MANGA + ANIME INTRODUCTION
BECK: THE MONGOLIAN CHOP SQUAD
Today I decided to write about BECK: The Mongolian Chop Squad, a manga by Harold Sakuishi. I have just recently finished reading BECK in manga form after watching the anime adaptation about a year back. It follows the story of a young rock band in Japan, and their struggle to make it big. Although all of the members are touted as being undoubtedly talented and destined to change the music industry, but several powerful forces constantly stand in their way to stardom. I won't go heavily into the story so as not to spoil it, but I'll just explain the beginning.
After messing up a chance at being scouted by a record company, Ryusuke has a fight with his bandmate, which causes the band to break up. Ryusuke decides to create his own band with the dream of being a band that can compete worldwide and sets out to recruit members for a new band. He gathers Tsunetomi Chiba (rap/vocal), Yoshiyuki Taira (bass) and the drummer from his previous band (can't remember his name... because he leaves early on). Koyuki is later invited to the group after they hear him singing, as well as his friend Yuji "Saku" Sakurai on drums. The band steadily improves, and seems destined to make it big. However, many obstacles stand in their way.......
Okay well thats about as much as I am going to bother writing, plus any more would be too much spoiler. The story also includes the high school drama of Koyuki and his growing relationship with Ryusuke's sister. There are many comedic moments, emotional scenes, and references to American and Japanese pop culture so keep an eye out for these, such as on the shirts people wear or people in the background. If you read the manga, then at the start of every volume, there's one or two mock versions of covers from popular albums which adds to the excitement if you are somewhat familiar with such things. Many of the characters are inspired by real life people, a memorable one for me was a guy that resembled famous actor Samuel L. Jackson.
|Mock cover of "Ready to Die" by Notorious B.I.G.|
Theres plenty more as there are 34 volumes in the manga. There is also an anime version, which is pretty good, but doesn't completely follow the whole series. Because of lack of funds and popularity when airing, the animation company decided to end the series after the first arc, and making the ending quite a let down. On the plus side, it is interesting while it lasts, and also includes some good music. I very much recommend that you give it a listen, although I've only listened to the Japanese versions, the dubbed versions seem to be well received as well, mainly due to the lack of Engrish. I'm satisfied with the Japanese versions especially since the trouble the vocalists have with pronouncing words in their songs (which are mainly in English) is a prominent theme in the series. Anyway, these are my picks:
***"I've Got A Feeling" is a cover of the Beatles
This one is not actually a song by the "band" Beck. Its a song that Koyuki sings at his school festival with some other schoolmates, but I really like the sound of the guitar here. Its also actually a cover of an old anime series called Youkai Ningen Bem (Youkai refers spirit/monsters from Japanese folklore, Ningen=Human, Bem is the character's name).
The others a also pretty good but I figured that you could go take a look by yourselves if you're interested, or just start watching the anime. Either ways good enough for me yo.
Last year a live adaptation film was released in Japan. I haven't watched it yet, but the story seems somewhat altered from trailers obviously so that they don't make the movie run for over 10 hours. The music seems decent from what I've heard (not much) and the actor choices seem okay.
- Takeru Satoh (佐藤 健) as Koyuki. He's probably most well known for his parts in popular dramas such as Rookies and Bloody Monday.
- Hiro Mizushima (水嶋 ヒロ) who starred in Gokusen, and as Kamen Rider Kabuto, played the role of Ryusuke.
- Aoi Nakamura (中村 蒼) played drummer Saku, Don't know much about this guy
- Osamu Mukai (向井 理) as Taira. He had a part as a cellist in Nodame Cantabile and more recently as the author Shigeru Mizuki of famous manga Gegege no Kitaro in GeGeGe no Nyōbō (ゲゲゲの女房).
- Kenta Kiritani (桐谷健太) as Chiba. He also starred in Rookies, and was also a fairly prominent character in the two CROWS movies.
If you're interested then I don't think it would be a bad movie but not great like the manga. Even so I intend to watch it at some point when I get my hands on it, only because I liked the manga and the hope that the music is as good as the tunes from the anime. Heres a trailer for you to look at.....
Aaaaaand thats it from me on BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad for now. I was thinking of looking at the mock albums covers and other musical and pop culture references and writing posts about them but we'll see hey? Depends how bored I am and how lazy I feel....I;m pretty lazy by the way (-_-) sigh
Thanks for reading.....