19 CommentsFirst Impressions / By Scamp /

Bakumatsu Rock episode 1 – The government is making you watch idol crap

79With Shinmaru and Inushinde leaving to go have fun at anime cons during the start of a new season again, I’m left holding down the fort to write about what is shaping up to be The Summer of Gayness. I’m not covering Free 2 because we all know Free is crap because it’s by Kyoani and as a famous and highly intelligent man once said “kyoani sux”. However Bakumatsu Rock is new and shiny and horribly animated and therefore I should probably give it a fair shake.

In case you are one of those poor individuals who didn’t read my season preview and are therefore basking in a sea of ignorance regarding the new season, Bakumatsu Rock is based off a PSP rhythm game set in 19th century Japan in which the government demanded everyone listened to shitty idol music. In steps our hero, a brash, bare chested young man wielding his guitar with the The Great Wave off Kanagawa imprinted on it. He’s ready to show up the government sanctioned garbage and play his own brand of music that sounds eerily similar to the government sanctioned garbage bar the fact it has the odd little guitar riff in the middle.

HorribleSubs-Bakumatsu-Rock-01-720p.mkv_snapshot_00.46_2014.07.02_23.40.30It’s basically the story of Elvis Presley with his dangerous swaying hips. Playing rock music to make the ladies swoon and the authority grumble in disgust. Bakumatsu Rock does actually have a little bit of social commentary in its writing, which was more than I was expecting from it. The only way ladies can attend crappy government sanctioned idol garbage is by buying concert lottery tickets in massive packs, which they never win because all the tickets actually go to the rich and privileged in society. You might ask why these fangirls can’t just not pay for these stupid tickets and stop wasting their money. It paints the lower classes as hopeless naive idiots who burn their money on wasted dreams they know will go against them but cling on to the dream regardless (hey, kinda like the regular lottery). If you don’t buy that many tickets then you are clearly not a true fan. It’s normal to pay for 10-20 tickets at a time, even if it puts you in debt and you’re never going to win anyway. But just look at that idol’s sexy chest and his awful music! How are you supposed to resist that?

What did rather confuse me was when the actual rock music started playing and it sounded nearly identical to the idol music at first. I could interpret that as an intentional piece of societal commentary on the part of Bakumatsu Rock. For all rock’s image of throwing off the shackles of society, in reality the fans are merely throwing off one set of shackles to put on another. These women are buying into a different oppressor who will keep them down and the truly depressing part is they do this to themselves. They eagerly dance into the cuffs held by the Shinsengumi. What Bakumatsu Rock is truly saying is stand up sisters! Stand up and throw off them shackles. You don’t need a man to idolise. You can become your own idols. You can control your own destiny. Better yourselves, better your sisters, stand up to the patriarchy and rip down the walls separating you from true freedom! That’s what Bakumatsu Rock is truly about!

9Or it could just be a really cheap production by a shitty animation study that believes throwing together a bunch of pretty anime boys on screen singing songs is enough to get fans to buy their material in their thousands. I prefer my explanation, although wouldn’t it be beautifully ironic if the Blu-Rays for Bakumatsu Rock came out and included a promotional concert ticket.

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  1. Posted July 3, 2014 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    For the record, the BD/DVDs for the show do include a lottery ticket to an idol-like event. Which is not unusual at all but rather ironic in this case.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 3, 2014 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      The irony is delicious.

      …although seriously do the marketers not even watch the show?

      • Gan_HOPE326
        Posted July 3, 2014 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

        I mused the same question as I tried watching the first episodes of WIXOSS. Which basically could be summed up as “there is a Children’s Card Game that is EVIL and DANGEROUS and also so fucking complicated we won’t even bother trying explaining the rules as your weak girly brains wouldn’t grasp them! …btw wanna buy a Children’s Card Game?”.

      • Scamp
        Posted July 4, 2014 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

        Can you actually buy Wixoss cards? I was under the impression there wasn’t any

      • Gan_HOPE326
        Posted July 5, 2014 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

        Why, OF COURSE you can:


        That’s really what puzzled me the most when I watched the show. YuGiOh was cheesy like hell, but at least it did a good job of getting you wanting to play the game.

  2. Mystic
    Posted July 3, 2014 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    This one is based off a game which I sort of want to play now and free is something you either like or you don’t. I enjoy both for various reasons.

    Bakumatsu is stupid bishounen fun, I know what going on is incredibly dumb and silly but I can still enjoy it. Free is more about character driven, I like character pieces even if it isn’t the deepest thing ever. The fanservice in both is merely a bonus for me.

  3. fathomlesblue
    Posted July 3, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    It’s basically Macross 7-meets-AKB0048, but with brain-dead bishies instead of an autistic narcissist screaming incoherently at space whales. So basically minus any reason for me to keep watching.

    Hey, remember Detroit Metal City? Bakumatsu Rock certainly doesn’t.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 4, 2014 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t seen Macross 7 but even I thought of it when the character started going “listen to my song”

  4. Shikamaru
    Posted July 3, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    It was stupid and ridiculous, but I also enjoyed it. I even laughed 3 times while watching this. I will definitely watch the next episode. Well, I will probably end up dropping it at some point thought.

    Free! 2 will be the first Kyoani anime that I won’t watch. I watched the first season and it was fine. I’m just a huge Kyoani fanboy so I usually end up watching everything they make.

    Is Fumoffu the only Kyoani anime that you have enjoyed Scamp?

    • Kenjeran
      Posted July 4, 2014 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      He likes Clannad, Haruhi, and obviously K-ON!

      • Scamp
        Posted July 4, 2014 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

        And Lucky Star obviously

  5. Magicmew
    Posted July 3, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Bakumatsu is the new Utena

  6. Posted July 3, 2014 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    I’m hoping the RAWK gets better. This series is really hitting the same tones as Macross 7. Minus the space vampires that get off on ROCK AND ROLL… FOR NOW. What, it might be true!

  7. Fifteenth
    Posted July 3, 2014 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    This is the first time voice acting bothered me so much.

    • aethelwolf
      Posted July 3, 2014 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      So many bright colooors! At least they chose a (marginally) less-common era of Japanese History to base this in. It could have easily been “Sengoku Rock,” with yet another Noda Obunaga adaptation who is portrayed as desirable instead of y’know, a merciless, bloothirsty warlord…

      And in Swimming Anime news (since this appears to be the unofficial comment thread) the ending credits are ADORABLE again this year. *Squee*

      • Kiraly
        Posted July 4, 2014 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        Marginally less common? There’s a million anime about the Shinsengumi and that period. If anything, the Sengoku era is less milked.

  8. Someone Else
    Posted July 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    I watched Free S1 until the end. Gonna watch it too because


  9. Mr. Anon
    Posted July 4, 2014 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    This show gets the rare ‘dropped before even finishing the first episode’. I’d rather watch Brynhildr a second time than sit through this.

  10. anonanimuwatcher
    Posted July 5, 2014 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Nice write-up.
    It bothers me when female characters are only screaming fangirls who could never do some action/sports/rocknroll themselves. Janis Joplin anyone? Couldn’t there be at least one Mary Sue rocker in one of the bands? Well maybe there will be I don’t know.
    I can’t believe I watched the whole episode. The guys are all unattractive to me – all except the main character whose clothes always seem to be on their way off. But seriously, what “passion”? This is the most generic light mainstream “rock” I’ve ever heard. It would be cool if it had actually good songs.

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