Aug 3, 2008
Anime DVD review of the third disc of Buso Renkin Box Set 1, Episodes 9-13, published by Viz Media. Price for the for the 3-disc set: $49.98 (I usually see it for around $35). Rated T+, Older Teen.
Kazuki has been training every day with Captain Bravo and he's worn out physically and spiritually. But he can't resist a challenge when he sees the star of the kendo team, Shusui Hayasaka, effortlessly defeating all comers. When he hears Shusui mention that he wants to get stronger, he senses a kindred spirit, and decides to take him on. Even though Kazuki has no training whatsoever in kendo. The two quickly become friends and training partners, lifting each other to new heights of fighting skill. Unfortunately, Shusui and his twin sister, Ouka, are agents of the League of Extraordinary Elect (LXE). The LXE knows that an alchemical warrior is attending the school, but they do not know which student he or she is. The one person that knows, Papillon, refuses to identify Kazuki because he wants to fight him alone and in his own due time. So the Hayasaka twins are enlisted to find and kill the alchemical warrior. Dr. Butterfly wants it done quietly as well, because the school is somehow involved with his plans to resurrect the king of the Homunculi, he who is neither human nor a Homunculus, but more powerful than both.
First thing up with this series is the fact that it should come out and admit its gayness. I don't mean that in an insulting way, but in an honest entreaty. For example, when Kazuki and his friends stop at a public bath house, all the guys start looking at each others schlongs and compare sizes. They seem especially eager to find out Shusui's too, almost falling over themselves to get a look. And then Papillon shows up with a washing bowl hanging off of his! And the League of Extraordinary Elect ratchets up the homosexuality by acting like they are in Rosie O'Donnell's favorite Broadway musical. It doesn't help that they strike effeminate poses and wear leotards either. Moon Face....need I say more. This guy jumps around shouting, or rather, flirtingly cooing "Mooooooooooooon!" as he leaps in the air clicking his heels. And why the hell is Papillion always reaching into his pants to get objects out of his thong? And he seems to be a little more busy in there than just reaching for his kakugane.
I have to say that the character designs in Buso Renkin are some of the worst and most ridiculous I have ever seen in a manga or anime. I mean, at times these guys, mostly the villains, made me laugh out loud just looking at them. What makes it more funny is that they think they actually look good in their costumes. Papillon goes on and on about how cool his suit looks, even though he looks like a dandified buffoon. While the villains are a complete wash, the heroes are done with at least a sense of good taste. How could the same guy that did Rurouni Kenshin design characters right out of Michael Jackson's wardrobe fantasies?
If you can get past the horrible design choices and the incredibly cheezy characters, Buso Renkin can be quite entertaining in a Shonen Jumpish sort of way. It seems incredible to me that the same writer behind the extremely well received Rurouni Kenshin could present something this goofy. Too often, the series looks very cheap as we are treated to static scenes with tons of action lines the like of which I haven't seen since the last decade. It seems like Xebec didn't spend a lot of time or money animating this show. Is it worth seeing? Yes. Is this show worth buying? I don't know yet. Probably not. I'll have to check out the second box set before I make a choice. Right now, it is not a series that I would watch more than once. Back in the day, the glory days of anime in 2004-05, I would buy almost every new show that came out. But I was burned too often and now I rent first. If I really like it, enough that I would watch it again, then I buy it.
Grade for disc 3: B
Grade for Box Set 1: B
Here is the link for my review of the first two discs, I did Episodes 1-4 in a podcast and 5-8 in a text review: