Buso Renkin is a strange little show, one of the under dogs in the anime world I’d say. It had a manga which was cancelled before completion and the small twenty-six episode series didn’t garner much interest upon release. Maybe it isn’t as critically acclaimed or as popular as a whole bunch of other anime out there but it holds a soft spot in my heart, even one of my own personal favourites.
Volume two covers the second half of the series and it is all presented in English or Japanese with subtitles. I watched this release in Japanese with subtitles due to watching it in Japanese when it was originally airing in Japan. The subtitles do a good job with only one noticeable change in move, rather than Genocide Circus they call it Exterminate Circus, I wouldn’t have noticed that if it wasn’t for the fact that they say the moves in Engrish. It is also disappointing that the final manga style ending isn’t subbed but you can figure it out easy enough with the pictures. We have a good sub though which shows the days of spelling mistakes or cut down sentences (Full Metal Alchemist I’m looking at you) are over.
So what is Buso Renkin? It is a story of a teenage boy called Kazuki who has his heart replaced with a kakugane which is a metal hexagon. The girl who saves him Tokiko is a warrior who uses alchemy to fight, Buso Renkin actually means arms alchemy but I guess they thought it would sound cool still shouting Buso Renkin to unleash their weapons. The two join with Captain Bravo the awesome leader of the team and go about fighting Homunculus to save the people. They are trying to stop the evil LXE organisation made up of these foul creatures but while they destroy the group they fail to stop Victor being unleashed to the world. Victor is basically a super human which saps people’s lives, a major threat to the world. Unfortunately at the start of the volume Kazuki to becomes Victor and must avoid being re-exterminated and find a cure before it’s too late!
The show has a pretty simple plot pulling out the alchemy plot line which countless animes have used in the past but it isn’t really important, it is simple enough to pull the story forward. The characters are also rather stereotypical, Kazuki is the happy go look nice guy, Tokiko is the angry attractive main female lead, Captain Bravo is the conscience proud one and then you have other characters introduced with similar stereotypes. It makes the show seem initially bland and generic but the complete mental nature of the characters stops this straight off. Kazuki may be the typical nice guy but he is also pretty funny and interacts with his friends and sister well. He also has a bizarre rivalry with what is possibly my favourite villain in an anime ever: Papillon.
Papillon is a messed up guy who while a villain and threat to Kazuki also helps him on numerous occasions due to a deal that Kazuki must fight as a human not as a Victor and they must duel to see if his human nature is better than Papillon’s superhuman nature. He dresses eccentric refusing anyone but Kazuki to call him by his name and always wears his Papillion butterfly mask along with his ballerina suit. He’s stupidly camp but it’s so out there and hilarious he will be one of the reasons you continue to tune in. Other oddities include a man with a moon for a face (I remember meeting a girl who looked a bit similar… sorry), a guy who controls giant fire nukes, a giant mecha robot battler, the ability to control gravity itself, the ultimate armour suit, et.c. It’s off its rocker but manages to hold everything together by being so brutally fast paced. A major fight will last an episode and end with a huge cliff-hanger, it makes the show seems incredibly exciting, it is incredibly exciting, it throws everything it can at you while delivering a simple yet effective story.
The music is also fantastic, suiting each scene perfectly, it can make you laugh, it can make moments feel more epic than they are and it can make you well up. Despite being largely a comedy it still has moments of emotional scenes, especially towards the end of the series. Does that mean it has an unhappy ending? You’ll have to see for yourself.
Volume II is definitely better than volume I, it starts with excitement and ends with excitement, it doesn’t have to build up, it just unleashes all the hell as Kazuki tries to find a cure and watch as his friends face numerous obstacles. It’s nice to watch a short series rather than ones that never seem to end and I’d argue this is a better experience overall than the hugely popular Bleach. I make this comparison because the largely one on one fights and weapon based combat reminds me of Bleach. It’s not as stylish but it isn’t trying to be, it is however more consistent, entertaining and focussed. Every episode will lead to a plot point being revealed, the next step will always be there, it never drags on.
For around £14.99 you get thirteen episodes of really good quality stuff. It only has a dub making of for the extras and some horrible omakes (little information bits after each episode, can be comedy skits to but Buso Renkin goes for slowly explaining what each power does.) at the end of some episodes slows the relentless pace down. It’s a show you could sit down to watch in one or two sittings because it keeps you hanging on for more and the ending is pretty satisfying. It made changes from the manga towards the end but for the better I felt.
This under dog anime needs to be in your collection!