Random Curiosity

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Bubuki Buranki – 01

「魔女の息子」 (Majonomusuko)
“The Witch’s Son”

Bubuki Buranki builds a mythology in its first episode, then does its best to pull us in. Its rough, and the potential isn’t realized, but the potential for a good original story is absolutely there.

Ten Years Before

The first half of the episode is quite good, for two reasons. First, it takes as much time as it needs. It builds a mythology around the Buranki, and I use the word mythology deliberately. One look at the field of slumbering titans made it feel like something out of legends; a Shadow of the Colossus feel, perhaps. I say that rather than the titans of Shingeki no Kyojin because they’re not immediately an object of horror and fear, but one of wonder (and also fear, but fear deferred and under control). They feel mythical, even otherworldly. It gave me a sense of wonder, and that’s the first moment that really made me sit up and pay attention.

Secondly, it puts us on Kazuki Azuma’s (Kobayashi Yuusuke) side for the second half, by putting us on his mother’s, Kazuki Migiwa’s, side in the first. We saw what happened, so when people start calling her a witch and criticizing her as a mass murderer ten years later, we know that’s not true—she didn’t release the Buranki, and since it looked like there were lot more than just one, she must have put most of them down. She just didn’t get them all, for whatever reason (she was too slow, she got killed, etc). That sense of unfairness puts us on Azuma’s side, even though he himself doesn’t do much to earn it.

Ten Years After

In contrast, the ten years later part feels rushed. While the sense of drama in the first half felt earned—the mistake of the daughter, a mother sacrificing herself for her children, the slumbering danger of the Buranki—it isn’t so much in the second half. We lack knowledge of the stakes, and of context. Why does everyone want to revive Oubu? I get Azuma’s wish, to go see his mother, but I don’t know what drives the others. Nor do we know what drives the antagonists, or the state. Without context, all the cool action in the world doesn’t mean anything. It’s just light and noise.

I have sympathy for the job they set up for themselves, though. I feel like a double-length intro would have worked better. The thing is, we need the Ten Years Before part to understand the deeper context of what drives Azuma, as well as to understand the injustice of blaming his mother for something she tried to stop. That tragedy is foundational material, and good watching to boot. Yet it left them with a mere half an episode to introduce five protagonists, five antagonists, and an entire society. Not gonna happen. About the best they could hope for is only introducing part of the cast to make it manageable (that might have been wise), or trying to throw out a bunch of hooks to grab viewers’ interest and bring them back for a second episode, where they can lay down that foundation.

That’s why they ended the episode with Oubu stripped down to bones—Oubu, as an element from the Ten Years Before part that worked on its own, is a familiar element, and something we might just care about. That, plus the flashy action, hints of ulterior motives, and some earnest emotion from Azuma’s childhood friend Asabuki Kogane (Ozawa Ari)—which doubled as an expression of her motivation, though since “You killed my father, I’m going to stop you!” sounds like something a bereaved child would say in a fit of emotion, it worked for me—are the intended hooks, along with the whole Buranki thing from the first half.

It’s a risk, to be honest. The team at SANZIGEN tried to do something ambitious, and it didn’t entirely work. It didn’t entirely fail either, though. Personally, I’d rather reward ambition than complacency, so I’ll be watching more.

Animation, And Other Concerns

This anime is being produced by studio SANZIGEN, in a style similar to their successful (and largely anime original) Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Nova. Your mileage will vary on whether you like the animation style, but—

I actually wrote a long tangent here, but I’m trying to experiment with brevity, so let me condense: If you’re at the point where this kind of animation is familiar to you, where you’re used to it, and then you decide you don’t like it and don’t want to watch full-CGI series, that makes sense to me. More power to you. But if you’re not at the point, maybe watch a series or two. Ars Nova and Sidonia are both amazing, watch them. There’s a learning curve to growing comfortable with full CGI, and like someone who claims they “don’t like anime” (they don’t know, they’re just dismissing it), you gotta get over that hump to make an informed decision. Do as you like, but that’s my futile plea. Take it or leave it.

