This is review number one hundred and ninety six. This is part of the Winter 2013 lineup. I am so close to finishing this lineup. I just need to see three more anime and a bunch of small anime. There is also Chihayafuru 2 but it’s manageable. I’m close to completing this lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman. It’s a twelve episode anime about a thief and some samurai dudes. I forgot. Let’s just read on.
The anime is about a thief named Roman who goes by the name Nezumi Kozo. He steals from the rich to give to the oppressed. He takes on any job that is asked of him and he has a bunch of experts aiding him in his exploits. During the day, he is just a regular helper though that works for an honest living and making people smile. Roman would soon discover a plan about a bunch of shady people trying to dethrone the current government. Roman and his band of helpers would then try and save the day even if they are greatly outmatched.
Taking the Pants Off
This anime is adapted from a pachinko game and it’s an original work of Monkey Punch. You know the guy, right? He created Lupin and made a legacy out of it. Lupin is a massive success and I think it’s still going strong with a bunch of movies and last year we got one of the best anime of 2012 in “Lupin the Third: The Woman Named Fujiko”. I’m a fan of Monkey Punch and just glancing at the picture of this anime, I can tell it came from that awesome guy. I’m not sure how old the panchiko game was and I do not know what possessed TMS Entertainment to make an anime of it. This anime is cliché heavy. It does not have an identity of its own and it seems to be desperately clinging on to the appeal of 90s anime. Everything in this show is either a bunch of Lupin the Third clone or a whole load of 90s trope duct taped together to create a twelve episode anime. Someone in TMS must’ve thought “Hey. Wasn’t the 90s great? It had a lot of crappy OVAs of powerful guys and porn monsters. Geez, we should bring the 90s back. I’m sure a lot of cool kids today with their brand of idiotic irony will appreciate something from the 90s.” It’s very perplexing actually that this anime was even made. It’s really bad and it desperately reeks of the good old days. The problem with the good old days is that majority of anime from that era wasn’t taken seriously and faded into obscurity. Either that or they slowly gave the 2000s the format it needed to make that era’s anime a massive success. So no, the good old day sucks. Let’s not bring it back. Let’s not create an anime comprised of entirely 90s trope. To be fair though, and goddamn it I hate myself for admitting this, but the anime was entertaining. It was more episode-centric so some episodes are pretty good. The overall anime is bad though and I cannot wait to rant about all the flaws of this glorious anime had.
The anime had a very sour first impression. It was a bit hard to get over the fact that Roman looked like Lupin but with a very unflattering beard. The anime also opened with a fight against Roman and a dude that looked a hell of a lot like Detective Zenigata wielding a keyblade. I kid you not. The dude had a giant metal key-like weapon as he fights Roman. Figuring out the story would be a huge task because you’ll be bombarded with a lot of one dimensional characters and ridiculous situations that muddle the entire experience. I do not blame people if they decide to drop this anime. It offers nothing and the clichés were so blatant that you can’t take them seriously. The inconsistencies of the era are massively confusing as well. So it’s set sometime in the Edo era with some foreign powers affecting the balance in the Japanese government. Guns and Cannons I can easily process but what the hell is up with Roman transforming into an embarrassing Sentai character? Zombies made from flour? A catwoman rip off? The whole thing is just too stupid to take seriously. Surprisingly, that is a great trait of 90s anime. You can’t take anything seriously. See, this is why that f*ckin era sucks.
With the one dimensional cast, blatant cliché and pathetic attempt at comedy, you’ll have a hard time liking the anime. It does get better though. After the whole premise was laid out and the key characters are introduced, the whole damn thing started to make sense. You will need to endure three episodes of nonsense though. The anime only started to get good around the fourth episode and god bless your soul if you can even make it that far. The anime had nothing to offer during those episodes. I often fell asleep watching the show. When things got a bit clearer, I slowly knew what to expect of the anime afterwards. So this anime is about a thief named Roman that helps people but is also a massive bum that loves to gamble. The anime is mostly about his adventures taking requests from people and being involved with the various incidents of the capital. He has some people that help him with his job. His sister and pet dog joins along the stealing while a doctor, an inventor and a shrine girl helps him gather info or give him cool gadgets to fight with. He is blessed with the armor of his father though, the original Nezumi Kozo, that helps him transform into a Sentai guy in spandex that grants him super powers but only for a limited time. This is basically the premise of the anime. It’s about a thief that has super powers and a motley crew as he tries to steal a bunch of things people request of him.
