Note: This post may contain spoilers, so please be cautious!
What’s In This Post
In The Comet Opens it Eyes, the 22nd episode of BUBUKI/BURANKI: The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy, we learn about one excuse Guy Barville Abeille uses to justify his cruelty — and it’s pretty thin. Deus Magna rises headless from the ocean. Lakshmi helps Ryuuki understand the error of his ways. Reoko Banryū and Entei meet an uncertain fate. Azuma Kazuki and Oubu fight against Guy and his new destructive power.
In a flashback, Guy remembers hating having inherited a Buranki heart. He hated passing on to his only son. He son somehow perished. It was only when it came back to him that he decided to rid the world of Buranki. Meanwhile, the comet with eyes began its decent into Earth’s atmosphere.
Azuma and his team in Oubu are trying to ride out the effects of the attack Migiwa Kazuki launched against Treasure Island. They are astonished to see a headless and enormous Buranki, hundreds of times larger than Oubu, rise out of the maelstrom. Shizuru Taneomi wonders if it were the god that Duroc had talked to them about in a previous episode. At that same time, a remote-controlled Entei kidnaps Banryū by smashing through the Argo Gaura’s hull right in front of Karoruko Kazuki. Entei flies to the huge Buranki, and Azuma watches as it flies into the giant’s neck, just before the comet arrives and breaks apart to reveal the giant’s head. That head settles onto the neck, sealing Entei and Banryū inside. Azuma and his crew realize the giant is Deus Magna.
From the shore, Lakshmi and her fellow Bubuki users watch as the human military tries — without any effect — to destroy Deus Magna. Ryuuki arrives and acts like they’re coming back to him after recognizing the error of their ways — which is exactly what is not happening. Remembering how he treated them, they demand at least an apology, but he has no idea why. It was only after Lakshmi’s second powerful kick that he began to understand they needed some kind of closure. He learned to apologize. They agreed to form their Bubuki, Batalov, to oppose Deus Magna, with Ryuuki as the heart.
Migiwa finds herself in a cavern where she meets both the partially formed Oubu that Azuma had found in the first season, and a talking Oubu. It tells her no human is within it. Confused, she tries to mentally retrace her steps, recalling that her last memory was her trying to destroy Treasure Island. Then she notices that her body is partially transparent. Oubu won’t tell her if she’s dead or not. The Buranki only said something cryptic about “our child.” She appears shocked.
Azuma and his team are trying to decide what to do. Taneomi gives them surprise news: Entei is still alive within Deus Magna. Further, she senses that whatever consciousness is inside Deus Magna, it’s very sad about the deaths all around it. As Batalov arrives, another Buranki rockets towards them. They recognize it as Duroc, who Guy has captured and forced to become his slave. Furious at everything Guy has done, Oubu and Batalov try to attack, but Guy ascends into Duroc’s cranial cavity and uses his technology to completely take control. He announces his intent to take over Deus Magna and become god. He attacks and stabs Oubu through the heart. Then he crashes into Deus Magna’s cranial cavity to use Duroc’s body to assume control. Duroc begins taking merging with Deus Magna’s nervous system. Guy’s first act was to fire weaponry that completely destroyed all of the military forces that had tried to attack Deus Magna. Then, Guy realizes he needs to wait a little for Duroc to completely adapt to the giant’s nervous system.
Via radio, Akihito Tsuwabuki updates the team on their research into the data they’d captured: Guy needs Entei to hold Deus Magna together. Shūsaku Matobai asks Azuma to save Banryū again. Of course, Azuma and his team agree. Azuma, understanding they need help, asks Ryuuki for help. After a brief discussion, the other heart user agrees. Batalov immediately launches an attack in an attempt to break through Deus Magna’s shields. Oubu launches its own attack, but Guy hits it with his beam weapon, and Oubu falls, part of its head blasted away. But somehow, Azuma maintains enough awareness to halt the plunge and surge into the giant where its shield was apparently very thin.
Epizo Evans is still crushed by Laetitia Nilgiri Swanson’s death in the last episode. Moses convinces him to pull himself together and fight to honor her memory. Her old Bubuki users gives their weapons to Epizo’s team in their Buranki, Mega-lala. As they fly towards the combat area, they meet Karoruko in Zampaza; Epizo shares one of Epimew’s Bubuki with her. Inside Deus Magna, Oubu may have gained entry; but the Buranki lies dark, its crew unconscious or worse.
What I Liked
The animation was particularly beautiful this week. The scenes of the comet’s descent, the head reattaching to Deus Magna, and Deus Magna’s first shots from its weapon stood out. Even the sound was fantastic.
I like how Lakshmi cast the need for an apology as a necessary social ritual. It even seemed to be a concept that Ryuuki could understand. Though he seemed to struggle at the complexity until all of his Bubuki users fired up their weapons.
