In April 2009 Kyoto Animation starting broadcast of K-ON!. K-On! was a massive success spawning a second season with double the episodes, a theatrical movie, multiple singles and live performances and countless amounts of merchandise. Even 6 years later you’ll be hard pressed to find an anime fan who hasn’t at least heard of K-On!. Why did I start this review talking about K-On!? If you’ve seen the series read my story paragraph and you’ll probably understand.
Bakunon!! Follows Hane Sakura, an air-headed first year student who, while on her first day of school bumps into a black-haired girl riding a motorcycle and decides that would work better than riding a bicycle up the hill every day. She ends up joining the bike club with the black-haired girl, Onsa Amano along with a rich girl Hijiri Minowa as well as a silent character that always wears a bike helmet Raimu Kawasaki and a hardcore bike otaku who never really joins the club but hangs out with them a lot Rin Suzunoki. After working hard to get her license Hane goes to a bike store that ends up being owned by the family of a club member (Onsa in this case) before ignoring what everyone else says and picks the bike she wants. The advisor is a teacher who seems to have an obsession with taking high school girls’ clothes off and at the opening festival in their second year they preform which gets a singular first year (Chisame Nanako) to join that’s friends with Hane’s sister but she ends up having reservations. Oh also, Hane’s younger sister; Yume, looks a lot like her and takes care of both of them because their parents constantly go on trips together.
I don’t want to keep comparing this to K-On! but that paragraph was over 200 words of mostly similarities between the two which wouldn’t be so bad, except a lot seem to be there just because K-On! did it. The teacher is only creepy in her introduction with her not only rarely showing up, but when she does she acts perfectly civilized or why did we need to make Yume take care of Hane with their parents traveling? No one would have cared if their parents just never showed up.
One thing I thought Bakuon!! did really well was its comedy. I can’t remember any jokes that ever fell flat with most being delivered with perfect comedic timing. God even shows up (I’m not making this up) and it turns out he’s a fan of motorbikes. I also thought, aside from a couple characters voices getting annoying (Hane’s sounded like she was trying way too hard), the voice acting was pretty good. I also liked the soundtrack.
What may be an immediate turn off for some, I am now done listing my positives. Most the characters fell into tired stereotypes; air-head, rich girl with no concept of the value of money, overly eccentric girl, loli with height complex, etc. Hane and Onsa were the only character designs I liked with a lot of them feeling super generic or just being ugly (Rin and Chinatsu for example). The characters that don’t fall in either category or unable to be judged because there’s a few reoccurring characters that have no face. Bakuon!! is also one of those anime I’ve critiqued in the past for seemingly being unsure if it wants to be a fan service or kid friendly show but leans a little too far into the fan service section making it become awkward.
My biggest issues however are lack of character development and the fact I didn’t gain any more of an appreciation for bikes. Hane has 0 development through the series. In K-On!, Yui goes from a lazy girl with no motivation for anything to (slight spoilers for rest of sentence) coming to school sick to preform. Hane’s only character in the start is “air-head” and that continues being it at the end. Also in K-On! I gained an appreciation for musicians I probably should have always had, but with Bakuon!!, also I think of bikers are they fight more than gamers over which company is the best and even they don’t like biking as the only positive they give is “it’s fun!” yet we’re barraged with negatives like “it’s cold!” “there’s no protection!” “you need to pour hot water on them to stop the engines from freezing” and so on.