The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Tag Archives: Umayon

Umayon 2: An Anime Short Reflection and Remarks on Upcoming Uma Musume Pretty Derby Projects

“Be wary of the horse with a sense of humour.” –Pam Brown

Everyday life at Tracen Academy continues at a leisurely pace for the Horse Girls, who participate in everything from enjoying sweets and experimenting with new techniques for winning races, to telling scary stories and changing up their appearances through fashion. Umayon 2 is a continuation of the series of shorts that accompany Uma Musume Pretty Derby, and similarly to its predecessor, consists of unrelated vignettes that bring to life the nonsensical, but adorable moments that act as highlights to some of Tracen’s Horse Girls lives outside of their competitions. Although shorter than its predecessor (Umayon 2‘s episodes have about a minute of content, versus the three minutes in Umayon episodes), these short episodes still remain quite entertaining and remind viewers that there is much that can be done with Uma Musume Pretty Derby. Animation studios are evidently thinking along similar lines – announcements for a new OVA, Road to the Top! and a third season, were made recently, and this has generated considerable excitement amongst fans of Uma Musume Pretty Derby: the series’ main stories have been generally met with positive reception, and the Uma Musume Pretty Derby universe has been unexpectedly well-presented, combining the large cast of the mobile game and its mechanics with a meaningful story that gives viewers incentive to root for the series’ respective protagonists. The first season saw Special Week rising to the occasion on her quest to become the best in Japan, while the second season portrayed Tokai Teio and Mejiro McQueen’s struggles with injuries, as well as their unwavering determination to be their best for the other’s sake. According to the Uma Musume Pretty Derby website, the third season will follow Kitasan Black and Satono Diamond, and is slated for a release later this year. If previous seasons are a precedence, then it is expected that this third season will be quite compelling to watch, as well.

Although Uma Musume Pretty Derby appears to be little more than a glorified track-and-field sports anime at first glance, closer inspection finds a series that brings the roster management elements in the mobile game into an animated format that focuses on specific characters to give viewers more insight about members of the cast that the game itself cannot convey. To this end, elements unique to the world in Uma Musume Pretty Derby are depicted with a high level of detail. The Horse Girls are treated with respect and have access to top-of-the-line facilities for training, and their competitions draw a considerable amount of interest. The world itself is lived-in, giving a sense of energy and enthusiasm for the Horse Girls and their race events. However, beyond this, every individual Horse Girl is shown as having their own stories and motivations for being their best. Beyond merely being an animated incarnation of their game forms, the Horse Girls have unique struggles, friendships and reasons for wanting to be at the top of their game on the track. Setbacks only spur them to fight harder, but encouragements from both friends and rivals also drive individual Horse Girls to push their limits further still, resulting in a surprisingly gripping and emotionally-rivetting experience. In short, Uma Musume Pretty Derby is successful because the anime is able to simultaneously give viewers reason to root for a season’s protagonists while at the same time, showing the world of Uma Musume Pretty Derby as one that’s been thoughtfully laid out. Uma Musume Pretty Derby‘s first season had been enjoyable, but the BNW’s Oath OVAs and second season definitively demonstrated that the Horse Girls’ stories could have a considerable weight behind them, as well, and with the sheer number of characters in this world, the potential for exploring this universe, and the Horse Girls’ stories further, remains limitless.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Traditionally, discussions of chibi spin-offs are difficult to write for, since these are meant purely for comedy rather than advancing the stories. However, the short format and lack of an overarching story hasn’t taken away from my enjoyment of these spin-offs: it is always fun to see the characters bouncing off one another in an environment removed from the gravity that accompanies a full-length anime series.

  • In Uma Musume Pretty Derby‘s second season, Tokai Teio and Mejiro McQueen had both been put through an emotional grinder – Tokai Teio’s numerous injuries had prevented her from racing at her best, and although Mejiro McQueen had dominated their races, she herself would suffer from a condition that limits her days as a racer. I had admittedly been a little skeptical about shifting the focus over to Tokai Teio and Mejiro McQueen from the first season’s Special Week and Silence Suzuka, but the end result had proven to be solid.

