Buso Renkin: Lances, Lacerating Skirts and Weird Butterflies

Here’s one of those alchemy-related animé series: Buso Renkin (Armament Alchemist in English). It’s a rather short series, consisting of only 26 episodes. I find the number ample (a little on the dismayingly ample side, though) as the storyline sort of squeezed itself in that limited number of episodes.

The story of Buso Renkin revolves around Kazuki Muto, a high school student who died and was resurrected after trying to save a mysterious girl from an attacking monster. The girl he saved, Tokiko Tsumura, was actually an experienced battler of those monsters (Homunculi in the series) and weilded a Kakugane – a product of alchemy which takes the form of a weapon based on the weilder’s personality. And with Kazuki stabbed through the chest trying to save her (which she really didn’t need), Tokiko used a Kakugane to replace his destroyed heart, feeling that the innocent boy was somehow her responsibility due to the incident. How that Kakugane did the feat was unexplained, but so was the power of alchemy in the series, so I guess we just have to accept it as is.

Tokiko was no ordinary girl, really. Although on most animé series, the serious character usually turns out to be guys, in Buso Renkin, that person is Tokiko. An experienced fighter as she is, and a very cold one at that, Tokiko is a member of the Alchemy Warriors–a group of Kakugane-weilding warriors who protect its secrecy and the proper use of Buso Renkins. These warriors also fight against Homonculi and other rather unclassifiable breeds (like the weird alphamale, Papillon, and the advanced Kakugane user, Victor). Sadly, by the end of the series, Kazuki slowly turns into one of those in-between breeds due to some complications with the Kakugane in his body, and struggled to fight his ugly transformation.

Now let’s talk about the series’ essential elements. First off, I hate the setting of most of their battles – empty schools at night and abandoned buildings. I mean, I know you need to hide your alchemic abilities, but imagine hearing Buso Renkin’s producers deciding ‘what better way to hide those powers than old schools… at night!’ Ok, a lot of animé series pulled it off, but eventually, the plot went from somewhere of this world to somewhere OUT of it. Sadly, Buso Renkin only had the Pacific ocean as their only option for salvation (and the actual realization of the powers of Kakugane, not to mention).

I also hate Papillon, that butterfly character, but I have to commend that the idea is unique: a villain who deliberately chose to go solo and be the third party in the series, and battles in his black thongs (with frequent tugs in that ‘oh so distracting’ area). I actually think he is a fallacy of and on his own. He is an alpha male of the third sex. I don’t have anything against the members of the third sex (except for this character), it’s just that Papillon is just weirder than weird.

Ok, enough on what I hate in this series, let us go to those which I liked—the originality and complexity of their weapons: Tokiko’s Valkyrie Skirt, consisting of four knives attached to extending mechanical limbs which in turn are attached to her legs; Moon Face’ Satellite 30, which allows Moon Face to produce 30 copies of himself yet representing the 30 phases of the moon; Papillon’s Near-Death Happiness, black gunpowder that acts both as offensive and defensive mechanisms: Papillon could make it into smaller butterflies that would explode on impact; and Captain Bravo’s Silver Skin, his outfit made of regenerating metal, among others. I could go on and on with describing the interesting weaponry on Buso Renkin, but I think I’d leave the discoveries to you (if you’d like to watch the series and be living witnesses to my testimonies). Also, I won’t spoil Kazuki’s Kakugane, although his Buso Renkin is just a lance.

And to end this post, let me express once again: I hate the shortness of the story. I can’t express it enough. The story is DISMAYINGLY short. The plot could have developed further and involved more Kakuganes, Buso Renkins, and Alchemy Warriors. The love story between Kazuki and Tokiko (which hardly existed) could have grown deeper. The enemies could have had better background and history, and so could the Alchemy Warriors. All in all, I can only blame the very limited episode number they assigned this series. Really, Buso Renkin could have evolved better had their episode total increased.

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