Jul 22, 2008
This an anime dvd review of Episodes 5-8 of the second disk of the Buso Renkin Box Set 1. The box set is published by Viz and is available for the list price of $49.99. I've seen it at Best Buy for $34.99. Directed by Takao Kato. Series Composition by Akatsuki Yamatoya. Rated 16+.
The first dvd of this set ended in a cliffhanger, or in reality a FIGHThanger, as Kazuki and a handicapped Tokiko began their battle against Chono's servant, the hawk-type Homunculus named Washio. Tokiko is not operating at full capacity because she has a Homunculus embryo inside her that is slowly making its way to her brain, at which point she will turn into one of the very monsters she has been fighting. It is imperative that they finish the battle quickly so they can find Chono and get an antidote that will save her life. But Washio is not like the other Homunculi. He seems to have extremely acute reasoning skills and even exhibits a very human-like loyalty to Chono that causes him to fight to the death against Kazuki and Chono. And Chono is no longer the only villain of this piece. We are also introduced to the League of Extraordinary Elect, a group of humanoid Homunculi that are apparently led by a turncoat alchemist warrior that disappeared 100 years ago.
The highlight, or more accurately, the lowlight, of this dvd has to be the transformation of Chono as he assumes the powers of a Homunculus and begins to call himself Papillon. Ok, how low does this anime go? Pretty low. When Chono transforms, all his clothes strip away, revealing him in all the glory a grayish thong with a purple butterfly on it can impart. Instantly he reaches into his thong, moves his hand in a very subversive way and pulls out a huge butterfly mask that couldn't possibly have fit in that tiny little thong. Then he does a little ballet spin in front of a shojoesque background of yellow glitter and strikes a pose, even as he is getting shot at by some of his father's goons. The costume he adopts later on is almost in worse taste than the too-revealing speedo. Papillon has to be the fruitiest villain I have ever encountered in an anime but he fits right in with some of the utterly ridiculous character designs of the monsters and bad buys in Buso Renkin. One of the Elect actually has a head in the shape of a crescent moon! This seems to be weak point of a lot of Shonen Jump titles. For example, the Hollows in Bleach, the monster forms of Naruto and Sasuke in the Naruto manga and anime. I mean, these series are drawn by good artists but when they do monsters, bad guys, or demonesque figures, they just show a complete lack of imagination and make something that is supposed to appear scary look funny. Or they make the villain overly feminine like in Black Cat. So however disturbed Chono makes you feel in his insane rant phases, it is severely undercut when he prances around like he's in a Broadway cabaret.
Buso Renkin at times seems cobbled together from other manga and anime like Fullmetal Alchemist and Bleach, but all in all, I have enjoyed the first two volumes of this show even with the whole Papillon debacle. It was cool that we did get some backstory on Chono and that he is simply living his life like his father taught him. Taught probably wouldn't be the exact words I would use. It does seem as though he might not be quite beyond redemption though. I like all of the characters and the chemistry between Kazuki and Tokiko works quite well. They seem to respect each other and there is a very quiet relationship blossoming between them on the down-low.
My Grade: B