OP2 Sequence

OP2: 「Beat your Heart」 by Suzuki Konomi

「炎の巨人」 (Honou no Kyojin)
“Fire Titan”

The magical melee battles are great, as are the mecha slugfests; no one should be surprised that the action is solid. But the story they’re trying to tell is fundamentally sound, and the second episode patches any holes the first episode left. This could be one of winter’s sleepers.

Making Use of the OP & ED

I’ve always been fascinated with how anime use their OPs and EDs. They’re a unique tool that western TV doesn’t allow itself to the same degree, and they can be powerful, both to set the tone and to deliver specific messages about the show. (For more on this, I once wrote an entire editorial about using OPs and EDs.) And I like how Bubuki Buranki used its OP and ED.

The OP was nice because it provided information about the characters, getting some of the exposition out of the way so it didn’t come as a surprise during the episode. Granted, identifying who had which parts of Oubu could have been accomplished in the narrative, and was, but the reiteration was helpful. I also kind of liked how they revealed which antagonist would be opposed to which protagonist, even if it’s technically a spoiler. Plus, action, and I liked the music. Solid.

The ED was more fascinating though. An antagonist ED isn’t unheard of—the clustersnarl that was Tokyo ESP had one—but it, along with Reoko’s collapse and the mention that she’s been 16-years-old for 24 years, implies that the antagonists might not be the cackling nutjobs they appear to be. Or they might be, but more in addition.

The Action’s Great, But The Story’s Good Too

With CGI series like this, we except the action to be great. You can do all kinds of cool things that would look goofy (or be outrageously expensive) with traditional animation, and make ’em work. But the concern is that good action is all it will have. Bright lights and sound, no substance.

Fortunately, that’s not the case here. The story is certainly larger than life—cackling villains, city-destroying brawls, overdone character designs, the fate of the world hanging in the balance—but the actual beats of the story are being told fairly well.

I’ll give you an example. Resident douchenozzle spear-wielder Nono Hiiragi (Saito Soma) started attacking Azuma to bring out his Bubuki, and then dandy-with-a-pistol Matobai Shuusaku (Tsuda Kenjirou) showed up and did exactly that. This could be construed as convenient, and to a point it was, but it’s not something that just luckily came apart. It was all an outgrowth of character—that Shuusaku (and by extension, the other antagonists) are much more powerful than the plucky kids, and that Azuma thrust himself in front of the gun meant for Kogane’s Migite-chan. That told us several things about the world, and also, the heart didn’t reveal itself on all the times Azuma took collateral damage before that—only on a killing blow Azuma damn near forced Shuusaku to deliver. The storytellers maneuvered things such that that would happen, of course, but it felt fairly natural in the moment.

There were other instances. The protagonists tended to get sidetracked on their own priorities or start squabbling when antagonists were still on their tail, but they are a bunch of kids, and at least for the first one, they thought they had beaten Shuusaku. (Always remember to go for the double-tap, children, and even then you can’t always be sure.) And there’s the simple fact that they went up against Banryuu Reoko (Han Megumi) and her Entei with a seeming advantage—only for her to clean their clocks repeatedly. The best they could do by the end was get in one good shot, and then run the hell away before she flash-fried them.

The story is larger than life, certainly, and not always especially subtle, but all the right movements are there, and it’s compelling so far.

Be The Leader, Azuma

Much hinges on Azuma, because, well, main character and all that. And I felt that he acquitted himself well this episode, as a protagonist with a strong moral compass and a certain devil-may-care attitude in the face of danger. Risking his life to save Migite wasn’t exactly smart, granted, but between the hugging and him quickly turning to the others for help, he appears to be a trusting sort, at least in those who don’t call his mom a witch, and the kind of person who inspires trust in others. And I’m sorry, but any protagonist who can laugh at the threats of a bad guy who has proven to be more powerful than all of them combined—and laugh not out of arrogance or fear, but out of a true belief that his mother is alive and that they can do this—is someone I don’t mind following for a while longer.

Then there’s the others. I already like Ougi Kinoa (Ishigami Shizuka), who’s fiery, hard-charging, and swayed by the moment, as well as flighty Taneomi Shizuru (Komatsu Mikako), even though she’s the least developed so far. Kogane, too, who is the heart of the group as much as Azuma will likely become.

