Note: This is not a trope about the shinai, a bamboo practice sword used in Kendo practice (See Nerf Arm or Wooden Katanas Are Even Better for that). You will, however see quite a few of them in this series.Kendo instructor Toraji "Kojirou" Ishida was down on his luck. Stuck in Perpetual Poverty, he could barely make ends meet. Then there was a ray of hope. If he could assemble a team of female kendo students to defeat his old friend's team, he'd get free food for a year. Now he just has to find the team. Find it he does, in the form of Tamaki, a young prodigy. The rest of the team is equally eccentric. So begins Bamboo Blade, a surprisingly well-done kendo anime mixed with Day In The Life moments to create something greatly entertaining. The characters sell the show.There is a Spinoff with all-new characters, Bamboo Blade B.
This series contains examples of:
The Ace: Erina, who seems to be innately good at everything she does.
Alpha Bitch: Konishi and her three underclassmen. There was a rumor going around that they would often sabotage her opponents, such as putting thumbtacks in the opponent's shoes, or doing other things to keep them from fighting. While Konishi doesn't seem to be the mastermind behind it, she nevertheless seems to unofficially approve of the things the girls did since it often helps in her matches. Unfortunately for her, those tactics don't work against Tama-chan, and Tama-chan probably unleashed more rage than usual because of Konishi's underhandedness. Konishi's spirit definitely seems to be broken after her fight with Tama.
Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: In the manga, Tama-chan's dad wastes no time busting out the photo album when her friends visit the dojo. Tama's silent pleading crosses the line into Woobie territory. Then he goes for the home video of her in the bath...
Art Evolution: Present in the manga. The lines become thinner and details better drawn. Tamaki in particular becomes less angular and cuter.
Ascended Fanboy: Rin and Tama both get to participate in the Blade Braver movie. They then get into an unscripted fight, but from the looks of the Distant Finale, it got cut from the film (along with Tama's line being redubbed due to her flubbing it).
Battle Aura: Miyamiya's black one and Tama's heroic red one, most noticeably. The former gets a lampshade, as it comes complete with spooky laughter. It gets lampshaded a number of times during the series. She also comes in snake/dominatrix mode as seen when convincing Azumi to join the team; the force of her speech actually causes an seemingly audible explosion.
"Am I crazy, or was she covered in a black cloud?"
Berserk Button: Konishi seems to press Tama-chan's after it seemed she was trying to help the latter, but then kept gloating about Tama's ankle injury. She totally deserved the fury Tama unleashed on her afterwards.
Between My Legs: In episode 14, of Miya-Miya framing Azuma, the shot emphasizing Miya's intimidation of Azuma.
Beware the Nice Ones: You couldn't find a nicer girl than Tamaki, but when Konishi succeeds in getting Tama-chan to twist her ankle, then in their match later, forces her to put weight on it, she makes the mistake of gloating over it. Tamaki's subsequent Death Glare nearly makes Konishi step back a pace. Then Tama's Kiai surprises everyone. Konishi tries to respond, only to freeze to the spot in fear when Tama shouts a second time. K's still trying to find an opening when Tama nails her so hard with a throat strike, she's knocked off herfeet. You dared to dishonour kendo with your bad attitude? You must pay.
Yuuji stands his ground when three big, tough looking guys were sent to beat him up. Luckily for him, his Death Glare and Bad Ass Boast with the stick scares them off.
According to one of the omakes, angry Kirino is truely something to be feared.
Bifauxnen: Maya and Karen can pull this off when they're wearing their kendo uniforms, though Maya looks more thuggish than the typical Bifauxnen character.
Saya, of course, nearly quits the team when she misinterprets a compliment from Toraji-sensei to the effect that her height, strength and reach are comparable to a boy's.
Bishie Sparkle: Miya-Miya is blindingly sparkling before she goes into yandere mode. Turned Up to Eleven in the manga when she hears the club might appear on TV.
Boring Invincible Hero: For the first half of the show or more, the only one to give Tamaki any trouble at all is Ishibashi-sensei.
Also, Tama-chan was defeated by Erina
Bumbling Dad: Sakaki's father is dismayed and confused by his daughter's abandonment of kendo in favour of idol (singer)-worship. He resorts to seeing an honest-to-Kami Onmyodo sorceress to exorcise the demon possessing her.
But Now I Must Go: Though Kojirou eventually gets to keep his job, he decides to quit at the end of the year anyway after realizing he's taught the Muroe kendo team everything he can.
Butt Monkey: Kojirou. Though seeing as he starts out pretty selfish and much of the plot is driven by having to clean up his messes (much of the over-arching plot revolves around the team having to make a name for themselves in various tournaments so Kojirou can keep his job after getting into a fight with the neighbor of the principal's wife,) he kind of deserves it.
Can't Catch Up: Miyamiya started kendo later than the rest, so she can't land a single hit on Tama-chan, much to her chagrin. By the twentieth episode, she still hadn't won a match and had only scored one point on Satori.