  • Seeing the format in Uma Musume Pretty Derby would actually lead me to draw a new conclusion about series like Strike Witches and Girls und Panzer: in Uma Musume Pretty Derby, after a satisfactory story has been told about a group of characters, in any story where world-building is solid, it is possible to change the focus over to different characters and explore things for other characters. This approach allows an anime to continuously build upon the world while at the same time, ensuring that every season is a self-contained unit that does not leave viewers hanging.

  • In Girls und Panzer, for example, once Miho and Ooarai had won their championship, from a narrative and thematic standpoint, Miho had completed her journey of growth (or at least, almost, but this will be a discussion for another time), so there is technically no need to revisit Ooarai in future runs. Since Girls und Panzer shows the presence of numerous other schools, the story could show Panzerfahren from a different school’s perspective, and in turn, present different challenges and experiences.

  • Uma Musume Pretty Derby has done precisely this, and this leaves viewers with self-contained stories in every season that are not dependent on a priori knowledge. This allows people to watch Uma Musume Pretty Derby in any order of their choosing and also lowers the barrier of entry to the series: if one entered Uma Musume Pretty Derby through the second season and Tokai Teio’s struggles, for instance, they are not dependent on having seen the first season and Special Week’s aspirations to follow along.

  • Although Uma Musume Pretty Derby might be an anime adaptation of a game, the series has found its footing and tells compelling stories that connect viewers to the characters. In this arena, Uma Musume Pretty Derby succeeds in doing what Kantai Collection could not: the anime has piqued my interest in the mobile game. Despite its popularity, Uma Musume Pretty Derby remains unavailable to overseas players and has not been internationalised, which is a shame because the game actually looks fun to play.

  • Umayon 2‘s episodes are shorter than those of its predecessors, and as such, there’s only enough time to build up for one joke per episode. In spite of this, Umayon 2 still manages to be funny in its own right, counting on non sequitur humour to drive things. The chibi designs are adorable, and I am reminded of both Kaginado and Strike Witches: Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, which had similarly adopted a distinct art style to convey the sort of light-heartedness their original series did not.

  • Because of the very large cast, Umayon 2 does viewers the courtesy of naming all of the characters that appear so one can immediately get a refresher on who’s who. Traditionally, in any series with a large number of characters, I don’t make any effort at learning the names of anyone outside of the core group. In Uma Musume Pretty Derby, I only learnt the names of Special Week, Silence Suzuka, Tokai Teioi, Mejiro McQueen, Gold Ship, Daiwa Scarlet and Vodka so I could discuss Team Spica. As the need arises, I’ll look up the other characters and subsequently try to associate names with faces.

  • Besides its first episode, all of Umayon 2‘s episodes released all at once in December 2021. According to blog archives, I began watching Uma Musume Pretty Derby four months earlier, then became exceptionally busy ahead of preparing for the move. By the time I sat down for BNW’s Oath, it had already been six months later, and I would reach the second season a month after settling in. During last July, I wrote about Umayon, and here in the present, I’ve finally wrapped up Umayon 2.

  • My timing couldn’t be better because a few days ago, one of my long-time readers had informed me of the fact that Road to the Top! and third season would come out this year. The former is scheduled for release on April 16, and while there’s no known date for the third season, the official website for Uma Musume Pretty Derby has indicated that this will release somewhere this year. Uma Musume Pretty Derby is one of the anime series I took up on recommendation from a reader, and I’ve found that nine of ten times, any recommendation that I do decide to pick up ends up being something I will come to enjoy.

  • It is only in a place like Umayon 2 where unorthodox training techniques like these can be utilised: Haru Urara is shown to be experimenting with a plan for improving her racing by attaching a popsicle treat to Silence Suzuka and then keeping pace in hopes of winning the prize. In Uma Musume Pretty Derby, Haru Urara is a poor performing who never wins any races but is allowed to remain at Tracen Academy owing to her cheerful presence. The real Haru Urara similarly saw zero wins throughout her races, but remained popular enough so that she made enough income to continue racing, and after retirement, continues to live her days out peacefully in Chiba.

  • One of the major appeals about Uma Musume Pretty Derby is the fact that every Horse Girl in the show is modelled after their real-life counterparts in some way, similarly to how Kantai Collection‘s Kan-musume. Small details like these allow Uma Musume Pretty Derby to give each of the characters depth, and when these elements are bought together into a story, there’s an opportunity to tell something especially meaningful. Prior to Uma Musume Pretty Derby, I’d never been interested in horse racing – generally speaking, people aren’t anywhere nearly as interested in the sport itself as they are in the gambling aspects.

