BUBUKI/BURANKI Ep 24: The Emptiness of a Quest Fulfilled
Note: This post may contain spoilers, so please be cautious!
What’s In This Post
In Three Shining Stars, the final episode of BUBUKI/BURANKI: The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy, a year has passed since the previous episode. Azuma Kazuki tries to return to a “normal” life after defeating Guy Barville Abeille, but he finds it’s more difficult than he hoped. Reoko Banryū awakens a different person. Karoruko Kazuki gets buried. Zetsubi Hazama makes a shocking announcement. Kogane Asabuki refuses to give up on Azuma.
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- One year after the events of the previous episode, Azuma tries to fit back into more traditional human society. He’s enrolled in the same school that Asabuki goes to, but no matter how hard he tries, he can’t feel like he’s part of the group. After school, he wanders the city aimlessly.
- Kinoa Ougi and Hiiragi Nono are trying to fit back into school as well, and they’re having much better luck. Ougi has joined Lacrosse; Nono’s affection for Ougi finally seems to have gotten through to her, because as much as they’re embarrassed to admit it, they’re dating.
- Asabuki talks to Nono and discovers that he’s trying to forget the previous year. He just wants to fit back into society and live a peaceful life. He doesn’t even want to visit Azuma. Asabuki’s heartbroken.
Shūsaku Matobai and Hazama take Azuma to meet Banryū, who has just awakened for the first time since the events of the last episode. On the way, Hazama lets slip that she and Akihito Tsuwabuki are expecting — and she swears that it’s twins! On the way to Banryū’s room, Azuma is dismayed to see recent battle damage to the building. The public still hasn’t forgiven her for her role in the events from the first season, and she’s under constant guard for her protection. Azuma’s even more dismayed that she doesn’t remember who he is, and she even rants at him for coming unannounced into a woman’s room. Sōya Arabashiri, pretending to be her doctor, calms her down and later explains to Azuma that she has no recollection of her life — any of it. Between that and the public’s animosity to her, she’ll need to stay in that facility for the rest of her life.
- Still feeling completely empty, Azuma finds himself sitting alone in a park at night. He sees a man stagger and collapse. Worried that the many was hurt, he finds that instead the man’s homeless and simply passed out drunk. Guy’s words came back to haunt him: can he actually return to a normal life? Can he see the life of a “stinking drunk” as valuable? Or will Azuma take Guy’s route and reject the innate value of human life?
Azuma returns to the Goodsmile convenience store where he had first gathered with the four Bubuki users who would become his team; where they had first faced off against Matobai. The store’s wrecked and abandoned now. Azuma’s still looking for his direction. Somehow Asabuki finds him and shares that she, too, has been wrestling with their past. But she’s accepted it because of her warm memories of the friendship the five of them developed. Ougi joins them and affirms Asabuki’s desire to remember. Pink-rifle-toting Shizuru Taneomi and Nono show up, too. Nono’s gotten to the point that he’s okay remembering their journey, even if it’s only once a year. Azuma tries to deny that he’s still their heart, saying that since the last battle, his Heart hasn’t opened even once. Asabuki and Taneomi say that’s because Oubu’s protecting Azuma from having to fight when pain fills his heart. His team offers to share his burden, but that only makes Azuma annoyed and awkward. So instead, they decide to use their Bubuki to look for “the next Treasure Island.” Flying through the night sky, they pass over Banryū in her hospital. Oubu’s heart opens just a little, and for a moment, she’s flying through the air with them. Then she finds herself back in the hospital room, only now, she seems to have recovered some of her memories. Above them, a comet glows unnoticed in the sky.
What I Liked
Nice little touch of realism showing that the Japanese government was redistributing Guy’s “republic’s” business assets to businesses within Japan. Of course, the government wouldn’t let the research go to waste; and of course, the government would use the turmoil of Guy’s fall as an excuse to obtain it.