Seeing Guy’s image on the screen, Azuma finally realizes that the man who had given him a ride before was actually his enemy. Azuma was suitably furious. I also liked how Hiiragi Nono (this link in French; Google Translate does a great job with it) immediately backed up Azuma in that scene. They’ve come a long way since Nono seemed to want to kill Azuma.
Usually, exposition for the sake of plot feels boring, but how Akihito Tsuwabuki updates our heroes about how Guy’s discovery that Entei could be the glue that would hold Deus Magna’s body and head together worked well as quick breather before the episode’s climax.
As much as I don’t like Ryuuki, I have to admit that he learns quickly. When he questioned why he should help Azuma, all it took was Lakshmi standing up and smiling sweetly at him to remind him of his responsibilities. I wish she had gotten more screen time; I think she’s my favorite character this season.
What I Liked Less
I’m having a hard time accepting this: Guy hates being a heart user but doesn’t do anything about it. He hates passing it on to this son, but he doesn’t do anything about it. But then his son dies — and we are given no evidence the death had anything to do with Bubuki or Buranki — and all of a sudden, he decides to rid the world of Bubuki and Buranki? Hmmm…
I know I said I liked the scene where Lakshmi forced Ryuuki to apologize, but after how the show built up how he brutally treated them, I thought he got off too easy. In other words, the consequence didn’t seem to fit the actions. That’s a theme that seemed to affect this episode.
So, unlike other cranial ascensions (where a heart user rises into a Buranki’s brain room), Duroc ascending into Deus Magna’s brain needs time to assimilate? That seems awfully convenient. Too convenient, in fact. It seems like a shortcut taken for the sake of expediency.
Speaking of convenient, how does Azuma so easily stand back up after being stabbed in the heart? Usually, that kind of injury put a Buranki completely out of action. I get he’s stronger now, and his team’s working well together, so that increases their overall power. But it lessened the drama because the attack seemed to have caused so little lasting damage.
Batalov begins its attack on Deus Magna, and Guy ignores it. Oubu begins its attack, and Guy gets all indignant and fires the hugely destructive weapon at it. I don’t understand the difference in the reaction between the two attacks. That just seemed consistent.
Then, with part of its head blasted away, Oubu begins to fall — only to have Azuma somehow recover enough to halt the descent? And then plunge into a weak spot in Deus Magna’s shielding? Deus Magna’s shields completely thwarted Batalov. How could a wounded Oubu do what a fully functional Batalov couldn’t?
A lot happened in this episode. Most of it was necessary plot development and preparation for the series finale, and I think most of it made sense. However, as I mentioned in What I Liked Less, there were more than the usual number of things that bothered me. What bothered me the most is the motivation and depth of this season’s villain: Guy Barville Abeille.
I get how a technocrat like Guy could rise to power. An article in Symposium Magazine describes that trend in today’s politics, in particular in Europe (which is where Guy’s fictional Demokratia is located). What I really don’t get is how he’s funded all of his work, like the Buranki research Tsuwabuki mentioned in this episode. I don’t mean that I need to talk to Demokratia’s leading economists to obtain an analysis of their major exports, natural resources, or anything like that. It just seems that he spends all of his time fighting the Bubuki users and no time performing the tasks of state. Nor do I see any evidence that he has ministers or other state functionaries doing these jobs. So how’s he keep his state running? How does Demokratia survive after the attack on their fortress — thus displaying that Demokratia cannot protect its interests?
Why’re questions like this important?
These details — or clear allusions to these details — make a world feel real. Lack of those details make a world feel less real, which destroys suspension of disbelief. Consider some of the things I didn’t like about this episode: Guy’s lack of robust motivation; Azuma recovering too easily from attack; Guy’s unexplained inconsistent response to Batalov and to Oubu. Those make a world feel less real, which blunts the impact of the character’s struggles.
In other words, it makes the series less effective.
That’s too bad, because I’ve always like this show’s animation, sound design, and (mostly) the characters. Of course, I’ll still going to watch it next week. But I’m afraid that 5 years from now, when I’m rewatching Gate for the nth time, I’ll have forgotten all about poor BUBUKI/BURANKI: The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy.
Think I’m being too harsh? Maybe too nice? Let me know in the comments!
Other Posts of Interest
- Preview of Fall 2016, which includes BUBUKI/BURANKI
- Review of episode 13, Black Oubu, and episode 14, The False Heart
- Review of episode 15, The Right Hand’s Scar
- Review of episode 16: The Hunter’s Bullet
- Review of episode 17: The Island Fortress
- Review of episode 18: The Butterfly and the Gallows
- Review of episode 19: Older Brother and Younger Sister
- Review of episode 20: The Rebellious Limb
- Review of episode 21: Swan Song
- Review of episode 23: The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy