First Impression – Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-bu

Take a bike trip down some pretty streets!

winter15-highw More Girls on Bikes! Can Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-bu live up to its long name?

The First Thing You Notice

The main thing that you see when you start watching MinaKama (cause there’s no way you want to read that whole name the whole post, and I don’t need word count in my posts that much) is that it is gorgeous. Like completely knocked out of the park. This is a little surprising, one because JC Staff is not really known for making lush visual shows, and two because the Art Director for MinaKama is Tomonori Kuroda, a long-time JC Staff Art Director who’s worked on a lot of their notable shows like Index and Railgun, but when you look through the list you don’t see anything that would indicate “This is going to be a beautiful show.” In fact, the only thing on the list that I think is anywhere near the same level is Witch Craft Works, which was also beautiful, but not in this photo-realistic way.

Just a random mascot head outside the school

And the next thing that worked really well with the show is that even with these beautiful backgrounds, the characters fit into the world. Sometimes when the art is really pretty, the characters just feel like they’re drawn on top, or are out of place. That doesn’t happen here, and gives you a great feeling watching the show throughout with nothing to distract you from just watching. I think that a lot of it is that they don’t make the characters too shiny. They just look really good for the series. Even the CG sequences in the OP and the rest of the show look consistent and terrific.

What’s It All About?

Running into someone is a tried-and-true method for introductions

Our first main character here in this first episode is Hane Sakura… er, no. This time it’s Hiromi Maiharu, but one might be excused for thinking that Hiromi is like that other rather goofy character who drove her pink Honda. Sporting a similar look – brown hair twin hair decorations – and the same voice actor in Reina Ueda, as well as a bit of a similar goofy personality, Hiromi is taking her bike to her new high school, even though she doesn’t even remember how to ride it. They do say that you never really forget how to ride a bike, but when you don’t even remember that you need to pedal it, I think maybe you have forgotten how to ride, a fact that Hiromi admits. On her way, she ends up in a meet crash with Tomoe, another new student to South Kamakura High School, who is pressed into service helping Hiromi learn to ride her bike again. And after a few trials, Hiromi finally gets it.

Some help learning to ride

And later practice (I love those parking space markings)

The rest of the episode is a nice relaxing trip through coastal Kamakura in the Shichirigahama area, with Tomoe pointing out Fuji-san and Enoshima to the newcomer. They also end up meeting a new teacher to the school, Shiki Mori, who is biking to her first day as well, but with not a very good map. All three manage to make it to school, with only an incident with the local scavenging Black Kites to throw some unwanted excitement in. This isn’t the kind of show that’s going to make the kids miss their entrance ceremony, and indeed the message of the show seems to be the same as the message from Shiki as she addresses her homeroom class: Enjoy the experiences that come your way, and use your freedom to explore your world.

Escaping the beach birds

A cool new teacher to be a club advisor, huh?

This was a nice relaxing show, beautiful to look at, and conflict-free. It also included a bit at the end which seems like it will be a recurring part, how to choose your own bike. I don’t know any beginner who is going to buy a carbon-framed bike, but there you go. I’d expect that we’re going to get the introduction to the club next week, and follow a similar path to the other shows we’ve had featuring girls on two wheels lately. But the feel of this one seems to be a bit more laid back and calm, as opposed to the comedy and argumentation of Bakuon! or the clownish antics of Ami in Long Riders!And if they keep it this pretty, then it’ll be nice and relaxing to watch, even if it gets more serious about the club, which it seems like they might, but hopefully not to a full sports anime style.


Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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4 Responses to “First Impression – Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-bu”

  1. zztop says:

    I had the opportunity to visit part of Kamakura in late 2014 during a trip to Tokyo – it was a part of a 1-day long tour that included visiting Yokohama. Apart from it being a rainy day, it was a lovely town – small enough to be idyllic, yet not too far from the big city itself (about 1 hr away). Plus the seaview from atop Hase-dera Temple is just breathtaking.
    (The tour never covered the Tsurugaoka Shrine though – pity.)

  2. skylion says:

    Yep, in terms of design, this one pushes the needle in the right direction. I cannot think of anyone who would grow tired of seeing such painstaking attention to detail as it presented in the art direction. If we are making straight up comparisons/contrasts, this one beats Long Riders by miles. But I don’t really think one is competing in the same space as the other; but we know the connection will be made. My goodness that one image you have by the see is striking in how real it looks compared to a Google Earth/Maps image…

    I like our two leads, and then they slip Sensei Surprise into the proceedings. This one starts off on the right foot, and I hope it keeps going that way.

  3. Wanderer says:

    This show is frikkin beautiful, there’s no question about that. This has all the production values I wish Long Riders could have had. However, Long Riders engaged me completely on the very first episode; whereas this show managed to actually irritate me and completely break any sense of connection I tried to form. I was delighted when Ami from Long Riders knew how to rider a bike so that show skipped that irritating trope. This show not only brings that trope back, it loops it around and stabs me in the back with it again by having Hiromi have once known how to ride, but have forgotten to the point that she doesn’t even know what the pedals are for.

    I cannot connect with this show. And that’s really sad, because someone clearly spent a lot of time and money making it look amazing.

    • Highway says:

      Well, I think they’re done with the learning to ride bit, and I thought it was pretty clear that Hiromi never did know how to ride a “real” bike. So she’s managed to learn it with Tomoe today.

      I’m looking more for this one to deal with the idea of bike racing more realistically than even Long Riders! did. And definitely hope that it’s better than YowaPeda, which sacrificed everything exciting about bike racing on the altar of shounen sports. Plus, not having Hiromi know how to ride the bike was pretty much the hook they used to meet Tomoe and get to know her, as well as show off all of that scenery.

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