koyuki’s mother. We do see a picture of his dead father at the end. Then again, teens on their own without parents is typical of anime.

It would have been interesting to end the series with a look 15-20 years into the future. Or maybe a follow-up movie showing what happens. Assuming the relationship between Maho and Koyuki gets anywhere, will Maho become a stay-at-home mom taking care of Koyuki’s kids as he travels the world playing to sold out stadiums and theaters? The series never gets that far.

Anyway, I recommend this series. It has it’s weak points, but there are some great characters here who really keep you interested throughout all 26 episodes. For the category of character-driven animes, Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad has to rank near the top.
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Old 11-02-2011, 12:56 AM   #7   [permalink]
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Special announcement!!!!!!

For those of you who get Comcast On-Demand, you can now watch Beck. Episodes 1 and 2 are under the free anime section of Cutting Edge. Of course, it is the English dub. Because of the mixture of Japanese and English in the original, the English dub does not make sense at times. But you can still get the whole story.

So if you have never seen this anime before, now's your chance.
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Old 26-07-2011, 08:56 PM   #8   [permalink]
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I actually loved this anime.
Watched it a while back.
I was watching the original audio, subs only, and they seemed fine.
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Old 29-07-2011, 05:21 PM   #9   [permalink]
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Yes, the original Japanese/English dub with subtitles is fine. It's the all English dub which at times makes no sense. For example, there is that one scene where Kouke (sp?) is talking to Eddie in English and Maho translates the English into English. It made more sense in the original where Kouke is only speaking Japanese.

Comcast, now Xfinity, On-Demand is finishing up the series now, so it is my second time watching. A follow-up series would be interesting. I wonder if Kouke and Maho ever do get it on?
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Old 31-07-2011, 04:00 PM   #10   [permalink]
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Also the multiple incidences where I imagine Koyuki says, in English, that he doesn't really understand what's being said in English.
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Old 01-08-2011, 12:03 AM   #11   [permalink]
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It was easier to overlook the fact that in the original Japanese dub some American characters spoke English with a Japanese accent. But some of the Japanese voice actors did handle the dialect quite well.

Getting on to another matter, do you think Maho and Koyuki have a future together?
Spoiler:
Note that Maho is always complementing Koyuki on his musical genius. But she never says she loves him. She never says how she feels about him. She is in love with his music and creativity, but does she love him? I am not so sure.
Maybe we should start a spoiler thread if you want to continue this discussion.
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