Saturday, 24 October 2015


Samurai Jam - Bakumatsu Rock - Complete Collection
Released By: Animatsu
Rating: 15
Running Time: 309 Mins
Audio: English & Japanese DD 2.0
Aspect Ratio:16.9
Release Date: Out Now!
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes 

The premise for this anime is what if instead of banning guns, the Japanese government banned the guitar. Samurai Jam has Ryoma Sakamoto wanting desperately to be a rock star - even if it's illegal. He's already got his guitar, but he's not got the money to make the star status he wants as he works at his local pizza parlor.

Originally, Samurai Jam was called Bakumatsu Rock: Marvellous with Ryoma living in a different Japan where its government acts like a totalitarian state banning all music except for government approved music band, Heaven's Sons. 

For those who enjoyed music themed anime such as KO'n and Gravitation, Samurai Jam isn't what you might think if you took too  much notice of the premise, it's actually quite funny and has a good way of establishing the characters that matter. 

What helps Samurai Jam are the guys in the band who like to appear on stage shirtless. They have the perfect Bishonen look to carry off their rock gods persona even in the sort of society that will frown on non-government approved music.

Heaven's Songs are hugely popular, they have their own following, and they don't like Ryoma (or Ryo as he's known) trying to get a look in to become the rock sensation he has hoped for. If only people would understand his music. Set in a past period in Japanese history, where feudal times were rife with war, the shogunate has organised guitar hunts where they confiscate all guitars and prosecute those who have them. when Ryo mysteriously gets a license to be able to sing his songs, he hopes he can sing the songs he wants to rather than try to be another Heaven's Songs conformist.

The idea of this anime isn't an original one, there are plenty of anime set in period times like Samurai Champloo where the period setting belays the rap music score in the background. The character art style reminds me of Saiyuki Reload, while Ryo's crazy hair resembles the hairstyles from horror anime, Shiki. As this is one of many anime series that has modern instruments in a period setting, it is interesting as viewers get a good idea of what times were like, but it can also confuse those not used to anime.

From being able to play the guitar on the street against the Shinsengumi, Ryo creates several other players for his band. The possibility that a peace soul has got his own band of followers after a shooting star had landed on earth is right if he believes it. The peace soul, we find is a part of something called the ultra soul and its pieces known as peace souls broke off and fell to earth. When the people who were affected by the pieces gather together at an event, they are called ultra souls. The reason the shogunate are interested in Ryo and the others is due to them having the power to change an era for the better, and they can't have that.

After that episode Ryo had an urge to sing his songs to the world, even if it is illegal. Ryo is a peace soul and he has brought the others in his band who are also peace souls. They are lured to a concert where Heaven's Songs are playing and also where a certain someone will cast a spell on them, forcing them to play for the shogunate. While his heart is in his guitar playing, its noticed that his backing band aren't as enthusiastic and it could cause him trouble.

Interesting characters here are Mr Shoin, called Mr Shaggy by Ryo due to his 60's hippy peacenic look and close resemblance to something the Beatles dreamt up around that time, and Ryo who is a colourful, larger than life character.

Bonus Material: Clean Opening & Closing Animations & Sentai Trailers.

Verdict: Samurai Jam - Bakumatsu Rock Complete Collection is a short, sweet, look back at period Japanese history and a story that rocks just as much as the music!