If you can let the small idiotic things not affect you then you can see that the anime is mostly comprised of three plot points. They often mingle along the episodes and they progress at the same time. Little detail is given to them though and they’re shallow at best. It’s a helpful guideline though to follow the anime and make sense of the show. Maybe even enjoy it for what it’s worth. Anyways, the first plot point is about Roman and his reason for becoming a thief and a helper (jack of all trades, his morning job). He claims that he helps people so he can see them smile. He would go through any means just to see people smile and give them a better life. An incident from his past seems to haunt him though after a tragic event involving someone he truly cared for got into trouble. He wasn’t able to do anything and that inadequacy has been an unfriendly shadow for him that often breaks his confidence. This is a demon he must face though and it’s going to be a hard one to beat.
The second plot point is about a guy named Suzuki Magoichi. He is a newly appointed officer but he is very detached and mysterious. It’s later revealed that he works for a secret organization that gives him orders. Like a loyal dog, he silently obeys. He was given the task of finding the “spring cherry blossoms” and retrieving it. Throughout the anime, he would either be involved in some of the incidents, just like Roman, or he would chase leads about his mission. He is a powerful man though that wields a gun that reminds me of those awkward characters from Musashi Gundoh. I won’t tell you what that anime is. It should be an honor for you, dear reader, to goggle that awesome anime.
The third plot point is about a group of foreign people scheming to overthrow the local government. Their objectives aren’t clear but they would often be involved in some of the shady illegal incidents of the anime. They would often give bad guys some weapons like guns or they would slowly setup their plan for world domination. This was the simplest plot point but every character involved in the anime seems to be related to this one. As the anime progresses, it slowly becomes clear just what this whole damn thing is about.
The plot points don’t build up that well though. It was still cliché and pathetically predictable so take it for what it’s worth. Majority of the episodes are pretty standalone though involving some one-shot characters or just a single event that would be resolved by the time the episode ends. Most 90s anime has this format, by the way. You’ll get a small piece of the plot points but they won’t matter until the very end. The standalone episodes have some intrigue in them. I mean, they’re pretty entertaining for what they’re worth. Most of them involve some character and a flashback. It’s refreshing to see something develop in this anime so I appreciate the fleshing out of the characters during some of the episodes. Majority of them though are slapstick comedy or nonsensical stories about some stupid thing. The Comedy in the anime is dreadfully forced and some of them are just awful so it’s hard to watch sometimes. They’re juvenile at best and you have one dimensional character pulling them off so it was just miserable to see it happen. The show thinks of itself as funny but it’s not. It’s flat comedy with no value at all and you’ll see a lot of it in the anime. Be prepared.
The characters are all awful. Even with a decent flashback and character development, they are still awful. Their biggest flaw is that they are generic cliché that offer little to the show. Roman is just a rip off of Lupin. Seriously, the beard is the only thing different. He is a comedic bum that loves to gamble. He gets hurt a lot via slapstick nonsense. He steals things. He loves woman and he acts like a monkey throughout the anime. Lupin has all those traits too but he is cool. He is smart and his adventures involve a lot of risky things. Roman has none of those so it’s a bit hard to enjoy his character. The rest of the cast are just as worse. They have no personality. They are reliant on their generic cliché and they don’t really add much to the show. They are just honestly there taking up space and filling up the necessary stereotypes to create a funny anime. Throughout the anime, the characters don’t add much to the show and they’re so goddamn boring. They’re all one dimensional characters with not a single one of them offering something decent to make himself standout. This was the reason why the anime was so hard to watch. I can forgive cliché and a stupid progressive story only if the characters carry the load. They didn’t and they were robotic at best. They weren’t able to capture the interest of the viewers and everything just worked against them. During the first episode, you were introduced to generic characters working along the lines of the story. The problem was that the story was sh*t AND the characters were sh*t as well. I mean, they don’t even provide fan service or a genuine comedic personality to save the anime. They’re just awful characters. I’ve honestly seen a lot of characters in a lot of anime. I’d call the ones in this particular show as stiff as cardboard and as worthless a wet crumpled up tissue paper.