What I enjoyed here was how the episode showed the upsides of CGI. In this style the characters are under no obligation to move together (and stop together) so that the animators can have a few easy frames. That makes the flow of their movement more (potentially) natural, and at a lower production cost than the traditionally animated series that best achieve it. It also means they can move more, leading to fun little scenes like the two kids being tossed up in the air and spun around. This can get especially cool in combat, where the animators can go hogwild with effects and explosions that would break immersion in a traditionally animated show. The faces can still look funny (though they’re better in this show than any other CGI TV series I’ve seen), but there are advantages as well.

Looking Ahead

As I said before, this first episode of Bubuki Buranki is ambitious, and at least partially successful. And I want to reward that ambition by seeing where it goes. I’m definitely going to keep watching this, and I may blog another episode or two, to see where it goes. Tell me what you think about the episode so I can gauge whether there’s interest in blogging it more.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The Ten Years Before half was well done—the drama & tragedy earned. The second half was shakier, but the potential is there #bbkbrnk 01

Random thoughts:

  • I like the little details of the world, especially in the first half—the ship on land, the house under the overhang, or the fact that they were actually orbiting above the planet (that was a cool early twist, and well foreshadowed). All shown without comment—which makes me wonder at them all the more.
  • I enjoy the little details, like how they obscured the dates on Azuma’s passport to avoid dating the anime. There were a lot of little elements like that. It shows a certain attention to detail.
  • Another thing on Azuma—I appreciate how he (claims) he wasn’t hiding when he was gone, but was searching for something (Oubu, I’d guess). It shows growth already from the crybaby he used to be.
  • The Bubuki/Buranki/etc thing wasn’t as wonky as the premise synopsis made it sound. Bubuki are parts of Buranki. Buranki are these mythical titan things. That’s it.
  • A convenience store on the roof. It’s a good thing they lampshaded it, because that’s weird. It’s still weird.
  • There’s nothing like a slasher smile emerging from flames. The crazy smiles are strong with this one. Swiftly approved.

My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: $%&@* cuss words, Stephen, what is best in life?, It depends, and Momentum & mental space.

 

OP Sequence

OP: 「Beat your Heart」 by Suzuki Konomi

January 9, 2016 at 8:59 pm
49 comments »
  • January 9, 2016 at 9:08 pmdude

    CGI reminds me of Fire Emblem

    • January 13, 2016 at 1:54 pmMakoto

      Indeed, that’s because it’s the same character designer: Yuusuke Kozaki

  • January 9, 2016 at 9:24 pmCherry

    Has anyone seen the plotline? Anyone? I could have sworn there was one around here somewhere…

  • January 9, 2016 at 9:36 pmDvalinn

    A convenience store on the roof. It’s a good thing they lampshaded it, because that’s weird. It’s still weird.

    Not just any store; it had Good Smile Company (the figure-maker) branding all over it. WTF? Kind of took me out of the experience.

    Regardless, I quite liked this little series, ‘t was a nice surprise. Because especially that first half really did get me quite invested in the show right off the bat. It’s a cool setting, we get a good feel for the characters and the show manages to create a nice fantasy atmosphere (even though I dislike the animation, but I guess I’m used to that by now). And while the second half wás rushed and too actiony, it did manage to pull off those action scenes quite well (that hand-thing looks cool) and there was still enough of a feeling for the stakes that I was able to care about them (which lesser shows would’ve screwed up by now). And to be honest, the show getting right into stuff happening felt kind of refreshing after the countless numbers of shows that feel like having boring, lengthy exposition dumps first.

    They’ve managed to get my hopes up, anyways. Now let’s hope they don’t experty dash them later.

    And it does seem like a good blogging pick if it keeps up this level of quality, in my opinion. It being an original show means there’s plenty of things to talk and/or speculate about without risking getting spoiled, at the very least.

    • January 9, 2016 at 10:26 pmStilts

      Good point on the lengthy exposition dumps in other shows. There’s a balance between that and this, which the second half didn’t quite hit (though the first half did—do that more often, anime industry!), but it’s tricky, especially as your world gets more complex. Having only a few basic tweaks—basically just the Buranki and Bubuki require explanation, the rest can be intuited—helped make the first part work.

