Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The second half of Bamboo Blade brings us back into the lives of the girls (and the couple of guys) of the Muroe high school kendo team. The first half of the series worked well in setting up some of the basic events and introducing all of the characters. We got teased towards the end about a larger issue involved Kojiro and his being potentially dismissed from the school over an incident with a neighbor of the principals. With his position not terribly secure, the option has been chosen to try and get the team to the Nationals and show the principal that he has value and shouldn't be let go.
This half of the series works on a couple of tracks, some more enjoyable than others, while other aspects get the short end of the stick which is really quite unfortunate. The main track of the series revolves around the continued goal of getting to the Nationals. Bamboo Blade takes an interesting approach when it comes to this part of the series as everyone is motivated to win, but they play it fairly realistically in that some have more challenges to overcome than others. Even more surprising is that they don't actually win any of the competitions they get to, but we see the continued improving of their relations and bond together, which is at its core what Bamboo Blade is all about. And it's an element that we see coming from the way the other teams watch the Muroe team after the tournaments in how they laugh and enjoy each others company even after defeat.
The challenges within the matches are interesting as they play out. Tamaki has a face off with a new friend she's made named Rin who shares her love of the Brave Blader series, though she's more interested in Shinraider instead. The meeting of the two is something that needed to happen as Rin is the one who will teach Tamaki the most important lesson for those who have excelled in any area, and that's to feel defeat and understand it. The two girls get along well enough and they share several episodes together in relation to the Brave Blader series, and the result of it all is really quite good as it adds tension to some of the matches while also giving Tamaki the education she needs. What bothers me, and I know I'm probably the odd man out in this, is that it uses the whole Brave Blader aspect. I can't think of a single show within a show that I've ever liked and Brave Blader is no exception as the whole thing feels too corny and forced at times. But I will admit that I liked how the team captain, Kirino, uses some of the sentai elements to reinforce the bond of the team later.
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