The anime honestly have potential. A little bit of editing and incorporating new clichés could’ve made the anime a lot more interesting. It had pervy characters getting hurt a lot. It had bad guys that says one liner and has unexplained super powers. It had elements of the Edo period with all the swords, the samurais and the throwback look of the era. It had everything a 90s anime needed to be successful. We’re in 2013 though. How about making the characters look a bit cuter or sexier as oppose to the unflattering rough design of Monkey Punch? I’ve seen it done before in “The Woman named Fujiko” and it was amazing. That was a show comprised of a 90s anime in a new age look. It worked amazingly. How about some fan service? If you’re going to rely on shameless cliché then why stop at the things the 90s did? Show some ass or boobs. You cannot imagine how many anime becomes popular just by that. There are a lot of things you could’ve done to improve this show but TMS decided to do nothing. It’s frustrating and a bit sad that a studio doesn’t embrace an anime fully to add their spin on things. It’s just a lazy and uninspiring work, at best.
Sight and Sound
The character design is made by Monkey Punch. If you’ve seen Lupin then you’ve seen the characters in this anime. The guys are all plain with just a nice hint of Japanese in them. I do appreciate the lack of pretty boys in the anime. It was a bit hard to get used to watching a main character that is balding. It may be the first time since I experience that in a long time. The girls all have decent looks as well. They’re mostly western inspired just like most of Monkey Punch’s woman. They have great curves and breasts so it’s all good. He has a great way of featuring sexy woman. Again, the lack of pretty girls in the anime is also refreshing. The characters nicely dress to their era and I appreciate that. They wear kimono and other Edo style outfits. I do not like the Sentai outfit though and the Catwoman costume. It just looks tacky and laughable.
The animation is pretty bad. The quality varies in episodes though but the movements are often very stiff. The simple actions like walking and running doesn’t seem quite right. Most scenes involve just talking heads and eyes don’t blink at times. There are some nice fight scenes and some nice effects though. I like the final scene of the anime despite the confusing progression. The fight scenes make no sense. They often just out flash each other but it’s the lack of explanation that troubles me. Like in the final episode, one of the admirals was equipped with a handgun but he has demonic aura. So he is super human? But he still uses a gun? It’s pretty murky. I basically gave up at one point while watching the anime. The fight scenes are stupid and laughable but that’s OK because the rest of the anime has the same appeal.
The anime’s OP is “RanTiKi” by Yukino. This is a pretty awesome song. It has a bit of a jazz appeal to it and I love the upbeat pace of the song. Yukino’s voice is pretty impressive and the catchy sound of the song is really amazing. The OP sequence features all the characters and a summary of the anime. The animation is outstanding. It’s complex and artistic with a nice blend of CG completely different from the regular animation of the anime. It probably has the best animation in the anime.
The anime’s ED is “Zarathustra” by Hige. This is another awesome song. It has a nice beat and a decently paced song combined with some impressive instrumentals. I’m in love with this song. It’s amazing. The ED sequence features a race between a rat and a turtle. It’s pretty cute and has a sense of humor to it that is completely different than the anime. It’s pretty incredible. It ends with a shot of the two siblings though. That was a bit weird but I think the turtle is the sister and the rat is Roman. They’re racing and um….OK. It’s still awesome.
3/10 “Heavy with cliché, unoriginal, laughable yet oddly entertaining.”
This anime has a lot of flaws to it but the story is still negotiable and it does have its moments. If you can look past all the stupid elements of the show, the uninspired characters, the subpar animation and the desperate cliché elements then I’m sure you can still enjoy this show. I mean, I finished it despite the lack of anything worth meaningful so it can’t be all that bad. Still, I do not suggest you waste your precious 6 hours on this crap though.