Uma Musume Series

Anime Hajime Review: Uma Musume Pretty Derby Season 2

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Original Run: January 5, 2021 - March 30, 2021
Number of Episodes: 13
Genre: Sports

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Uma Musume Pretty Derby Season 2. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Ever since she was young, Toukai Teiou (voiced by Machico), a horse girl, has wanted to be a racer. But not just any racer. No, Teiou has aspired to be the greatest there has ever been, and so far in her career, she has been making a pretty good show of it.

Pushed on by her teammates and her fierce rival/best friend, Mejiro McQueen (voiced by Saori Oonishi), Teiou’s future looks bright.

Unfortunately, along with great talent and effort, an athlete needs a bit of luck to reach the top. And when running at such high speeds, the slightest stumble can be hard to recover from.

Series Positives

For context, the winter 2021 season was a time for sequels; close to half the series that came out were continuations. While many were highly anticipated, few were complete surprises. Uma Musume Pretty Derby Season 2 (Uma Musume 2) was firmly in the latter camp; I never expected to return to this franchise.

Of course, part of me is surprised Anime Hajime ever covered season one (August 2018). I was the one who wrote that review and let me tell you, I did so mainly on a whim. It came, it happened, it was middle-of-the-road the whole way through, and I assumed that was the end of it.

Low and behold, four years later (May 2021), I’m talking about part two. Or, at least, officially, that’s what I’m doing. In reality, I’m at a loss for words. Uma Musume 2 wasn’t bad. In a technical sense, this show was well-done. But mirroring its predecessor, this series left no impression.

On the off chance you’ve seen season one (let me know in the comments if you’re among us), you can pretty much forget everything that happened. In fact, Uma Musume 2 could work as a stand-alone release. Therefore, if season two is your first exposure to this franchise, you shouldn’t find yourself to be too lost.

Actually, you might be in better shape if you start with Uma Musume 2. After all, this installment completely changed focus. Unlike season one, which centered around Special Week and Silent Suzuka, season two’s stars were Toukai Teiou and Mejirou McQueen. And of the main cast, there were few new characters. By and large, everyone seen in this season made an appearance in the last.

Now, if you were to ask me which protagonist I thought was better, Special Week or Toukai Teiou, I wouldn’t have an answer for you. I’m sorry, but I don’t remember a damn thing about Special Week. Heck, I had even forgotten her name until someone said it.

As for Teiou, whose fate will mostly likely be similar to Special Week’s, she was fine. She was your average sports anime protagonist, and I don’t have anything to say against her.

I suppose the ultimate question I should be asking is, was there anything I liked about Uma Musume 2? And when I say “like,” I mean, was there something that impressed me beyond surface-level accomplishments? The animation in this show, for example, wasn’t awful, but it certainly wasn’t justification to recommend this series.

As such, if there was anything, the races were fun.

I do remember liking this aspect from season one as well. For a show that rarely deviated from expectations, it knew how to keep competitions exciting.

In particular, Uma Musume 2’s climactic final race was easily the best thing in this show. Thus, to give credit where it due, I had to care about this series’ story and its characters to some degree. How else do I explain why I was as emotionally invested as I was?

However, it all comes back to what I said, doesn’t it? Technically speaking, Uma Musume 2 was a well-made anime. The aforementioned animation was solid, the characters weren’t annoying, the story had its moments, and more often than not, I wasn’t bored.

If this were season one, I suspect I would reach the same conclusion. Ume Musume 2 is something that exists. It was neither a trainwreck nor a masterpiece; you’re not wasting your time if you watch it, and you won’t be missing anything if you don’t.

Unfortunately, this was a second season. Consequently, what did it add to the overall franchise? Or more to the point; was there a point? Coming from the me on the day this review comes out, the answer is no. Coming from the me any time after that, I doubt I will know what show you’re referring to.

Series Negatives

When a show needs to give a name card to nearly every character (or in the case of Ume Musume 2, every horse girl), to me, that’s never a good sign. When I see a series do this, I usually come to two conclusions:

  1. The show has no intention of establishing a character’s personality to make them memorable.
  2. If the show is based on some type of video game, this is a cheap trick to ensure the “inclusion” of potential fan favorites.

For Ume Musume 2, it felt like both scenarios were taking place.

For those who have seen this show, let me describe a character to you. I won’t mention any physical features, so try to guess who I’m talking about based solely on their “personality.”

This character loved to run. She found the rush of competition to be exhilarating. However, her love of racing didn’t come from her natural talent. Instead, she was inspired by another horse girl. Our character has since dedicated her life to emulating her idol. Along the way, she suffered immense pressure to win and disillusionment when she lost. She was fueled by an intense rivalry with another racer who pushed her to surpass her limits. And during her climb to the top, she inspired future horse girls to follow in her footsteps.

For the record, I was using Teiou as the basis for that description, but I could have applied it to the vast majority of characters in Uma Musume 2.

This series is and has always been a gimmick to promote a video game. Granted, it is a well-made gimmick with talented voice actors and astonishingly good animation.

I’m not going to lie; saying something like that makes me sound like a pompous asshat. I can’t pretend I’ve never recommended an equally gimmicky show in the past. But this franchise has also tried to force in a pop idol aspect that has never held any weight. So, you tell me if I am being unfair.

When Uma Musume 2 did focus on the racing and the racers, sure, it worked; provided it stuck to the main cast. Sadly, this show tried to highlight so many different characters in one go. It was hard enough to keep track of everyone we saw in every episode, let alone doing the same with people with only shoehorned appearances.

Still, and I don’t consider this a positive, this season did prove one thing. When push comes to shove, this franchise has plenty of excuses to pump out a season three.

Final Thoughts

I can honestly say I didn’t know what to expect from this season. After all, I never thought this franchise would warrant another try.

If you have played the video game and enjoyed its predecessor, then who are we kidding? You’ve most likely already watched this show and think I’m a pretentious jerk.

I can’t really disagree with you in that regard.

Be that as it may, this season’s predecessor failed to make an impression, and this attempt did not turn things around.

Uma Musume Pretty Derby Season 2 can be skipped.

But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Uma Musume Pretty Derby Season 2? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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Anime Hajime Review: Uma Musume Pretty Derby

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