  • Conversely, Uma Musume Pretty Derby focuses purely on the thrill of the race itself, and why the different Horse Girls push themselves further every time they step out onto the track. By eliminating the gambling aspect outright and choosing to highlight the mental fortitude behind each race, Uma Musume Pretty Derby shows the positive aspects of horse racing that is far removed from the negative connotations surrounding the sport. I remember a lesson I picked up as a student – a talented instructor will be able to make even the most reluctant student appreciate the worth of a given subject.

  • Although Tokai Teio’s plight in Uma Musume Pretty Derby‘s second season brought me to the verge of tears on more than one occasion, Umayon 2 has her restlessly bouncing on the couch in the student council office as she tries to persuade Symboli Rudolf to race her. Anime tantrums are somehow always so adorable to behold – Japan has managed to find ways of making cute even things that wouldn’t otherwise be seen a such, and what would normally be considered a nuisance in reality somehow evokes the same feeling one might get when cuddling with a stuffed animal.

  • In the end, Symboli Rudolf decides that Tokai Teio can race her if she meets a challenge: “out-eat Oguri Cap”. This was ultimately a ruse to get Tokai Teio out of her hair, and the latter ends up being destroyed in a challenge. Vignettes like these might not give any more insight into the characters of Uma Musume Pretty Derby, but for fans of the series, they remain highly entertaining. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Umayon is not for folks who’ve never seen Uma Musume Pretty Derby previously – the spin-offs are dependent on some prior knowledge of the characters, their traits and place in the Uma Musume Pretty Derby universe.

  • Admittedly, I don’t pick up on all of the jokes in Umayon, and the vignette where Agnes Tachoyon and Manhattan Café discuss fashion was a little out of my depth – things end with Vodka bringing out some chains and suggested Agnes Tachoyon would look better with chains. While I may not fully understand all of the comedy in Umayon, I find that for the most part, Umayon 2 is more enjoyable than incomprehensible.

  • Besides Umayon, there’s also a series of shorts called Umayuru. Similarly to UmayonUmayuru presents the world of Uma Musume Pretty Derby from a light-hearted and comedic perspective. At this point in time, I’m not too sure if there’s merit in writing about Umayuru – I do have plans to watch it, but since the premise is quite similar to Umayon, I’m not too sure if there’s any merits in writing about things.

  • I do, however, have plans to write about Road to the Top! and the third season. With this, my final post of February is complete, and looking ahead into March, the biggest posts I have lined up will be for Girls und Panzer – since October, Girls und Panzer have been celebrating their tenth anniversary, and while the promotional teams have counted the tenth anniversary from the series’ original airing point, whenever I think about Girls und Panzer, I think about March 2013. To commemorate this milestone and share some of my thoughts on what is now a decade-old series, I’ve got some posts planned out.

  • Beyond this, things have also settled down enough for me to begin watching The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House. Assuming my current rate of progression, I expect to finish the series and share my thoughts on this series mid-month. March also will see Mō Ippon! conclude alongside Itsuka Ano Umi de (whose final episode was delayed all the way to March 25, coinciding with the date Girls und Panzer‘s finale aired ten years ago), and as a result of production issues, Bofuri 2 was delayed by two weeks, so I anticipate writing about its finale somewhere in April.

  • If there is interest in a discussion on Umayuru, I will write about it at reader’s request. However, I imagine that the next time Uma Musume Pretty Derby graces this blog will be somewhere in late April or early May, after the Road to the Top! OVA becomes available. In the meantime, I’ve been making my way through 2016’s Girlish Number. I appreciate that some readers have been interested in my thoughts on last season’s Do It Yourself, and while that series is on my radar, I’ve also been meaning to go through some of my older series, too.

