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SAMURAI JAM-BAKUMATSU ROCK #1 -- Special Review

The secret history of bishonen?

We’re sampling the summer season’s selection! Check out our other pilot write-up’s –

The timing of this is pretty funny. See, I was walking around Little Tokyo with a friend recently. We passed a flyer for the L’Arc-en-Ciel simulcast concert I had to catch a few months back, and both wondered aloud if the whole institution of live-action bishonen boy bands had a long history in Japan. My friend thought it was a fairly recent phenomenon that was just accelerating rapidly. I figured there probably was some long ago precedent for it - - like there probably were wood blocks of pretty boys in kimonos, somewhere back in the archives.

I’ll leave a cultural studies grad student to sort that out for his thesis paper but, nevertheless, it’s hilarious to get a very colorful and highly-rendered answer to that question, right here.

Obviously, SAMURAI JAM is using the same conceit as SAMURAI CHAMPLOO: anachronistically mixing modern music up into a feudal setting. Specifically, the joke here is that a would-be guitar god is trying to bring rock ‘n roll to the masses and save uneducated fan girls from the banality of boy bands. So you’ve got TV’s, microphones and electric guitars, all inserted so whimsically into this pre-electric era that even describing the stroke as ‘retro futurist’ feels too serious.

I was having fun with it, up until a point. The last third of this pilot just isn’t as entertaining as what led up to it. Maybe that’s because it’s the point where the crew felt like they needed to set things up, as opposed to just having some screwball fun. The intro shows a fully-gathered band before we’re introduced to everybody (an intro pitfall I haven't encountered in a while, actually) so you kind of have to play dumb about where the dude in the blue kimono is going, too. It just wasn't a clever explanation point on the pilot, you know?

Watch this and decide for yourself.

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