Busou Renkin! Gensundheit! (Animé Fansubs XIII)

Busou Reskin is a show that should be about as cliché as Crescent Love, yet I’ve found it to be much more watchable, even if the animation quality is not that good. It’s not bad, like some other series I could name, but .it’s obvious that Xebec’s A-team is on The Third. The change sequences are reused stock, but are mercifully brief, so it’s not so bad. The battle sequences aren’t very fluid though; they are barely passable. I think Xebec really could have done a fantastic job with the Valkyrie Skirt had they been willing to put more effort into the CG.

The show has a fairly simple premise: Centuries ago, alchemy split into two branches. One was the beginning of modern science. The other was dangerous and supposedly forgotten, but it actually subdivided into two secret branches. One is of an evil purpose: the creation of homonoculi; humans transformed into monsters serving their creators. The other became a method to fight against the homonoculi and their masters: Arms Alchemy (or Busou Renkin) creates a “kakugane” which is linked to and becomes an expression of the wielder’s fighting instinct. (Of course). Just think “unique and impossible magical weapons” and you’ve got it. It’s a thin explanation, and the writers don’t waste any time thickening it up or providing a backstory. Who’s supporting Tokiko? Does she have any allies? How does she pay for her lodgings? No, they haven’t even explained that by episode 4. They just toss Kazuki straight into the fight and kill him in the opening 30 seconds of the first episode.

Seems to be a lot of that “main character death” going around lately…Shakugan no Shana, Maburaho… Well, here’s a few hints for anyone caught in this situation, that may help you avoid the same fate.

Hint #1. If you’re a girl, don’t walk through abaondoned factories at night.
Hint #2 If you’re a guy, don’t try to rescue stupid girls from big mean monsters. Especially when it turns out they were acting as bait for the monsters. Getting yourself killed for nothing is so uncool.
Hint #3 If you’re a guy who gets stupidly killed trying to help a girl walking through an abandoned factory at night, make sure she’s carrying a spare kakugane to magically regenerate your body, repair your clothes, and function as your heart.
Hint #4: Learn to fight with something besides a pointy stick. Especially once you have a kakugane.

Of course, it turns out that the oddly-scarred schoolgirl that he was trying to help, Tsumura Tokiko, is an alchemal warrior, with her weird-looking “Valkyrie Skirt,” a set of four oversized swords attached to her legs by robotic arms. It just so happens she’s got a spare kakugane around, which does nicely for regenerating his ruptured organs (clothing too, apparently) — and substituting for his heart. It also turns into a huge lance that’s about 80% spear head with a tiny shaft. Other major characters:

Kazuki’s terribly cute and dumb little sister Mahiro who is a first-year student at the same school.
Three friends with the absurd hairdos: Rokumatsu (Mr. Brains), Daihama (Mr. Easygoing), and Okakura (Mr. Hentai). Sigh, I keep reading that as Roppanmatsu, but he’s the wrong sex, wrong hair color, and lacks being a robot.
Papillion Mask guy, a fellow student at the school. He appears to be headed towards Series Ongoing Bad Guy status.

The writers are having a bit of fun defying most stereotypes and mocking the common tropes, such as when Kazuki makes up a list of names for his weapon and asks Tokiko to pick one. Also, there’s the way Kazuki doesn’t hesitate or get dragged into the war against the homonoculi, but instead he jumps in with both feet. The absurd credulity of Kazuki’s friends and sister when they catch him and Tokiko together is also used to comic effect. I’m not sure, but it really looks like they’re angling this towards the rest of the school finding out what they are, and what they’re fighting. And I get a feeling that Rokumatusu already knows more than he’s letting on.

Kazuki’s got a GIRL’S name in his phone! It’s the end of the world! How kawaii! She’s his girlfriend! Urge-to-kill….rising!
WHAAAAAAH Please don’t kill us! Ok, attempt #2 to explain this!
Uh…. I don’ t think we thought that one through either.
That’s my sister…
dumb as a brick, but she can follow the logic.
“Let’s try: I’m your sensei!”
“Kazuki’s sensei is his girlfriend? “

As can be seen above, emo facial contortions make many appearances, but for once I don’t mind. What usually bothers me about them is a tendency in some shows to carry the joke on too long, or use it too many times. Ouran Host Club was a major offender in that regard, for all that it had plenty of other qualities; on more than one occasion, Tamaki spent several minutes in emo contortions, including the tiresome robot sequence. Here, the animators toss in facial contortions, but do so at appropriate times, and quickly move along.

