Title: Buso Renkin
Company: XEBEC/Geneon Entertainment/Shueisha/Yomiko Advertising/Studio DEEN
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 5 Oct 2006 – 29 Mar 2007
Synopsis: High school student Muto Kazuki has a nightmare where he was killed while trying to save an enigmatic girl. Though he goes through his normal routines a day afterwards, he soon realizes that his dream was not actually a dream when his younger sister is eaten by a giant, mechanical serpent known as a Homunculus. With his anger boiling over his reasoning, Kazuki attacks the monster but his attacks have little affect. He is ultimately rescued by the hunter Tokiko, the girl he tried to save in his dream. Now that Kazuki has witnessed this warped world of alchemy, he chooses to move forward with the mysterious new powers given to him: the Buso Renkin.
Action: Relatively short for shounen action and consistently above par.
Tsumura Tokiko: Her strong willed personality gives the show an upward boost.
Chono Koshaku: Amazing rival character with the sickeningly awesome fetish for the fabulous.
Comedy: Very funny; probably the best thing about the show.
I’d like to think that I’ve grown out of the shounen action anime. Among the many shows I’ve watched from the genre, Dragonball Z alone has provided enough constipated screaming, insipid clichés and plot hacks to last me six lifetimes. Though Buso Renkin is technically just another mark in this long list, the anime does a rare thing by actually focusing on its story and ramming it home while the show still had a grip on the lighter side of my heart.
Looking at the overall pacing of the show, it’s obvious that the folks at XEBEC knew exactly where they wanted to from the very beginning. They took a good look at both Watsuki Nobuhiro‘s manga version of Buso Renkin and his previous work Rurouni Kenshin, and they’ve created an above average product. At 26 episodes, the show spares relatively little time on the time-wasting frivolities of shounen shows and gets to the nitty-gritty of what makes the genre so fun. Buso Renkin has an interesting set of characters that are continually thrown into more and more dire straits with bombastic melodrama, hilarious comedy, and solid action flanking the show as it speeds towards its (predictable) conclusion.
Probably the greatest asset to the show is the female lead Tokiko. Though she is usually second string to the generic super powered Kazuki, her strong personality, the vivid scar running across her face, and her uncanny resemblance to Kenshin when angered makes her one of the coolest females of pretty much any shounen action anime. Whenever she rips out her arsenal of swords, carnage ensues… usually in the form of ripping the innards out of opponents or chasing after her “implied” love interest Kazuki because of a comedic, offhand comment.
Sadly, this show is not about Tokiko; it’s about the strong, kindhearted optimist, Kazuki. Because of his personality, he is probably the greatest person to assume to the burning, manly pissing contests of who has the most power. I’m quite glad that most fight are short and the few prolonged ones have little to no reused cels, but these fight scenes do little to make the protagonist more likeable. Simply put, Kazuki is a flat, cardboard cutout that makes the rest of the one-dimensional cast feel slightly more human. He can be copied/pasted or simply exchanged from any other shounen action series with a ballsy, kindhearted lead and little would change.
Among the vast sea of shounen action crap, Buso Renkin is one of the better pickings in recent memory. Despite the show’s lack of originality, mediocre story and so-so characterization, I am willing to give this a thumb up to anyone who actually likes the genre and an ever-so-slight nudge for everyone else. It’s not Rurouni Kenshin, but it’s a whole lot better than what you’ll usually find.
The Rating: 6
Reviewed by: Shadowmage