To get you ready for this show, I feel like I have to ask every single person reading this a question first. How do you improve a sports series or anything type of anime series in general? If your answer is better characterization and visual direction, then you are correct. What if you could have that and also put giant robots into the mix as well? If you haven’t met me yet, Hi. My name is Scott and I really like giant robots. As you can probably tell by this blog being called Mechanical Anime Reviews. For this post, I am digging into a Shoji Kawamori and Thomas Romain anime, sponsored by Nike, which features mecha playing basketball in order to save the world. This should be a lot of fun for those of you who have never heard about it before. Some spoilers though.
Basquach takes place on a world called Earth Dash whose people have the dream of living a better life on the moon. It’s a world separated by the poor and underpriveleged who live on the surface of Earth Dash and the elitist, more technologically advanced people on the moon. Also, there is an obssesion for Feet and Basket Balls everywhere for some reason. It’s also a world where Basketball is the way which keeps the plebians on the planet surface entertained. Can we say, Alita? In Basketball Stadiums, mecha called Big Foots play a very lackluster game of Big Foot Basketball but it’s hyped out through visual editing. Yeah, this anime isn’t necessarily original with its naming in a very corporate way just like the game itself. The game of mecha basket ball and the world itself changes when a certain character called Dan JD, or Dunk Master, starts causing a ruckus to destroy the false sport.
Dan JD is a young boy who hates Big Foot Basketball with a passion. It’s what he blames for his sister never being able to walk again and to him it doesn’t have the heart and soul of Basket Ball either. In his attempts rebellion by destroying property that shows Big Foot Basketball on outside TVs and showing up at a Big Foot Game itself with his own and adding tons of extra energy into it, he gives birth to something new. First he is thrown in prison for a while and given a large fine for his crimes and chaos. When he comes out the world has changed a bit. He has inadvertently created a new sport. Street Mecha Basketball. Its corporate name is OCB or Open City Basketball, but I prefer the name Basquach. That’s what the title of the show is after all. Has a certain ring to it
The first arc of this series focuses Dan JD forming an unlikely team with two other people with large personalities and interests in their own right. Iceman Hotti is the one player who knocked Dan JD out originally leading to Dan’s arrest and is also very destructive. His one move is sending a basketball out at high speeds which destroys anything in it’s way while shouting destroy. The second person is Seela, the Phantom Gale, who was serving food at the Big Foot Basket Ball Game and got really turned on by seeing Dan JD play. She became a strong Basquacher in her own right and in search of a male’s seed IF they can over power her. She’s great and has a lot of family problems in her backstory that have led her to this point. Both are fun in their own right.
I should also mention the mechanic/engineer behind their big foots, Miyuki. She is Dan JD’s childhood friend and loves everything about the mechanics behind Big Foot robots. Her Grandpa is there too and he has his own story that we hear about later. The leader behind this team is named Haruka. She’s from the moon, has a larger chest, but really loves feet in a very fetishy sort of way. She makes Nike shoes in her free time for the Big Foots. Also, the crew that helped Dan JD destroy the city before this all started a part of the team and their names are Grans and Bel who are just there for some reason. They are “those two guys”, but “those two guys” that I enjoy having. Everyone, including the pets, are likeable.
Basquach starts super horny and very into itself in terms of content in the first episode, but evens out pretty quickly when the sports becomes more involved. The first half of this anime is a pretty standard sports tournament anime IF those tournaments featured Mecha Basketball, tons of city destruction, and different power abilities showing up. Dan JD and his crew are very F the system when it comes to joining the OCB league at first, but they end up joining it anyway because no one else is just playing street Basquach and there is a lot of money to be had still. Once again, Dan JD and friends trying to break the system leads them to making the system. Dan JD, Iceman Hotti, and Seela win a lot of games.
