Bakuon (Slice of Life Anime Review)
Motorcycles are more than a mode of transportation in media, they are the epitome of all that is cool. From American classic films such as The Wild One, Easy Rider, and The Wild Angels, with the motorcycle comes an element of cool edginess. Even the futuristic motorcycle from the anime classic Akira carries this connotation, as its rider is trying to outrun police after gaining telekinesis. With this in mind, it is important to remember that in areas of the world where space is limited the motorcycle is an optimal mode of transportation. Often times looked down upon, due to the media driven perception, motorcycle enthusiasts band together over their common and misunderstood love.
Bakuon is a recent anime, which shows one particular group of high school girls who have a love for motorcycles. Hane Sakura is freshman entering her first year at Okanoue Girls’ High School, and is awed by seeing another student ride a motorcycle to school, while having trouble with her bicycle. Once Hane finds that Okanoue permits its students to ride motorcycles to school, she attempts to find out how she can learn how to ride one of these machines. To aid her in this search, she speaks with the owner of the motorcycle she was admiring, Onsa Amano, a gearhead whose family owns a used motorcycle shop. The two decide to take a look into the school’s motorcycle club. The only member of the club is Raimu Kawasaki, a mysterious girl that always wears a helmet and never speaks, however she makes the two feel welcome enough that they join. Onsa and Raimu assist Hane in attending a motorcycle safety school, where she learns to ride, and eventually gets her motorcycle license. During the training Hane meets another classmate attempting to get her license, Rin Suzunoki, who is an adamant fan of Suzuki motorcycles, getting angry at anyone who belittles any model of Suzuki, particularly Onsa who enjoys telling Rin that Yamaha has the best bikes. Even though Rin never officially joins the motorcycle club, she joins the rest of the group for the various activities, and acts like a member of the group.
Upon returning to the club room, the girls meet a new perspective member, Hijiri Minowa, a wealthy girl with glasses that dreams of becoming a delinquent and rebel, as depicted in popular media. Unfortunately, Hijiri is not yet old enough to obtain her motorcycle license, and instead rides in the sidecar of Hayakawa’s, the Minowa family butler, Ducati 750SS Imola Replica, which he dutifully drives so that Hijiri may be a part of all the club activities.
The girls regularly ride long distances together to see various sites and experience the simple joy of riding. The camaraderie of this group of girls becomes apparent to many others, and they tend to attract new friends that look to help the young girls. By the end of the year, a group of girls who were strangers to one another, become close friends through their love of motorcycles and the collective culture that they promote. This story of friendship is great for all ages, the few moments of lewdness are minor, and restricted to what one may see on the cover of any motorcycle magazine. Generally, the episodes’ highlight how the characters mature and the growth of their interpersonal relationships.
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