Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bakumatsu Rock Review

Bakumatsu Rock Review

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers of the show Bakumatsu Rock. If you wish not to know some plot details, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series, please exit the tab, and join me once you've watched the show. Or you know, you can continue to read, since you don't care about spoilers.

Anyways, with that said, thank you, and onto the review:

Summer 2014. A time where I went to a fun camp up at a local college, started cross country in high school, started this blog, and where I watched a s**t ton of anime that were mostly all awesome and exciting. I must admit, the summer before my freshman year was very relaxing, and I had a lot of fun immersing into more shows I thought would be a good time.

I first heard about this show before it started airing. It caught my attention right away from an article on Anime News Network, seeing it was based off of a PSP game, though I wasn't ready to watch it just yet. I had other series that I wanted to enjoy, thus leading this to be delayed.

Eventually, I saw that this show was going to be released in October, and I thought, "You know what? Why not watch this next?" It seemed like a good idea. It was similar to Uta Pri with music, and the animation has always been a keen factor into watching. I mean, just admire the pretty in the key visual! 

I wasn't expecting a masterpiece, but I still was looking for a good time, while stumbling on the name of the show, at first calling it Bakamatsu Rock instead of the title above. The fact that I managed to finish this series as fast as I did can be blamed on the hot weather where I live this past week and early morning CC practice. But still, that meant the show was awesome, right?

Back up your brakes on that one. This series is good, but I think that it could have had potential to be better than what it turned out to be. Don't get me wrong, there's some parts to this show that are pretty cool and exciting, but like Infinite Stratos, I feel like the show could have pushed a little bit more so that it'd have been better than average for the most part.

Let's start off with this show's story, which is half fairly interesting, and half underwhelming (I'll discuss why later).


The story for this anime is a re-imagination of the Bakumatsu period of Japan, which took place in the 19th century. This series' main theme is music, and the plot revolves around that. The Tokugawa shogunate uses songs known as Heaven's Songs, with their idol groups known as the Shinsengumi, to brainwash the people of Japan (mainly later on in the series) so that they can rule it (WOW! SO ORIGINAL *sarcasm*).

Outside of the Heaven's Songs, all other types of music are banned, and they're punishable by a capital offense. Enter Ryoma Sakamato, an energetic male who wishes to become a famous rocker so he can spread his music throughout Japan.  He later meets 2 other males who were under the guidance of the man who gave Ryoma his outlandish guitar, known as Mr. Shion (given the nickname Mr. Shaggy by Ryoma). Shinsaku Takasugi and Katsura Kogoro, the other male beauties, are looking for Mr. Shion after he went missing. Eventually, the 3 form a band to oppose the shogunate and Heaven's Songs, especially when Ii, the head honcho (well, not necessarily by the end of the series), uses the Songs for brainwashing, to make Japan Peaceful. 

After the leader of the Shinsugami, Kondo, dies when he sacrifices himself to save one of the popular members of the group, Soji Okita, from hypnosis, Soji and Hijikata (another member) find themselves on their own since their fellow members are under the Peaceful spell. After pondering for a bit, they decide to join up with our 3 main heroes, though they have a different goal in mind, which is to pass on their former leader's legacy. Together, they might as well have the potential to unleash the Ultra Soul (Peace Souls FTW), so let's show the Shogunate what we got. What do you say?

The main highlight of the plot is the story's progression. The show has a very nice pace, and it's not that boring. The episodes in the first half mainly have to deal with the rockers trying their best to perform in various places, and also to spy on the Shinsugami to see what the hubbub is about.

However, does that mean this show has a wonderful story? No. I wasn't expecting anything mind-blowing, and I got what was coming. The main problem of this show is the fact that at some times, it takes itself way too seriously than it should, especially in the last episode. Also, the story is just way too predictable at points.

For example, when Ii decides to use Soji so that he can hypnotize people into falling under the Peaceful spell, the main core start to realize he has a Peace Soul (which I saw coming, and the fact that the anime put Soji and Hijikata in the opening and the ending, where the seiyuus of their characters sing (while their characters appear), obviously gave it away, so way to go with poor foreshadowing. Also a Hulu episode description spoiled me) But what about Hijikata? The most unique thing is that while Kondo dies, he gives his Peace Soul to Hijikata, as he is also a very popular member, and pretty much the only one who's another main character, so why not right?

The good news is, the show didn't go into mocking mood to tell me it would get better, like this:

But at the same time, it didn't fully execute its potential into something that I would fully enjoy. The predictability, plus the fact that it would take itself far too seriously (along with failing to play with my emotions in Episode 10) is what degraded this for me.

However, I don't think this is the weakest part of the anime. The next section is where I have the most fault with.


*sighs* I only really liked 2 characters in this anime. 2. That's it. Some of the other characters didn't appear for the lot of the show, others weren't really interesting overall, some were just tropes, and 2 were about as interesting as watching static on television for 10 minutes. And these 2 were main characters, So yeah, that's not that good right off the bat.

Considering the fact that I'm not really in the mood to go over all of the main characters since some of them aren't that good, I'm going to do a similar approach as in my Show By Rock review, where I talk about them as a group. Shall we?

Meet the Ultra Souls (basically, they got the name because of the fact that they all have Peace Souls. And like I said before, they can all combine into the Ultra Soul if powerful enough. OMG SO CLEVER! *sarcasm*)!

Ryoma is our main character, the energetic leader of the group (he's in the way back). He has a lot of enthusiasm towards rock in general, and has tons of goals in mind. He normally stays in this bubble, though breaks out for it for some odd reason in Episode 10, due to the fact he feels like the rock he's playing now might actually be hurting people more than helping them. This didn't really make a lot of sense to me, but then Episode 11 proved some examples, so I wasn't as confused. Besides that, he's another constantly happy character, and he's kind of one of the better ones. He plays guitar.

