Anime Review: Bakuon!!

By Drew Hurley 25.08.2018

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Bakuon!! (UK Rating: 15)

Teenager Hane Sakura is going to become a biker. It's not something she expected. She still wore her middle school helmet while riding her little bicycle to school each day; that is until she sees a fellow classmate tear past on a motorcycle. It ignites a passion within her and after one ride on the back of a superbike with a mysterious member of her school's Bike Club, she's on the path to getting her licence and chasing after her missing parents. Coming courtesy of MVM, this complete collection hit the streets on 20th August.

Being this type of anime, one of the first things the series focuses on is uniting the group of girls. Hane's first friend in this group is the classmate she sees on a motorcycle, Onsa. Onsa is brash and tomboyish, with a love for superbikes, her passion is shown in the early episodes to be because her family runs the local bike shop, Nikoichi motors. Next up is the girl who gives Hane her first ride and turns out to be the only member of the school's motorcycle club, Raimu Kawasaki. A mysterious girl who is constantly hidden behind her motorbike helmet, Raimu graduated long ago but has repeatedly returned to the school to help out each generation of bikers. She becomes the customary motherly figure in the group, even without ever really speaking. It's like the "cute girl doing cute things" version of the Stig.

The trio is joined by the pigtailed blonde, Rin Suzunoki. Rin has a passion for everything Suzuki thanks to her close relationship with her accident-prone father who also loves Suzuki bikes. Rin is the comic relief of the group, with her giraffe obsession and crazy stories about her dad. Finally, the quartet becomes a quintet with the addition of Hijiri Minowa. When introduced at the start of the series she's an underclassman and not yet old enough to get her licence; luckily, she's the group's rich girl, so she has her butler to drive her around in a sidecar attached to his bike. She loves Rebel Without a Cause and would love to become a classic Japanese delinquent, but is too nice and polite to actually do so.


 
The series has some really weird and surreal moments. There's an episode where Hane passes a fellow biker out of gas who is clearly Jesus Christ… He reads scripture from his iPad and gives Hane the Holy Grail. The training school the girls attend has a training motorbike named "Baita" (translates as slut) that somehow can talk… to some people. She helps Hane learn to ride by explaining that Hane should handle a bike like she handles a man, and talking about how she loves men riding her...  She wets herself and leaks oil… just plain out there. These moments are sporadic, with most of the comedy relying on the classic slice-of-life gags, four girls just hanging out and talking. It's not hilarious, but there are plenty of funny moments that give the series enough to make it enjoyable.

There's plenty of fan-service through Bakuon!!, too, especially for bike fans: Kawasaki, Suzuki, Honda, and Yamaha - the Japanese "Big Four." There are tons of real-world examples of bikes shown off here, like how Girls und Panzer showed off real-world tanks. The inner workings of the bikes are discussed at great length, along with the bikes themselves being showcased repeatedly. There's the other type of fan-service, too, of course, but to be honest it's very minimal. Busty Rin in her pink, skin-tight riding suit bounces and jiggles constantly. The girls drape themselves over the bikes like race girls in the episode mid cards. Then there's the occasional moment in an episode; there's an episode where the girls go skinny dipping for a few moments, a pervy yuri teacher assaulting the girls, and at one point the girls get into bikinis to clean their bikes, and decide to "use their whole bodies" to wash the bikes quicker. A few moments here and there are about the extent of the ecchi, and with the cartoony look of the ladies this is more akin to K-On than Love Live when it comes to the pervy fan-service.

Originally released in April 2016, the series looks passable, but was very evidently quite a low budget show from TMS Entertainment, a venerable house that has been producing anime since the '60s. It has run the gambit on anime series and anime movies of various genres and budgets for some time and is able to put out some decent work. The only real issue with the presentation is that during some of the motorcycle sequences there is some really janky looking CG.

While billed as the complete collection, there are actually two OVAs missing from this release. It's always disappointing to see these episodes not included with a Western release as they are unlikely to ever see the light of day otherwise. What this collection does contain is all 12 episodes of the main story across two discs with the original Japanese dub. There are a few special features collected here, too. There are the usual clean opening and closing, along with trailers and promo videos, and also a few shorts. There's one entitled "Behind the scenes," which shows off some footage of a real-life Raimu. A feature entitled "Bumpers," which is about two minutes of just really weird moments taken completely out of context and shown while snippets of the theme song play.

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Bakuon!! is a decent enough slice of life series that has some fun episodes and the occasional funny moment, yet just as many completely forgettable episodes. A nice little slice of life series for fans of the genre and one that will at least educate on the world of biking.

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