      It also helped that they were explaining things to kids. We expect to explain things to six year old kids. That helps.

  • January 9, 2016 at 10:37 pmBamboo Blade Cat

    The animation is strong with this one.

  • January 9, 2016 at 10:42 pmPancakes

    This has my curiosity so far. For a pilot episode it isn’t bad, and certainly performs well the task of encouraging the viewer to watch more. Can’t deny though being slightly disappointed at the jump from fantasy island in the sky to (stereotypical) modern city, kiddies fighting against the big bad organization, etc. Nevertheless, however, there’s enough here to easily justify sticking around for three episodes minimum.

    Also the CGI is pretty damn impressive, the character movements are better than Sidonia and barring a few scenes (mostly character close ups) it takes some effort to tell it’s computer animated.

    • January 9, 2016 at 10:55 pmBamboo Blade Cat

      Yeah, I was a touch disappointed with the time jump as well, and the introduction of plenty of trope characters didn’t help. But it seems interesting enough and paired with the animation, I remain intrigued.

      • January 9, 2016 at 10:56 pmStilts

        You know what would be funny? If the execs wouldn’t let them do it if they didn’t include a bunch of the classic characters. If they had to do the second part to be able to do the first. I could see it happening.

      • January 10, 2016 at 9:58 amElHuesudoII

        At this point, Stilts, I wonder if this is a case of “the Western audience is different”. Does anyone here know if Japanese audiences favor the trope-based writing? I mean, for some reason it keeps selling over there, so it keeps being made over there for the people that buy it over there.

        We, the audience in the West, whine quite a lot about certain things being too frequent in anime these days; but we’re an isolated part of the audience that is rarely considered for input… over there. And after all this time and after complaining so much about the medium, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is just not being sold to me, but to people who are more interested in these kinds of things.

      • January 10, 2016 at 10:53 amStilts

        While you’re correct that most anime (Space Dandy and One Punch Man excepted) aren’t being sold to us, be careful. You’re confusing the opinions of the loud minority of Western anime fans (such as those of us who read Random Curiosity and post in the comments) with the silent majority. People in general tend to favor a certain amount of familiarity in their stories—that’s why the same tropes come up in Western TV shows, movies, video games and etc; they just happen to be different tropes than the ones in anime (sometimes).

        It’s likely not as much of a cultural difference as you’re thinking. The tendency exists in people around the world. And I’m sure there are Japanese anime fans who bitch about it too.

      • January 12, 2016 at 4:01 pmendah

        agree with both of you guys…except that im not going to watch this lol. that timeskip killed it for me, the kids were already annoying at the start, saved by the fact that we actually saw the parents! and the setting of the sky island was awesome. . .the rest though, was facepalm worthy;

        1)Why does this kid not what what a bubuki is after ten years?

        2)why is this kid STILL WEAK after ten years. . .he gets caught by fking POLICE GRUNTS while the antagonists can consume large areas of space with FIRE and there are SEVEN of them, hell, even the little girl can do more shit than this weak ass kid. wtf was he doing for ten years?

        3)lots and lots of questions that take me out of the plot
        why was he being chased?
        If he was the son of the witch, and people wanted him dead because of that, wouldn`t he have been caught…10 years ago?

        How did he get his passport if his family was pretty much public enemy #1?

        If it was a fake passport then why would he have his real family name on it if his family was public enemy #1did he go to school?
        did his father raise him in obscurity?
        If so, why didnt the father just tell him wtf happened to keep him from going out into the city? Couldnt the father help him develop his powers so that he doesnt get caught by the mooks after ten years?
        The father was a big looking tough dude, he couldn`t have fed him meet and had him chop down trees, and teach him how to fight to get strong or something?
        What happened to his sister(yes I know, obvious plot point later on)? she had power too. . .so shouldnt the father had trained BOTH of them once it was clear that they were being framed for all this and that they would have to fight eventually?
        If there are antagonists THAT strong, wouldn`t they have caught the MC earlier? like uhh Ten years earlier? after they fell out of the island?
        Why didnt they show the `destruction` that the incident had on the city below? wtf is with this Telling and Not Showing Bullshit?` that part should have AT LEAST shown us why the MC is suddenly Public enemy #1
        why are the generic bad guys harrasing kids?