Additionally, the musical score is surprisingly strong. The OP is a rolicking number that puts me in mind of a fast-paced version of Queen’s Highlander TV theme, and the fight music give me vibes like early Star Wars and Star Trek combined, with a little less of Wars’ pomposity and Trek’s melodrama. It never overwhelms the fight or drama, but it’s there, adding to the scene just like it should be.

Itsu made mo, itsu made mo
oitsuzukerun da doko made mo,
doko made mo ashita e no yuuki wo
doko made mo, doko made mo
moetagiru heart wo moe ikou

It’s a amusing show, with just enough melodrama and pathos to give it an edge. It’s not high quailty; as I’ve said before, I often judge a series on whether it’s characters grow, and I don’t get a sense here that we’re going to see that — unless one means in the sense of leveling up to a new combat technique, a staple of fight shows that has been slipped in here as well.

One of the interesting ‘background’ bits to this series is that it’s from Xebec, which also did Martian Successor Nadesico. I’m just beginning to pay attention to differences and trends from studio to studio, so I don’t know if this is really typical of Xebec or it’s just me, but I’ve noticed that they tend to have shows with quirky humor or an altered take on “typical” anime, such as The Third. In the third episode of Busou Reskin, Tokiko has entered Kazuki’s room through the window, but he’s not home. Okahura comes in and flashes a girlie magazine he’s brought over, but is embarassed into dropping it when he realizes Tokiko is there. She picks it up, and remarks disdainfully, “Keep a rein on the depravity.” Comes the despairing response: “Level up from a pervert to a sexual deviant?” The joke carries over into the next episode, and is hit from multiple angles, none of which are the “obvious” choice.

However, I’m disappointed that the original manga-ka is a prude. The figurine gives far better fanservice than the show.

Overall, I won’t mind picking this one up if it’s imported to Region 1, and I suspect it will be; at this point, it’s got the appearance of a moderately good series, with a good mix of humor, action, and drama, yet it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Always a good thing in this kind of show.

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5 Responses to Busou Renkin! Gensundheit! (Animé Fansubs XIII)

  1. Andrew F. says:

    IIRC this is based on a Shounen Jump manga, so the odds of it being licensed in R1 are very good, especially since it’s from the creator of Rurouni Kenshin. The manga is already being released by Viz, and they’ll probably be the ones to pick up the anime (Viz is partially owned by Shueisha, the publisher of Shounen Jump, and has licensed almost every major SJ anime over the past couple of years).

    The first show I think of when I hear the name XEBEC is Soukyuu no Fafner, a series which I really enjoyed but which could hardly be called an “altered take on typical anime”–it rips off borrows from like every major mecha anime since (and including) Evangelion–and contains no quirky humor. They don’t have any real “trademarks” that I can see; just another (big) animation studio which generally does decent work, occasionally putting out a hit (Nadesico) or a bomb (Negima!). These days, when a new Gonzo show is announced, fans expect lots of gratuitous CG; when a new Sunrise show is announced, they expect lots of cool mecha; when a new Kyoto Animation show is announced, they expect lots of awesome awesomeness (yeah, I’m a fan–how can you tell?). XEBEC productions don’t–in my experience–have anything like that associated with them.

    For me, Busou Renkin will forever suffer from an unfortunate and probably undeserved association with Fullmetal Alchemist. You know, having alchemy and homunculi and all that. Unfortunate because as one of my personal top ten anime FMA casts a long shadow; undeserved because the similarities are as best I can tell quite superficial and the Busou Renkin manga actually came before the FMA manga.

    Eh, I don’t usually care for Shounen Jump stuff anyway, so no big loss.

  2. Ubu Roi says:

    I don’t bother with the manga at all. Maybe I figure that if I’m going to give up American comics, why should I start Japanese? It’s probably more of a general thing about the medium itself though.

    As for Xebec, the ongoing series that I’m a big fan of right now is The Third. It’s not really off the beaten path, I suppose; no quirky humor and post-apocolypse has been done to death. Although Iks is begining to annoy me. Explain him, for crying out loud.

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