REVIEW: ‘Shine On! Bakumatsu Bad Boys,’ Season 1 – Is Enjoyable, But Not Exceptional

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Shine On Bakumatsu Bad Boys Season 1

Shine On Bakumatsu Bad Boys Season 1 is an action anime produced by Geno Studio. The Shinsengumi are tasked with maintaining order in the streets of Kyoto. But when the group is decimated by a mysterious assailant, the lone surviving member must take drastic action if the group is to endure. Turning to seven criminals, these felons are given a simple choice. Become the new Shinsengumi, or face execution.

Shine On Bakumatsu Bad Boys Season 1 takes its “dirty dozen” style narrative and strives to craft an interesting character-driven story. While it gets off to a strong start, the show quickly slides into mediocrity as it plows ahead through its 12 episodes.

What makes the opening episodes of this series strong is how it explores the new members of the Shinsengumi. Each tale takes a glimpse into one of the group’s past, allowing the viewer to get to know the character better. Not only does this help the viewer relate to each of the cast members, but the show also goes the extra mile of having the past directly correlate with the present-day events of the story. This makes these flashbacks do the double duty of character building and plot progression. Which keeps the early stories running smoothly rather than feeling bogged down by backstory.

Once the story moves past the introductions is where things fall apart a little. Events move a bit too quickly for most of the show’s story beats to feel impactful, and when it does decide to linger on elements, they tend to be the wrong ones—especially where some of the main characters’ morals come into play.

Like many anime, Shine On Bakumatsu Bad Boys Season 1 has as one of its central characters an individual who has reservations about when and who he kills. While I think the exploration of when such measures are or aren’t appropriate can lead to interesting and nuanced narratives, this series’ handling of the subject is often times far too ham-fisted. There are moments where I question why someone would even carry a sword if they are going to be this squeamish about who they use it on.

Outside of the flagging moral conundrums, this series sees its protagonists face a mysterious threat posed by an illusive group called the Masked Demons. Responsible for the slaughter of the Shinsengumi’s former members, these villains have some elaborate plans in the works for their nation and its people. As the Shinsengumi rush to decipher the clues so they can thwart the oncoming crisis, the show does a good job of cultivating an aura of mystery around what will ultimately come of the plot. Unfortunately, much like the steps along the way to the finale, once the story reaches its ending, it is over far too quickly. While there is a strong emotional moment at the heart of the story’s culmination, it passes by so quickly that the viewer is left with little to truly connect with.

The visuals throughout Shine On Bakumatsu Bad Boys Season 1 bring the story to life through a vibrant, colorful presentation. Along with some solid character designs, the visuals in this series leave a memorable impression on the viewer, even when the plot does not.

When all is said and done, Shine On Bakumatsu Bad Boys Season 1 delivers an enjoyable, if flawed, adventure. With little to truly connect with, this story devolves into a series of episodes that are each fine but never manage to come together to become something more.

Shine On Bakumatsu Bad Boys Season 1 is streaming now on Crunchyroll.


Shine On Bakumatsu Bad Boys Season 1
  • 6/10
    Rating - 6/10
6/10

TL;DR

When all is said and done, Shine On Bakumatsu Bad Boys Season 1 delivers an enjoyable, if flawed, adventure. With little to truly connect with, this story devolves into a series of episodes that are each fine but never manage to come together to become something more.

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