Aaaaaand then there’s Hiiragi. He’s a prick, to be sure, but he was also one of the more interesting characters this episode. It was him that showed how Oubu was controlled—that each of them could hijack it, even as Azuma proved that working together was a more powerful way to operate—and revealed the source of his hatred, that Reoko had driven his father insane. (Parents aren’t having a good time in this series. I would expect that to continue.) He also displayed some serious problems with control—or specifically, with giving it up to others … “my” Oubu, my ass—and that he thinks of Bubuki as tools, unlike everyone else. This gives him the most room to grow, and by the end of the episode, he was almost cowed, going along with Azuma’s plans even if he didn’t seem to like it.

I would expect Hiiragi to play the Lancer (trope!—and he even has a lance) to Azuma’s Leader (eventually—also, trope!), with Kinoa as the Big Guy (trope), Shizuru as I guess the Smart Guy (trope), and Kogane as the Chick (trope) and/or the Heart (trope). Yes, I’m expecting them to be a classic Five-Man Band (troooope), and the antagonists to be an evil version of it. But even though I just flooded the page with trope links, remember: Tropes are not bad. They’re just tools. And this one, in particular, is one I’m quite fond of. I like me some team vs team battles, so if you do too, don’t despair. There’s plenty of variability to be had within that framework, and most of the characters are already showing variations on those roles. Also, I could be wrong.

Anyway, as for Hiiragi, he may turn into a male tsundere, which would be preferable to the prick he’s been up to this point. It depends whether he stays like that, or if that’s the starting point that allows for his growth into someone we don’t hate, or even like. The former would be annoying, while the latter would be awesome. Let’s hope for his growth.

Looking Ahead

I appreciate that the fallen Buranki, along with Reoko’s collapse, provide reasons for why Entei won’t immediately chase down the protagonists and burn them to a crisp before they have a chance to level up. That aside, I’m horribly conflicted on this show. Not about watching it—I’m in for the ride at this point. About whether I want to blog it. If it weren’t a Saturday show, when I already have Utawarerumono, I’d probably be all over it! Guuuh. Tell me what you all are thinking after this episode. The schedule will probably go up sometime next week, so I guess you’ll learn what I decide then.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Turns out this is melee brawler + mecha slugfest anime, & the underlying story beats are solidly done. Expectations rising #bbkbrnk 02

Random thoughts:

  • There’s something awesome about them riding on a big mech. I also like that they kept getting shields to excuse why they’re not all paste.
  • As much as Im enjoying this, the faces can still get goofy at times.
  • I can’t decide whether Migiwa (Azuma’s mother) is alive or not. Last episode I assumed she was, but as soon as Reoko claimed she was, I assumed she wasn’t, haha. I’m leaning toward she’s still alive and keeping the Buranki suppressed, but in some way incapacitated. Their old house is still standing, at least.
  • Only thing I’m confused as it where the skeleton went when the kids fell. Can Azuma disappear it now like the others can with their limbs, or is it going to be on a train later? We’ll see, I suppose.

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.


ED Sequence



  1. That was really good, and much more of a mech series than I had thought. The best mech series of the Winter season (I’m not counting those continuing from last season.)

    So, each of their Bubuki are pieces of Buranki. And this group just happens to have all the pieces of Oubu that they have to put together. However, it sounds like when the Buranki fell after what Kaoruko did, they basically started destroying the Earth until they were somehow stopped.

    After staying in Japan for a small amount of time, enough to make friends with Kogane, Azuma and his family presumably went and lived in the West somewhere judging from his mannerisms. Also, the dad did have a Western look about him.

    The fight was pretty cool, and Reoko has a pretty great fire Buranki herself. I was almost sure that she was actually Kaoruko in disguise after having gone crazy for some reason. But then that went out the window when they said that she’s been in the same 16 year old body for 24 years, which would make her 40 and much older than Kaoruko.