Uma Musume Pretty Derby‘s success is an instance of how roster management games can translate gracefully into the animated format. Kantai Collection had been a forerunner in this regard, and in the aftermath, animated adaptations of miltary-moé games, like Girls’ Frontline, Arknights and Azur Lane followed. However, these anime are met with mixed responses from viewers: owing to the nature of the games, if a story is told around game-specific mechanics, then it becomes difficult for viewers to follow along. Moreover, the incongruity between the aesthetics and story results in a disconnect; humourous moments can seem out-of-place, and serious moments often appear excessively so, giving viewers the impression that the characters are overthinking things rather than acting with conviction. This is a non-issue in Uma Musume Pretty Derby. Races are emotionally charged and gripping, but off the track, the characters are free to be themselves. Further to this, the spirit to compete and improve is one that is universally appreciated, giving Uma Musume Pretty Derby more opportunity to draw in viewers. Through its successes, Uma Musume Pretty Derby demonstrates that roster management games don’t necessarily need to be military themed or focused on thriller elements. Sincerity and an emotional connection with the characters and their struggles are often more successful. Creating this connection with the characters is why spin-off shorts like Umayon and Umayon 2 are enjoyable for fans of the main series, acting as a means of sustaining anticipation for the upcoming Uma Musume Pretty Derby projects: it is anticipated that both Road to the Top! and the third season will be excellent additions to the Uma Musume Pretty Derby franchise, and I’m rather looking forwards to both watching and writing about them as they become available.

Umayon: An Anime Short Review and Reflection

“I’ve often said there is nothing better for the inside of the man, than the outside of the horse.” –Ronald Reagan

When Tracen Academy’s Horse Girls are not training for races, they’re found participating in make-up exams, shooting promotional videos for their school, put on Shakespearean plays, challenge one another to eating competitions and even act as Super Sentai to protect their neighbourhood from nefarious elements – Umayon is a series of shorts featuring Uma Musume Pretty Derby‘s most iconic Horse Girls as they navigate through life in an adorable and amusing manner. With each episode being a mere three minutes long, Umayon provides an insight into the world of Horse Girls and suggests that outside of the emotional intensity and focus that goes into each race, the Horse Girls themselves also exude a spirit of fun and can work as hard as they play. Umayon thus joins the ranks of Azur Lane: Slow Ahead and World Witches: Take Off in providing gentle, light-hearted humour, allowing characters to be invovled in outrageous moments that further accentuate everyone’s traits. Such series are, by definition, intended for fans of the series: they require prior understanding of the world and its characters, so for folks looking to get into Uma Musume Pretty Derby, Umayon is not the optimal route for doing so. Conversely, for viewers who found enjoyment in the original series, Umayon represents a hilarious series that pokes fun at some of the elements in the TV series and also gives the writers a chance to parody other series using elements that are unique to Horse Girls. While oftentimes considered as being frivilous, animated shorts like Umayon are superbly enjoyable because they give writers a chance to explore things that would otherwise not work in a standard series – having BNW go hunting for Rhinoceros Beetles amidst a training camp, surprise one another during the traditional test of courage or, most impressive of all, rig a race with strange parameters that allows Gold Ship to trivially win, would never fly in the original Uma Musume Pretty Derby. However, such antics work well as a series of shorts, offering a gentle parody of some of Uma Musume Pretty Derby‘s more outrageous elements.

Compared to most fans of Uma Musume Pretty Derby, I am a relative newcomer, having picked up and watched the series only last August. As it turns out, horse racing is a popular sport in Japan, and over twenty thousand races are hosted throughout the country on an annual basis. Here in my hometown, horse racing is a newer event: there are a few equestrian tracks around the city, but the first major one is located north of the city and only opened in 2021. Conversely, rodeo is immensely popular here; Calgary hosts the Calgary Stampede, one of the world’s largest rodeo events and possessing history dating back to 1886. Unlike horse racing, rodeo events are rowdier and built around activities that ranchers would have cultivated as a part of their work. Despite the dramatic differences between racing and rodeo, however, both events share some commonalities. Aside from obvious similarities, such as how horses are a key part of both, and that gambling drives much of the interest, the crowds for horse racing and rodeo exude a similar energy, even if the manner in which said energy is conveyed is different. Having lived in Calgary since time immemorial, seeing the spirits around the city and Stampede events being reflected in Uma Musume Pretty Derby is a show of the series’ commitment to convey the atmospherics surrounding horse-driven events. The crowds in Uma Musume Pretty Derby rival those of the Calgary Stampede’s rodeo in both exuberance and vigour. Small details like these are sufficient in creating a convincing, compelling world for Uma Musume Pretty Derby, and while the regular anime excels in conveying the tenour in and around races, being able to see the Horse Girls off the field in a series of shorts greatly enhances one’s appreciation for the characters.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It goes without saying that Umayon is a series purely for fans of Uma Musume Pretty Derby: the shorts demand requisite knowledge of how Horse Girls race, and there are small jokes here and there that are dependent on knowing other aspects of the show. With this background, the jokes connect; the first episode deals with Special Week, El Condor Pasa and Grass Wonder square off in the classroom as they are made to do a re-test after botching their exams.

