Ten years have passed since the Great Tokyo War rocked Japan, leaving the ten original prefectures to split into independent city-states. Many of the superpowered vigilantes who fought in the Great Tokyo War become hired by the city-states as Bests and represent the city-states in territorial disputes. These Bests are supported by gangs of non-powered followers called Rests. After a Best named Macha Green is heavily injured fighting another Best named Kuniko Shigyo, one of Macha Green's Rests named Nozomi Moritomo decides to take on the various requests for Macha Green while she is recovering. Nozomi is aided by another one Macha Green's Rests, Yukina Kosaka, one of Shigyo's former Rests who is trying to become a Best herself, Ai Hibiki, and a mysterious girl named Chiaya Misono who somehow knows the childhood nicknames of Nozomi, Yukina, and Ai. The quartet get sucked into a wild adventure as they travel across Japan and interact with the various Bests, all while trying to fulfill requests and be paid with unusual pink heart-shaped gemstones that seemingly have something to do with the Bests. Does The Rolling Girls roll with the best, or is it doomed to be left with the rest?
The biggest thing that stands out about The Rolling Girls is its heavy use of gorgeous watercolor backgrounds. A very large chunk of the series uses these watercolors, and it is just a striking visual. I've always been a fan of watercolor artwork, and I'm a sucker for when an anime uses non-traditional backgrounds. Combine the two and you'll have something that easily wins me over.
Indie Punk Rock A-Go-Go
The Rolling Girls drips with a thick indie/punk rock vibe. From the overall aesthetics, to the great soundtrack, to the character designs, to even the show's opening. Hell one of arcs deals with a rock band and one of the key support characters in the show is a former member of a famous in-universe band. This just further helps create a nice identity for The Rolling Girls and makes me think of Bryan Lee O'Malley's excellent Scott Pilgrim series.
Wit Studio Channels Their Inner Trigger
Despite not being the main point to The Rolling Girls, the show still has a pretty decent amount of visually amazing and choreographed fight and action sequences. Though many of these scenes are over relatively quickly, they still look damn impressive and look strikingly similar to Trigger's hallmark over the top excessive style, only a bit more fluid looking.
Wit's Best Outing Yet, Visually
Now I know appreciation of visual media is in the eye of the beholder, but for my money, The Rolling Girls is Wit's best work to date when looking at the entirety of its animation. The combination of the stunning watercolor backgrounds and the dynamic and smooth animation just tops everything else they've done so far. Now that's not to say their other works are not impressive. Not in the least, just that I enjoyed The Rolling Girls' visuals the most.
The Mooks Have Their Day
I find it quite refreshing for a series with a bunch of superpowered characters to focus on their non-powered lackeys. I always find it fascinating to get the perspective of the "normal" people in a world where people can destroy skyscrapers with a single punch. It's one of the reasons why, for example, Mystery Men is one of my favorite superhero films. What's more impressive is that Nozomi and friends actually are rather effective. Sure they have to work their asses off to accomplish what Macha Green can probably do in no time at all, but still!
I Wanna Be The Very Best
As for the Bests themselves, though they don't get a whole lot of focus, there is a nice variety to them. Many of them have their own unique gimmicks and stylistic flair to them. Interestingly only like one of the Bests shown in the series is a man. Which is totally fine. I am always, always in support of having more shows filled with women that can kick ass on their own, and The Rolling Girls has that in spades.
Very Loose Overall Story
The Rolling Girls is primarily made up of a bunch of mini-arcs comprised of two or more episodes with the main story basically happening in the background and barely being touched upon. Personally I'm fine with this, because it makes sense for the story to be like this. The main characters are just going around fulfilling the Macha Green requests, and that's what each mini-arc has them doing, doing a different request each time. They aren't even aware of the main story, so why would the show give it that much attention?
However, just because I'm fine with it doesn't mean everyone is. I know a lot of people will probably be expecting an overarching story, and if that's a make or break it thing for you, then The Rolling Girls will disappoint you. However if you are someone who likes the more slice-of-life style of storytelling, then you should be fine with the lack of a solid overall plot.
One Key Thing Left Unexplained
While I'm willing to let some of the writing's shortcomings slide due to my personal preferences, such as the lack of a solid overall plot, one thing I am not happy with is how they fail to explain exactly how one becomes a Best. Yes the series actually says how the Bests became Bests, but it doesn't really explain it, if it makes sense. What I mean is, if their explanation was all there was to becoming a Best, then Ai would have definitely become a Best, because she met the stated requirement and then some. Hell, Nozomi of all people would've become a Best, because she exceeded the stated requirement far more than Ai did.
I would be remiss if I didn't say that initially I was a bit disappointed in the series. The PV for the series made it look like it would be a lot more like Kill la Kill, but that's mainly because it focused heavily on footage from the first episode, which was filled with over the top fighting between Macha Green and Shigyo. Really that's just more an exercise in not basing all of your hype solely on the PVs. I greatly enjoyed The Rolling Girls for what it was. It utilizes many of the things that I am a fan of and made for an, at least to me, overall enjoyable experience. Again the big sticking point here is whether or not you absolutely need a big connecting narrative. If you can live with a loose story made up of smaller self-contained stories, then you should definitely give The Rolling Girls a chance.