During my childhood I drove my sister absolutely crazy watching Jem & the Holograms before school every morning. For all its cheesiness, it was the show that sparked my interest in stories about musicians and singers. There've been several titles that I've enjoyed over the years since then but one of my absolute favorites is the Beck anime and manga.
Beck focuses on a Japanese band trying to make it big and their youngest member Koyuki who starts learning the guitar pretty late at age 14. I love seeing Koyuki's growth as a singer, musician and person, as well as the band's progress. There's also the chemistry and relationships between the band members and these days just thinking about them makes me all <3
The art, while not super spiffy at first glance, actually fits really well. It's got a sort of mellow and gritty and slice-of-life vibe with the colors being a bit muted. The music manages to make it all come to life in a way that feels very real.
Should mention that while the anime has english subtitles, there is english spoken by some of the characters - or as some people call it, "Engrish". Coming from Asia, I'm used to a lot of weird accents and the English spoken in the anime had me laughing and wincing and grinning because yes, people can sound that odd.
To anyone trying it out for the first time, the initial momentum is slower - very much slice-of-life - but as Koyuki gets more involved with the music and the band starts coming together, it picks up and by the end of the anime, you're at that point where you want to go read the manga and continue the story from Volume 12.
And yes, like Kare Kano, the anime doesn't cover the whole story but its a great way to get introduced to the characters - and the music. The manga has brilliant moments too that had me going \o\o/o/ and pumping my fist in the air.
IMO this is an anime that improves on rewatching, since you know where its going and you immerse yourself more in the culture, the music and the lives of the characters.
Since the movie version of the title is releasing this year (trailer on youtube), I figured I'd pimp the anime and manga out in the meantime.
TBH it's kind of hard to explain my love of Beck. A better review would be the one on ANN or checking out the MyAnimeList entries for the anime and manga.
Title: Beck [ wikipedia ] [ ANN ] [ mangaupdates ]
Genres & Themes: Slice of Life | Music | Comedy | Drama | Romance | Shounen
About: For the first 14 years of his life, Yukio Tanaka has been one heck of a boring guy. He has no hobbies, weak taste in music, and only a small vestige of a personality. He yearns for an exciting life, but his shy, and somewhat neurotic personality make him his own worst enemy. Little does he know that his life will be forever changed when he meets Ryusuke Minami, a wild and unpredictable 16-year old fresh from America, who happens to be in a rock-and-roll band named after his Frankenstein-like patched dog--Beck.