When he was a little boy, Azuma Kazuki lived on a flying island with his mother Migiwa, his father, and his younger twin sister ... and a lot of mechanical golem monsters, called Buranki, most of which were "asleep" and motionless. As a witch, Migiwa Kazuki had made it her mission to keep the Buranki of the island from awakening, but when they started to wake up in spite of that, Migiwa and her husband chose to send their children to the surface of the Earth below, so they could at least grow up safely.
Ten years later, Azuma returned to Tokyo, the city where he and his sister landed, to discover that the city has become a dystopian warzone. Reoko Banryuu has become the de facto ruler of the city with the power of her Buranki, Entei, while most other Bubuki-users are hunted by a special police force - and Azuma is on their list of targets. His childhood friend, a girl named Kogane, shows up to whisk Azuma away from the clutches of the police, and as her Bubuki-wielding friends gather around Azuma, the witch's son is plunged into the thick of the fight against Reoko's tyranny ...
Featuring character designs by Yuusuke Kozaki of No More Heroes and Fire Emblem Awakening fame, Bubuki/Buranki (officially "spelled" BBK/BRNK) is Sanzigen's 10th-anniversary series, running in the Winter 2016 Anime season and streaming on Crunchyroll. Director Daizen Komatsuda previously worked on a number of Gainax/Trigger properties such as Dead Leaves, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Kill la Kill, and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, and brings much of the same frenetic goofiness to this show.
The second season, subtitled Hoshi no Kyojin (and officially translated as The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy), began airing in the Fall 2016 Anime season; besides bringing Azuma's sister Kaoruko back into the spotlight, it introduces more of the backstory behind the different international Buranki teams, as well as deepening the conspiracies hinted at in the first season.
Bubuki/Buranki is built with the following tropes:
- Acrofatic: Epizo Evans
- A-Cup Angst: Kaoruko
- All-CGI Cartoon/Cel Shading: Much like Sanzigen's previous series.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Shizuru doesn't really engage with reality the way the rest of the cast does, and in flashbacks is shown to have written a letter to her parents through hundreds of pictures drawn on flashcards. This is played quite tragically, especially since one of her primary opponents is her uncle, who knows precisely the mental levers to press in order to shut her down.
- Ancestral Weapon: Every Bubuki is handed down from parent to child, although it's also possible to seize another person's Bubuki by defeating them in combat.
- And the Adventure Continues: After the final battle and one year Time Skip, Epizo and his team find that they're not ones to rest on their laurels and continue having adventures. Azuma and his team come to the same decision as well.
- Bad Boss: As bratty and spoiled as Kaoruko is, she's an absolute improvement over her team's original owner, who treated them like servants under his thumb.
- Boom, Headshot!: Lyudmila and Diana.
- BFS: Ouma has one.
- Cool Train: Azuma and his friends board one to try and reach the Buranki nest.
- Combining Mecha: Sort of; every Buranki is comprised of (or can be divided into) five parts, which can convert into a weapon or other artifact that a human can wield.
- Distant Finale: After the pentultimate episode, the series flashes forward to a year after the final battle.
- Eagleland: Epizo could count as a Type 3. He's overweight, loud, and somewhat annoying, but at least his heart's in the right place and he cares for his teammates a good deal.
- Empathic Weapon: Bubuki react to their users' will and emotions, and seem to have emotional reactions of their own (although they can't speak). Each Bubuki also assumes a shape suitable to its user, and can change forms when passed from one wielder to another.
- Emergency Transformation: Migiwa crushed Entei's heart, thus causing the machine to replace it... with Reoko, who was dying from a terminal illness. Reoko does not take this well, as she is perpetually stuck as a teenager, watching her friends grow old around her.
- Evil Redhead: Reoko has red hair and is the Big Bad... at least, for the first season. After her imprisonment, Guy Valery Abeille takes this spot.
- Expy: Reoko and Maxim's designs look strikingly like Selena and Leo's. Oh, Kozaki.