  • Here, the joke is that on an exam, speed is irrelevant, and score is what counts; while Special Week is first to finish, she fares the worst of everyone. Good humour is subjective, but having read about how comedy works, from folks who’ve nontrivial experience in the field, I’ve seen commonalities. All good comedy is derived off subversion of expectations; there isn’t anything about this approach that demands a specific cultural or social background, and this is why the best comedians are able to succeed anywhere in the world.

  • For instance, Steven Chow’s films are almost universally funny simply because he’s able to create incongruity in actions and their consequences, while Bill Watterson uses time and space (in a medium like newspaper comics, no less) to allow viewers time to process the mismatch between a scenario and its context. Neither Chow or Watterson’s works depend heavily on complex self-referential humour or demand familiarity with a culture to appreciate; the bulk of the comedy is almost always universal, and then subtle references to meta-humour or jokes requiring cultural knowledge are more subtle, enhancing a moment.

  • How well a work utilises this two-tiered approach is what determines how well it fares outside of its intended audience. If a work is able to appeal to a general audience, and then possesses nuances that enhance the experience for those who’ve got a background in it, it is likely to receive wider acclaim. A work that appeals to a general audience, but lacking in depth will be considered average, while works that appeal to niche audiences will similarly be poorly received unless one was familiar with its topic. Girls und Panzer and Yuru Camp△ are examples of works that is general enough to attract viewers, but then explores their chosen topics with enough depth to impress people with a deeper knowledge of the topic.

  • Uma Musume Pretty Derby tends towards being more accessible, but small hints of the characters’ real-world namesakes and lovable characters, coupled with a fully-fledged exploration of the universe means that the series is able to be very successful. We recall that I did not start watching Uma Musume Pretty Derby until last August, but upon finishing the first season, I found myself impressed, and this is even though I’m not any experience in watching horse racing as a sport, or in playing the mobile game itself. This speaks to how well-presented Uma Musume Pretty Derby is.

  • This post on Umayon marks the first time I’ve written about Uma Musume Pretty Derby while the Calgary Stampede was running; although horse racing and the rodeo are drastically different, watching Uma Musume Pretty Derby and seeing the Tokyo Racecourse’s grandstand reminded me of home. While Tokyo Racecourse has an impressive capacity of 223000, here in Calgary, the GMC Stadium’s grandstand has a total seating capacity of 17000, compared to Tokyo Racecourse’s 13750. Moreover, our grandstand has a fully enclosed suite in its upper levels for private functions and events, speaking to differences in their functionality.

  • Umayon actually dedicates two full episodes to the Horse Girls’ food misadventures. Here, Special Week squares off against Oguri Cap and Taiki Shuttle in an eating contest, with the goal of demolishing a massive bowl of ramen in the least amount of time possible. In the end, Special Week and Oguri Cap draw for first, while Taiki Shuttle brings up the rear. The commentators speak to things like strategy, bringing to mind the likes of Adam Richman in Man v. Food. While I’ve never done a food challenge before, my general approach for eating larger foods is to always crack down on the vegetables first, as they tend to cool the quickest. Then I move onto the meats and wrap up with starches.

  • This past weekend saw me enjoy lunches that were quite different than my usual routine: yesterday, I picked up a fish and chips lunch (pollock and potato wedges, which was especially tasty) from the local grocery store’s ready-to-eat value meals section as a quick meal prior to a dental appointment that had unexpectedly been moved up three hours. The dental office had managed to reach me at the last second on Friday, and I was more than willing to take an appointment three hours earlier than my original slot. The weather on Saturday had been standout, and after my appointment concluded, I took a walk around the downtown core under a brilliant afternoon sun, passing by my old office building and a pleasantly busy Steven Avenue Mall before heading back to pick up a few things and return home.