Shinsaku's my favorite character (besides the fact that he's voiced by Tatsuhisa Suzuki),  but I think his hot-headiness is actually quite funny (he's next to Ryoma). He's definitely more of a tsundere character, but he grows to like Ryoma as the series goes on, though he still hates Soji. Given the nickname Cindy by Ryoma, which he despises, he plays bass guitar in the group. He is most distinguishable by the unknown object that he keeps in his mouth, and his general unfriendliness. He also admires Mr. Shion the most out of our lead 3.

Katsura Kogoro is boring character #1 (closet on the right). At first, he starts off a little interesting with his Chidori impersonation of smacking the other 2 with a giant fan (mainly Shinsaku), but then kind of degenerates into this stereotypical smart character that doesn't mesh well with me. I think the highlight of him is that he made a rocket just in case Ryoma met up with the others after he decides to think by himself, while they were off towards the final boss battle (they were without Shinsaku, since he decided to go to Ii himself, and ended up brainwashed). Besides being an inventor, he is given the nickname Sensei by Ryoma. He plays the drums.

Next up are our 2 former members of the Shinsugami (both are on the left side). Besides whipping out instruments in Episode 7 out of thin air with no explanation, one is pretty cool and attractive, while Hijikata.......err.......

Soji is actually quite interesting. Besides having a better and more unique design in the cast, he seems to have an on-the-edge personality, where he often threatens to kill Ryoma (who he calls Rooster) and his band. Though he still doesn't really like Ryoma or Shinsaku (who he calls Tryhard), his personality seems to be more centered, rather on the verge of violence.

We can just skip Hijikata, because he's very blah, and thinking about him makes me want to fall to sleep.

Other characters include Ii, the boring main antagonist, Yoshinobu, the "main" antagonist  who doesn't really feel like one, Kondo, the director of the Shinsugami who's a nice side character, Yataro, who can be good with some of the financial things, Mr. Shion, someone who knew Mr. Shion from the past, Otose, the manager of the pizzeria where Ryoma works at, Dark Cherries, an underground idol group who are sent to kill the group but fail due to their incompetence (their episode was the best of the anime), and a character who pops up at the end of the show, who's a rocker from the US, hinting at a second season that we're probably not going to get. He's in the 2nd game though, and he seems quite conceited.


The animation for this series was produced by Studio Deen, most known for their work on the Junjo Romantica franchise, the Higurashi franchise, and Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan.

As a whole, the animation for this series is quite colorful. There's a buttload of insanely bright colors put all over this anime, and it has a nice effect on me. The characters looks very good for the most part, and even through some of the dips in quality, there's always moments where it steps it up a notch.

No, I'm not talking about the manservice (though some of it was quite nice). I'm referring to the CGI used in some of the show's performance scenes, and on instruments. Guess what guys, it's actually pretty good! It still does look a little odd to see it, even though I've seen it used in other shows, but this was one of the nicer examples that don't make my eyes burn. It kind of reminds me of Guitar Hero in a way, as the characters look nicely polished up close.

There's a couple issues, such as inconsistent manservice animation, and the fact that when the Ultra Souls' Peace Souls awaken, they repeat the same clips over and over again, and I lost interest by the 3rd time it was used. And some of it didn't sync with the songs they were singing.

But alas, I still enjoyed it for the most part, though I think it'll look better when it's on DVD.


The score for this series was composed by Tomoki Kikuya, who has also worked on the scores for Cat Planet Cuties, Nisekoi, and Squid Girl.

As a whole, the score was actually pretty nice. Though I don't have a firm grip on some of the pieces, I think that it had a nice rock n' roll vibe (hehe I made a joke). Though as a whole, I remember more of the songs that the cast members performed, and the majority of them still prove (or show their worth) in their singing chops, respectively Kisho Taniyama (whose voice sometimes sounds too good in some situations where he sings, but whatever), Tatsuhisa Suzuki (fans self), and Kensho Ono.

The funniest song has got to be the Dark Cherries song. The whole time they were performing it (which was 1 verse repeated 2 times), I was laughing pretty hard, along with some of the other events that happened.

The voice acting is also pretty decent. An interesting thing to bring up is how the first 3 members of the Ultra Souls are all a part of Uta Pri (1 being a member of STARISH and 2 of QUARTET NIGHT). I wasn't sure on who voiced Shinsaku about a year ago, though I did know the seiyuu's first name started with Tatsu. When I looked up the show recently, I was surprised to find out that the voice of Ranmaru would be in another show. Let's also include some voice actors in the side cast that I wasn't expecting, like Noriaki Sugiyama and Megumi Toyoguichi, who were nice enough, though not as much as some of the others.

Highlights out of the Japanese include Kisho Taniyama, Tatsuhisa Suzuki (duh), Kensho Ono, Hiroki Yasumoto (he does have a good voice for villains, just saying), Keiji Fujiwara, Sachika Misawa, and Kenji Nomura.


This was a very decent show to watch now that school's started for me. I had some fun while watching, and I'm sure some others will find good in here too. Just don't expect this to be a masterpiece, since that'd be a far stretch. 

But hey, it's got a little manservice and good plot progression. So if you like that, plus music, this may be for you.

Score: 7/10


Good plot progression.

Some nice characters.

Great animation, plus CGI.

Nice score.

Voice acting isn't horribly annoying or average.

Some satisfying bits of manservice.


Show doesn't push itself as much as it could.

Some events either take themselves way too seriously or are too predictable.

Most characters are boring or stereotypical.

The Peace Soul awakening animation being repeated.

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