This show is silly. It’s set in the Bakamatsu period of Japan in the mid-1800s. Except in this alternate universe, the Japanese government has outlawed any form of music that isn’t from their special male idol group of Shinsengumi—as in an actual musical pop group of pretty boys—and the heroes of this story are some guys challenging the norm with rock n roll. And for some reason, electric guitars and other modern sound equipment exist. And for some reason, our heroes don’t even need to plug their electric guitars to play them. They’re also superheroes or gods, or something, apparently. It’s sort of like AKB0048 but for the fujoshi and rock and roll crowd.
I did find the episode amusing, though I’m not quite sure if I would call it good or bad yet. It’s the sort of show where its utterly ridiculous and self-aware in a way that it’s simply not clear how seriously you’re supposed to take it. It couldn’t be called a straight-up comedy or parody because the plot isn’t entirely comedic, yet you also can’t assume that it takes itself completely seriously. Whether or not you think its bad, I’d be hard pressed to say anyone could think of a story about a colorful rock n’ roll in the Bakumatsu era, and not realize just how absurd the concept is. At the very least it’s supposed to be anachronistic. With these sort of shows, I just try not to worry too much about how asinine the setting might be and focus on the actual story and characters. For any story, what’s important is less if the setting makes sense, and more if the show uses the setting to its benefit—whatever it is that Bakumatsu Rock is trying to do.
Sakamoto is awfully obnoxious. Not as in I find him annoying to watch, but I can see why all the townsfolk see him that way and no one likes him. See, imagine that you live in the 1800s capital city of Kyoto, a time where most people still had hard-working blue collar jobs (none of these wimpy computer “desk jobs” that are common now,) most women were housewives, and houses and communities were generally smaller. Now imagine your some dude just trying to tend to his business in peace or a woman taking care of her kid, and then just to make your shitty life even shittier comes running this deadbeat kid shouting his shitty songs and strumming away on his shitty electric guitar. Now you’re having trouble concentrating at your job, or your kid is crying from all the noise, and all this stupidly-dressed dude cares about is expressing his passion and inner feelings through the power of music; just some guy with his head up in the clouds. That was probably more words than necessary to describe my point, but you get my point.
And yeah, it doesn’t make much sense why a government would ever outlaw all music that doesn’t belong to their special group of idols, unless they’re doing it as some sort of thought police. And that could be the case with Bakumatsu Rock, but even then why wouldn’t they simply just ban all music with anti-government sentiment? According to the episode its so the government can exploit the poor by getting them to buy a bunch of concert tickets, but then you wonder why they don’t just set up a lottery system. On another note, Sakomoto also doesn’t seem to be the smartest guy either, running around with a guitar when the government has a ban on those is just asking to get arrested.
I do quite like the character designs for this show. Some fujoshi anime have a tendency to use super flashy and colorful designs for their characters, where everyone wear’s complicated clothing that you would only ever see hardcore punks or chuunibyous wear in real life. Often these designs look nice on paper, but sometimes it’ll just be obnoxious and unappealing in animated form; whether it’s because the design is too complex or the colors just don’t mesh well in motion. Amnesia from last year is the first to come to mind that had this issue. Now for Bakumatsu Rock, even if it’s silly, if we’re just talking about aesthetic appeal the show nails it with the character designs; they’re flashy and detailed, and nice to look at. I love the use of red and blue for the protagonist, and his fiery afro-like hair is fun to look at. The shota kid’s earring and gold and white color scheme stand out to me too. The blue and green haired guys are less exciting, but they’re cool too. And I always like it when with Shinsengumi reimaginings, they mix modern, more western military uniforms with that of the traditional kimonos the actual Shinsengumi wore.
The best part of the episode is of course when our trio of rock n roll heroes wow the Shinsengumi by summoning their “Peace Soul” powers, in which out of nowhere they’re clothes get ripped off, instruments materialize out of nowhere, and they start floating into the air surrounded by a bunch of flashy of lights. If there’s anything about this show that was just so incredibly stupid yet awesome at the same time, it’d be watching those three dudes rip off their shirts and jam out like some gods of rock. Again, I wouldn’t call this show good or bad yet, but this could prove to be a pretty fun show if it keeps it up with that sort of zaniness