If you've watched K-ON, Gochiusa, Kiniro Mosaic or any of the hundreds upon hundreds of cute slice-of-life anime out there, you've already watched Bakuon.
People like these shows for a reason, as evidenced by the massive amount of BluRays and merchandise they tend to sell. I'm fine with them, and presumably anybody who would give something like Bakuon the light of day is fine with them, too. But when the only thing distinguishing them from one another is what gimmick they can throw in (in this case, motorcycles), there begins to be a problem.
It is especially apparent that the motorcycle aspect of Bakuon is more
background to the girls being cute and sexy and stupid and whatever. It will likely please biking fans with its references to and jokes about specific motorcycles and brands, but it never goes into detail and is largely superficial. Bakuon needed some way to distinguish itself from other shows in the genre, and, hey, biker girls is fresh or something, right? It's a bit of a shame, since other Cute Girls anime like K-ON have already shown that something meaningful can indeed be done with the girls' club activities. Biking can be more than an excuse to animate boobs jigglin' with the wind, and while it occasionally tries to go a step further with Rin's and Chisame's backstories, it never goes quite far enough.
Anybody seeking realism is, obviously, not going to get what they are looking for here. Bakuon breaks physics and sense on a regular basis. The girls get air-time so big they put Hollywood to shame. Heck, one of the motorcycles is even sentient! And God is a motorcycle otaku! And all the males wear masks and have their faces hidden for whatever reason. Bakuon just don't give a damn. It knows its viewers are not going to take anything it has to say seriously, and so it amps the lunacy up to twelve. It's okay with being dumb. It doesn't want to take itself seriously, and it doesn't need to. I'm cool with Bakuon in that regard. At the very least, it already puts itself above some other shows in the genre by keeping the drama to a minimum and focusing on why people are watching a show like this in the first place: comedy and cute girls, with an emphasis on the cute girls part. If the choice is between bad drama and minimal drama (I certainly would not trust Bakuon to handle it with any sort of grace), then I will choose the latter without hesitation.
There are some striking-- almost scary-- similarities to K-ON here, particularly with regards to Chisame, the show's late addition to the cast. A year passes and Chisame, as one of the new first-years, joins the bike club, much like Azusa from K-ON, and initially shows reluctance and a distaste for the club's silly behaviour, much like Azusa, before giving in and growing an attachment to it, much like Azusa. She also has twintails, much like Azusa, and the exact same freakin' last name, right down to sharing the same kanji. Maybe they're long-lost siblings? Something to think about.
Whether you will enjoy Bakuon or not is largely dependent on your interest in girls with twintails, as the other girls are sure as hell not going to appeal to anyone. You have your Yui clone, presumably a victim of intense brain damage, your Ritsu (who now has frizzly and messy hair), and your Tsumugi, an ojou-sama with a butler attending everywhere she goes. Yawn. Rin and Chisame are the only ones with character, who aren't completely one-dimensional and who actually bring some life to the show. Rin has a legitimate reason for loving biking and brings passion to the show as a result, while Chisame provides an outsider's perspective to the world of motorbiking along with her amusing deadpan humour, and is so adorable that you will want to reach out and squeeze her whenever she appears. (Chisame also looks like Nico. And Rin has big boobs. I thought I should mention that.)
Bakuon does not attempt to hide the fact that the girls are there primarily for sex appeal, what with all the close-up shots of their boobs jiggling, Rin's (naked) butt shaking in the camera's vicinity and taking up approximately 90% of the screen, and them cleaning their bikes (in a swimsuit, by the way!) by grinding and rubbing their genitals all over them. One of Rin's most defining physical characteristics is that she has a motorcycle logo branded on her butt. Bakuon is pretty weird.
I am not someone who believes sexiness is inherently wrong and should be banned from all media. Sexiness is fine. Rather, the issue I have is that most anime force it in where it is entirely unnecessary. If it's a story about, say, a gravure idol or a girl working at a hostess club, it is more than welcome. A group of high school students playing mahjong or music, on the other hand? Not so much.
Under ordinary circumstances, then, I might criticise something like Bakuon for the aforementioned scenes. But honestly? The T&A is one of the only noteworthy things about the entire show. You take that and the motorcycle gimmick away and you're not left with much else. So I'll take the sexy biker chicks who masturbate themselves via their motorcycle, if only because I can't imagine Bakuon being even less of a show than it already is.
But I'll also admit that, despite all its issues and lack of anything meaningful or noteworthy, I still enjoyed Bakuon more than I expected to. It starts off quite rough, and it's only towards the end that it establishes its characters and figures out what it wants to be. For those last few episodes (9 onwards), I genuinely did have a good time with it. It's not a bad anime by any means. It's fine. It's OK. It has heart. And it can be more when it wants to be more - it just doesn't try nearly as much as it should.
Boring? Sure. Uninspired? Absolutely. But you can go a lot worse than Bakuon if you're just looking for cute anime girls to keep you occupied.
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Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Apr 5, 2016 to Jun 21, 2016
Premiered: Spring 2016
Broadcast: Tuesdays at 00:00 (JST)
Producers: Lantis, DAX Production, NBCUniversal Entertainment Japan, Akita Shoten, eBooK Initiative Japan
Licensors: Sentai Filmworks
Studios: TMS Entertainment
Duration: 23 min. per ep.
Rating: PG-13 - Teens 13 or older
Score: 6.481 (scored by 2305923,059 users)
1 indicates a weighted score.
2 based on the top anime page. Please note that 'Not yet aired' and 'R18+' titles are excluded.