Hey boys and girls, did you miss me? After taking a 3-month break, I’m back to complain about anime and every now and then praise it as well!
Some things to get out of the way first: 1) Our new reviewer Skins will be helping out with First Impressions too this time! 2) Ariana is super busy, so she’ll be doing less than usual and may or may not be able to finish the reviews for Kanojo ga Flag 3) Junko is currently working at a summer camp so wont be doing any First Impressions but has told me that she will have some Avengers batch reviews up when she actually can.
Anyway, the new anime season is upon us at last so LET’S ROCK.

I want to believe this is his actual name.

In some kind of alternate Edo-period, the Shinsengumi aren’t just government warriors – they’re boy bands. They produce what’s known as ‘Heaven’s Song’, music that produces a fangirlish frenzy from the populance whilst also keeping everyone controlled (apparently, if they’re spending on their money on concert tickets and lotteries they won’t have the time or money to do anything else.) The Shinsengumi have a strict monopoly on music though – anything other than what’s approved as Heaven’s Song is strictly illegal, to the point where there are literally ‘guitar hunters’ who confiscate the guitars of unapproved musicians.

The hero of our ridiculous story is Sakamoto Ryouma, one of these unapproved musicians who wants more than anything for people to listen to and appreciate his revolutionary music – rock. But for those who aren’t used to it, rock is just noise, and Ryouma can’t seem to get anyone to accept it…except for a mysterious little ‘pretty boy’, that is. When the capital announces they are opening auditions for new Heaven’s Songs musicians, Ryouma jumps at the chance to be provided with a stage even though he doesn’t approve of the Heaven’s Song style. But auditions are invitation only, meaning Ryouma now has to track down the mysterious old music teacher who first gave him his guitar in the hopes that he counts as someone who is able to give him an invitation.

While searching for his old teacher he runs into two other musicians – the gruff Takasugi Shinsaki and the bespectacled Katsura Kogoro, who after a while seem to recognize some kind of potential in Ryouma.

Expect a lot of lines like this.

Bakumatsu Rock is based on what looks like one of the world’s most ridiculous musical rhythm games – not just because of its ‘whatever you say, anime’ storyline but because judging from this PV there are times when the songs reach such rockin’ intensity that they yell CLIMAX ECSTASY!!! and their clothes all explode off. That’s hilarious to me, although I was honestly curious about how it could work as an anime, with the odious Studio Deen at the helm to boot.

I’m actually pleased to say that Bakumatsu Rock is everything I expected it to be – which means a load of utter absurd ridiculousness that doesn’t even try to take itself seriously. If you go into it knowing that it’s based on a music game, it’s a lot easier to forgive how dumb the plot is and just try to enjoy the madness. I was definitely prepared to forgive a lot about this show so long as it was fun to watch – and as for the first episode, I think it’s safe to say that it was. How the plot is going to progress from here, or whether it’s going to be worth following in the long run is a lot less clear.

Given that this is Studio Deen, the animation isn’t anything great, yet it’s actually not that bad for Studio Deen at the same time. You can tell that they’ve saved the budget for the insert song parts (…except the one that opens the episode, where the Shinsemgumi aren’t even moving their mouths at all while singing so that they literally look like some cardboard cutouts on stage), there’s an over-reliance on CG which sometimes works but sometimes just looks like…an overreliance on CG, and the few nameless female characters that appear are animated as cheaply as possible. The actual artwork is pretty nice – there’s a lot of high-contrast colours and the characters themselves look incredibly vibrant – I’m reminded again of Meganebu, but here the explosive colours actually work instead of burning out my retinas. When I first saw the character designs before I watched the episode I thought they were a little too overdesigned and ridiculous for my liking, but they work a little better seeing them in motion amongst the rest of the episode. Personality-wise there’s nothing particularly new. Ryouma is the hot-blooded lead, Shinsaku is the angry one, Katsura is the glasses one that invents things. I’d like to give it at least one more episode to see a bit more of their character dynamics together…but mostly because I think I’m actually a bit taken by Katsura. (Look, I have certain moe points and I’m weak to them.)

Also given that this is based on a game aimed at women, there’s also a whole load of shirtless guys if that’s your thing, and the ending theme is basically a parade of barely concealed nudity which really adds to how spectacularly campy the whole show is.  And, again, although they didn’t actually say it first episode I just really want to  reiterate that CLIMAX ECSTASY!!!! thing, mostly because I wanted to type CLIMAX ECSTASY!!! again.

When Ryouma fought back against a group of samurai who wanted to confiscate his guitar by rocking the hell out, it triggered the other two guys to have their instruments magically burst into existance magical-girl-style and for their clothes to start coming off from the sheer power of the rockin’ ‘PEACE SOUL‘ that Ryouma has, and that whole sentence just about sums up the entire show so you can judge by it alone whether you think it’s worth your time. It’s one of the dumbest shows I’ve ever seen, but it’s got such a gleeful tongue-in-cheek campiness to it that it still manages to be charming.

Not even gonna try to hide the fact that I am going to watch more of this show solely because I want to see more of glasses-boy Katsura.

Out of 5,