Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Buso Renkin DVD Box Set Impression

Buso Renkin DVD Set 1. Meet Kazuki Muto, an average high school student who happens to help those in need, a nice trait, but one which gets him killed, in the first episode. Enter Tokiko Tsumura, the damsel he tried to save who in turn grants Kazuki a second chance at life by replacing his pierced heart with a kakugane, an alchemistic device tied to a secret war of homunculi and enhanced warriors. Besides granting him another chance at life the kakugane also grants power, power that comes from within the bearer and the kakugane itself. As Kazuki learns about the monsters, the homunculi that stalk humans as prey he pushes Tokiko to train him so that he too may become and Alchemistic Warrior and protect the innocent. The homunculi are usually animals that have been transformed but can also be human. They thirst for humans and feast on them and are in turn hunted by the warriors.

Tokiko takes on Kazuki as she is still hunting down one particular group of Homunculi and he is also trained by another warrior, the very cool looking, cheesy Captain Bravo. His training leads to a confrontation with one sick and twisted student who becomes the Papillion Mask, is killed by Kazuki to be reborn by his long thought dead grandfather who himself is trying to revive the fallen one and has an army of his own human homunculi and familiars including twin school mates of Kazuki. With his lance in hand Kazuki takes the fight to any who will challenge him, all for the chance to protect the innocent, his sister, friends and all of humanity.

A box set, 13 episodes and a lot of story to cover. Here is how it goes. Boy dies, gets revived by a mysterious girl, gains powers that are greater than they should be (his resolve?) battles low level baddies, gets stronger, beats and creates rival, fights stronger bad guys, learns about secret society and bad guys, fights stronger baddies who become friends and continues to grow in strength, and he has a sister and school mates he wants to protect. Nope, not Bleach, its Buso Renkin, but dang if Bleach will pop into your head often while watching. Kazuki wields a lance that he powers up in various ways and where Bleach had everyone with swords (Soul Reapers at least) Buso Renkin shows that each kakugane is unique. The story progresses at a steady pace with enough challenge not to kill our hero but to make him train harder. Is there hope, yes, because there are plenty of unique characters and unknowns to make this series worth watching, especially when you factor in its 13 episodes at once.

The animation and character design will remind of Rurouni Kenshin, same with the action, it is after all from the same creator, Nobuhiro Watsuki. His reputation is the only reason I don’t pass this off as a Bleach hack, the man has experience and a great track record. Each character is unique, no template anime guys and gals here, and kudos to such an interesting villain in Papillion Mask, butterflies, daring! The flow of the series is very standard for a Shonen (boy) action series and reminds of Naruto mixed with Bleach. Good and bad comparison as Buso Renkin is a notch below these titles. The opening theme is catchy and now on my iPod, but the voice acting is such a mixed bag. Kazuki hits his notes on target, Bravo is the cream of the crop, cheesy and heroic but Tokiko kills me. She is so drab, dull and just boring. Having attitude just to look cool does not work and her voice work it just makes me want to splatter my guts, which is also her key battle cry (god it just hurts to listen to her).

So what we’ve got here is a summary of a series that packs in the action, good character design, some solid voice work (some bad) and a story that is not fresh or new, but fun to watch. Fun is the best way to summarize Buso Renkin, not memorable, catchy, flashy; just fun. It’s fun to watch, fun to anticipate, fun to borrow, but with Naruto and Bleach on the market there are better choices.

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