First Impression – Bubuki Buranki


Fantasy or Dystopia? Or Both?

spring15-irenesIn a season with no shortage of fantasy offerings, a probable dark horse comes up in Bubuki Buranki (or BBK/BRNK as they are trying to call it now), a series that has quite a bit of potential if one just decides to give it a chance.

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A new adventure awaits…

The latest offering by SANZIGAN Studios, is an original story that takes place some unknown amount of years into the future. Other than the PV and promotional art and summary, there wasn’t really that much that was known about this series going in. It was going to be a gamble, but with well done art, music, and a halfway decent plot line, I was willing to give it a try. And what did I find once the premiere was done? Well…all I can say is that either this is going to be one of the best fantasy/post-apocalyptic anime series I’ve seen in the last few seasons,–or it’s going to be a huge chaotic mess.

A Tale of the Two Plots

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Meet our two adorable MCs: Kaoruko and Azuma

If you’ve seen anything of the premiere for this show, it was quite interesting (and infamous by now) in that it split the episode into two halves. The two halves are related, but are soooo different in take and tone and style that they feel like they belong to two completely different tales.

First of all, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. Yes. The ENTIRE series is done in CGI. For some people, that will make or break the series for them. They simply can’t get over the animation, and I guess I can understand that. For me, it doesn’t matter as long as the story is interesting enough that the way it’s presented in a non-issue. With a series like Knights of Sidonia, I was able to do that. However, others like Arpeggio, I was not. So far, Bubuki has displayed a pretty competent display of CG and the art design is beyond astounding, so it’s so far so good on that side. But what about the story?

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Hello Mr. Mech. How are you today?

Once Upon a Time, In a Faraway Land

Well, like I said, the episode is split in two, and there’s no competition, the first half is indeed quite superior to the second. We are introduced to a fantastical and gorgeous world that seems like it’s right out of a Ghibli film such as Nausicaa or Castle in the Sky. It is a fairytale land filled with beautiful forests, ponds, mountains, and old ruins. Large golem-like mech creatures called Buranki, “sleepwalk” throughout the land, while the flora and fauna seem to exist in harmony with little traces of human interference.

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Picturesque Beauty

In fact the only humans that can be seen is a single family, with the standard nuclear set up of a mother, father, and their two six year-old twins, a girl named Kaoruko and a boy named Azuma. This is the Kazuki family, and I have to say that they are the most delightful and interesting part of the entire episode. It’s so unusual for me to see a whole family unit in anime where all the members are together and living a simple and happy life, where they are not reserved and actually physically expressive in showing their emotions towards each other, or the parents are rarely to be seen, etc. etc. Just to see the dad playing with his adorable twin children as they welcome home their parents for the day, just before celebrating their birthday was such a refreshing change of pace from the anime norm. I honestly could have spent the rest of the series with this loving family in this land, enjoying their slice of life experiences as they lived in this mysterious land. However, it is not to be.

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Simple Love

The mother, whose name is Migiwa, seems to posses some kind of power that allows her to control the Buranki of the land, it also allows her to take them down if she needs too. This power however seems to be slowly killing her to her husband and children’s dismay. Yet, it seems to be her duty to be the guardian of this land, and so she goes on. Her children have also inherited her abilities, but they are too immature and young to know how to use it properly just yet.

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Shh, Mommy’s killing monsters right now.

However, that doesn’t stop the more dominant and rambunctious of the twins, Kaoruko from trying to help her mother with her own abilities. But for all her good intentions, her actions will change all their lives forever. All the Buranki awaken, and become quite dangerous. So much so, that Migiwa does a “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” and sacrifices herself in order to stop the awakened Buranki all the while protecting her family by placing them inside her personal (still sleeping) Buranki, named Oubu and sending them away from the land, while she stays behind.

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Mommy, I think something’s wrong with it.

It’s only at this point that we realize that the land we’ve been so immersed in, is not as big as it seemed and is actually a fantastical floating island above the Earth, floating inexplicably in the planet’s orbit. The sequence of the children and their father hurtling to Earth in a giant mech is awe-inspiring and one of the best shots in the entire episode. It completely changes your perspective of all the scenes previous and you sit there wondering how such a world could exist and why more people aren’t living in such a paradise.

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I’m going to guess that that doesn’t look good.

Dark and Dingy Reality

This is when the second and weaker plot comes in as we are suddenly shot forward 10 years and are reintroduced to now 16 year-old Azuma, who has been living somewhere on Earth for the last decade. He has decided to return to Japan, but immediately runs into trouble as his mother and family have been slandered and are held to blame for a calamity that also happened a decade ago. However, he is rescued by a childhood friend named Kogane Asabuki.

This second half, set in a dirty and dingy, despotic Shinjuku, ruled by a cruel woman that controls the puppet government. It feels like a complete 180 from the whimsical, fantastical start and yet it also feels more in common with your standard anime.

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After where we’ve been, that’s just downright depressing. 

