What’s It About? Futaba Shotaro has been fascinated by gymnastics ever since seeing it in middle school. As a brand new first-year student at Soshukan High, he decides to join the rhythmic gymnastics team, where he makes a new friend who just so happens to be a famous student gym star.
Gym boys! That’s right, I’m talking about gym boys! Well, I’m talking about BACKFLIP!!, which is also known as BAKUTEN!!, or… that anime that has a lot of CG this season. It’s also that anime that’s about male gymnastics, which is pretty darn sweet. Perhaps that’s what got me interested in actually covering BACKFLIP!! here on Anime Feminist.
That being said, I’m pretty eager to share how I felt about BACKFLIP!!, so let’s dive–or flip–right into episode 1, “I Want to Backflip!”
We start off with Futaba Shotaro, who, for all intents and purposes, if just kind of your regular kid. By that, I mean he played baseball in middle school, like a lot of Japanese kids do. However, the day we meet Shotaro on isn’t your typical one: on this day, his life is about to change. That’s because Shotaro is about to see rhythmic men’s gymnastics, a sport that he’s never witnessed before.
It’s actually quite lovely to go through this opening sequence with him, in large part because male gymnastics–especially rhythmic–is often the butt of anti-LGBTQAI+ jokes, just like men’s figure skating. Here, in the world of BACKFLIP!!, it’s a serious sport given the treatment it deserves. And it’s great! The sequence viewers get treated to is really nicely animated, with that perfect “sports dancing” music.
Of course, this inspires him to backflip–pun fully intended–into joining the team at his new high school, which is just so darn cute that I was hooked, and more than ready to come along with the Soshukan High School rhythmic gymnastics team until the end of this cour.
I honestly wasn’t expecting to like the animation because it’s, as I said, pretty much all CG any time sports are happening. The times when it’s not still have a bit of CG-esque animation, though it’s not bad. Perhaps it’s better to say that BACKFLIP!! sits in this nice middle place that tricks you into thinking it’s 2.5-ish. That is to say, at times, the animation looks a bit like Live 2D instead of straight-up 3D. I think that’s helped by the shading. ZEXCS, the production studio, has opted for a kind of cell-shaded style , which almost always looks good.
Additionally, the music was quite nice too, but I fully expected a men’s rhythmic gymnastics anime to have some solid tunes. It’s all very, well, rhythmic; which is good because there’s no rhythmic gymnastics if there’s no rhythm, you know? All of the music is very inspirational tones, which means lots of C Major and G Major background music. It’s all very “halcyon days, spring of our youth” vibes, if you get my drift.
Not gonna lie, BACKFLIP!! activated the Yuri!! On ICE fangirl in me, and I say that knowing that these series are very, very different. Still, I say that because it made me want to get really into a sport, which I don’t typically feel while watching sports anime. Perhaps it was the really nice animation, perhaps it was Shotaro, or perhaps, it was just the joy of seeing a nontraditional male sport getting its time to shine. All of it worked for me, as did the cast that Shotaro encounters.
This is an easy watch for me: I’m super here for Shotaro, very here for men’s sports, and ultimately, really want to see where this anime is going to go. I get the feeling it’s probably gonna be my entire everything this season, as far as sports anime go. So come along with me, anifam: I think we’re all in for a very good time with BACKFLIP!!, especially if you’re hungry for some more sports!