Plot: Sakura is content with her bicycle, at least until she discovers the world of fast motorcycles and the cool girls that ride them. She is first drawn into this realm when a girl blows past her on a motorcycle, leaving Sakura in the distance, with no amount of pedaling possible to close the gap. But she is able to dive right into motorcycle culture, since her school happens to have a club dedicated to the street machines. Until now, the club has had just one member, the mysterious Raimu, who is never seen without her signature motorcycle helmet. Now however, both Sakura and Onsa, the girl who passed her on the street, have joined up to get in on the fun. The club has some woes though, needing to renew the official status and that requires a faculty sponsor, which could be a tough sell. And of course, Sakura herself has to put in some work if she wants to hop on a motorcycle, as she needs to learn the basics, then earn her license. As the club tries to recruit new members, they discover that motorcycles are more popular than they thought, but will it be enough to get the club back on track?

Entertainment Value: Bakuon!! is a twelve episode series with a simple premise, but tons of girl power and roaring engines. This one has a little fan service, but doesn’t push that aspect much, instead it focuses on the characters and the dynamics between them, with pleasant results. The girls in Bakuon!! are more grounded than a lot of anime girls, but still have plenty of quirk and colorful presence, as you’d expect from anime. There is some friendly competition at times between the girls, but the series doesn’t dwell on the “mean girl” elements of female friendship. This lets the show have a brisk, fun texture and the characters don’t get bogged down in cattiness. I know this will disappoint some, but the characters are so well crafted, you won’t miss the over the top girl drama, at least not much. The interplay between the girls is what drives the series, so to see the various bonds and connections is a key element here. Sakura is our main focus, but all of the other prominent characters are given sufficient screen time and have threads in the stories, which is nice. The premise is also just refreshing, somewhat grounded, character driven series with a great sense of humor.

I also loved the visuals of Bakuon!!, as the designs are excellent and the animation is a pleasure to watch. The motorcycle is of course fetishized to an extent, but given how it is a central element of the series, that is to be expected. The girls are in love with their motorcycles, so the show needed to make us think these machines are bad ass too, which they accomplish. While not as flashy or ornate as mechs or other mechanical constructs, the motorcycles here look cool, which is all we need. While I did mention that this show has a more grounded approach, it still has plenty of anime conventions, so things get a little out of control at times. But it is still nice to have a story about friendship and common ground, instead of some apocalyptic tale or galaxy wide conflict, as cool as those narratives can be. A brisk, enjoyable series that flies by, Bakuon!! offers some terrific female characters that are relatable and fun to watch, avoiding a lot of the common anime cliches. The animation is detailed and colorful, with impressive designs and in HD, this series really shines. So if you’re an anime fan who appreciates a more down to earth approach, give this one a shot.

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