It’s been a rough environment for fully CG anime series. For every Arpeggio of Blue Steel and Knights of Sidonia, there are plenty of series that make horrible use of the format; staining any positives that have appeared over the years. Into this messy arena comes BBK/BRNK, read as Bubuki Buranki, and its dystopian sci-fi environment.
Actually, now that I look back on it, most of the more successful CG anime, and even non-anime, tend to skew slightly more dystopian. Whether it’s the war torn worlds of Arpeggio of Blue Steel or Star Wars the Clones Wars, or the oppressive cityscapes of Knights of Sidonia or Tron Uprising, CG series seem to excel when they’re playing to one of these genres. BBK/BRNK is no different.
It helps that they chose a character designer who has done work for a plethora of video games, as well as anime, to design the characters for this series. Yusuke Kozaki’s work on the most recent Fire Emblem games, as well as No More Heroes, has given his designs a near flawless flow into the realm of CG anime. Each character is distinctive, and the animation team has done some interesting things with expressions and movements. Granted, there are still moments where the animation is janky in ways that CG series produced outside of Japan do not suffer from.
As to the story and characters themselves, BBK/BRNK has yet to really do anything different. Focusing on a small group of teens who are, mostly, determined to change the world and overthrow the regime of the villainous Reoko Banryuu, it has hit all the necessary notes for this sort of dystopia, while doing little to innovate it.
What really stood out was the near tranquil and Ghibli-esque start to the series. For the first portion of episode one the almost mystical realm full of Bubuki, giant mechs of unknown origin, and the peaceful life of the Kazuki family was the focus and it worked to swiftly build interest in the setting and the world that was being shown. It spent a healthy amount of time forming family dynamics that when Azuma Kazuki’s twin sister wakes up the Bubuki, the stakes are raised wonderfully. As events rip them apart, separating the mother, Migiwa, from the rest of her family up on this floating island, things however take a turn for the bombastic.
Quickly, with little to no context, introducing a wave of characters and conflicts did not do well for the series; and it continues throughout the second episode. Getting attacked by Reoko’s enforcer and then by Reoko herself in the span of an episode and a half, with little time to really grow attached to the characters was a risky move. One that did not work out as well as it could have. Instead of making the show more exciting, it created a sort of disconnect between the tone of the first half of episode one and the rest of the show so far.
Thankfully episode three slows the pace and gives a chance to build up the world and characterize some of the characters. In particular, Kinoa Ougi was given a plethora of small moments that paint a much bigger picture of her character. It was a pleasant reprieve before the episode ended with yet another promise of more action as Reoko’s enforcer returns for his third(?) attempt at taking down our heroes.
Similarly, the buildup of some background on the world, why it’s in the state that it is and the reason why Reoko is in charge, are all given a chance to be expanded upon in episode three. It makes the world feel a little more alive, rather than just being a set piece for giant mech versus giant mech battles, and adds some stakes to the conflicts that have been shown so far.
Overall, BBK/BRNK is an interesting action series so far. There’s a lot to like about the setting and the conflicts. However, there is yet to be any real characterization for our lead, outside of standard shonen protagonist, or many of the other characters in the main cast. Add in the periodically janky animation and there’s too many flaws for this to be sitting at the top of this season so far, but it’s got a lot of potential to improve and is quite enjoyable as it is now.
Episode 1 – 3 Rating: 7.5/10
BBK/BRNK streams new episodes Saturdays exclusively on Crunchyroll.