Original Run: April 9, 2021 - June 25, 2021 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Sports
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Backflip. Reader discretion is advised.***
Although Shoutarou Futaba (voiced by Shinba Tsuchiya) enjoys sports, none have ever truly inspired him. That all changes when he witnesses the floor routine of the Shoushukan High School Rhythmic Gymnastics Club.
Having fallen in love with how the human body can soar, Shoutarou knows he has found his calling. Despite having never attempted jumps, flips, or tumbles of any kind, he joins Shoushukan High’s Rhythmic Gymnastics Club.
Upon Shoutarou’s admittance, the club finally obtains its coveted sixth member, thus allowing Shoushukan High to compete competitively at full strength for the first time in its history.
Soon Shoutarou and his teammates begin to think they might have what it takes to fly higher than they ever have before.
I almost passed on Backflip. After all, there are only so many anime I can watch in a single season, and this series had many elements that made me consider ignoring it:
- It was a sports anime.
- The show was from a studio I am not particularly fond of – Zexcs
- There was nothing that screamed, “Hey, look at me, look at me.”
Then I realized; it was because of those reasons I should give Backflip a chance. And would you believe it, this series was much better than I could have ever guessed. This show was pretty darn good.
Before I say anything else, let us be clear:
Backflip is a sports anime through and through. Please don’t go into it expecting anything too impressive.
Nevertheless, certain aspects of this show allowed it to rise higher than its contemporaries. To start, Backflip had a collection of excellent voice actors. This was especially true with the members of the Shoushukan High School’s Rhythmic Gymnastics Club (Shousukan High RGC). There was:
- Mr. Kaito Ishikawa, who voiced Ryouya Misato, as well as Sakuta Azusagawa from Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai and Naofumi Iwatani from The Rising of the Shield Hero.
- Mr. Daisuke Ono, who voiced Masamune Shichigahama, as well as Joutarou Kujo from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and Shizuo Heiwajima from Durarara.
- Mr. Hiro Shimono, who voiced Nagayoshi Onagawa, as well as Zenitsu Agatsuma from Demon Slayer and Satoshi Yabe from Mitsudomoe.
- Mr. Hiroshi Kamiya (one of my personal favorites), who voiced Koutarou Watari as well as, Koyomi Araragi from the Monogatari series and Levi from Attack on Titan.
If you want to know how a strong talent pool can elevate a show, watch Backflip.
But, naturally, even the best actors and actresses can only work with the materials given to them. And if we look only at the people I mentioned above, which incorporated the majority of the main cast, we can notice the effort that went into crafting characters worth caring about.
If there is one takeaway, the members of the Shoushukan High RGC loved their sport. Seeing – or, at least, believing – athletes enjoy what they are doing is a crucial detail any decent sports anime needs to have.
Ultimately, it shouldn’t matter if you are familiar with the highlighted game or not. A sports anime needs to get you to be interested long enough to tell its story. In this way, Backflip was a complete success.
Granted, I may not be the best example in this situation since I already find gymnastics quite interesting. I am, by no means, a gymnast myself, but I respect what they have to do to compete at the top level. Therefore, this series didn’t need to convince me its sport was worth my time.
And while we are on the subject of gymnastics, the actual floor routines in Backflip were amazing displays of animation.
I am always talking about poor CGI in anime, so it was nice to come across a series that used computer animation effectively. Movements in this show were smooth, character models were clean, and the level of depth here utterly outclassed most others.
Backflip is clear proof that anime can have CGI without it looking like crap.
All and all, I want to see this story continue; I am genuinely curious to learn how far the Shousukan High RGC goes. Be it in the form of a second season or a movie sequel; this series needs a chapter two.
And if you have been reading my reviews for a while, you’ll know that’s a pretty significant compliment coming from me.
I won’t act like I outright hate sports anime, but I am not the genre’s biggest fan either. These types of shows often fail to impress me; it is tiring to watch the same story over and over again. Although Backflip didn’t break the mold or redefine the formula, it took the usual stereotypes and made them fun.
Since I liked most of Backflip’s characters, I was okay with overlooking the instances when this story fell in line with every sports anime ever. To give you an idea, this series had:
- A newbie first-year protagonist.
- A first-year ace.
- People who were unaware that the highlighted sport was a thing.
- The one major girl character as the team’s manager.
If there is a sports anime trope you can think of, Backflip probably included it.
Fortunately, most of Shousukan High RGC’s members gave this series the personality to make up for the paint-by-numbers narrative. However, that was not the case with Backflip’s principal protagonist.
Shoutarou Futaba was everything I don’t like about sports anime. He was naïve, spoke in whimsical speeches, was a giant pushover, and if he could’ve had sex with gymnastics, he would have.
In other words, Shoutarou was absolutely boring to watch. When he did the sports anime stereotypes, it was irritating. For instance, there was a scene right before a crucial competition where Shoutarou accidentally sprained his wrist.
What made this development so infuriating was how by-the-book it was. Shoutarou getting hurt added unneeded tension to an already sufficiently tense situation. But since other sports anime have their main character risk permanent injury, this show had to have it too.
I didn’t go into Backflip expecting much. Due to that, I got more out of this series than I had guessed. Conversely, when this show took the easy way out, it only reconfirmed my apathy towards its genre.
As I said at the beginning of the review, don’t go into Backflip thinking it will blow you away; it wasn’t anything special.
But as sports anime go, it was firmly above average.
Earlier I mentioned how I would like to see a sequel to this show. That was a genuine sentiment, but I made it sound as if a continuation is not in the works. Well, from what I can tell, a film sequel does appear likely. I don’t know when a potential release date is (as of August 2021), but I will be on the lookout for it when it drops.
As for the series itself, I have not had this much fun with a sports anime in a long time. I legitimately enjoyed this show.
Yes, all the classic – some might call them “irritating” – genre stereotypes were in this story. More often than not, though, this series found ways for such elements to not feel like giant wastes of time.
Backflip has earned a recommendation.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Backflip? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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