However, the nature of the show changes around in the second half when everything goes in a different direction. It gets more character based. I read that there were changes in the production crew because the show wasn’t selling as well as Studio Satellite wanted. What came out was a completely different and much more character focused second arc with a little world ending doom on the side. Besides one episode not selling things that well, the transition was more seamless then one would expect. At least to me that is. Basquach has a lot of hidden depths to explore for each of the characters. Especially Dan JD who isn’t the bright person as you can possibly tell.
The aspect that drives the show forward in a more character focused way comes from a love story of all things. A love story featuring our protagonist of all people. Our home Basquach team meets a team of Big Foot Playing Idols by the name of Eclipse and Dan JD finds himself falling for with one of their members, Rouge. First it’s played off as fun when she uses Dan to escape from paparazzi. Pretty classic. Then, it actually starts becoming something and that surprised me. It’s not just some passing ship romance, it’s one where the two share feelings for each other and love competing against each other to their full abilities. When Rouge is taken to the moon due to plot sickness, that’s the direction the story goes.
The second half is full of some very interesting world expansion in terms of lore and traveling while also developing the characters in interesting ways. It also gets a little more political and explores the origins of the world itself. There isn’t as much Basquach, but that’s ok because there is so many interesting things happening. Dan JD and crew are wanted by the police, which adds a bit of the rush. Also, the world is ending and that’s as exciting and big as you would expect it to be. Especially since finding the right person of legend to stop it involves playing Basquach. Something that happens in an arc for the very end of this anime. You might expect that the protagonist is the chosen person of legend. I’m not saying if it’s true though.
It’s also a great half where people’s passions and opinions get challenged. Dan JD is rather simple, but his love is authentic and it drives him forward more. Seela also gets some time to herself to explore her own feelings for her dad after a major incident that happened in her family years ago and finds a balancing point. There is also romance for her from someone she doesn’t expect. Iceman Hotti also has his own story while everyone is in a dark hole in the ground called a prison. Giant slavery is something that also makes an appearance in the series from world building and talks of legend, but it’s not as commented on which is a weakness honestly. That might have been too large of a reach for a two cour anime to go for.
Basquach looks great. The characters designs are heavily varied and expressive while being multi-racial as well. I have a feeling that might be the influence of Thomas Romain, but I think the series is much better for it. This is a world expansive series with people from all walks of life in it. There is good character animation in it and some great normal street basketball action from time to time, but most of the animation went into the blending of cg and normal animation with Big Foot Mecha units playing Basket Ball against each other. All of which is very exciting to watch. Some of the best merging of cg and traditional animation during Basquach scenes that I’ve seen from something. Especially since it’s from the late 2000’s. Satellite has mastered their cg technology then and have only improved. The second half doesn’t have as much action so it has much more still framed, but that’s when the writing cuts in.
This is a mecha series, so I do need to at least talk about the designs a little bit. The mecha in Basqauch are called Big Foots and they are essential chasis with long limbs, legs, and hands. That sounds ridiculous, but it works in tone with the show considering how completely ridiculous this premise is. They come in a lot of different colors and have infinitely customizable shoes with Nike symbols on them. Not to mention the fact that these Big Foots somehow are able to handle Dribble giant Basket Balls and make insanely powerful passes and dunks with dramatic shonen like auras around them. Talk about one hell of a Nike shoe commercial, don’t you think?
Oh Basquach. I feel like this is one of the most underrated anime shows in existence. Probably? Possibly? I try not to say that too much, but I haven’t seen a lot of Basquach representation on the internet itself. It’s just one of the most unique anime series that I’ve watched in a while. We usually talk about mecha into everything, but this series is what happens when you do that. Mecha action, sports, love, drama, and everything else are apart of this unique package that somehow gels together into something unique. This feels like another Shoji Kawamori experiment and I can’t help that admit I really like the fact that he pushes for the unusual and unique in almost everything he does. So yes, solid watch here. If you like how I describe this series, then it might be worth checking out because it’s something else. Like seriously.