Chidori RSC Collection (Cert 15)
2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 297 minutes approx.
Release Date: April 12th
Japanese high schools must be the most active places on earth even for those with the most obscure interests. As we have seen via anime, they have after school clubs for chess, music, sports, tea drinking, UFO spotting, ghost hunting, filmmaking, literature, and now, if his show is to be believed, rifle shooting.
Not your regular rifle shooting though as found in US schools (too soon?), this is target shooting practice using Beam Rifles. These are rifles that don’t shoot bullets but send electronic signals to a target (still making a “bang” sound) and the hits are also recorded electronically. The shooters still need to wear special suits to help their posture, and there are national competitions to participate in.
By now, you probably have a fair idea of what to expect from Chidori RSC (also known as Rifle Is Beautiful) so the following plot synopsis is almost redundant but needs must. Hikari Kokura enlists at Chidori High School specifically to join its Rifle Shooting Club, along with her best friend Izumi Shibusawa, only to find it no longer exists due to lack of interest.
As luck would have it, Hikari runs into two former rivals at the school, Russian-Japanese Erika Meinohama – who Hikari once defeated in junior competition – and champion shooter Yukio Igarashi, both unaware the club existed and supported its resurrection. Now they train together to make it to the upcoming national qualifying competition, engaging in a friendly rivalry with Asaka High School’s team on the way, captained by Erika’s cousin.
Starting life as a four-panel manga strip by the mononymous Salmiakki, denoted by the vignette-like presentation of many episodes, this is a sports story in all aspects bar one – the drama. Rifle shooting takes nerve, skill, and precision but is hardly riveting viewing and not even cute anime girls with egregious personalities can change that sadly, so it is perhaps oddly wise that the actual events are secondary to non-rifle related antics.
This safe ammo-free version of shooting works by each competitor given 45 minutes to shoot 60 times at the target, a direct hit at the bullseye earning the maximum 10.9 score, with 654 points on offer for the most consistent shooter. The pressure may be on the shooter and there is a technique involved regarding stance and concentration but it isn’t something that can be parlayed into a tense spectator event, try as much as this might.
It might seem on the surface that this show doesn’t offer anything new or different from other shows in this vein, aside from the niche activity of rifle shooting, and in fact, this is an accurate assessment. The characters are archetypes – the ditzy perky one, the rich competitive one, the happy-go-lucky one, and the taciturn gifted one – and the “plots” cover many slice-of-life scenario (luckily excluding the beach episode but they do visit a hot spring).
Yet we shouldn’t write it off just so easily as these show have a habit of surprising us. For example, our quartet of budding shooters somehow gels despite the lazy contrivances that brought them together, and prove to be an entertaining team. Whether these bright if hardly original personalities are enough to sustain interest for all audiences will vary but there is a good chance their camaraderie will be endearing to many.
Hikari is the perky little one with infectious enthusiasm that rubs off on the others but isn’t the sharpest tool in the box. She has been into shooting since a she was little, once defeating Erika in a tournament, a bruise on Erika’s ego, but their shared enthusiasm prevents this being a grudge issue. Mousey Izumi is the group’s anchor by being neither good or bad at shooting but enjoys the company of everyone, whilst Yukio rarely emotes and talks in a quiet, robotic voice but is more lively than most stoic types in types.
Finally, there is the club advisor, Yuko Tsurumaki, a young teacher who volunteers for the job hoping to bond with her students. A timid lookalike of K-On’s Sawako Yamanaka, Yuko goes overboard in trying to please the girls and break out of her shell, ending up the most likable and funniest character for this writer. Unfortunately, like the story, the more ingrained with the sport Yuko becomes, the less interesting and amusing she becomes.
On a couple of occasions it is remarked how rifle shooting is so under the radar of most people – Hikari laments how nobody in her school is interested in the club’s success in competitions compared to other sports, whilst later, a whole discussion takes place on the sport’s exclusive appeal. If this anime was designed to help raise awareness of rifle shooting, I can’t say it meets that objective largely by exposing just how dull it actually is.
Due to the overt comic nature of this series the quality of the artwork is surprisingly high, boasting sturdy and attractive backgrounds and immensely detailed replication of the rifles. The animation by Studio 3Hz leans more into the looseness of the comedy with characters frequently dropping in and out of chibi form per the whims of the script and conventions of the genre.
Whilst this probably isn’t essential to know, a quick point about the 15 certificate for this release – the reason given is for “sexualised images” but there is literally ONE moment where Hikari’s stupidly big boobs are shown in tight sports top. I suppose it is because she is tiny, looks young, and for most of the time, they are heavily suppressed in her other clothes. I’m not sure why she had this bestowed upon her, it wasn’t necessary but there you go.
Chidori RSC is a show I am struggling to evaluate sufficiently. It is a largely inoffensive show that sadly doesn’t do its subject justice as a promotional vehicle, yet is silly enough to please the CGDCT brigade looking for a laugh. Watchable but not substantial.
English Language 2.0 DTS HD-MA
Japanese Language 2.0 DTS HD-MA
Disc 2 Only:
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animation
The Nationals Are Right Before Us – Episode 7.5 (Japanese w/English Subtitles)
Rating – ** ½
Man In Black