ANIME & MANGA - Article
09:00 - 27th April 2013, by NEO Staff

Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman

Set in the late 1800s, Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman tells the misadventures of Manjirou Tasukeya. By day, he's a local oddjob man, taking on any task his community requires of him, often for a pittance of a payment that he'll then gamble away - something his sister Koharu often takes him to task over. However, by night, he's the hero Roman, a poorly disguised but surprisingly capable noble thief. Aided by a small group of confidantes - including crazy inventor Gennai, macabre immigrant doctor Hans von Rupert, and shrinesmaiden turned ace archer Kanade - Roman's nocturnal activities see him targeting a greedy aristocracy that fears its dominance is coming to an end, stealing back their misbegotten wealth and giving it to people who need it most.

Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman is an odd series. On one hand, it's historically informed by the changes Japan was undergoing at the time, yet on the other, is hilariously, deliberately anachronistic. Gennai crafts unusually advanced tools and weapons, Dr. Rupert dabbles with Frankenstein-like experiments to create medical zombies for fun, and Roman can transform into an armoured, flying superhero figure. His arch nemesis, constable and secret assassin Magoichi Suzuki, even wields a pair of twin golden handguns that combine into an extraordinarily long mechanical sword! With each episode delivering a wild caper while slowly exploring more of the characters' backgrounds, there's a great balance of madcap action, comedy and long-form narrative to please all tastes.

The series is helmed by Hirofumi Ogura, probably best known to NEO readers for Black Butler II. Having also directed episodes of Samurai 7 and Gintama, he's proven himself capable of handling both feudal era action and weird historical comedy - two things that Roman offers in abundance. With its bizarre mish-mash of concepts and deliriously over-the-top execution, it's a show that doesn't take itself too seriously, but still has enough heart in each episode to save it from descending into sheer slapstick. Imaginative and fun - far better than anyone would expect from a pachinko spinoff!

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