We meet most of our true main cast for the series here. Of course there is our main character, Azuma, who has thankfully matured from when we saw his six year-old self. However, he’s still pretty bland so far. There’s no sign of his father or sister, so I’m interested in what those two are doing and I’m hoping the two are still alive. Azuma and Kogane run into the other three team members, the edgy and spiteful Hiiragi Nono, the blue-haired yankee Kinoa Ougi, and the unusual and sporadic Shizuru Taneomi. All 4 including Kogane, are Bubuki users. What are Bubuki?

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Older, and yet still clueless

As far as I have been able to put together, Bubuki are parts of Buranki that seemed to have gained a life of their own. Bubuki users contract with the creatures and use them as weapons, tools, and as well as just companions.

The rest of the episode is just an extended fight between our kids (all of them 16) and one of the evil redhead ruler’s minion, while Azuma searches for Oubu, his mom’s Buranki, in order to see if he can reach the island again. Most of the kids are rather forgettable other than perhaps the kawaii Kogane, and I find myself missing the Kazuki family and their simple but fantastical life from the first half. But it seems we’re now going to be watching a fight for freedom, as well as a search for answers.

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What a colorful bunch of heroes and villains.


And thank God for that last part at least, since this pilot only raises more questions than it answers. With the decade time gap, we’re just thrown back into the real world, which seems more foreign than the fantastical world after having seen the episode’s start. What happened in that time, what calamity occurred because of Kaoruko’s folly? Where IS Kaoruko? Why is her more subdued brother doing all this work and not she? What about their father? If he’s been away from Japan all this time, that means they landed and stayed for only a short time, making a friend in Kogane, before leaving. Azuma wants to find his mother, but is she still alive? Who is the redhead Reoko and what is her deal?

The two halves of this first episode do clash and seem a bit chaotic, leaving us to grasp the situation without much support. And yet, I’m interested in finding out the answers to all those questions. I want to know more about the world and understanding more about what happened. As I said at the start, this series has the potential to be an awesome dark horse, but it can also crash and burn. For now though, I’ll be sticking with it as we learn more about the Buraki, the Bubuki, and those who are able to wield them.

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Well, I have to say, this is the first time I’ve ever seen an anorexic mech before. 


A Chicagoan biochemist, teacher, and an aspiring virologist, with a love for science only rivaled by my love for movies, animation, and anime. Both a lover of action/adventure and romance, I'm a girl who walks the entire spectrum. Mecha, Sci-Fi, Psychological Thriller, Romantic Period Piece, if it's has a good story, I'm there.
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16 Responses to “First Impression – Bubuki Buranki”

  1. BlackBriar says:

    Altogether, this opening would’ve been great regardless of the contrast of the two halves yet came out as alright. Going into detail, the first half had enough to be very likable in general with feels and drama but was poisoned by the very whiny and pitifully pathetic Azuma throughout. I mean it, he was grating to deal with. The second half did better with Azuma more grown up and not acting so damn helpless. Still clueless, however, such is a trait is held by most male protagonists so it’s an anime staple that’s to be seen coming.

    I’m not so taken in by the show’s choice of CG animation. By comparison, it’s rougher than that of… let’s say… Knights of Sidonia, especially where the character designs are concerned and therefore a considerable amount of effort is needed to ignore it. My part is holding steady right now since things are only now starting off and I’m somewhat interested in what’s to come over the course of the story. The twist being the city is under a dictatorship and the one in charge is a redhead who framed her way to power.

    The Bubuki/Buranki ring in some nostalgia over an anime I saw a few years back named Kamisama Dolls and they look just like enlarged versions of the Dolls. Though some of the Bubuki/Buranki have a full body.

    As a starter, I’ll give this a 6/10 for interesting premise that leaves much to wonder and leaves the feel that all is not as it appears. If we stumble into a gray area scenario, then that’s even better.

    • IreneSharda says:

      I did not mind Azuma being “pathetic” any more than Kaoruko being bossy and selfish in the beginning half. They are 5 year olds going on 6, I completely expect that of them. I loved that they didn’t shy away from having them act like real little kids. The girl is more dominant and the boy more passive, but they still have fun together and enjoy each other’s company. Kaoruko gets tired of pulling her brother along and pushes it in his face all the time that she is the braver and stronger one, but she quickly crumbles when trouble comes and calls out for her mother just as he does. She’ll say she’s too big for a toy, but will still take it back right after. Azuma is very timid and unsure, but he will push to try to be brave and not have his sister leave him behind. And he is the one that worries about safety in light of her recklessness. Some boys are just not the outgoing types, and some who start off that way, don’t stay there. Having both younger siblings and cousins, I’m pretty used to such behavior. It’s natural, and like anything, their personalities will change and mature as they grow.

      Now, it’s Azuma’s older personality that I’ll be giving more scrutiny to. He’s still a little generic right now, but he’s more outgoing and tough than before. So, we’ll have to see more of him as he is now.

