In an age of anime where girls battle in tanks and are reincarnated battleships from World War II, we find ourselves another foot down the rabbit hole. Enter alternate universe where Japanese girls intersected with our world's horse ghosts.
I'm not a furry, and with the luck of naming conventions, this anime isn't going to the be the one to turn me into one. It's not fur, after all.
According to horse lover forums and bronies, horse keratin is referred to as horse hair, with hair on the body aside from the tail and mane being called a coat without much further distinction. That aside, let's talk Uma Musume.
Uma Musume: Pretty Derby's premise is as the name implies derbies, horse races (for 3-year old horses if you want to get specific). Specifically for girls
curse-blessed by the horse god's whims. They've inherited the urge to run and the will to win. Conveniently, there also happens to be enough of them to have a school(s?) devoted to refining these fillies.
On the world building side, the explanation is a set of children's book images basically asking you to swallow and forget. I've already accepted Monster Musume's universe as a possible reality, so this suspension of disbelief is a trot in the park.
Hm... Eh, okay.
Our musume Special Week has her eyes set on becoming top filly, the best horse girl in Japan. She's a lean, clean, racing machine. She's also a country bumpkin who is exploring life in the city for the first time. While she's undoubtedly the main character in all of this, there's also a fairly large cast of supporting uma musume.
This might be the closest we'll get to a Spice and Wolf S3
Even the token "American"
With the whole inheriting horse names mechanism, they've kept some level of consistency while taking some freedoms to change things like gender and living status. El Pasa Condor (the "American") was an American-bred, Japanese trained horse. Special Week is a Japanese stallion. I'm a bit curious why they chose male horses when it would be girls inheriting the names.
Horse racing in general is often not formally gender-restricted, with fillies having won famous races like the Kentucky Derby, so they technically could have chosen real-life mares who have racing records. Statistically, there are probably more decorated male horses that a story can be built around, though.
Fate/stay night's success has also shown that people are willing to accept genderbent history, so why let that spoil the fun? Maybe it should be Specialia Week at least, however.
And even with the historical record, they've already set up a foreshadow of events not playing out exactly as our history has written.
Overall, the timing of this anime relative to the upcoming Mobage by Cygame has me convinced this anime's loosely-veiled purpose is luring in enamored fans to become THE uMAM@STER.
It's fun regardless of motive. There are plenty of colorful character designs, and the animation gives plenty to graze your eyes over. Where "Free!" unlocked my hidden desire to see beautiful water animation, Uma Musume unleashed the part of me that unknowingly wanted to see detailed animation of girls running fast.
The opening's also poppy and vibrant, which matters a lot.
Those smooth strides
You should give it a watch,
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