In Ishida's case it's made clear he's not practiced properly since his match with Ishibashi ten years ago. Miya-Miya does win a match, against Carrie in episode 25. And then their unofficial one with Carrie using two swords - played more for laughs than anything; "Such brute strength!", "No. The 'power of love'"
Clingy Jealous Girl: Miya-Miya when Carrie shows up and starts smothering Dan-kun, and calling him Anderson. Carrie even threatens to "steal" Dan-kun away if she wins against Miya.
Closet Geek: Tamaki, the highly skilled kendo fighter, sure loves anime. She even does part time work in order to save up money for a limited edition series, then unfortunately has to give it up when she realizes that her dad's birthday is up, and buys him a present instead.
Combat Pragmatist: Ando and Konishi are both different versions; Ando breaks rules with tactics like tackling her opponent to the ground or stepping on their feet — and gets away with it by playing them off as accidents. Konishi has her Girl Posse target her opponents before a match.
Cool Big Sis: Kirino's specifically described as an older sister to the other members of the club.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Muroe walks all over Kamasaki High's kendo team in their practice meet, winning every single match, including the match between the instructors. Then again, the whole point of the arc was more about the Kamasaki team starting to care more about kendo, as it's stated repeatedly that they could actually match, or even beat Muroe if they hadn't turned into a bunch of unmotivated slackers.
Death Glare: Several characters exhibit one, but usually Tama-chan or Miya-Miya (often accompanied with a Battle Aura in her case).
Dual Wielding: Carrie outside of tournaments. Dan actually tries to get Korjiro to let him do this at one point.
Ishibaki tries to use this in a match against Kojirou in the manga, in an attempt to look cool in front of his team. He quickly gets hit, and then starts the match over with one sword after realizing that losing while Dual Wielding just makes you look like twice the loser.
Early-Bird Cameo: Satori passes by the Dojo in the first 5 minutes of the first episode. She then has a couple more cameos (and even does a next episode preview) before her formal introduction.
Eyes Always Shut: Konishi, before she reveals her true self. Dan-kun also counts, and is just as scary when he opens his eyes.
Fangirl: Tamaki and anime. See Episode 11 for the sparkly proof.
The Fake Cutie: The idol Ryoko Toda. One of her manager's duties is to let her beat him, brutally, every time she gets upset so she doesn't hurt herself or her image tearing apart dressing rooms and other people. She isn't throwing weak shots either, he's just enough of a tank to take it. When she's not doing this she's a perfectly calm and polite young woman.
Though she settles down a little more once she gains a newfound respect for Erina, who kept showing her up and getting her that pissed off to begin with.
Fisher King: Sakaki starting to get her drive to practice kendo back is marked by all the Black Duran posters in her Room Full of Crazy starting to fall off the walls.
Furo Scene: Cruelly subverted in Episode 15: wherein fanboy expectations are built up by its title, only to have 3 shots of shampoo bottles appear in the actual episode without any of the expected Fanservice.
Male Gaze: Used consistently throughout. A very obvious example is the beginning of episode 11; Saya and Kirino discuss their potential fifth squad member, while the camera focuses exclusively on their breasts and thighs. However, it's implied that it was because Kirino was jealous of Saya's bust size (as she folds her arms to accentuate them)
Meganekko: Satori, subverted by the fact that her glasses are fake. She thinks wearing glasses will make her smarter...
Missing Mom: Tamaki's deceased mother, a kendo practitioner — which is a plot point.
Mood Whiplash: The end of episode 15 compared with the rest of the episode.
One of the Kids: Toraji-Sensei, whose childishness makes you wonder how he got his job in the first place.
Only Six Faces: Five or so new characters introduced since the end of the anime, aside from the side characters. Telling them apart is difficult.
Otaku: Tamaki and Rin, both on the subject of Blade Braver.
In a broader sense, every main character can be seen as a kendo-otaku. Miyako actually convinces (read as: bullies) Satori into rejoining the kendo team by saying, "If you're going to be a loser anyway, be a kendo-obsessed loser!"
Sakaki Ura and her idol obsession. Creepy.
Out of Focus: The main cast of all people end up getting pushed to the side for a while at the start of the Burning Dash arc while the manga focuses primarily on the other girls who'll be participating.
Dan and Yuuji regularly lament that they're always pushed out of the spotlight in favor of the girls.
Overprotective Dad: Tamaki's dad has a hard time letting go of his little girl, especially if it concerns Yuuji.
Overshadowed by Awesome: Yuuji Nakata qualifies for this, as being The One Guy isn't sad enough. It's clear that he has remarkable skills and discipline in Kendo, is one of the strongest students in the dojo as the few fights he has been in ended with him beating the opponent with little to no effort, but this show/manga is mainly about cute female kendo practitioners and their everyday life. In the end Yuuji is more of a possible love interest for Tama than anything else.
Paper-Thin Disguise: During the first practice match, Tamaki is asked to leave and return, pretending to be a different student. Despite Toraji's obvious Blatant Lies, Kenzaburo and his students see right through the disguise. He even calls them out on it after her second match.
Post Episode Trailer: Chibi versions of the characters deliver a short skit, followed by the next episode's title. Quite fun to watch.
Psycho for Hire: Miyako's main reason for kendo is that she enjoys inflicting pain on people. Amusingly enough, she seems determined to kill Toyama, who also fits the bill as a Psycho for Hire who really likes inflicting pain. Some time, we might see who is the better Psycho.
The Resenter: Ryoko loathes Erina for constantly beating her at every competition they attempt and making her look like a fool. Though it's mainly because Erina appears to be innately good at everything while Ryoko has to work herself to the bone to be at least half as good. Though she starts respecting her after witnessing her match with Sakaki and finding out about her history with kendo.
The Rival: Rin to Tamaki, Carrie to Miya-Miya. In the manga Sakaki Ura seems to be getting set up for this role over Rin.
In the last volume of the manga Erina requests Tama to become Sakaki's rival because she needs one to keep interested in Kendo and Tama is just about perfect for the role.
Rival Dojos: Ishibashi-sensei and the Machido High girls serve this function to the Muroe team, but their second appearance has them attending a training camp (read: having a sleepover) with Toraji-sensei's girls.
Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Saya and Kirino have been really close friends for a long time. When training, they're almost always together.
Saya also seems to have a mild crush on Kirino, causing love bubbles to appear when she thinks of her.
Sentai: Not just Blade Braver; Toraji assigns the girls team colors early on. Tama is Red, Saya is Blue, Kirino is Yellow, Satori is Green, and Miyamiya is Pink/Black.
Sempai/Kohai: Satori and Tama are psyched to have kohai in the three-months-later final episode.
Sequel Hook: The last shot of the anime shows Tamaki and a long-haired girl turning their heads toward each other. The unknown girl is Sakaki Ura from the manga, who is fated to fight Tamaki some day soon.
'Schneider' is a relatively common name in German speaking countries, similar in origin and meaning as the English surname 'Taylor'. However, the name derives from the German word 'Schneiden' which means 'to cut' (as in cutting cloth). Thus his name may also mean 'Cutter'.
Skilled, but Naive: Tamaki is an absolute prodigy when it comes to swordplay, but is hopelessly naive in other situations.
Sleep Cute: Happens with Tamaki and Rin in episode 21.
Stance System: Variation: the use of the ascension stance is a plot point. Tamaki's mother used to use it; when Toriajou switches to it in his match with Tamaki, she's so distracted by the sight, she loses.
In the manga, Koujiro recommends it to Saya, to make use of her height and strength.
In fact, the whole reason the latter quit kendo was she thought the actor who played Black Duran was sending her secret messages that he doesn't like girls who practice kendo.
Stepford Smiler: Kirino doesn't have much to angst about, but when her mom passes out due to overexertion and the kendo team is at risk of being shut down, it's revealed that she breaks out the Type A routine when things like this happen (usually when she gets sick.)
Super-Deformed: To emphasize their upbeat and extremely immature personalities, Kirino-Senpai and Saya spend over half their screentime in this form, with Tama-Chan occasionally doing so to accentuate her already adorable innocence.
Also, as a possible form of Painting the Medium, Dan is permanently in Super-Deformed state as a source of his Gonkiness. He is even called deformed in-series, and requires special equipment because of it.
The one time Dan isn't in super-deformed mode, the manga has to point out that it actually is him.
Title Drop: Saya wears a shirt that says "Bamboo Blade" at one point in the anime. It's also dropped during the training camp episode. Neither occurrences have any significance.
Took a Level in Badass: In preparation for his match against Ishibaki, Kojirou gets back to training and manages to regain enough of his prior kendo skills to effortlessly beat him (then again, Ishibaki was distracted with trying to look cool in front of his team.)
The epilogue for the manga shows the whole Muroe team having taken a level, pitting them against the Burnish Academy team with Miya-Miya and Azuma winning their matches, while Tamaki's match with Sakaki is left unresolved.
Tranquil Fury: Tama-chan most of the time. Kirino does this when her mother was hospitalized, and then inadvertently fell out of it when her brother shouted to her before her fight that their mother was going to be okay after all.
Unknown Rival: Ryoko Toda towards Erina Sawamiya, through and through. Genius Ditz Erina consistently thrashes Ryoko in anything athletic, but when Erina mentions that she's never tried kendo... well, you can see where this is going.
Valley Girl: The dub turns Carrie into one, her heavy use of slang terms preserving the language barrier between her and Miya Miya since they're both speaking English.
Yandere: Miya-Miya and Sakaki Ura. To a far lesser extent, Danny; when the sensai tries to push Miya-Miya harder than Danny feels is necessary, Danny cracks open his eyes and we see the exact same evil aura that Miya-Miya gets. It's entirely possible that both, ironically, are hiding their sociopathic tendencies from each other.
Your Head Asplode: Tamaki does this to a training dummy that looks like Kojirou with a head strike, complete with Delayed Explosion. They point out that it's a bad omen, which Ishida-sensei tries to brush off, as he's likely to lose his job because a run-in with the Gonk lady at the supermarket who happens to be neighbors with his school superintendent's wife.