Bakuon!! is a lot of fun and chock full of adorable little high school girls in a club together. Sound familiar?
More specifically, the story follows Sakura Hane (Ueda Reina), a high school student who rides her bicycle to school every day—struggling up grueling, steep hills. One day she catches fellow classmate Amano Onsa (Uchiyama Yumi) effortlessly overcome these slopes with her hot spankin’ motorcycle. The two eventually meet up with other like-minded students in the school’s motorcycle club, where they engage in plenty of fun and quirky antics.
What separates this little moe feature from ones we’ve seen previously is the special attention with which it treats its subject material. Motorcycles is seriously the name of the game here. This first episode charts Sakura’s attempts to gain her license, a ride here and there, a quick jaunt through the local motorcycle store, as well as the benefits and detriments of riding to begin with. Not only this, but the vehicles themselves are portrayed with striking realism, even down to the particular brands and models.
In fact, the narrative focus is often split between its characters and their vehicles—throughout this episode, I often had a difficult time determining whether this was an anime about cute little girls who happen to ride motorcycles or an anime about motorcycles featuring cute little girls. While this may appeal most to those that love both, it might do little to persuade viewers not especially fond of bikes to stick around with the show and see where it goes. While I myself am generally fascinated with motorcycles (despite being unable to ride one), I still found the lack of character-focus to hurt my overall engagement. I’m not asking for especially impressive depth or intricacy, but perhaps they could’ve been a little more fleshed out. A series’ debut should do something to familiarize myself with its characters—something which I feel Bakuon!! didn’t do at quite the level I’d hoped.
But gosh darn if these gals don’t just look so cute. The animation is art style and animation are both absolutely delectable. Soft trims and shading really go a long way in making these characters pop. While the color palette isn’t anything particularly impressive, it serves the somewhat realistic tone of the show pretty well. Adorable, expressive faces bring these individuals to life, who—if anything—showcase convincing emotion
The show’s humor is neither outstandingly hilarious nor egregiously flat. It’s just sort of generally amusing, which is perhaps its only intention. Some moments shone brighter than others, such as the sexual musings of Sakura’s training motorcycle, while others didn’t really do it for me, such as the ramblings Suzunoki (although her wipeout was hilarious to me, does that make me a bad person?). This is perhaps a result of the show’s surprisingly laid-back tone. For a show centered around fast vroomy motorcycles, the pacing is surprisingly slow—it doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to get anywhere. Hopefully this will be utilized to develop (if only slightly) its characters a little more, so that ensuing comedic gags will bear a little more weight.
Overall a fun, if somewhat underwhelming debut from an otherwise promising show. Bakuon!! is a beautiful production from the get-go, showcasing some gorgeous animation and character design. However, the show seems to be in the midst of an identity crisis this early on—is it about the characters or those sweet, tasty bikes? I hope for the former, because these characters could stand to exhibit a little more personality, and in turn, prove for more effective comedic material. However, this is just the show’s opening night, and there’s still plenty of time to amend these easily fixable issues.
ED: 「Voon! Voon! Ride On! (ぶぉん！ぶぉん！らいど・おん！)」 by (Hane Sakura (Reina Ueda), Rin Suzunoki (Nao Touyama), Onsa Amano (Yumi Uchiyama), Hijiri Minowa (Rikako Yamaguchi))