First Impressions: Uma Musume: Pretty Derby

(Note: this post covers both episodes 1 and 2 that were made available for viewing on the same day.)

Special Week is a horse girl raised in the countryside by her adoptive mother, who goes to the city to attend Trucen Academy in hopes of becoming the top horse girl. Along the way she stops by to watch the Twinkle Series horse girl races, where she is captivated by the powerful running of Silence Suzuka, as well as her inspiring singing afterwards (in the Twinkle Series, race winners get to perform on stage). At the academy, she makes a surprisingly strong second place performance at a tryout race for Silence Suzuka’s team, and ends up getting (forcefully) scouted to join Team Spica–and as it turns out, Silence Suzuka ended up transferring into that team, and is also her roommate. The surprises don’t stop there, as the team trainer sets Special Week up with a debut race just one week after joining, and as for how she actually performs during that race…

Uma Musume is a future mobile game being made by Cygames, the company behind Granblue Fantasy and The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls mobile games, and it’s hard to see this show as anything other than promotion for said game. The story, while serviceable, does nothing particularly special, and the numerous short appearances of other horse girls with seemingly no story importance is pretty obviously just preparing for their introductions in the game. And while I’m criticizing this show, the male trainer absolutely did not need to come off as a “pervert” who gropes horse girls’ legs to evaluate their running potential. It shows that he thinks of the horse girls as more “horse” than “girl”, which can leave a bad taste with some potential viewers. Oh, and the idol singing part feels really tacked on right now. That said, there are some positive points about this show. Somehow, Cygames got P.A. Works to work on this show, and as such, it looks great overall, both in designs and animation. It shows potential as a sports anime in general, with a reasonably good story about the girls’ dreams, motivations, training, and relationships that play out on the racetrack; having two episodes to establish itself helps in this regard. There’s also lots of amusing little nods to the girls’ part-horse nature, such as the visual gag of Special Week running late to school with a carrot in her mouth instead of toast. Overall I enjoyed it; unfortunately, I’ve decided to be a lot stricter with what shows make it onto my seasonal watchlist, so I probably won’t be following this show any further for now, but I wouldn’t mind revisiting it sometime in the future.


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