  • Today, I spent the morning doing a slower leg-and-core day at the gym before stepping out to relax at the bookstore and then enjoy a grilled chicken and spring roll vermicelli (topped with a shrimp roll) from the Vietnamese restaurant across from my place. I was especially impressed with how flavourful the grilled chicken was, and the spring rolls themselves were packed with meats. Vermicelli has become a favourite of mine because of how well the flavours mingle, and how varied the textures are; overall, I’m pleased to know that I’m within walking distance of a fantastic Vietnamese and Japanese restaurant.

  • Back in Umayon, Mejiro McQueen visits a casual noodle shop with Ines Fujin, Fine Motion, and King Halo. While Mejiro McQueen and King Halo are unfamiliar with more casual establishments, Ines Fujin walks everyone through the etiquette of ordering and eating at these places. King Halo mistakenly orders a mega-sized version of the ramen and struggles to finish it, resulting in much comedy, and in the end, although King Halo is barely able to walk after a titanic meal, she and Mejiro McQueen are thankful to have accompanied Ines Fujin on such an outing. Of course, Ines Fujin is already planning out their next trip.

  • The vignettes in Umayon are completely unrelated, and there’s no overarching story, but this flexibility allows the series of shorts to go on whatever direction the writers choose. I vividly recall watching Biwa Hayahide, Narita Taishin and Winning Ticket overcome their own internal struggles to face one another again on the racetrack, but here, the three end up getting caught up in a hunt for beetles. It’s a hilarious change of pace, made more amusing after Winning Ticket kicks a tree to dislodge the beetles, only to end up breaking open a hornet’s nest. The three only escape by jumping into the ocean.

  • In another episode, several of the Horse Girls are presented as being super sentai, and while they attempt to throw down with their sworn enemies, Silence Suzuka ends up being disillusioned after spotting how unfair their unit fights. While the Horse Girls are generally true to their personalities from Uma Musume Pretty DerbyUmayon capitalises on its comedic setup to mix things up; Silence Suzuka was stoic and reserved in Uma Musume Pretty Derby as Special Week’s role model, but  here in Umayon, she’s much more expressive.

  • One thing I’ve always wondered is how race horses get their names, and while it is usually the case horses are named based on their lineage, so long as owners pick names that fall within certain criteria (they cannot be named after people without express permissions from said individuals or their families, be anything offensive, be named after racetracks or named after winning horses, to name a few), owners can actually be creative in their naming. During the Stampede’s rodeo event, I saw horses with names as creative as those from Japan (Special Delivery, Borderline Untimely and Born Fearless were some of the horses in events like Bareback and Saddle Bronc).

  • I would therefore imagine that in Japan, horse names can use both fully Western names (like Grass Wonder, Gold Ship and Special Week), or combination of Japanese and English naming (Mejiro McQueen and Silence Suzuka). Here, Daiwa Scarlet and Vodka go at it again; this aspect of Umayon is true to the rivalry seen in Uma Musume Pretty Derby, and it is easy to see the pair spar over something as trivial as a test of courage. Matikanefukukitaru, another horse girl who has a fondness for all things supernatural, tries to spur the two on, and while the pair enter the test intent on proving the other wrong, scares from Haru Urara, Manhattan Café and Gold Ship send them packing.

  • What’s truly scary is the fact that the real Matikanefukukitaru never accompanied them into the forest. While being scared by their friends would’ve been somewhat terrifying, the thought that they’d actually encountered a ghost causes the pair to faint. Although one might be inclined to believe Matikanefukukitaru was lying, others confirm that she never went into the forest with Daiwa Scarlet and Vodka. It suddenly hits me that I’ve never written about Matikanefukukitaru as a central character in Uma Musume Pretty Derby, and for this, I’m thankful: at thirty-one characters, her name would be a pain in the lower backside to type out.

  • The idea of eliciting a confession on a coastal cliff brings to mind the likes of Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?‘s Phantom Thief Lapin, and this means that both Phantom Thief Lapin and Umayon must be parodying a trope from detective anime or live-action dramas. I’m not especially familiar with this genre, so I have no idea which shows popularised this setup and, on this token, I would be quite open to hearing from readers which series may have been the origin for this setup.

