Volume one of the Bamboo Blade manga arrived in the mail the other day. Despite sharing this blog-space with TheBigN, I was a late-comer to Bamboo Blade, but I’m intent on making up for lost time.
It may be because I watched the anime first, but the manga is…merely okay. I think the series truly benefited from being adapted into anime: I like the anime character designs more (especially Tamaki and Kirino), and, while the manga artist does a good job conveying the action of the kendo bouts, there’s no compensation for the loss of motion and sound.
This volume of the manga introduces our main characters in the Muroe High kendo club (save for Saya and Satori), and takes us roughly to the end of the second episode of the anime (we’ve seen hints of Miya-Miya’s darker side, but, beyond a stolen smoke and a fierce moment as she wields a bokken in the kendo supply shop, little of her other personality).
So far, at least, the anime was a faithful adaptation of the manga.
For me, Coach Ishida is the least interesting of the characters, and, to my taste, he’s a bit too prominent in this volume, sharing the focus with Tamaki. Kirino is almost invisible, though her pleasure at sweat is highlighted at one point. I hope to see more of Kirino in future volumes — and I will be buying future volumes, of that there’s no doubt.
One of the lesser-recognized aspects of the Bamboo Blade anime is its soundtrack. Senba Kiyohiko’s soundtrack collections are a wonderful find for a fan of improvisational drumming. Both the first and second collections include extended cuts of fourteen minutes. I don’t remember noticing the
music (beyond a few clacks of woodblocks) while watching the series, but was thrilled by the CDs the first time I listened to them, especially the extended length of many of the cuts. I’ll be on the look-out for more of Senba’s work.