With most anime and manga, the manga comes first, and after being publisher for a few years, it's adapted into an anime. However, this was not the case for Backflip!!, also known as Bakuten!! in Japan. Featuring a colorful and extravagant gymnastics team, Bakuten!! goes for the gold in a similar way to the popular swimming series Free!.
Focusing on an unsuccessful athlete who joins a gymnastics team, Bakuten!! is an anime, a manga series and soon, an animated movie as well. Although it might look like a lot of other shojo sports anime, Bakuten!! stands out from among the crowd as an underrated gymnastics gem. Here's how to get into the series, which version came first and when the movie is due to be released.
The Plot of Bakuten!!
The storyline of Bakuten!!, or Backflip!! involves Shotaro Futaba, a boy who, despite his admiration for sports, was never able to make the cut for any teams. This changes, however, when he witnesses the glamorous grace of his school's male gymnastics team, inspiring him to join their ranks in spite of his dearth of gymnastics experience.
He's joined by a cast of athletes of varying skill levels, each with their own unique backstories that drive them to train and succeed. These include the inspirational team captain Masamune Shichigahama as well as the orphan Ryoya Misato who, like Shotaro, was amazed after seeing the team in action. Together, the boys grow as a team and strive to reach a spot at the gymnastics tournament. Despite appearances, the series is not a boys' love story as many might suspect, especially given the character designs.
Where to Read Bakuten!!
The Backflip!! manga started in January 2021, and so far, it's still running. Drawn by Kei Sakuraba, the series has amassed a total of only one collected volume so far, although given that it's only about a year old and takes from the anime, this makes sense. It's unknown if further chapters will be more original and influence the anime's story or if the manga and anime will begin to diverge in their plot.
Since there's very little to bring over just yet, the single volume of the Backflip!! manga has yet to be released outside of Japan. However, as more story is added to both versions of the series in the next year, this will likely change.
Where to Watch Bakuten!!
As mentioned, the Bakuten!! anime is the progenitor of the franchise, and despite it releasing a few months afterward, the manga version of the story adapts it and not the other way around. The series was written by Toshizo Nemoto and directed by Seishiro Nagaya and Toshimasa Kuroyanagi. It was handled by production studio Zexcs, who had previously worked on lower-key anime productions and never made anything particularly major. The 2021 anime series was officially part of "Zutto Ōen Project 2011 + 10...", which was meant to commemorate the 2011 tsunami and earthquake in Japan.
The series ran for 12 episodes from April until June 2021, but that's not the end of the story. A movie continuing the series was announced after the show ended, and this is currently scheduled to be released in the second quarter of 2022. Before that comes out, however, fans will want to rewatch the series or enjoy it for the first time. To do so, all they need is an account with either Crunchyroll or VRV, where the series can be streamed in its entirety. So far, there hasn't been an English dub or DVD/Blu-Ray localizations, so fans will have to watch the series with subtitles as they await the movie continuation.