  2. BlackBriar says:

    In a season with no shortage of fantasy offerings, a probable dark horse comes up in Bubuki Buranki (or BBK/BRNK as they are trying to call it now)

    The title itself is already insanely odd so it’s just hilarious to think people are actually trying to abbreviate it. And trying to do so with no vowels, no less. 😛

  3. skylion says:

    Wow, if you can call a wheel a wheel, than you can a mecha a mecha. Geez. Oh, I kid. Speaking of kids, there is no way I’m buying the main character and their supporting cast are any older then 12, they don’t look ready to drive quite yet.

    But that’s my gripes out of the way. This had one of the only truly inspired openings this season, as you said, very immersive, and it didn’t overstay its welcome, quite the opposite. The dystopia is a bit bland, but I think it just needs time to come alive. It feels like that mini-mart on the helipad. It’s closed, but could be open at any given time.

    • BlackBriar says:

      Speaking of kids, there is no way I’m buying the main character and their supporting cast are any older then 12, they don’t look ready to drive quite yet.

      Nonsense! There are shows with legal lolis who look like 12 year olds but are in their early/mid/late 20-30’s (Shokugeki no Soma’s Jun Shiomi) and you’re telling me you can’t buy teenagers looking younger than they really are? You? The LOLi Defender?! 😉

      • IreneSharda says:

        I’m sorry, but once they are over 13/14 (unless they are some kind of immortal), I no longer call them lolis. At that point, they are just short women.

        But truth be told, even for anime character standards, these kids look younger than 16.

        • BlackBriar says:

          But truth be told, even for anime character standards, these kids look younger than 16.

          This is nothing new, to be honest. Anime characters never look their age. Look at Ken Kaneki. All the hell he went through in both seasons of Tokyo Ghoul and guess what his age is… 18 years old during the first season turning 19 during the second.

          Does he look so old to you? 😉

          • IreneSharda says:

            Actually, yes he did even in the first episode. It was something about the way Ken carried himself, that yes, I would have guessed 17-18 years of age.

            And actually, I’ll give the show this. All the kids (Hiiragi, Kinoa, and Shizuru) other than Azuma and Kogane look about 16, especially the much taller and tougher blue-haired yankee girl Kinoa and the pink-haired Shizuru.

            Kogane and Azuma look a bit younger, but that may be because they are just short for their age.

            I am interested though if there is some significance in the fact that they are ALL 16. Did their parents know each other in some capacity? Also, all of them will be using Bubuki that they’ve inherited from either their mother or father. Azuma is shown to eventually have his own Bubuki, being the heart of Oubu, that is of course inherited from his mother.

            I’m hoping we get more on their parents and what it all has to do with the Buranki and the island in the sky.

        • Sumairii says:

          Anime is drawn by the Japanese. The Japanese are Asians. It is a well known fact that Asians never age. They look young until a certain point, at which they suddenly start looking old. Thus, anime characters, who are drawn by Asians, will never look their age. Q.E.D.

          • IreneSharda says:

            Lol, but if they never age, than how do they get old all of a sudden?

            Perhaps it’s a conspiracy…

            • Sumairii says:

              There is no aging process. Asians become old instantaneously. You know, like that one friend you have lunch with. You never see him actually putting food in his mouth, but the amount of food on his plate decreases every time you look at the plate. 😉

          • BlackBriar says:

            They look young until a certain point, at which they suddenly start looking old.

            In other words, it’s in their nature to age slowly. “Aging gracefully” as some would say.

            Here are some examples:

            Takahiro Sakurai: Age 41
            Keiji Fujiwara: Age 51
            Yuuichi Nakamura: Age 35

            Aoi Yuuki: Age 23
            Kana Hanazawa: Age 26
            Risa Taneda: Age 27

            • Sumairii says:

              No. There is no aging process. They wake up one day and are old. This has been confirmed with extensive laboratory testing.

            • skylion says:

              Same for me. People don’t believe I’m nearly 45. But man, it’s gonna catch up one day. Like that guy that “choose poorly” when he thought he found the Holy Grail…

  4. Highway says:

    I liked the first part a lot better than the second. Maybe it’ll get better as Azuma figures out what’s going on, but I’d agree that they’re pretty low on the info so far.

    And I wouldn’t say that they’re ‘abbreviating’ the name. It’s stylized, just like the name in Japanese:


    Bu Bu Ki Bu Ra En Ki

    Seven characters. Seven sounds. Just like the Romaji version

    Bee Bee Kay, Bee Ar En Kay.

    People just interpret the romaji symbols as being a different sound than the kana symbols.

    • IreneSharda says:

      It was just really weird when I’m on ANN and a few weeks ago, they called the show by it’s full title, and now, it’s officially under BBK/BRNK with the full title redirecting to the new one.

      It DOES look cooler than the full title, and I’ve noticed they’ve done that on the official site too, and I’m wondering if it was just a marketing decision.

      And yes the first half was definitely better. It almost had a cinematic quality to it. I honestly wouldn’t mind if this had ended up being a SOL with the family on that island in the sky. But hopefully we will get some answers about what’s going on in the present.

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