RogerBW's Blog

Bubuki Buranki 1 14 December 2016

2016 mecha science fiction, 12 episodes: AniDB. In a very changed world, Kazuki Azuma leaves an island in the sky to return to Japan, and gets involved with power struggles and giant robots.

There's some really interesting background to this world… but it's all hidden away until the last couple of episodes, so most of the time the viewer knows vastly less about what's going on than any of the characters do. There's a red-headed girl who seems to be mad and in charge of the only other buranki ("titan", more or less; magical giant fighting machines, anyway); sometimes they need a five-person team to activate them, sometimes they don't; there seem to be a bunch of foreign teams coming after the only unclaimed one.

There's a lot of reference to other mecha shows, most obviously in the five-man band (here explicitly left and right legs, left and right arms, and "heart", the traditionally useless centre role that this show tries to rehabilitate). There's a vicious parody of the over-familiar American fanboy which I rather enjoyed; but I'm sure there was much more I was missing.

The show's main positive point is that there's a great deal of well-realised and highly kinetic mecha fighting: CGI animators are finally getting speeds and accelerations right (a trick Ray Harryhausen had worked out by the 1950s) so that giant creatures seem to be moving plausibly, and the various battles are shot such that it's clear where the combatants are and how their positions relate to each other.

On the other hand it does feel as though the characters and fighting styles were designed first and the story wrapped round them later. The middle episodes in particular degenerate into a series of arbitrary Pokemon-style one-on-one battles over possession of the "bubuki" (animate weapons that are necessary to be part of a five-man band). Some people can fly, other people who might be considered to have the same set of powers can't. There's a sort of psychic power called rinzu which seems to be heritable (in fact it transfers immediately when your child is born) but nobody seems to know or care what it can actually do.

The ending is abrupt and inconclusive, and a second season has been broadcast. I'll give it a chance but I think this series takes in media res to new and pointless extremes.

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