Aw yeah! Time to be bad! Embrace that inner delinquent! Tell the authorities to shove it! And look super cute while riding!
Okay, I admit it. I don’t know anything about being a biker, and that intro sounded horrible! But for what it’s worth, this is the tone of an anime that brings together the magic of moé and motorcycles! It wouldn’t be my first pick for an anime that celebrates the recreational side of bike culture, but… it’s a lot of fun. I’ll give it that. And I’d rather not make this review about comparing the anime in question about a much better series that I have yet to review (oh, COME ON hyperlink goblins!)
Ahem… Let’s try that again. Strap on those helmets. Rev up those engines. And always remember those safety precautions before you ride down that open road. This is an anime about the light side of biking!
Bakuon!! is about a group of high school girls who have all come together for one reason: their love for biking! Although they are small in number, their all-girls academy has kept the Biking Club open for years (I don’t know. The school principal made a promise to club president Lime-senpai, or something). Hane Sakura never really knew about motorcycles before entering high school, but quickly learns the joy that comes with sitting atop that engine and riding everywhere with it.
Together with her colorful group of friends Onsa Amano, Rin Suzunoki, Hijiri Minowa, Raimu (Lime?) Kawasaki, and later Chisame Nakano, Hane and the others embrace their delinquent selves, and all the funnies ensue!
I actually don’t mind that the series brushes a broad stroke about girls and biking. Ecchi (even light ecchi) scenes are bound to happen in shows like this one. And yeah, I think of those moments as more funny than cringe-worthy. Sure, it makes little attempt at the possibility of showing that girls can be badass on a motorcycle. There are other more gritty anime out there that can prove that point.
I think the most annoying thing about this show are all the jokes that rely on product placements. Sure, I get that bikes, anime, and entertainment media in general have this whole branding thing, but Bakuon!! seems to take that concept to a whole new level, with companies like Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Ducati that compete with one another, all hogging screen time for that sweet, sweet advertising.
Which seems rather moot, because Jesus rides a Suzuki!
Okay, I won’t pick on this show forever for being kind of “meh” on my scale of entertainment. While it does rather deter from the usual fare that’s associated with bike culture in mass media, Bakuon!! is unique in expressing a much lighter side to it. When I think of bikes, I think of those cool, rebellious dudes that loudly tear down open highways, putting their lives in danger, as if they were “Hell on wheels.”
In Hijiri’s mind, that’s pretty much what biker and delinquent culture are all about, which I’m not gonna lie, sounds really cool. Hell, I’d wanna be a biker! And believe it or not, James Dean is one of my personal heroes, too.
But that’s not the entire story for all bikers, as there are plenty of bikers out there who ride for different reasons. Perhaps the idea of riding just for fun appeals to you, as it does for Hane. Maybe you’ve met your lifelong friends through biking, as Lime did. Maybe it’s a matter of pride, as it is for Rin, or you were born into that lifestyle, like Chisame.
To me though, I think the coolest part about biking is something that can never be explained. Only felt. This is what Onsa learns when she rides “Sanma” for the first time. I technically expressed this moment on this site before, but I figured it was worth repeating.
“Sanma” was a discontinued Yamaha model from her father’s generation. It was designed to be a racing bike, but flopped on the market because it was prone to frequent engine failures. Back then, Sanma was a mechanic’s nightmare. But with changes in technology and new methods that mechanics can use to tweak bikes today, Onsa got a chance to ride an old model with a new perspective.
And frankly that’s all I have to say about that that would be meaningful. What’s it like to change gears on one of naughtiest racing bikes ever? Unless you’ve tried it yourself, only Onsa would know.
To me, Bakuon!! is an anime that dares to cross a line that shows a light side to biking, that isn’t expressed enough to those who have never been on a motorcycle before. While I can’t speak for every biker (or any for that matter), Bakuon!! takes us outsiders’ trashy perception of the rebellious nature of bikers and shows that there is a ridiculously cute side to it too. Maybe some of these girls are a little too innocent to fit in with that “Hell on wheels” conception of bikers that seems to be all the rage, but maybe that’s not what bikers are all about. Hell, I’ve got biker friends who love anime, and I’m sure that they have their opinions on this show, too.
But maybe, just maybe, these girls are a little too in over their heads about being badass. Call me sexist or whatever, but if I saw Hane tear down the street in all her cuteness, I’d have to raise an eyebrow before she can convince me that she’s bad!
So if you wanted an anime about motorcycles that needed a little more cute and a lot less grit, watch Bakuon!!
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