Bakuman ED Single – Bakurock – Review

Album Title: Bakurock
Anime Title: Bakuman
Artist: YA-KYIM
Catalog Number: WPZL-30225
Release Type: OP/ED Single
Release Date: November 24, 2010
Purchase at: CDJapan

Track List

Track Title Artist Time
1. BAKUROCK ~Mirai no Rinkakusen~ YA-KYIM 4:11
2. Tabibito YA-KYIM 4:35
3. Fuyu Koi YA-KYIM 5:04
4. BAKUROCK ~Mirai no Rinkakusen~ (Instrumental) YA-KYIM 4:11

Review: Bakuman was among the shows that caught my eye this past season, an anime based on the manga of the same name by the creators of Death Note. Perhaps it was unfair of me to hoist my expectations onto the show as Death Note’s spiritual successor, but I wasn’t quite prepared for just how different the two shows would be. This naturally extends to the soundtrack and, in this case, the ED. Though the general consensus seems to be that the ED is superior to the OP, the caveat is that neither ends up being particularly impressive.

The problem lies in how generic the songs sound. Though a competent effort by Ya-Kyim (if just barely), if there were a machine where one could plug generic shounen themes and cliché pop-rock motifs in one end and get music out the other, I would be none too surprised to get songs that sound much like the ones on this disc. The selections here explore “deep” themes such as working hard, following your dreams, and never giving up, all set to innovative guitar strumming and creative piano arpeggios. Flippancy aside, the inspired element is missing here, and that’s perhaps this disc’s single greatest shortcoming.

But you don’t eat cotton candy expecting a hearty meal and robust nutritional value; you eat it because it’s sweet and offers quick satisfaction. As long as it’s fluffy sugar on a stick, there’s not much sense in expecting much more, and that’s exactly how I feel about this single. Though this may sound like feigned praise (because it is), if there has ever been a finer, more definitive statement in musical form for all that it means to be hatefully generic, I’ve yet to hear it.

The first song, “BAKUROCK ~Mirai no Rinkakusen~,” revels in tired old clichés and well-worn tropes. And it almost works; the song overall is energetic, and Alisa’s vocals are clean, on-pitch, and angst-free. They’re also blandly delivered in a stagnant, whispery monotone, without much in the way of emotional inflection. Where there should be a guitar solo is instead an on-the-cheap hip-hop section. The chords and guitar riffs are straight out of 1972, and the song has no climax to speak of, with a denouement of a children’s book. In the end, it’s pretty standard, fluffy pop-rock fare, though this may be like complaining that my cotton candy is low on vitamins.

Similar things can be said for “Tabibito,” except it’s even more lazily produced. Though the delivery is a bit more affecting than “BAKUROCK ~Mirai no Rinkakusen~,” any noticeable emotional efforts are quickly forgotten when there’s not even a bridge or (god forbid) a rap section to break up the repetition. What we get is the verse and chorus a draining three times back-to-back with only minor variations in the instrumentals. At least they saw it fit to include an engaging intro and outro this time, which is a mixed blessing because both are actually pretty good and wasted on a song as repetitive as this one.

Any hopes that the next track will see a bump in quality are immediately dashed when “Fuyu Koi” floods your eardrums. If you’ve ever been in an Asian-owned beauty salon for an extended period of time against your will, this is exactly the kind of song you grow to despise. A slow, repetitive, R&B abomination, the song even manages to betray the name of the single, “Bakurock,” because it’s… not rock. The same, generic R&B beat is played for over five painful minutes punctuated by a hip-hop section near the end to complete the hateful package. The ending, too, is phoned in without much thought. There’s a certain bag of tricks songwriters employ to make writing easier, and one of those tricks is a fade-out ending. I’m not a fan of fade-out endings; they’re lazy and unimaginative. Guess how this song ends?

In the end, though, the crux is that the songs, to most people, will be upbeat, catchy, and uplifting. As much as I don’t enjoy these, I’m willing to liken these complaints to blaming cotton candy for leaving me hungry.

However, I’ve come to expect more out of my music diet and cannot endorse these songs for being generic, by-the-numbers, cookie-cutter drivel.

To be fair, there’s nothing explicitly wrong with this single, just painfully nothing of note. Everything here has been done better, composed with more pizzazz, and performed with more enthusiasm. If you like rock, why don’t you check out The Pillows?

Rating: So-so

Bakuman ED – Bakurock

Aftershok

A huge jazz nerd and unabashed fan of alternative rock, I joined Anime Instrumentality in December 2010. I tend to get very passionate when it comes to music and try my best to understand how it works. An enormous fan of The Pillows, among my favorite anime composers include Ko Otani and Yoko Kanno. My tastes in anime vary wildly, but I try to be as thoughtful about my viewing as I am about my listening. I play the saxophone.

5 thoughts on “Bakuman ED Single – Bakurock – Review

  • February 22, 2011 at 10:07 am
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    Hey, I actually liked Bakurock a lot! Well, except for the rap part, but I found an edited version with no rap in it so I’m good.

    It’s the only song in Bakuman I actually like, as the opening is painfully cheesy and the second ending doesn’t have that same energy that Bakurock had.

    Reply
  • February 24, 2011 at 12:02 am
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    I’ve kinda let this show fall by the wayside and so, have absolutely no recollection of the single. Still, for a pop-rock song, there’s some lazy feel to it that makes me kind of ambivalent to it all; there’s nothing that’s super-stimulating to make me want to get up and JAM! As though the singer is going through the motions without doing anything more. Unless she were trying to tell a story or something… but I’m not sure it works there either.

    Reply
  • February 24, 2011 at 6:29 pm
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    @Suzushina
    Funny thing is, I’m beginning to think the OP is a better song than the ED, just horribly misused. The OP song totally overplays the romance in the show and doesn’t fit the go-get-em sort of atmosphere the show should have. The OP is overall composed better IMO, and was almost sort of moving until I began to realize the direction the romance would take in the show. “Bakurock” is almost the opposite; it fits the show well, but does nothing for me emotionally or musically. And the rap…

    @zzero
    The show has become better, but the high points aren’t really worth the eye-rolling factor. I’ve seen a translated transcript of the lyrics, and there’s not much more narrative to be had than following your dreams and working hard. There are a lot of puns about “drawing” and “writing” your path to the future, so that’s a plus (mostly).

    Reply
  • February 24, 2011 at 6:30 pm
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    A supermarket song. Makes your shopping experience pleasant but ultimately forgettable?

    The rap part lacks everything that makes rap remotely interesting to listen to.

    Reply
  • March 13, 2011 at 9:40 am
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    I don’t think it’s that bad, although it is certainly not something I’d remember in a month or so, nor is it something I’d have on repeat.

    Reply

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