Now in Japan
Friday, 03 February 2006 00:00
Time for the final episodes of Beck, where the band goes from the high of a hugely successful festival performance, straight to the low of breaking up - but this being, that's not the end of the road. Koyuki and Maho aren't willing to let the dream die just yet, even if Ryuusuke's missing...
24 - Third Stage
Although Koyuki's first song goes down well with the crowd, it doesn't take too long for people to realise that something's not quite right. Eventually, though, all the band members - Chiba included - make it to the stage. Ryuusuke's even been reunited with Lucille - and yet still the talk on the stage is of the band breaking up after the festival. Beck's performance turns out to be the performance of a lifetime though, and as news spreads around the festival grounds (helped by some interruptions on the two main stages), the crowds begin to head for the third stage and Beck...
25 - Slip Out
And still the crowds keep heading for the third stage, and Beck's success is beginning to worry Sykes as it look like he may lose his bet with Ryuusuke. It's only when he heads over to the stage to see what's going on that he realises the key to Beck's success: Koyuki. After the performance, Ryuusuke leaves with barely a goodbye - and that seems to be the end of Beck. Nearly two months later, Koyuki receives a 'phonecall from Satou-san asking to meet him. She's been in touch with Leon Sykes, who wants to sign him as a solo act...
26 - America
Maho and Koyuki's efforts to re-form Beck haven't beengoing too well. After several attempts at persuading him, Chiba at least finally agrees, and when they finally approach Taira he's surprisingly agreeable - but only if they can round up the original members. With Ryuusuke still missing and Saku out of town, that may not be easy. In the meantime, Koyuki's begun writing again. Word reaches Satou-san about Beck's return and she contacts Koyuki to offer the band an American tour. Meanwhile, in New York, Ryuusuke has something that may help keep Sykes off the band's back permanently...
The band's festival success is as much good luck (crowd control and weather problems) as good music, but you take what you can. I can't help but feeling that the festival episodes dragged on a bit - there was simply too much made of it - but at least they also brought an end to the Yoshito -vs- Koyuki contest, with an emphatic win for Koyuki. And yet still by the end of the series all he's been able to do is give her a big hug...
One surprise here was Sykes offering Koyuki a solo deal, especially after all the bad blood between him and Beck. Hell, he wants one of the band members dead, which is definitely a black mark against him and a damn good reason for Koyuki to say "no deal" - but without the band to fall back on, you'd have to be tempted.
The final episode was a bit of a comedown. For a start, they seem to have stolen the soundtrack for FLCL for this episode - Taira's new band sounds suspiciously like The Pillows to me, with a lot of the tunes lifted directly from FLCL. Not that that's a bad thing, musically - they're good tunes - but I would have preferred to see (or hear) the series doing its own thing. There's also the little detail that with Ryuusuke on the run, the band can't really fully reform - not until Sykes is dealt with, anyway - while the tour itself is shown as a series of "photographs" that Koyuki is showing Maho & providing a voiceover for. This feels like a cheap copout to me, and it's annoying.
As a series as a whole, though, it's hard to fault Beck. Most of the characters played a role to some extent in helping the band succeed, while the story did a good job of capturing the ups and downs of the music biz. Pacing was a little off in places (sometimes too slow, sometimes too quick), and the lack of any real resolution to Koyuki and Maho's relationship will frustrate me for ever, but for all that it's well worth watching. FUNimation are rumoured to have the R1 DVD rights (no confirmation yet), and this will be a must-buy when it eventually appears.