With 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.
It’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!
Or 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.