  • The finale to Umayon‘s first half was especially fun to watch: with the past eleven episodes focused on various slice-of-life aspects surrounding Horse Girls, it was a fun return-to-form for a series that is known for its racing. This time around, we have Gold Ship and Tokai Teio providing the commentary, while Tamamo Cross, Super Creek and Hishi Amazon running the race itself. Competitions in Umayon appear to be constrained to three individuals at a time, but each and every time, this has worked to the shorts’ favour, allowing characters to really bounce off one another.

  • Now that I think about it, I’ve never seen Hishi Amazon, Super Creek or Tamamo Cross in the spotlight in earlier iterations of Uma Musume Pretty Derby: this is a reminder of how many characters there are in Uma Musume Pretty Derby, and theoretically, there isn’t an upper limit of how many seasons production studios could make with Uma Musume Pretty Derby so long as the stories were all compelling and engaging: Uma Musume Pretty Derby‘s second season, for instance, gave Mejiro McQueen just as much focus as it did Tokai Teio, and this helped viewers to see more of Team Spica’s Horse Girls where in the previous season, Special Week was the star of the show.

  • The race course Gold Ship’s designed is diabolical and non-regulation in every aspect. It is only in a slice-of-life parody that this concept would work, and suddenly, I find myself wishing that Girls Und Panzer: Motto Love Love Sakusen Desu! would receive a similar adaptation. I’ve always had a fondness for slice-of-life focused presentations of anime that have a significant world-building piece; since these anime focus so much on the activities, they leave less time to show what life in such a world could be like. Here, Tamamo Cross has switched into a kindergarten uniform, while Super Creek’s donned a housewife’s garb. Poor HIshi Amazon is embarrassed and enraged to be wearing a magical girl costume and is seized with a desire to beat up Gold Ship.

  • As it turns out, Gold Ship orchestrated the entire race so she could win it. I do not believe I’ve ever seen Gold Ship win before in Uma Musume Pretty Derby, and while Umayon isn’t likely to be official, it was still fun to see Gold Ship go through all this extraneous effort to score a win where typically, old-fashioned training would be needed. With this post in the books, I’m one step closer to wrapping up all of the animated Uma Musume Pretty Derby content: unless I’m mistaken, Umayon‘s second half is all that I have left. I admit that I am a little surprised to have found myself Uma Musume Pretty Derby to the extent that I did, and that Uma Musume Pretty Derby may have contributed to an increased enjoyment of my first-ever rodeo this year.

Earlier this year, Uma Musume Pretty Derby fans were pleasantly surprised to learn that a third season will be released somewhere in the future and deal with new Horse Girls, such as T.M. Opera O, Admire Vega, Narita Top Road. However, rather than being released in a traditional format, this third season will be streamed. Moreover, Umayuru was also announced and has a known release date: it will begin airing in Autumn 2022. The fact that Uma Musume Pretty Derby has enjoyed sufficient success as to receive a third season and new series of shorts speaks to the series’ successes – sales of the anime have been uncommonly strong and have even edged out highly successful series, while the mobile game is widely played and quite accessible. Unlike Kantai Collection, which was dependent on Flash Player and required players register through an unwieldly lottery system, Japanese users can simply log into the App Store or Play Store, download the game and find themselves, quite literally, off to the races. With a compelling world, lovable characters and an accessible presentation of horse racing, it is easy to see how Uma Musume Pretty Derby has found success where other series based on games had not; it is rare for anime based on games to be successful because game mechanics do not necessarily translate elegantly into a story. However, Uma Musume Pretty Derby succeeds because it is able to bring out the emotional tenour surrounding each Horse Girls as they strive to be the best racer possible. From Special Week’s desire to become the best and win for her mothers, to Tokai Teio’s admirable efforts in overcoming numerous injuries so she can race alongside Mejiro McQueen, Uma Musume Pretty Derby has, insofar, given viewers plenty to root for and enjoy. A third season will, regardless of its format, be no different, and this would be quite exciting. Until then, viewers do have Umayuru to look forward to, and having seen Umayon, more daily tomfoolery from the Horse Girls is always welcome.