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.