Reviewby Luke Carroll, Sep 8th 2009
Buso Renkin - Collection 1
Alchemist vs Homunculus!
High school student Kazuki Muto thinks he's saving a girl from a monster but it turns out that he's the one who needs saving! Kazuki is killed while fighting a homunculus, a malevolent creature that feeds on humans. The girl, Tokiko Tsumura, revives him by replacing his heart with an alchemical device called a kakugane. With this device Kazuki can create his own Buso Renkin, an alchemical weapon in the form of a huge lance capable of destroying homunculi.
With his new weapon in hand, Kazuki decides to join forces with Tokiko to eliminate the homunculi and destroy their master, the strange and eccentric Papillon Masked Creator!
Contains episodes 1-13.
For every dozen shounen fighting anime that make their way onto the market, only a few will strive and succeed in being more than a brain-dead monster of the week bore-fest. Unfortunately Buso Renkin isn't one of them. Like most, it's comfortable to sit within the clichés of the genre and rarely tries to be something more special. Unlike most though, Buso Renkin does hold an ace up its sleeve in that it is written by none other than Nobuhiro Watsuki (Rurouni Kenshin), a man who knows this genre all too well and the perils in taking it too seriously.
The series starts out on a rather strange note when our main protagonist is seen being killed by a snake-like creature in the opening minute. However it all appears to be nothing more than a bad dream for Kazuki, that is until the following night when he becomes reacquainted with the snake-like creature and the girl he was saving before his dreamt demise. After the ensuring battle, the girl Tokiko begins to explain that Kazuki did in fact die that previous night, however she had revived him by binding his body to an alchemical device known as a kakugane which replaced his missing heart. She explains that the kakugane also has the ability to draw out the Buso Renkin, a powerful weapon capable of defeating creatures known as homunculus.
Following this, Tokiko wishes Kazuki not to become involved in her fight against the homunculi. Kazuki on the other hand feels that it has now become his duty to help fight these creatures that are terrorising the town. After a rather predictable set of events, Tokiko agrees to let Kazuki help her to defeat the homunculi and find the person responsible for creating them. It is during their hunt however that Tokiko falls victim to being embedded with an humonculus embryo, which without an antidote will have her change into a humonculus within a week. With Tokiko unable to fight against the humonculi, it is up to Kazuki to come forth and continue the fight whilst also finding the creator behind these creatures in time. What unravels in these early episodes is a typical shounen monster of the week affair in which Kazuki constantly becomes stronger whilst learning new abilities of his weapon with every battle.
Visually, Buso Renkin looks like almost every other Shounen Jump show to arrive in recent years. Presented in its original anamorphic wide screen ratio, the character designs come across as a rather uninspired affair for the most part. The background art also varies in quality and the action pieces—although nicely animated by Xebec—are pretty generic and rather uninteresting at times. That's not to say it still comes across as a solid release on the whole, however it certainly isn't something that stands out either.
The same can also be said for Buso Renkin's soundtrack, which constantly changes from being above average to rather mundane at times. The opening theme "Makka Na Chikai" by Yoshiki Fukuyama is a rather generic rock piece which is easily out shadowed by the much slower paced and easy listening closing theme of "Hoshiakari" by Jyukai. The English dub also doesn't go out of its way to try and be exceptional, however each of the voice actors certainly perform their given roles adequately. The script does once in a while follow the subtitles too much, however it does make enough changes to not complete bog the experience down.
Unfortunately our editorial copy of this release did not include any extras.
Buso Renkin certainly isn't a title that will set the world alight. The predictability of the genre and unoriginality in its appearance certainly doesn't do the series any justice either. Despite this however, the series did manage to break a little smile during its light-hearted moments, something which makes viewing it all just that bit more tolerable. Its still hard to recommend this series to all but the die-hardest fans though, so unless you're a big Shounen Jump fan, it might be best to approach with caution.
© Nobuhiro Watsuki / SHUEISHA, Busorenkin Project
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : D
Animation : B-
Art : C
Music : B-
+ Tokiko is the best of the bunch, can actually be humourous at times
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