If you’re confused as to why I would even give this series the time of day—this long into my anime watching “career” on top of it—know that I don’t blame you. This was an on-a-whim selection with a slightly amusing story behind it.
A friend of mine on the domain kingdom of MyAnimeList was watching this for some reason. While I didn’t directly question her decision, she decided to bring it up in conversation and casually pitched the show to me. After enough spurring (I was watching basically nothing at the time), I decided to just go for it, no questions asked. I made it through two episodes.
In those two episodes, I confirmed some things I could infer from the synopsis alone along with some other, more wholesome things. I’ll confess right now that my reasoning for dropping this isn’t completely indicative of what it’s worth. For those a little less experienced, I could see this being a generally enjoyable series. It employs a somewhat standard approach to fighting for one’s dreams and the collective unity involved with competitive sports anime. It was fine, just nothing I haven’t seen before and I wasn’t invested enough to want to watch ten more episodes. That, and…
There are some underlying messages to the series I find a tad problematic. If the idea of turning race horses into kawaii cuties and having them race against each other in front of large crowds of spectators and what-not isn’t enough, there are some more things that bother me. In the series, there’s one male character, who is the official… school’s(?), uh, “horse” trainer. His shtick is that he likes to fondle the girls, and is often taken for a pervert. His first scene in the series has him massaging the female lead’s legs while she’s watching a race. Uhhhhhh…
To have him be the only male character, in an important position and responsible for these girls’ maturity in racing, and have him act like that… is an issue for me. It reeks of exploitation further than the entire scenario of the series, which is a small part of why I wouldn’t watch this in the first place. I’ve never been fond of the whole “Turn these animals/inanimate objects into girls” plot device because it’s either one of two things: dumb or (debatably) sexist. It’s actually a little ironic that I watch this series after the huge controversy surrounding the Women’s U.S. Olympic Gymnastics team, with the team doctor in Larry Nassar sexually assaulting countless members of the team throughout the years. It’s hard not to see the male trainer in this series in the exact same light, considering his position and behavior. No, thanks.
Another noteworthy quality of Uma Musume is something I almost never talk about with anime series: sound quality. This anime is of normal volume for a good majority of its standard episode length, with absolutely nothing noteworthy about it at all. Out of nowhere, however, certain equine sound effects will get REALLY FUCKING LOUD.
Bringing up the scene again where this series’ Nassar is fondling the female lead’s legs while she’s watching a race, she does what comes natural to her and kicks him in the face, much like a horse would (because she’s a horse haha get it?). The sound of the impact made my volume go from a normal 10 (out of 100) to, like, 60. There’s an abnormally substantial increase in volume with certain equine sound effects, including the races these girls partake in, which I was almost tempted to turn down my volume for. Perhaps they wanted to make it seem like one was actually in the action by making it super loud, but it just made me question why they made it super loud.
If one is willing to overlook the potentially problematic proportions of this series’ whole, and specifically interested in sports competition and power-of-friendship-type anime, Uma Musume will probably be an enjoyable time. I could see myself liking this had I watched this (and if it were made) in 2015 rather than a month or so ago. I don’t even think it’s bad, just standard and ordinary—with questionable motives. The chances I pick this back up are low, but it has better chances than many other dropped titles.