        How do the MC not know about the bubuks or whatever after TEN FUCKING YEARS??? Really?!

        The convenience store on top of the sky scrapper was stupid but not nearly a big a deal as the rest of the question the bad time skip showed. The second have of the episode had so many problems that if you try to think about it critically i.e. above, it just falls apart. I could never force myself to watch this after that terrible timeskip, and lack of growth of the MC. I actually facepalmed when he got caught by the police. . .

        I cant watch this mess of a show.

      • January 12, 2016 at 4:06 pmendah

        oh and please excuse my spelling errors, English isnt my first language and for some reason I cant edit posts.

      • January 14, 2016 at 9:42 amdefunkt_bots

        yes you do have a number of plot points there.. but i’d hold fire on damning something so much after a single episode…

        you’ve pointed out a lot of openended things.. but hey.. a good number of them may be resolved in the follow up episode.. (which is bound to be exposition heavy.)

        we already know boy child is less inclined to take on the mantle of power from his mother… (his sister clearly underlined as the dynamic one from the start.. shame that her powers are obviously red tinted from teh beginning… that stuff was bound to go down.)

        I’m not disagreeing with you i totally hate it when they storywriting is dodge because it pulls me out of the illusion… (I love Star Wars… but i think the seventh movie sucked.. because the plot was 70%fudge)

        However, i think this is one of the better looking animes this season.. and i urge you to stick the 3 episode rule on it.

        I will not be eating my hat if this turns into another CRAPHAT LUCIFER.. i will instead be tipping it to your call.

  • January 9, 2016 at 10:46 pmW.P

    Definitely a dark horse of current season. Wasn’t expecting much and don’t yet know if I should.
    But dang! Dat artstyle tho! First half looked like some Miyazaki movies with pastoral nature. While the second one had semi-apocalyptic urban vibes.
    The clothes they wear! Definitely from some Shibuya subculture (highly reminds me of The World Ends With You).
    And that robot… “Smells like mom” line. Neon Genesis Evangelion vibes? I’m the only one?

  • January 9, 2016 at 10:52 pmBamboo Blade Cat

    My one caveat is that one kid they ran into, the too cool for school kid. Those characters tend to be obnoxious. Reminds me of Xeno from World Triigger. Otherwise, seems pretty interesting.

  • January 9, 2016 at 11:08 pmfrubam

    Since its an original series, I always give it the benefit of the doubt. There were JUST enough material to give curiosity and interest in its world, and the characters seem cool enough to get things going. The only downside is the brevity before getting immersed into the culture before starting to take off at light-speed =01. This made the scene transition a bit jumpy; in other words, it makes it feel the story’s going much too fast. Still, there’s a lot to like here, and I’ll certainly be sticking around for a while to see what direction it will head =03.

  • January 9, 2016 at 11:34 pmsithstormjedi

    Was never a fan of sanzigen’s stuff. I’d rather if they just went all out on being 3d cgi like Appleseed, vexille or Planzet for example. I’d take reboot levels of 3d cgi too.

  • January 10, 2016 at 12:50 amMormegil

    The first half was excellent.

  • January 10, 2016 at 2:17 amDorian S.

    As somemone said before, the animation was stellar and definitely seemed to have been influenced by Fire Emblem: Awakening and Fates.

    That being said, it stumbled to get me to watch. One of those good stumbles which I can forgive because it didn’t hurt me outright.

    We’ll see in two more episodes if it can keep my attention.

  • January 10, 2016 at 2:19 amcryarc

    A rather interesting episode, as you said Stilts the first half really did a good job, though the second half did feels a little bit too rushed. And I was wondering where the sister is the entire time, it feels like she has disappeared completely x’D

    • January 10, 2016 at 10:54 amStilts

      She might be gone, but I doubt she’s been forgotten. I’d expect her to be important to the story at a later date.