    So, now I have to ask what happened to Azuma’s father and sister, and why are all these other kids called the “Children of Migiwa”? Their group in particular is a bit confusing but we’re getting more information as it goes along.
    Azuma’s getting better as a character too. I’m all in for this. This was a great episode.

  2. I thought this was sort of terrible. The episode did nothing to advance the plot, nor did it make use of the fantastic world they first showed. It was mainly a robot fight (where I guess those kids don’t care about the damage they’re doing to the city?), and all of the characters were even more irritating than before (with exception of girl with hand weapon). Spiky hair kid continues to be obnoxiously contentious, which while also tropey, makes it incredibly hard to watch. I might give this another episode. Maybe. Though I wonder where the sister is, but I have a feeling they’ll just ruin her character when they bring her back.

    Bamboo Blade Cat
    1. Just wanted to expand upon the character…er, dynamics. There was just too much bickering for the second episode, and it reminds me of the second season of Owari no Seraph, as much of that season was wasted on the characters bickering. The second episode needed to draw the audience in more, and not go with tropey bickering bs.

      I still think the show is interesting, but it’s a bit of a mess, and I have a feeling it could be a hot mess by the midpoint of the season. Maybe not Comet Lucifer bad, but maybe Aldnoah Zero ridiculous? I think I’d be okay with that.

      Bamboo Blade Cat
    2. All storytelling, and reactions to thereof, is subjective, so of course you’re welcome to your opinion. Let me point out a few reasons why I think you’re mistaken, though.

      In a piece of fiction, every line needs to do one of two things: Advance the action or reveal character. And I think this episode did quite a lot of both of those. We learned how much more powerful Reoko is, but that she’s not invincible (her collapse); we learned that Oubu can be tugged this way and that by any of the five, but works better when they’re united; we learned a great deal more about Azuma, and some about Hiiragi, Kinoa, Reoko, Shuusaku, and that other antagonist at the end; we were made to wonder about Migiwa’s fate; we were reminded how the people see the Buranki, i.e. as objects of fear; and more.

      That’s a lot of plot advanced, and a lot of character revealed. Granted, it was more a direct continuation of what happened last episode, which adds credence to what I said last week, about how the first episode could have been improved if it was double-length (if all the content from this was combined with everything from last week).

      As for the bickering, bickering doesn’t bother me if it’s for a reason. Up to a point, of course. And the bickering here had a major point, mostly to do with Hiiragi—his need for control, him facing his failure to destroy (or even seriously challenge) Reoko even though he finally had “his” Oubu, etc. If they keep bickering all the time, yeah, that’ll be annoying. But I imagine they’ll do a lot less of it next episode, and by episode five or six, the team will be mostly united behind Azuma. Then they’ll work together a lot better.

      Of course, it could still end up being a hot mess, but I’m seeing more signs of competence than I ever did in Comet Lucifer. (I ca’t say on Aldnoah, since I haven’t yet started the second season. Whoops.)

      1. You’re right about the plot stuff, as the parts you pointed out count, I was just disappointed there was little to no world building as some have said below, especially since the world seems pretty interesting, and the plot advancement, to me anyway, felt pretty superficial. The bickering, it grated on me, especially since the characters aren’t that fleshed out, and worse, are unlikeable tropes. Of course, that’s a mileage thing, though I’m also tried of this character trend and dynamic, so I’m hoping it improves some next week. My one worry is it continues every episode as a sort of schtick to fill the void of actual character development.

        And btw, aren’t these kids, at least the MC, supposed to be like 15-16? They look like runts.

        Bamboo Blade Cat
      2. Maybe? (On their ages.) I honestly stopped paying attention to anime character ages a while ago. Unless it’s relevant to the plot, knowing their relative ages (here, the protagonists are notably younger than the antagonists) is good enough. Maybe they’re not eating enough protein.

      3. It just struck me as odd, since the main kid was like 5-6 in episode 1 then they did a 10 year time skip, and seeing him and his group run around, for me their size (or lack thereof) sticks out, as they look more like preteens to me.

