Note: This may contain spoilers, so please be cautious!
BUBUKI/BURANKI: The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy opens the reason with two episodes (episode 13, Black Oubu, and episode 14, The False Heart) that introduce us to Azuma Kazuki’s little sister Karoruko Kazuki, as well as the four borrowed limbs that make up her Buranki. We also see Guy Barville Abeille push his own mysterious agenda forward despite what it does to Maxim Arsenyevich Balakirev’s Bubuki users; we meet Ryuuki (who really owns the heart that Karoruko borrowed) and see that he treats all four of his “limbs” in a disgusting and demeaning way; we see the benefits of teamwork against mindless drones; and we witness Karoruko disregard family to throw her friends — and possibly the future of the city — in jeopardy.
Episode 13: Black Oubu
Our heroes, Kogane Asabuki (Oubo’s right hand), Kinoa Ougi (left hand), Shizuru Taneomi (right leg), and Hiiragi Nono (left leg) travel abroad to track down Buranki that fell to Earth when Treasure Island crashed. Their heart wielder, Azuma Kazuki, got stuck in customs.
Preparing to attack a rogue Buranki, they’re surprised when another team attacks it. They’re even more surprised to learn that team’s heart is Karoruko Kazuki — Azuma’s younger sister!
They share a pleasant meal with the other four limbs while Karoruko berates her older brother and in general plays up her role in the fights. She also discloses that Guy claims leadership of all Buranki users in the world — and that the United States and Russian users we met last season were working for him.
While they’re visiting the school for Bubuki users, Ryuuki, the owner of the heart that Karoruko borrowed, arrives. He partly terrifies and partly repulses all four of his limbs because he treats them terribly — he see them as existing only for the heart’s purposes. Karoruko stands up to him without flinching; seeing how he affects Lakshmi, Nono declares that he’s going to kill Ryuuki. Only the arrival of another Bubaki arriving stopped him.
Episode 14: The False Heart
During a meeting of Guy’s heart users, Karoruko protests Maxim’s special treatment. Guy tells her her only role is to prove her strength to him, and she appears dedicated to that goal. And she seems a little unhinged about it.
Maxim’s Buranki, Zampaza, rampages through the city. Shizuru Taneomi, Oubu’s right leg, says that Zampaza is strange. “Five people are in it, but five people aren’t there.” A flashback shows why: Guy gave Maxim’s Bubuki team a “treatment” that turned them into Maxim’s slaves. They have no will of their own. Zampaza has no problem defeating two headless Buranki that “happened” to wander by. Then he defeats Karoruko and her Buranki easily — which seemingly fulfilled the mission Guy assigned to him, which was to test the mind-controlled limbs in combat.
Our heroes again sit down to a meal with Karoruko’s team, but this time, Azuma finally joins them. He tries to reach out to his sister, but she berates him and gloats that she was the one who told the American heart user, Epizo Evans, to teach Azuma how to make his heart work. She also claims responsibility for knocking Treasure Island out of the sky. Azuma is aghast and demands how she could hurt their parents; she counters that Treasure Island’s force fields still operate and all’s fine. Then Maxim and Zampaza attack.
Oubu fuses. They struggle at first because they were out of practice. Zampaza even managed to cut off Oubu’s right arm. But because Asabuki was still free to act independently of Azuma, she was able to seize control of “rightie-chan” and use it as a free-flying weapon. That was the last strike Zampaza landed; the rest of the battle was utterly one-sided against Maxim’s Buranki.
After the battle, Karoruko lays her cards on the table: she wants Oubu’s heart, and she’s willing to take it by force. Her borrowed limbs back her up.
What I Liked
I love Studio Sanzigen‘s CGI work. I’ve liked it since Arpeggio of Blue Steel, and I think they’ve gotten even better with facial expressions. Asabuki’s casual and happy expressions during their meet and greet with Karoruko’s team seemed so genuine; Chou Ouran’s expression of debilitating fear when Ryuuki tried to touch her actually triggered my protective instincts!
The show tried to introduce a fair number of new characters, and I think it pulled it off smoothly. By the end of the episode, I had a good idea that Karoruko had plans of her own that may or may not match what Guy’s up to; that she was not afraid to stand up for her Bubuki users; and that she really doesn’t think much of her older brother. I also had a sense that her Bubuki users strongly preferred being with her to Ryuuki.
From the OP, it looks like one my favorite characters, Reoko Banryū, might have a role to play in season 2. Given how things played out in this episode, I think Azuma should give thought to burying the hatchet with her and asking for her help. Though that might have a kind of Farscape/John Crichton/Scorpius vibe to it… But I’d be okay with that!
Seeing what Guy did to Maxim’s team really improved Guy’s standing as a villain. As in, I really want to see him soundly defeated. Buried, even. Remembering back to how strong and free-spirited Lyudmila Arsenyevna Balakireva and her sister Diana Arsenyevna Balakireva were, and seeing how meek and obedient they are now, was absolutely repulsive. At least one other heart user, Ryuuki, thinks the way Guy does, too; perhaps it’s only a matter of time before he asks Guy to “treat” his limbs.
I think Azuma honestly tried to reach out to his sister. She wasn’t having any of it, but he tried. He gets credit for the attempt.
I loved the contrast between Oubu and Zampaza’s combat capabilities. The idea that five intelligent, creative individuals working together could achieve better results than one individual with four slaves is not only attractive. It’s accurate. And it’s human and it’s uplifting.
I had to laugh when Ougi said to Karoruko that “Azuma’s so much better just because he doesn’t yap as much!” It’s great when a character says what I was thinking.
It was really interesting seeing Shūsaku Matobai at the end. Will my hopes that Azuma will reach out to that team for help come true? I can’t imagine they’d help Karoruko, representing as she does Guy and his minions. Hmmm….
What I Liked Less
I hope that we get to see more backstory or some kind of explanation for Karoruko’s actions. She’s seriously starting to annoy me. She’s put her mother and father in danger (perhaps even killing them); she’s willing to fight and potentially kill her brother; and for what?
So, there’s a comet that’s not only visible now, but has been visible from the time when Karoruko lived on Treasure Island? A stationary comet? They’d better come up with a much better explanation, because comets show their tails because their material heats up when they approach the sun. If a comet were to stay stationary, its contents wold eventually blow completely away.
I’m not sure what Guy’s up to yet, but it’s clear that a) he doesn’t value the Bubuki users as individuals, b) he doesn’t care about the devastation that Buranki battles inflict on a city, and c) he doesn’t have Karoruko’s best interests at heart.
I think points a) and c) understate the issue: if what Guy did to Maxim’s team is any indication, then he intends to destroy the wills and minds of all the Bubuki users, leaving only the hearts with any volition of their own. I wonder if it’s any coincidence that such a smaller group would be easier for him to control?
And just what does he want with a comet that, based on what I think I know about comets, shouldn’t exist?
I have a serious concern about this season: Karoruko as a villain just isn’t working for me. Not without some more explanation. The reasons she’s stated so far just don’t make sense. If she really wants to protect the city, she’d explore alliances or flat-out team up with her brother. He and his team’s clearly head and shoulders above hers, and that means they’re more capable protecting the population.
In that light, why’s she even backing Guy? His new toy, humans stripped of will and intellect, just got its butt kicked. Decisively. Why would she want to back a losing horse? Worse, why would she want to disable to winner?
What do you think? Am I missing something here?
Other Posts of Interest
- Preview of Fall 2016, which includes BUBUKI/BURANKI
- 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