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Bakumatsu Rock Anime Cover

Score: 6.07/10

Synopsis

Ryouma Sakamoto wants everyone to know about his passion for rock 'n' roll, so he roams around town with his electric guitar willing to show anyone he encounters that he's just as skilled as the famous Shinsengumi stars they admire. Unfortunately, Japan doesn't allow anything other than that group's Heaven's Songs, for writing or performing different types of music is forbidden and can lead to harsh consequences. Agitated by these strict rules and brainwashing, Ryouma does everything he can to show people that the music he loves will bring them the freedom they deserve. Along with his bandmates Shinsaku Takasugi and Kogoru Katsura, Ryouma works hard to find places for his rock 'n' roll group to perform. Refusing to back down until their music is accepted in Japan, the trio begin to realize that there's more to their passion than they had thought. [Written by MAL Rewrite]

Bakumatsu Rock had an interesting concept. From the first time I read anything about the show, I was convinced I was going to like it. Rock n’ Roll versus J-Pop? What could be better? A story about musical ronin combating a controlling government that uses pop-idol groups to make people submissive sounded like a really cool idea. Once I actually started watching the show my hopes were disappointed to a degree, as what I had idealized for the show certainly wasn’t going to match up with reality.

Regardless, it was a pretty fun watch.

It made a good effort at being dramatic while never quite taking itself seriously, ready to throw in a dumb joke or two to remind you what anime you’re watching.

Its art was acceptable. It didn’t do anything very memorable, but its sometimes bizarre character designs and a few interesting CG moments (mostly) prevented it from being boring.

The characters remained almost entirely one-dimensional throughout the show, with any developments in their attitudes or actions being heavily predictable. However, since their base characteristics (i.e. being rebellious rock stars) were enough to keep one’s interest, it wasn’t really that much of an issue.

All of the above, particularly the premise itself, would have probably landed this anime a 7 in my book. Unfortunately, the show takes a hit with what I see as a glaring fault: what they were playing was barely even rock. I was extremely disappointed with the music in this show. The entire plot is based on the rebelliousness, soul, and passion of rock n’ roll, yet many times it was hard to tell the difference between the protagonists’ music and the pop-idol music they were fighting against. The “rock” of Bakumatsu Rock was the most simplistic, light-edge, vocal-centric version of the genre they could have used, which certainly isn’t at all reflective of the spirit of rock. From the first time the main character played a song, my enjoyment took a huge plunge. I had gone into the show expecting to hear great music battling bad music, creativity battling standardization, excellence battling mediocrity, individuality battling the hive mind. Instead, my ears were met with two “different” styles of music battling to the same tune. Pop-rock versus pop hardly makes for an epic encounter.

That being said, the show still managed to be entertaining. It also had some parallels between its fictional government-controlled music scene and the music industry we have now, though the lessons felt rather hollow in the face of what music was being presented as artistic. All-in-all, Bakumatsu Rock was worth watching if you don’t really have anything else to watch, and are craving to watch a show wherein pop-idols get what’s coming to them.

Just don’t expect any Foo Fighters.

Seriously though ... eh it's good. Overall it's pretty generic show, but the few things that make it different really make it fun. Story: 7 It's a pretty generic story, boy makes friends, boy makes enemies, boy fights enemies, enemies are too stronk, boy wins with some bullshit like the power of love (or in this case music). What makes it stand out is the message: You do you. It's about liking what you like and not shitting on other people for liking something else. As long as they enjoy what they're doing and are passionate about it, let 'em do it, unless they're hurting other people. Art: 6 Again, it's pretty generic. There's not much to make it really stand out. There's some pretty interesting character designs, but the bad CGI scenes really bring it down. Sound: 8 The show's about music, so you'd expect it to have good music. The pop songs are pretty generic, but not bad, and pretty catchy. The rock songs are kinda watered down and silly, but they're a nice break from the so-sweet-you-get-diabetes music in a lot of anime. They've got solid riffs and quality drums, not to mention the fact that you can actually hear the bass. Character: 6 Once again, pretty generic. You've got your standard protagonist, standard tsundere, standard nice-guy, standard psychopathic antagonist, and some pretty standard man-service characters. The character development was surprisingly good. It wasn't the standard - "oh no I'll never defeat this enemy! I've just got to believe!" *power level doubles* - that you get from some shonen, but the characters actually changing their attitudes and learning. Enjoyment: 9 This is where it shines. It's a genuinely fun show, especially if you're a fan of rock music. It's pretty funny and upbeat, and a generally exciting show. I really enjoyed the in your face rock'n'roll attitude most of the episodes had and I identified with the struggle of trying to like a heavier, non-mainstream, genre in a social climate dominated by the mainstream. Overall: 7 If you do the math, the numbers average out to 7. The word attached to 7 is also a perfect description, good. It's a good show. It's not great, but it's not bad. It's good. I wouldn't say that anyone absolutely needs to watch it, you're not really missing much if you don't, but I'm also not going to discourage anyone from watching. You're definitely not losing out if you decide to watch.

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