    • January 10, 2016 at 11:04 amAex

      Best wild guesses are that she’s still with the father(both probably laying low), got captured, or she’s the red-head and got consumed by whatever her dark-side power is. Note how the Mother and Azuma were both blue, but she and the Buranki were red. Think they hammered home pretty hard that her power was bad in the first half.

      • January 14, 2016 at 9:53 amdefunkt_bots

        I’d say this whole thing is foreshadowed by the idea that the sister was the one who wanted the power… (her magic was red…) and forced her way into the mech… (even if her intentions were gold..)

        one would now think that she carries the guilt and responsibility for what happened up there on sky mountain.. and probably has changed in terms of her temperament… – (ok that last bit is just spitballing…)

        I’d say she is likely.. – never letting herself use magic again and existing in a sort of mopey exile
        – throwing herself to the dangerous element of her powers in order to right the wrong she feels responsible for..
        – sided with the antagonists to create a powerful plot derivative for her brother.

  • January 10, 2016 at 2:34 amNachtwandler

    They have 23 eps to go if Streaming sites to be trusted, so it’s more than enough time to build the story.

  • January 10, 2016 at 2:39 amWorldwidedepp

    Ok, my Brainstorm speculations:

    hidden in Spoiler tag for your own protection
    Show Spoiler ▼

    the Animation reminds me more of Sidonia no Kishi. But i already confirmed, it is not the same studio

    • January 16, 2016 at 1:18 pmWorldwidedepp

      Show Spoiler ▼

      Part 2 of 3

      passed (but in the Yellow)

      • January 16, 2016 at 1:32 pmWorldwidedepp

        Show Spoiler ▼

  • January 10, 2016 at 2:53 amSmokex365

    I don’t mind the animation sytle (Cell Shading), maybe because I remember when it first got starting in games 10-15 years ago so it got shoved down my throat no matter what. I do wish they would invest some time in the character rigging (and hence movement). I don’t like the jerky movements.

    Animation aside, it seems like it could be a good show.

  • January 10, 2016 at 6:37 amTHE

    great first episode. much better then i expected it to be.

    does anyone know if Kazuki Azumai’s sister will be brought into the main plotline? i liked her character and would like to see her in the main plotline.

    • January 10, 2016 at 10:56 amStilts

      This is an original series. No one knows.

      But I would expect her to reappear later on, and be important. Storytellers don’t often spend half of the important first episode building up the tragic potential of a character and then not using her. Which is true of both the sister and the mom, and even the father (and Azuma too, of course).

  • January 10, 2016 at 7:17 amAex

    Well, if “Hii-kun” dies next episode this could be good. Otherwise it’s heading down the Guilty Crown path at break-neck speed. Who actually follows bitches like him? He’s gonna need to be a lot more impressive in a fight before he becomes tolerable.

    Otherwise, potential in spades.

    • January 10, 2016 at 10:58 amStilts

      Desperate people with not a lot of alternatives, I suspect.

      He didn’t bother me as much as he did others, but I think it’s just because I wasn’t focusing on him. I do hope he chills the fuck out quickly, or he could get annoying fast. Not one of my favorite tropes.

      • January 10, 2016 at 11:10 amAex

        He was practically shouting “I have a massive inferiority complex and lots of ulterior motives! I plan on using this wimp for all he’s worth before tossing him!” Not a great first impression.

      • January 10, 2016 at 11:14 amStilts

        Truuue, but that’s probably because he’s not a true-blue good guy. A protagonists for the moment, sure, but the whole ulterior motives thing means he’s probably going to betray them, and might get redeemed—and hopefully is less of an ass if so.

  • January 10, 2016 at 7:26 amDude

    Evangelion vibes?

    Tearing off bits of the original to make living weapons.

    • January 14, 2016 at 9:55 amdefunkt_bots

      that and eureka 7?

