by Lauren Orsini,
Eleven episodes in, I can finally confirm: Bakumatsu Rock is so bad it's good.
Every time I watch an episode, I share its most outrageous dialoguewith my friends—“My dad went to jail for rocking out!”, “Even if you tie up my body, you can't tie up my heart!”—hoping to get a little sympathy for sitting through this every week. Their reactions are always the same:
“I can't believe how much you're making me want to watch this crazy show.”
Last week's teaser promised this to be the most historically inaccurate episode, and it did not disappoint. In what might be the moneyshot of anachronisms, Ryouma traveled by literal rocket. Given that they both take place in the Edo period and fireworks were involved, I'm hoping this is a nod to Oh! Edo Rocket, which I consider to be pretty underrated.
This was an especially musical episode, too. There was the return of Heaven's Song, which is purported as harmful to citizens but is pretty darn enjoyable in my opinion, and several different refrains of the Ultra Soul repertoire. It was a pretty good touch when they began playing their own ending theme and we got to visually verify who sings which section.
The plot wasn't wasn't anything to write home about between these antics, though. The antagonists have figured out how to weaponize guitar riffs to the point where our heroes receive physical damage when they're in the vicinity. Perhaps this is a nod to another highly underrated musical anime called The Legend Of Black Heaven, in which one man's rock music is so deadly to violent extraterrestrials that he must literally “hard rock save the space!” There's a rich precedent for hokey musical anime, and I wouldn't be surprised if the directors are familiar with them all.
We're wrapping up the show and learning that perhaps the bad guy isn't the worst of our worries. Will cheesy dialogue and catchy music save the day? Of course! The question is just how this ridiculous (and ridiculously self-aware) ride is going to end.
Bakumatsu Rock is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.
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