        Bamboo Blade Cat
  3. https://randomc.net/image/Bubuki%20Buranki/Bubuki%20Buranki%20-%2002%20-%2021.jpg

    Meh, I hate to have to bring LOGIC into what’s an otherwise enjoyable experience, but I’ve gotta ask. What, exactly, is stopping Reoko from flying up to Treasure Island (ah, my childhood…) and just deep-frying her arch-enemy, particularly now that she doesn’t have Oubu to protect her? Just askin’

    >] “Only thing I’m confused as it where the skeleton went when the kids fell. Can Azuma disappear it now like the others can with their limbs, or is it going to be on a train later? We’ll see, I suppose.

    Yup, that would be my guess. Now that Azuma’s manifested the ‘heart’ out and in the open, we’ll probably see his particular weapon in the next episode. Unless he has to have his still missing sister with him to do that, in which case who knows?

    Ryan Ashfyre
      1. That makes no sense whatsoever. Entei is a flying phoenix of a Buranki that can literally scorch the earth itself and you’re telling me that Reoko would be hesitant of its still half-asleep brethren? Any particular reason why it shouldn’t be child’s play for her to go up there and wreck ’em all before they have any idea what’s hit ’em? Best defense is a good offense, y’know?

        Also, Reoko obviously doesn’t give flying f*** about collateral damage, so she sure ain’t doing it ’cause she’s concerned about the world.

        Ryan Ashfyre
    1. I actually think the mother upholds some kind of barrier to keep the Buranki on the island and anyone else on getting to the island. Didn’t you think it strange that her and her family were the only ones living on this veritable paradise of a flying island? Considering all the people we see on Earth and how crappy it looks, I would think quite a few would be clambering to get to such a place. Also, she and her husband mention being able to go back down to the “surface”, so there was some way that they themselves could go back and forth but others could not.

    2. why would it not make sense; we clearly see reoko making plans to go and deal with the fallen buranki at the end of the ep. No one said she has genuine concern about the world; Just because she doesnt care about collateral damage when fighting the kids doesnt mean that she wants the world she exists in to no longer…exist. How would she live otherwise?. What Reoko seems to be doing is monopolizing people’s fear of the buranki and the power she has to exercise control over the nation. She has damned migiwa’s name and is manipulating the public by tarnishing her image. People live in fear of the buranki falling and as of right now, there’s nothing that tells us that reoko has what it takes to outright get rid of all of them. Im sure she doesnt want to die until she accomplishes her goals

      1. Seeing Reoko’s reaction to a fallen Buranki coming down to the surface the way it did perfectly serves my point. She wasn’t the slightest bit distraught over it; the picture of cool confidence, which tells anyone watching that she had no doubts whatsoever in her power to destroy it. Also, there’s the smack down she laid down on Oubo, even with our protagonists working together.

        Furthermore, that Buranki was still fast asleep, which also infers that the Buranki up on Treasure Island aren’t necessarily awake and ready to start a rampage the minute that whatever potential barrier is up there is dissolved. As I said, the best defense is a good offense. Staving off the inevitable is a sign of cowardice, and Reoko hardly seems the type to just sit back and wait for unmitigated destruction to rain down when she obviously has the power to do something about it.

        Ryan Ashfyre
    3. @Ryan Ashfyre

      You don’t have to twist yourself into knots here. Not when there’s an easy reason available:

      It takes a damn lot of energy to reach orbit. Entei may not have the juice. Until events prove otherwise, I’d assume that’s the case.

      There’s also the fact that she may find more value in Migiwa as a scapegoat than she would going up there and killing her herself. She might also be happy using Migiwa to hold back the Buranki for as long as she can, rather than risking herself in a rumble. She might not even hate Migiwa as much as she claims, but is just using her. There are plenty of possibilities.

      1. She has the power to turn the earth into a scorched wasteland, but not get into orbit? Sure, why not?

        Now, if she doesn’t physically have the ability, for whatever reason, to fight for long periods of time, then that’s another argument entirely and I could buy that. She didn’t fight for all that long with Azuma and the others, but she still collapsed outright afterwards, so there’s probably more going on there that we’ll learn about later.

        That aside, she looked pretty damn happy when she brought up the possibility that Migiwa died to me. Also, she doesn’t actually need Migiwa to be alive to use her as a scapegoat. Hypothetically, if she’d died ten years ago, Reoko could’ve used her in exactly the same way as if she were alive and no one on the surface would be any the wiser.

        Ryan Ashfyre
      2. You are seriously underestimating how much energy it takes to get to orbit.

        Here’s a quick rule of thumb: ~90% of the mass of a typical orbital rocket is propellant. That’s why we build big-ass rocket to launch tiny capsules into space. We have to. It’s hard to get up there. Compare that to your typical passenger or cargo aircraft, where the majority of the room doesn’t have to be taken up by fuel.

        Now of course, the Buranki are powered by some mystical/futuristic fuel source of unknown potency, hereafter called Plotonium. For all we know, Plotonium could get Reoko into orbit in a jiffy. But if so, why hasn’t it?

        Probably because it can’t. Or she doesn’t want to yet. We’ll find out. Or we won’t. It might not be important.

        Look, they can’t take time to cross out every theory viewers might have, otherwise they’d spend all their time explaining, and no time telling the story. We have to meet them halfway, we have to consume the story in good faith, and assume that there’s a reason why characters haven’t done certain things—unless all other options have been exhausted, at which point we realize that faith was misplaced. If it’s a small fumble, it’s just a plot hole. If it’s a big one, the story fails. Until then, we’ve gotta believe to give ’em a chance.

        In comparison, it’s considerably easier to burn a bunch of stuff on the ground. Not easy, considering how much damage she did. But easier.

      3. >] “Look, they can’t take time to cross out every theory viewers might have, otherwise they’d spend all their time explaining, and no time telling the story. We have to meet them halfway, we have to consume the story in good faith, and assume that there’s a reason why characters haven’t done certain things—unless all other options have been exhausted, at which point we realize that faith was misplaced. If it’s a small fumble, it’s just a plot hole. If it’s a big one, the story fails. Until then, we’ve gotta believe to give ‘em a chance.

        I’m all for that. Don’t get me wrong. If I didn’t like Buranki, I’d tear it apart limb from anthropomorphic limb and would show it just about as much mercy as Reoko did to Azuma and co. I’m just enjoying arguing and theorizing about what’s going on here. 🙂

        Really though, Reoko’s had all the time in the world to figure out how to get up to Treasure Island if that was her earnest wish, by Entei’s power alone or otherwise. Propulsion issues would be a problem in the short-term, but over the better part of twenty-four years (or at least ten years, depending on how charitable you want to be)? That’s too much.

        And one would think that would be her wish, since she said she was going to kill Migiwa right at the end of this very episode.

        Ryan Ashfyre
    4. well you just answered your question there buddy……………but yea there’s nothing in the plot that says reoko can get up to the island with ease, or that she is plenty capable of dealing with the buranki. So what if the buranki are sleeping? they have to be prevented from being awoken and as we clearly saw from ep 1, the family had to be careful to not wake them up. Reoko going up there to start a battle would logically disturb the buranki and get her killed. She may be strong but it’s almost as if you perceive her to be a god or something. She clearly has weaknesses; she clearly has reasons for not going up to the island in the sky and we have enough from the plot to assume that it’s either because she has use in making migiwa a scapegoat or that she herself knows that she cannot disturb the buranki

      1. Okay, first of all, let’s get over this notion that Reoko was somehow incapable of going up to the island if she wanted to. Stilts can talk about energy and propulsion and that’s fine, but even if we assume that Entei didn’t have the power all on its own; over the course of ten years, it’s safe to say that if Reoko was honestly determined to get up there, she could find a way.

        Plus, Azuma, for whatever reason, seems quite confident that he can go up to the island once he got Oubu back. I’m inclined to think that that’s not just empty optimism. It is his home after all.

        Secondly I don’t think that Reoko’s the equivalent of a god, nor have I ever said so. She has very obvious weaknesses that could and are a danger to her. Furthermore, the idea that her going up to kill Migiwa would turn into some all-out, cataclysmic battle that would draw the surrounding Buranki in to turn on Reoko is an assumption on its face, and a false one at that.

        Recall that we learned in the first episode that Migiwa can’t use Oubu anymore, and Reoko had to have known that she at least didn’t have it at her disposal for ten years, because it was trapped underground with its respective Bubukis scattered all over the place. Bearing all this in mind, how easy would it be for a still very powerful Reoko and her Entei to make quick work of Migiwa and get out of there before any of the other Buranki were any the wiser?

        But let’s be charitable and say okay, killing Migiwa unleashes all of the other Buranki to create hell on earth and that’s why Reoko has to be satisfied tarnishing her name and making her out to be a pariah. What in the world has she been doing on the surface for the better part of twenty-four years if not to make some kind of preparation for all that? If not, then it stands to reason that she isn’t terribly concerned about it in the first place.

        Personally, I believe the answer falls somewhere in the middle, but keep in mind that no matter what happened, Migiwa was going to die eventually anyway and so Reoko going up to Treasure Island (still a smooth name, btw) to kill her would have only accelerated the inevitable.

        And in addition to all that, if Migiwa’s efforts actually keep the Buranki asleep – not a far-fetched theory at this point, mind you – then it actually makes more sense for Reoko to go there and destroy them all before Migiwa’s life runs out and everything goes to hell in a handbasket. Keeping them isolated on a far-off island in the sky, while cool, is really only an exercise in futility. Obviously, they can reach the surface and will do so when the person keeping them there finally bites the big one.

        Ryan Ashfyre
    5. you’re making a major leap of logic in assuming Reoko can deal with an island full of buranki just because she can take on oubu with ease (arguably)…that in and of itself doesnt even seem plausible both from the mythos standpoint of the narrative and from a general realistic standpoint

  4. For all intents and purposes this is looking like another Kill la Kill, at least in terms of story and setup. Bubuki is quick, over the top, and doesn’t give one sh*t (so far) about backstory or world building. Things are going to happen, they are going to be ridiculous, they are going to be amazing, and they are going to keep on coming hard and fast whether you like it or not. I expect we will get some explanation(s) eventually, but I don’t foresee Bubuki breaking away from its pulp action setup anytime soon.

    Only question up in the air right now is if Bubuki will see success, or crash and burn spectacularly. At the moment this show can go either way.

  5. Hey Stilts, there’s a little mistake in Paragraph 8, 4th sentence (the one that starts with “And there’s the simple fact”) you might want to change regarding what Reoko is cleaning ^^;

  6. Man, those villains sure love their evil laughs in this show. As they should, it’s one of the privileges of being a villain (or a funny asshole). Reoko made a strong showing anyhows – she doesn’t bother with sending small fry after the main chars, instead she just takes the field to kill them all with fire herself. At least on the antagonist front, the show’s made a strong showing this episode.

    I’m less convinced by our main chars yet (they seem like a pretty typical group, down to the Lancer guy wearing blue), but they have potential (and their weapons are still pretty awesome). While this episode as a whole felt a bit rushed for my tastes – we barely know these people and they’re already at it with their giant golem-bots – I do enjoy this way of storytelling. I do hope the show takes a breather episode to fill in some of the gaps i.e. the wherabouts of the main character’s family, though. Eh, maybe next ep. I’ll be along for the ride, anyways.

    1. Actually, Hiiragi’s color isn’t blue. Their colors aren’t the usual sentai ones. It’s purple (Shizuru), green (Hiiragi), red (Kinoa), yellow (Kogane), and orange (Azuma). Those are the colors the glow, most easily seen when Oubu disappears and they fly off in little balls of light near the end.

  7. There is always great whe your villans have some sort of hidden depths, in this case Reoko and her gang could be well intended extremist but after seeing how insane Reoko behaved in that battle I have my doubts. A well intended extremist might discard a more civilized option to save the world becuase it´s too difficult and the risk ar justt too great to gambke the world or the might just be insane to begin with and in their sick minds they think they are doing what´s right, I think Reoko is of the insane kind.

    You should pick up this series to blog it Stilits-san, it seem really interesting and it might end up better than the last original series you blog last season, what was its name…

    1. Alas, we can’t cover ’em all. I’m still enjoying it though, so hopefully I’ll have time to visit it again for a finale post. Though I’m an episode behind again, like I am on EVERYTHING #firstworldanimeproblems

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