One of the series that really made a splash in 2007 was Beck - Mogolian
Chop Squad. Released by FUNimation over six volumes, the show
gained a devoted following and was a pretty big hit with the fans.
DVDTalk reviewers Todd Douglas and Jamie S. Rich both enjoyed the volumes
they reviewed, highly recommending each one. I was curious about
the show, but held off on picking it up, waiting instead, as many otaku
do these days, for the inevitable complete series set. Well, that
wait is over as Beck has now been released in an attractively priced boxed
Koyuki Tanaka is an average high school student. He's a bit awkward,
especially around girls, and he doesn't have much focus in life.
The latter changes when he finds an ugly dog named Beck and his owner,
Ryûsuke "Ray" Minami. Ray's a slacker; he lives in a shack
and runs a fishing business on a stocked pond his grandmother owns.
He's also a very talented guitarist. Koyuki starts hanging around
Minami and gets bitten by the guitar bug. Borrowing a guitar from
Ray, Koyuki is soon practicing hours and hours a day. He takes lessons
from a shop owner down the street, as starts to gain some amount of proficiency.
Though he loves guitar, Koyuki still doesn't fit in at school.
He's still being picked on by bullies, and the girls he likes never act
the way he's hoping they will. One of the girls on his radar is Ryûsuke's
sister Maho. She's a tough and independent girl who seems to really
like Koyuki. But if that's the case why does she hang around with
other guys? She's hot one minute and cold the next, and Koyuki can't
understand how she really feels. He does manage to make some new
friends at school though, including Saku, a self taught drummer.
Eventually Ray starts up a band, Beck, named after his dog. Koyuki
sits in on some jam sessions and when the original drummer quits, he and
Saku are inducted into the band. Being in a band and making a living
playing music are two totally different things however.
The reason this is such a great anime is that it's grounded firmly in
reality. A 'slice of life' show, this program focuses on some interesting
characters but never deviates too much from what could really happen.
That's very refreshing. It shows how one part of your life can be
going great while another area is not working out at all. Over the
course of the show Koyuki is interested in a few different girls, but he's
a bit shy and afraid to make the first move. That hardly ever works
out in real life, and it doesn't here either.
While Beck is a great band, they don't achieve overnight success.
I really appreciated the way the program showed them climbing the ladder,
from dives to better clubs to the biggest venues in town, and still that
didn't lead to record companies fighting over them. The show also
showed the tensions that can build up inside a band, and how sometimes
having talent and a desire to play music isn't quite enough.
There were a couple of things that happened where I really had to suspend
my disbelief. When an agent from America shows an interest in releasing
a Beck album in the US, it's hard to believe anyone, no matter how hungry
they were for fame, would have signed the contract that was signed.
To make matters worse after that fiasco Ray lets the US company handle
all of the details for the second pressing, including the cover shot.
When someone's on the run from the mob, they should think about things
While I won't give away anything about the ending, the final episode
was very rushed. They could have easily expanded the events in that
last half hour into another 5 or even 10 episodes and it's too bad that
they didn't. Having said that, the conclusion of the series is one
of its strong points. The show wraps up in a very satisfactory manner,
but like life itself, not everything is settled and not road ahead for
Koyuki and his friends is not clear. This is one of those series
that you hate to end, but the way they concluded this series was just right.
The 26 discs that make up this series come on six DVDs. They're
housed in double slimcases which in turn come in an attractively illustrated
slipcase. These discs seem to be identical to the original releases
and have all the extras those contained. It's a nice looking set.
Like the original releases, this show comes with the option of the original
Japanese soundtrack in stereo or an English dub in either stereo or DD
5.1. The 5.1 mix adds a lot to the show, especially during the concert
scenes. When the band is playing the multi-channel mix really comes
alive. It's too bad that the Japanese track didn't offer a 5.1 mix,
as the English voice cast good but not perfect. I thought Koyuki's
voice was a little whiney at times, but aside from that the dub was fine.
The Japanese track has some English spoken over the course of the show,
by supposed Americans, and that sounded pretty bad. Overall I ended
up switching between tracks at random times trying to get the best of both
worlds, something I almost never do. Aside from those critiques I
found both the English 5.1 and Japanese tracks to be full and free from
This show comes with a 1.33:1 image which is how it was originally shown
in Japan in 2003. The show looked okay, but overall. The opening
credits were done on the cheap and had a LOT of aliasing. It really
looked bad and I was worried for a while. Thankfully the show itself
looked significantly better, though there still was some aliasing and banding
going on. When all is said and done, the show looks fine with only
This set seems to come with all of the extras that the individual releases
had, which wasn't much. There are clean openings and closings, commentary
tracks to three episodes (the 'music commentary' on the last disc was pretty
interesting if you're into music and were wondering about the author's
influences and some of the in-jokes associated with famous bands,) and
a couple of music videos.
Beck is a wonderful slice-of-life show that hits all the right notes.
The characters are believable, the story is simple yet heartfelt without
being too melodramatic, and the music is pretty good (especially the opening
song which has a hook that will stay in your brain for days.) If
you missed this great series the first time around, now's your chance to
pick it up. Highly Recommended.