  • January 10, 2016 at 9:58 amzrnzle500

    It’s nice to have someone reviewing it whose reaction wasn’t “eww yucky” to the animation. Kinda takes you out of the review. Lucky some of them did find the other parts had potential. I mean I used to avoid CG anime like the plague but after seeing Sidonia and Arpeggio (and RWBY if you consider anime, and I do), I’ve gotten used to it. Overall traditional animation is superior but that doesn’t mean CG can’t be good too. When I saw the GSC store, I was reminded that they are on the production committee. Guessing they’ll get the rights to make figures.

    • January 10, 2016 at 11:01 amStilts

      I kind of think of it like watching an old traditionally animated series. It might not be as good as the new fancy series, but is the story good? If the story’s good, I’ll watch it.

      And CGI animation like this has the benefit of unrealized potential. Every one of these I watch gets better and better. Soon it might not be a trade off, or at least less of one. And if more people can do things like RWBY on a shoestring budget, that’s good for all of us.

      (Side note: I had this discussion with a friend the other day. RWBY isn’t anime, but it’s stylistically similar enough to be included in any relevant anime conversation. So feel free to invoke it whenever you like.)

  • January 10, 2016 at 11:43 amLonghaul

    Add me to the list of pleasantly surprised by this.

  • January 10, 2016 at 4:42 pmDragonite88

    Watched the ONA/OVA and this just a couple of minutes added to the beginning only.

    I seen many CG type anime/movies like Vexille, GOD Eater and others. But this seems more crisp and fluid for some reason. I know that they are working on 2D animation which can be easily converted to 3D.

    So far the story seems interesting and we are automatically left with a question
    Where the sister? Possible Villain? I hope so lol

    So far so good I just don’t like being fooled by ONA/OVA like Ghost in the Shell and Dragonball Super. We want New Episode not the same old.

    I understand it is not easy to create quickly but to be told it is brand new episode like Ghost in the Shell really annoyed me.

  • January 10, 2016 at 9:12 pminfo600

    Oh yeah, expectation (from the preview) met.

    Crisp CGI – if they haven’t improved from the ones a few years before (Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio, Sidonia no Kishi being the more prominent examples for me) – , intriguing backstory – EVA-sque mechs with magic(?) – , shows more than talk.

    It’s definitely on my watched list now.

  • January 11, 2016 at 6:28 pmornehx

    Yup the first half… well in fact the whole episode art was just fantastic and suits my style.
    Really love the orbit asteroid feel and scenery (kinda reminds me of some of the old UT maps where you death match on an orbiting asteroid with space station).

    And the post apolitical city in the 2nd half too is fantastic.

    Btw I am a fan of both Sidonia and Ars Nova.

  • January 13, 2016 at 5:55 amSeph

    Not a perfect first episode but sure did a far better job than most. I’m in.

    Makes me glad I gave Sidonia a chance before. Besides for obvious reasons it also made me more familiar with full CGI animation. Hardly beat an eye at it. Except maybe when the frame rate dropped a bit and how weird hair can look while moving sometimes.

    Maybe I should go look at Ars Nova too. I’ll put on my giant pile of anime I still have to watch sometime that never gets smaller.

  • January 14, 2016 at 9:58 amdefunkt_bots

    Was it just me or did that bubuki hand thing totally cock block Azuma during his little hand holding moment?

  • January 24, 2016 at 7:06 amWorldwidedepp

    Ep 03:

    Finally this Anime made a big step forward. it left the “Kids” world and leaped right into the “Adults” world.

    I am now loving you, and want to watch you. Btw, the Music was here a great help

    Keep going

    • January 24, 2016 at 7:10 amWorldwidedepp

      also, Trigger with Kill la Kill should be proud of themselves

      The ED, the last Picture, reminds me heavy of Kill la Kill of One-sama squad

      See, you left an impact on the current Anime world

      sidenote: The walking animation of this Red Hair “woman”. yes he animation give you the feeling she is older then she looks. anyway she is an mature one

  • January 30, 2016 at 1:27 pmWorldwidedepp

    ep 04:

    Show Spoiler ▼

  • February 6, 2016 at 9:47 amWorldwidedepp

    ep 05:

    as i feared, we have now with every Episode an Battle of the week. But we already know the outcome.. no fun