Hello and welcome back to First Impression Friday (totally did not just make that up right now)! It’s like I just came at you with a first impression mere days ago and yet here we are again! Today though, we’ll be talking about something I was incredibly hyped for: Taiso Samurai. So was it worth the hype? Is it worth the hype? I’ve only seen a few eps but let’s delve right in! And I promise it will be a real review this time and not just a rant about pretty boys (*cough cough Noblesse review *cough*).
So to preface: when I first saw the trailer for Taiso Samurai, I was very excited for it. It looked like it was going to be straight up my alley and possibly even masterpiece feels. Upon watching the first episode…I was a little underwhelmed actually. It started off great–but then it quickly filled with a colorful cast that made the first episode a little…odd. Now, I love me a unique cast–and now I love the characters, but upon first watching it I found it to be more ridiculous than I was expecting. That’s something I don’t normally mind…but it was a bit jarring when it starts off on such a serious note of our MC Jotaro, being asked to retire. Was it funny? Absolutely. But also made me question what exactly I was watching…plus that bird–BB or something? I’m going to outright say it even if it gets me flack: not a fan. In fact, the first episode kind of felt like I was playing anime bingo on how many things they included just to be “interesting” or “unique” when I felt like I wanted more time getting to the meat of the retiring thing. The relationship between Jotaro and his daughter was sweet but a very familiar dynamic to these single father dramas. Leo the ninja was–loveable yes but definitely annoying. Like the loveable cute character that you secretly want to choke in their sleep. Despite all that though, the first ever delivered some very powerful moments and I do have a rule about not giving up on a series until it’s a few episodes in, as first episodes usually don’t quite hit the stride of most anime.
That proved to be the case with Taiso Samurai. Where it seemed to struggle with an identity crisis at times in the first episode, it really begins to set its pace during episodes 2 and 3. While still keeping humorous and lighthearted moments, we see Leo tone things down a little (and I honestly only mean like .01) and hints at something more beneath the surface. The cast continues to be filled out with unique characters, and we definitely see more of Jotaro and his own drive, thoughts, etc. and he begins to really feel like a main character, an athlete–a fighter. Sadly we still have that damn bird that continues to add absolutely nothing to the show. But it’s okay, because Jotaro more than makes up for the annoying bird. While I can say he could still use some characterization, I really love him for what he is right now. I love his story, I love his drive. There’s just something about him that makes him a very appealing main character and someone I naturally want to root for. His daughter Rei, is okay in comparison. She’s very cute and very mature for her age, but she doesn’t leave much of an impression. Part of me wishes she will have some time to act her age and for her to rely on her dad, because right now it very much seems like Jo is relying on her. Still cute though!
Then we have Leo who is…again both loveable and annoying. I think he is played over the top, which hey–is fine if that’s his character, it just takes a moment to get used to the energy. I really do adore him though now–I love the way he pushes Jotaro and how he helps and trains with him (even if it’s just him joining in for fun). I’m really curious to see where his story goes. I feel like the show is definitely hinting at there being more to Leo underneath the ninja persona, and perhaps even a very deep reason to why he believes in and wants Jotaro to return to gymnastics so badly.
Then we also have Tetsuo–who, despite his disdain for Jotaro upon there meeting–is surely going to be a great inspiration for Jo (if only because he pushes him as a rival-like character). Jotaro, unlike Leo, is a little shit. I say that in the most loving way possible, but he is totally just like such a pompous teen and I kind of dig it. I will say though that his character design and demeanor gives off strong Hiei from YYH vibes. In fact, before I could remember his name, I just called him Hiei 2.0. Still, I look forward to his character development as well.
As for the actual production of it? It looks good for the most part. I wouldn’t say the animation particularly stands out (the muscles though–damn Jo–just…wow). They use CGI for the gymnastic sequences, which is pretty good. Normally CGI kind of bothers me, but I think it does fine in these moments–it definitely captures the fine movements needed for something so physical. Unfortunately, during these gymnastic sequences I immediately noticed that the background quality goes down considerably. During episode 3 when they were watching Jotaro and Hiei 2.0 perform, background characters looked like comedically faceless characters with their mouths hanging open (which is to say, there was like no definition on them). I understand that we aren’t really meant to be looking at the background during routines, but it was just something I noticed as like an ‘ehh’.
Then we have the opening and ending sequences. I’ll start with the opening–much like the show, it took a moment to grow on me, but I definitely like it. I wouldn’t say it’s particularly special or anything, but it’s very good. The ending though? I love the ending to be honest. From the song, to the artwork–it stuck the landing in my opinion. It’s definitely one of my favorite ED’s of the season and a strong contender for my absolute favorite. I swear I haven’t skipped a sequence yet.
So the bottom line: is Taiso Samurai ridiculous? Yes. It can be a little ridiculous at times but it’s also ridiculously good. I can’t say for sure if I still believe it will be a masterpiece, but it’s going to be a good show from what I can tell and the potential is still there. I would said that if you haven’t checked it out, definitely give it a try! If you already have: what do you think of it? I’m curious what kind of impressions and expectations others had. Anyway, til next time!