The Paul 2016 Anime Preview Guide - BUBUKI/BURANKI The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy

How would you rate episode 1 of
BBK/BRNK: The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy ?

What is this?

In the aftermath of the big battle on Treasure Island, Azuma and friends head to Taiwan. While Azuma gets stuck in customs, the rest of the crew encounters a new team of Bubuki users led by Azuma's long-lost sister, Kaoruko. Her appearance raises more questions than it answers, and the biggest mystery is how she ended up controlling a black version of Oubu. It may take a while to find any answers, as the team has some more immediate problems to deal with, including a menacing new heart user and the return of the Russian Bubuki team! BBK/BRNK: The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy is an original anime work and can be found streaming on Crunchyroll, Saturdays at 10 AM EST.

How was the first episode?

Paul Jensen

Rating: 2.5

The first season of BBK/BRNK wrapped up its main storyline in pretty definitive fashion, leaving just a handful of loose ends in the form of minor character arcs and side stories. That leaves this sequel in the unenviable position of having to build up a new story arc from scratch, and this first episode spends a lot of time searching for something to fill that gap. It's partially successful, but the new premise doesn't look strong enough to carry a full season just yet.

Ditching Azuma at the airport lets this episode introduce his sister Kaoruko without having to jump straight into a big sibling reunion scene. Judging by her interactions with the rest of the main characters, she does at least have some promise as a friendly rival for the team. She's entertaining in her eccentricity and sense of showmanship, and she has the kind of loud, colorful fighting style that this series seems to thrive on. Perhaps more importantly, Kaoruko looks like she'll make a good foil for the more sincere and serious Azuma once the two of them finally meet up. Long-lost siblings are nothing new in the world of anime, but a well-balanced pair of main characters can do a lot to carry the show while it sets up a new central conflict.

That search for a new storyline will be key in the next couple of weeks, as the series is looking a little lost at the moment. Kaoruko's control over the “black Oubu” is a potential point of interest, and there are some cursory efforts at filling in the big picture of the world around the characters. The problem is that none of the new conflicts are particularly compelling at the moment, and there's no obvious replacement for Reoko and her henchmen. The older, more complex villains were one of the first season's biggest strengths, and the show is starting to flounder in the absence of that intriguing moral ambiguity.

If you're looking for an entry point into the series, BBK/BRNK: The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy isn't it. This episode assumes that the audience has already seen the first season, and there's no recap to speak of. For returning fans, this sequel looks like something of a mixed bag. If you're here for the colorful characters and big mecha fights, they're still here in abundance. If the darker parts of the show's story were what kept you watching, this episode will likely come as a disappointment. Without that brooding sense of mystery, this series doesn't have much to distinguish itself from the crowd besides its CG character models.

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