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aka: Uma Musume Pretty Derby

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Named after the racehorses of a different world, the Uma Musume (ウマ娘, horse girls) dedicate their lives to running. For many of these young women, their biggest dream is to participate in the Twinkle Series, run alongside Japan's fastest, and shine on the winner's stage.

Special Week is one such horse girl. She strikes out from her small countryside home to make it at Tracen Academy, the premier school for aspiring racers. Despite being a newcomer to the competition, she hopes to become Japan's best horse girl. But in this new, competitive environment, will she stick to her guns despite the pressure and fulfill her lifelong dream?

Based on the mobile training game by Cygames, Uma Musume: Pretty Derby is P. A. Works' animated take on the horse girl racing scene.

For tropes about the original game, see here.

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On December 15, 2018, it was announced that the spinoff 4-koma Manga Umayon will be getting an anime adaptation, but no specific date was announced.

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  • Affectionate Nickname: Special Week is called "Spe", while El Condor Pasa is referred to as "El".
  • As Herself: the regular second commentator/analyst during the anime races is Junko Hosoe, a past jockey who is now a real life racing analyst (so her role is similar to Newscaster Cameo). She has a page in Japanese Wikipedia. She is voicing herself and is duly credited.
  • A Taste of Defeat:
    • Special Week experiences this in episode 3.
    • El Condor Pasa loses against Silence Suzuka in episode 6.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: A given, since their names are taken from famous race horses. "Vodka" is probably the simplest name in the bunch, but still fairly unique.
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  • Bag of Kidnapping: Gold Ship, Daiwa Scarlet and Vodka use one to bring Special Week to their team.
  • Balloon Belly: Special Week, who ended up eating a little too much after a victory in episode 3. Only it comes back to bite her as her derby-uniform's skirt no longer seem to fit despite losing most of the weight beforehand.
  • Bare Your Midriff: For the Winter Dream Tournament, all participants wear midriff-baring outfits instead of their regular outfits.
  • Big Eater:
    • Special Week. She has a giant box filled with carrots and eats so much that she gets a Balloon Belly. In fact, when on a diet, she is noticed by another to have less rice then normal even though it was still a big serving.
    • Oguri Cap wins an Eating Contest without really trying. And in a later scene, she's going for more!
  • The Big Race: There is a race in every episode. A few are just intra-school things for training (or, in once case, for selecting a member for a team); but most races in this anime happen on racecourses and have a significant audience.
  • Blatant Lies: When Trainer tries to deny he's nervous about the Derby, he's using the binoculars the wrong way.
  • Book-Ends: Special Week's Mom gets off the train early by mistake in episode 12, and is directed on her way by the same station attendant that directed Special Week back in episode 1. In both cases, they run the remaining distance to the race track.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Seiun Sky may spend most of her time sleeping or looking dozy, but when she puts her mind into it, she's an incredibly good runner.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Trainer might be eccentric, but he certainly knows how to make the girls run.
  • Butt-Monkey: Haru Urara is named after a horse who was famous for never winning a race, and she's clearly not a particularly good racer.
  • Cast of Personifications: Played totally straight as the entire premise.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Subverted Silence Suzuka breaks her leg during a race, just as her namesake did. While such an injury is a death sentence for real horses, Suzuka is hospitalized and not more seriously injured because of Special Week's help. The trainer warns that she may never fully recover from her injury. However by episode 11, after a year in rehab, she returns and wins convincingly.
  • Casting Gag: TM Opera O, a boisterous and proud tomboyish horse girl, is voiced by Sora Tokui, who also voiced Applejack in the Japanese dub of another famous show about girls who are horses.
  • Cathartic Scream: Tokai Teio and Special Week watch Hishi Amazon doing this on a tree trunk after losing. Special Week and Trainer use it too in episode 3 after losing.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Gold Ship tends to do and say odd things every now and then.
  • Combat Stilettos:
    • The Horse Girls wear heeled shoes when racing, with a horse shoe nailed to their soles. In reality, heels would be the last thing a professional runner would choose to wear.
    • It was worse in the trailer, where the heels were shown to be narrow. Anime heels are wide and not too high, something pretty convenient for a certain sport... riding, not running.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The opening and ending themes are sung by the seven members of Team Spica.
  • Doomed by Canon: Silence Suzuka's racing career is cut short when she breaks her leg, exactly like her namesake did. Unlike her namesake, she survives and hopes to recover eventually.
  • The Drag-Along: Gold Ship always drags Mejiro MacQueen into whatever activity comes through her mind.
  • Eating Contest: There is one in Episode 6, with three participants. (For added fun, it references a Real Life horse race).
  • Epic Fail:
    • At the beginning of episode 3, despite winning their respective races, every member of Team Spica minus Suzuka does something embarrassing during the victory concert. So Trainer asks Tokai Teio to train them to improve their performances.
    • In episode 10, after training non-stop to be ready for the Japan Cup, Special Week has a newfound confidence everyone notices, and ends up in seventh place for the Kyoto Daishoten. It's also one for T.M. Opera O, who was following Special Week and ended up in third.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: When the horse girls from the Rigil team dress up as butlers and set up a cafe, women of all ages come swooning. A lady even faints for Pete's sake.
  • Everybody Calls Him "Barkeep": The Trainer is always referred as such.
  • Expressive Ears: The horse girls have those, just like real horses. And their tails are sometimes expressive, too.
  • Expy: The French horse girl Broye is one of Lady Oscar.
  • Eye Scream: Every time Gold Ship tries to compete over something with Mejiro MacQueen, she gets hit in the eye. In Episode 9, she gets Genre Savvy and wears a helmet with an eye shield before attempting a prank.
  • Failed a Spot Check: In Episode 9 El Condor Pasa shows Broye's signature on her guidebook, thinking that Broye mistook her for a fan. The writing is in French, which El-chan does not understand... but if we zoom in onto it, we see it clearly includes the word "Condor".
  • Fanservice: Unlike what was widely expected from the initial trailer, the show averts it in many cases, outright lampooning cliches where it is expected.
    • In Episode 6, the "mandatory Beach Episode" makes an appearance... as a one-minute montage, with one of the girls lampshading its mandatory nature: Why do we have to do this at the beach?!
    • In Episode 7, the girls arrive to a hotel with an onsen and Trainer tells them to take a bath... then the anime cuts right to a scene where they are wearing fluffy dressing gowns after having the bath.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: In episode 7, Suzuka's left shoe's clasp comes undone. During the race, she ends up injuring her left leg.
  • Fix Fic: The way this anime treats Silence Suzuka, compared to real life.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Appears to exist between Trainer and Hana (the lady trainer of Team Rigil). Played up a bit in Episode 6.
  • Food as Bribe: In Episode 9, when Team Spica refuses to participate in the triathlon during the training camp, Trainer decides to reward the winners to a dessert buffet, and it worked!
  • Fragile Speedster: Horse Girls are incredibly fast, mentioned to be capable of running 70 km/hour. However, it's also mentioned that a fall while running could actually kill a Horse Girl. This is Truth in Television, as Thoroughbreds are known for being incredibly fast at the cost of being more fragile. Silence Suzuka breaks her leg mid-race, from the strain of running at top speed.
  • Friendly Rivalry: The series runs on this trope, with many of the girls forming close friendships with their on-track rivals. Teams Spica and Rigil share numerous friendships, and demonstrate concern for each other as well as celebrating the others' victories.
  • Friend to All Children: Hishi Amazon and Narita Brian are shown to be rather easygoing with children.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: in Episode 3, Symboli Rudolf suggests "having a drink" with Air Groove. There is a close-up of a couple of bottles that look like wine bottles and have a French label on them. However, upon closer inspection, it turns out that the bottles contain 100% carrot juice, made in France. Justified, as the characters are horsegirls and, if we judge by Special Week, really like carrots, just like horses in our world do. Besides, it is a school, and drinking age in Japan is 20 - so no school pupil, even the President of the Student Council, can legally drink.
  • Funbag Airbag: A minor case occurs when Special Week bumps into Gold Ship.
  • Gender Flip: A lot of the real life racehorses that the characters are based on, including Special Week and Silence Suzuka are actually stallions.
  • Go-to-Sleep Ending: At the end of the ending credits scene, all the horse girls lie down and rest after doing all the random fun activities.
  • Gratuitous English: Taiki Shuttle likes talking this way. El Condor Pasa occasionally does this as well. Justified in that both were born in America.
  • Here We Go Again!: The series begins and ends with a Naïve Newcomer watching a Winning Concert,and getting felt up when Trainer tries to scout her.
  • Heroic BSoD: Both Special Week and Silence Suzuka suffer one after the later breaks her leg. Special Week becomes too focused on helping Suzuka recover so that they can run together, causing her to lose repeatedly because she can't focus on the race at hand. Suzuka, meanwhile, is afraid of injuring herself again and can't bring herself to run at full speed even after making a full recovery. The fact that Special Week is running herself ragged helping her doesn't help things either, causing Suzuka to feel like she's holding her back. Trainer manages to break them out of it by having the two view each other as rivals.
  • Heroic RRoD: Just like with real horses, this is a potential danger for racing. In the 7th episode, Silence Suzuka runs so fast that she ends up breaking her leg in the process.
  • He's Back: Special Week and Silence Suzuka both perform poorly in the aftermath of Suzuka's injury, too worried to focus on their running. When he sees them lagging behind the other girls in a training run, the trainer gives them a Rousing Speech about considering the other girl their rival. The girls are inspired and take off running, quickly catching up to the rest of the team and leaving them struggling to keep up.
  • Historical-Domain Character: The real horses were famous champions from the last 30 years of racing, many of them Hall of Fame inductees.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: Horse Girls have a formal outfit they wear during major events, as opposed to the simple t-shirts and shorts worn during most races. The vast majority run on pure Rule of Cool, ignoring the reality of how a Badass Cape, a heavy jacket, a Pimped-Out Dress, and/or fancy heels would make running nearly impossible.
  • Improbably Female Cast: Besides Trainer and some background characters (spectators, race announcers, a man walking a dog), there are no other male characters in the anime.
  • Just the Introduction to the Opposites: In horse girl racing idol anime, horse pets you.
  • Kick Chick: Unsurprisingly, horse girls do this when upset, and they tend to be as strong as an actual horse when they kick backwards. Special Week in particular has a habit of using her kicks as a form of Pervert Revenge Mode.
  • Late for School: Instead of the traditional slice of toast, Special Week runs to school with a carrot in her mouth.
  • Lighter and Softer: The series makes some nods to the real dangers of racing, mentioning that accidents on the track can be fatal. However, it avoids the harsh reality of racing injuries simply because Horse Girls are bipedal, and therefore a broken leg isn't a death sentence to them. Other dark sides of horse racing, like the grim fate that sometimes awaits failed racehorses (who are not Haru Urara) and the pervasive gambling, expressly do not exist in that world.
  • Little Bit Beastly: Horse Girls sport the ears and tails of a horse, but are otherwise completely human in appearance.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: As expected from a game adaptation, the anime has over a dozen characters on the first episode alone.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Played for Laughs. All of Team Spica have this reaction when they come across a pronounced curve during their training race, and they realize they're running too fast to stop. They keep running until they land on the ocean.
  • Missing Mom: Special Week's biological mother died after she was born, so she was raised by her friend, which kind of counts as Interspecies Adoption since her adoptive mother is human.
  • Moe Anthropomorphism: Of racehorses. Arguably, manages to work well.
  • Manly Tears: Trainer-san (and much of the audience) in Episode 11 when Suzuka returns to racing.
  • Multicolored Hair: Several of the girls have white streaks or different shades of brown, to stand in for their Real Life counterparts' markings.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Special Week is the latest transfer to Tracen, having never participated in races beforehand back in the country.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: the original trailer was different in many ways from the anime. This is apparently not a case of a misleading trailer, but rather the concept being developed between the 2016 trailer and the 2018 anime.
    • Some of the characters were reworked or dropped.
    • The horsegirls eat vegetarian food in the trailer, but the full range of human food in the anime.
    • In the trailer, the horsegirls run in the normal human pose. In the anime, they have a special bent pose, explicitly different from how humans run.
    • In the trailer, Special Week falls during a race with no apparent consequences. In the anime, it is explicitly mentioned that such a fall is very dangerous.
    • Horsegirl shoes in the trailer have a narrow heel, which is replaced by a wider, more practical heel in the anime.
    • In general there are more hints at Fanservice in the trailer than what happens in the anime.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: El Condor Pasa's victory in Tenno Sho in Episode 7. She did want "revenge" on Suzuka, but not that kind of revenge.
  • Not This One, That One: Episode 9 has Team Spica get excited about the nice place they're staying...only for the bus to move and reveal the crappy place where they're really staying.
  • One-Gender Race: Horsegirls, apparently. The anime does not explain exactly how they are conceived, and Word of God states their fathers were completely normal. (Pregnancy and birth are explicitly mentioned.)
  • Opposing Sports Team: Team Rigil serves as a Lighter and Softer example of this trope. While they are the #1 ranked team with the best players, and Hana's training methods are very strict as suits the trope, they are close friends with the opposing teams.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: Lots and lots of them, and various motives for their passion are explored.
  • Power Walk: Team Spica do this as the enter the racecourse in Episode 13.
  • Real Person Cameo: Yutaka Take, the legendary jockey who rode Special Week and many other prototype horses to their best victories, appears As Himself as a real-time commentator at Nippon Derby in Episode 5, also voicing himself, also credited. His facial expressions show him rooting for Special Week; in the corresponding real-life race he was riding Special Week.
  • Real Place Background: Lots. All featured public race tracks are faithful representations of originals. And other places, like the onsen hotel in Episode 7 and the train station in the opening, have also been found in Real Life.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Zigzagged, in most cases. Horses related in real life are probably not related in the anime, but behave, to a varying degree, like they are.
    • Mejiro McQueen was the grandsire of Gold Ship, but the two are unrelated friends in the series. Gold Ship is instead a Loving Bully always seeking McQueen's attention.
    • Maruzensky was the grandsire of Special Week, but the two are unrelated in the series. Instead, they merely have a friendly interaction.
    • Symboli Rudolf was the sire of Tokai Teio. In the series, Tokai Teio looks up to Rudolf, and is driven to prove herself by surpassing her idol, while Rudolf patronizes Teio benevolently, even saying "I guess you're growing" in Episode 10.
    • Many of the actual horses were related to each other, being descendants of the prolific "sire of sires" Silence Sunday. Among his descendants were Special Week (son), Silence Suzuka (son), Fuji Kiseki (son), and Gold Ship (grandson). None of these characters are related in the series.
    • Played straight with the Mejiros. Both Mejiro Ryan and Mejiro Dobernote  are related to McQueen. And because the Mejiros are a well known family name, that implies that every known racehorse with Mejiro in there name are related in the show.
    • To be precise, Mejiro Ryan and Mejiro McQueen are somewhat related in Real Life. A mare named Cheryl is the dam of Ryan's dam and of McQueen's sire. When McQueen asks Ryan not to tell "grandmother" about something, this might mean that Cheryl exists in the world. But the dialogue does imply that Mejiro is an outright family name.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Special Week and Silence Suzuka. As common in many cases involving high school girls in anime, the makers are not averse to teasing, but this is all we know from canon, apparently.
  • Rule of Glamorous: The formal racing outfits seem to run on this trope, completely ignoring the laws of physics and bio-mechanics in favor of the girls wearing pretty outfits. No one has trouble running in high heels, gets slowed down by their heavy jackets or capes, or struggles with Rapunzel Hair getting in the way.
  • Running Gag:
    • Every time Trainer tries to touch the legs of a new horse girl, he gets kicked.
    • In most races, when a fast girl passes some other girl at incredible speed, the other girl reacts with a loud "muri", usually translated as "Impossible" or "I can't". Also when a girl is preparing to "make her move" hoping to with the race, she will exclaim "ikeru" ("I can do it"); in one race, four "ikerus" are heard in quick succession. The "muri" even makes an appearance in the Eating Contest in Episode 6.
  • Shown Their Work: In spades. The amount of elaborate reality references in the anime is staggering, and they are found in surprising places sometimes, to the delight of the fandom.
  • Ship Tease: A staple of this anime. Special Week/Silent Suzuka is closest, but also a few others.
  • Somewhere, an Equestrian Is Crying: Despite the unrealistic premise, this mainly got Averted with a vengeance, with one notable exception - Trainer regularly approaching horsegirls from behind and suddenly feeling their thighs. It does get him well-deserved back-kicks, but he seems protected by a thick layer of Plot Armor. Do Not Try This at Home - if you do it with an actual horse, even the friendly and quiet kind, you might end up killed.
  • Spit Take: Trainer does this when Tokai Teio announces she's joining team Spica.
  • Sports Story: The anime broadly fits the genre.
  • Student Council President: Symboli Rudolf has this role, and is the winner of the Triple Crown race.
  • Stunned Silence: In episode 7 when Suzuka breaks her leg mid-race, nearly everyone watching remains quiet in shock.
  • The Power of Friendship: Special Week saving Suzuka from possible death in Episode 7. In Real Life, Silence Suzuka was hurt so much he had to be put down. If fate of horsegirls in the anime world is tied to that of the horses in our world, then that scene is "power of friendship, or of love, defeats fate itself".
  • The Rival: So many that it be easier to mention those who aren't rivals. Pretty much anytime a horsegirl pulls off an impressive win, the loser will see them as a rival.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: In the final episode, "Make debut!" plays during the homestretch of the Winter Dream Trophy.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Both Narita Brian and Biwa Hayahide are sisters who consider each other as rivals. It's treated as a way for the two to be closer to one another.
  • Toast of Tardiness: Special Week does this in Episode 2, but with a carrot instead of a piece of toast.
  • Training Montage: During episode 4 Team Spica gives Special Week all sorts of training. The training montage is used in a few other episodes too, as one would expect in a series about sports.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • Daiwa Scarlet and Vodka are constantly arguing with each other in the opening and are not averse to exchanging stingy remarks in the anime itself, but are really good friends in Team Spica.
    • Hishi Amazon and Narita Brian.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: the racing history in this anime generally follows the Japanese 1998 and 1999 horse racing seasons, though not without significant deviations. See the ShoutOut page for details.
  • World Building: Sometimes the anime gives a lot of attention to detail of horse girl life as different from ordinary humans. Notably, horse girls prefer old-style telephones with big handsets - they can hold the ear piece to the horse ear while the microphone is close enough to the mouth. A retro phone, located in Special Week's family home, first appears as a Freeze-Frame Bonus in Episode 1. Then in Episode 9 we see a similar phone, with an even longer handset (probably specially adapted for horse girls), in Tracen. On the other end of the line, El Condor Pasa in France is using a full-on antique style phone handset.

Alternative Title(s): Uma Musume Pretty Derby

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