- Fantastic Racism: It seems like Guy is a man with this, as he is concerned with the Bubuki "tainting" humankind's blood and wishes to exterminate them, the Buranki, and anyone who can use them.
- Five-Bad Band:
- Five-Man Band
- Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: In Kogane's case, she finds it hard to do both concerning Shuusaku. After years and years, he finally explains to her that her father's death wasn't his doing or intention, and only occurred due to a misfire from one of the soldiers he was with. Her response is basically "So that means I don't have to hate you anymore? Fat chance of that!", but she decides not to kill him.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: "Bubuki" and "Buranki" may come off as nonsense words to begin with, and being rendered as katakana in the main title logo doesn't help...but if you look closely during the opening (and in some eyecatches), you can see that the kanji for "Bubuki" mean "dance battle implement" and "Buranki" mean "dance violence implement". Or in other words, they're instruments of war.
- In addition, the opening animation gives the characters' names and the names of the protagonists' weapons this way, with the relevant kanji behind the shots of each of them.
- The Heart: Azuma's role among the users of Oubu's constituent Bubuki. Also literally, since his Bubuki is Oubu's heart.
- The Hecate Sisters: Reoko is a middle-aged woman-child in a teenager's body, and brain damage causes her to revert to a little girl.
- Heel Realization: Lyudmilla, who realizes her Omnicidal Maniac brother who she idolizes is a petty, evil jerk who will never care for anyone other than himself.
- Heroic R.R.O.D.: When Latetitia breaks her heart and goes inside her Buranki's brain, she dies from the shock of dealing with its thoughts. Azuma almost ran into the same problem beforehand, and is stopped from doing so a second time.
- Humans Are Special: Guy and Azuma's mother trade philosophies about this mindset. Guy, at least, finds humanity adaptable, very susceptible to change, and able to do so in the small amounts of time they have, which puts them ahead of other species in the world. Azuma's mother, on the other hand, understands the point, but sees humanity's advantages as fleeting because of how short their time is on Earth.
- Humongous Mecha: All Buranki resemble this, to some extent.
- Large Ham: Kaoruko.
- The Mole: Horino is a spy and works for Reoko.
- Parental Abandonment: Azuma and his friends have all been separated from their parents, but not without inheriting their Bubuki. As such, they have no family except for each other (and Horino).
- Power Glows: When using a Bubuki or inside a Buranki, the users' hair and/or parts of their clothes glow.
- Reality Ensues: Yes, even a series about magic alien robots can have some basis in reality.
- Kogane never really forgives Shuusaku after the truth behind her father's death comes out; because even if he didn't kill him, Kogane points out he still played a role in his death. She has hated Shuusaku for years and isn't simply gonna stop hating him overnight. Even if they are able to work together for a common goal, she never acts friendly towards him.
- Reoko forgets her deeds as dictator of Tokyo but the populace doesn't. Some protesters occasionally vandalize the medical facility she is held at as a form to express their displeasure.
- Ship Tease: Azuma and Kogane.
- Spoiler Opening: In the ending you can clearly see Horino amongst Reoko's supporters.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Kaoruko shares a startling resemblance to her mother.
- Villain Has a Point: Guy basically tells Azuma that life after the Bubukis is unsatisfying. After the final conflict is resolved, we cut to how Azuma's taking it a year later after he's settled into normal life; he's taking it badly and is pretty unsatisfied with life, just as Guy predicted.
- Villain Song: The ending theme focuses on the villains.
- White and Grey Morality: Reoko's camp has very real grievances, as when Migiwa moved to prevent any new Buranki from falling she also sent out a signal which shut down every Bubuki Heart except Entei's, who she crippled. This caused a power vacuum that the world is still reeling from. The American team wants to bring their own Buranki back to life. The leader of the Russian team is evil, but the rest only follow him out of duty and eventually leave him to have his Heart destroyed.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Reoko certainly doesn't.
- Younger Than They Look: Reoko, with the body of a 16 year old, hasn't aged in 24 years. However, after the final battle, her mental age is more in line with her physical body.