I think I’d already been introduced to Osamu Kobayashi by way of his Studio 4°C shorts End of the World and Table and Fishman at this point, so was quite excited to see him on the Beck adaptation. While it doesn’t quite capture his personal style fully (his Gurren Lagann & Kemonozume episodes are more representative), he was probably the best choice for the project as he has a grasp of pop culture that goes beyond other anime shows or otaku subculture.
In fact, he’s far cooler than Beck author, Harold Sakuishi. Gone are the manga’s references to UK/US bands that come across as cringeworthy rather than cool (Sade???) and in come in a ton of throw away references to indie bands from Japan, the US and UK. And an ending animation that is just a straight up tribute to musical acts Kobayashi digs.
Unfortunately as good as the show is, there’s one horribly clunky problem with the show. A number of characters are supposed to be bilingual in Japanese and English, and others are supposed to have English as their main language, and I’m afraid very few of the performances convince you that is the case. I’m not sure if this is down to the performers or the script, but at the very least Yuuma Ueno is terribly unconvincing as the supposedly fluent Ryuusuke. And there’s a few minor roles who have the opposite problem where they appear to have been cast for their language skills rather than their acting skills.
If you can get past that hurdle, it’s a worthwhile and stylish adaptation of a great manga.