Asabuki’s always been kind to Azuma, and she continued that trend in this episode. In fact, if Azuma felt at all part of the school, it was because of her support.
I was a little surprised that a member of the faculty was actually nice to Azuma, even if many of the rest of the students were stand-offish because of his last name.
It’s about time that Ougi and Nono started dating! He’s liked her since the first season. Despite her apparent crush on Sōya Arabashiri, I think Nono’s a much better match for her.
Tsuwabuki visited the graves of the Russian team who had piloted Zampaza. He was happy that their graves were in a beautiful, quiet, and natural setting. Seeing Lyudmila Arsenyevna Balakireva gun down Maxim Arsenyevich Balakireva, her beloved brother, against her will due to Guy’s brainwashing was one of the most dramatic scenes this season — for any series. It’s a little thing, but I liked seeing them put to rest in peace.
I think it’s fitting that the last we see of Karoruko, she’s been buried under the boxes containing her mom’s things. We also learn what Banryū told her just before Guy abducted her from the flying ship Argo Gaura: that she and Karoruko’s mom, Migiwa Kazuki, chose her and Azuma’s names.
The scene in the park, where Azuma comes upon the drunk man who’s passed out, was a little heavy handed, but I thought it was enough to dramatically confront Azuma with the choice: become like Guy or find his own way forward. Azuma’s experiences have affected him. He can’t see the world from the same perspective that he used to, and he has to make some kind of choice — or he’ll wander aimlessly through life.
When Ougi arrived at the wrecked convenience store, she had not only her own Bubuki, but the one given to her for the last battle. She looked more badass than usual with two Bubuki!
What I Liked Less
I don’t know why all five of Team Azuma decided to show up at the destroyed convenience store at the same time. If it’s a coincidence, it really annoys me; if it’s just explained, it only somewhat annoys me. I like to know why things happen — or have a clear indication that as a viewer, I’m not supposed to know why.
I really liked the brief shot of Hazama, wrapped in a comfortable blanket, and Tsuwabuki looking up at the stars. This episode had a number of scenes whose only purpose was to show that life was moving forward for the characters, and I liked seeing that. And to think that in the first season, they were seriously nasty enemies!
Azuma’s plight reminded me strongly of what Frodo went through after returning to The Shire in The Return of the King. After many adventures trudging across Middle Earth to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom, Frodo tries to return home. Between the trials of the journey, the damage the Ring itself inflicted, and the method by which the Ring was destroyed, Frodo was left broken. He could no longer find any rest or home in Middle Earth.
In this episode, Azuma found himself in similar straits. Being the Heart user for Oubu and being the leader for the four Bubuki who fought with him, changed Azuma. He no longer felt at home anywhere in the places most of us would consider the normal world. He wandered lost and aimless; he missed the purpose that had defined him.
But unlike Frodo, whose damage had no cure within the confines of the world, the impetus for Azuma’s condition — his being part Buranki — was also the basis for his cure. His Bubuki users surrounded him and showed him that through their trials, they had become friends, and their friendship could help sustain him.
Even better, not only can they sustain Azuma, they can help him bring healing to Banryū. When he visited her in the hospital, even under her withering tongue-lashing, Azuma knew that she hadn’t turned on him,. Her reaction was because her memory was missing. He didn’t knowingly open Oubu’s heart to help her; but once he saw her flying beside him, he reached his hand to hers.
Early in this episode, Azuma looked to the night skies and saw only stars. At the end, the camera tilts up, and we see a comet in addition to the stars. Sōya mentioned earlier that since Banryū was part Buranki, and there was no way to know how that might affect her healing. I’d like to think that Oubu’s Heart linked Banryū to the Buranki “network,” and that the comet was back as a sign of the Buranki’s continued interest in their family on Earth.
I wonder if Migiwa was there, too. Or did she move away from the Earth and farther into the stars?
What do you think? Leave a comment!
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 22: The Comet Opens its Eyes
- Review of episode 23: The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy