Just wouldn’t be complete without some romantic overtones would it?
Bubuki/Buranki (BBK/BRNK) is certainly an interesting series. The first season combined a high flying, action-intensive story with CGI animation, hitting all the right notes for entertainment, but never fully breaking through the glass ceiling separating “good” from “great”. Chaotic character development gave way to a troublesome plot with some amazing reach, but often at the expense of lesser—but no less important—details. While the lack of completeness was explained following the second season’s announcement, the taste of a show which could have been more nevertheless remained.
So does BBK/BRNK’s sequel improve upon its forbearer’s foundation? Overall I say it does, mostly. The first easily noticeable change of course is in animation. The first season already possessed a flowing animation style improving upon Sidonia no Kishi’s and Ajin’s stiff, robotic grace, but this season definitely pushed the bar ever higher still. Character movements (often the bane of CGI) saw the largest improvement, with noticeable “stutter” or jarring, rigid movements wholly minimized, with some serious attention required to even notice them at times. Although debatable whether this animation medium could ever be better than conventional 2D, there’s no question BBK/BRNK (along with Ajin’s latest season) has shown properly utilized CGI can create some visually appealing, aesthetic shows.
Particularly good too was the change in presentation, particularly BBK/BRNK’s comedic relief. Humour is often subjective, but in this instance a lot of it worked, helped especially by Kaoruko. It’s no lie to say Kaoruko was probably the most fun character this season, propelled by a hyperactive, thrill seeking personality and an aggressive, no holds barred attitude (a good in-season comparison IMO is to Girlish Number’s Chitose). A lot of the comedy helped patch over otherwise bare moments and gave BBK/BRNK a more natural feel, particularly for secondary cast. Case in point were Azuma’s friends, who thanks to some choice moments (i.e. Taiwan) weren’t completely forgotten amidst all the new revelations and different character focuses. Pretty sure I would have overlooked about Shizuru and Kinoa for example without some of their personality-specific gags.
Unfortunately, however, improvements to animation and humour did not subsequently translate into developmental changes. Character development for the most part stuck with the first season’s hopscotch approach, where everyone jumped from event to event and appropriately changed along the way, but often without any of the details required to ameliorate such harsh shifts in desire. Epizo was probably the most affected by this. He’s Azuma’s friend one moment before siding with Guy, waffling, then finding love in Laetitia and fighting for her against Azuma, before she dies and he finally becomes a committed part of the good guys. Don’t get me wrong, Epizo’s development makes contextual sense, but it felt inorganic, not so much a smooth progression as a jarring shift in focus dictated by the story. Kaoruko too had similar issues, particularly concerning her jealous hatred of Azuma, but in her case the resolution of this conflict felt more natural because it took longer and fleshed out the reasons behind it. This is coincidentally why I’d argue Kogane saw the best development of the season, given she did not suddenly forgive Shuusaku for killing her father, but gradually warmed towards him once his revelations came out.
What character development lacked though was more than made up in by plot. Here was where BBK/BRNK arguably made the largest improvements over its first season, answering what Bubuki are, how they actually relate to Buranki, and where both of them came from. Although I cannot help thinking BBK/BRNK’s story fell a little too close to Transformers with the whole sapient robot aliens thing, I do like how everything (including the Bubuki users’ rinzu) had a simple explanation and was nicely tied up by season’s end. Particularly fascinating was the role Migiwa and Reoko played this time around, with Reoko’s past being succinctly answered and Migiwa turning into the misunderstood hero. I am disappointed Reoko suddenly turned (reverted?) into an annoying teenage girl away from her solemn badass personality at the end, but that’s a minor complaint all things considered. Short and sweet development were the hallmarks this time around, with many of the questions remaining after the first season being properly answered. BBK/BRNK’s story may have been simple, but it fleshed the story out with few (if any) loose ends left over.
While BBK/BRNK was nowhere near perfect, for me it was a satisfying watch which never failed to entertain. We received a simple story with many fun characters, and backed it all up with a lot of
hot sweaty over the top mecha fights and some ridiculous outfits. Yeah things could have been better in places, and maybe certain story aspects/characters deserved more attention, but at the end of the day BBK/BRNK did what it set out to do: captivatingly (and completely) telling its story. When many other shows can struggle doing the same, it’s hard finding fault in BBK/BRNK’s accomplishment.