I wonder if duels between Bubuki users have to involve an actual fight. Is all the yelling and punching a requirement, or can the combatants settle things with a friendly game of checkers? Would it be alright to bet the fate of your magical heirloom on a free-throw competition? I just want to make sure the characters in BBK/BRNK are exploring all their options. Hug it out, guys.
The Bubuki duels continue this week as Hiiragi faces off against the time-manipulating Zetsubi. Their fight is quickly upstaged by the arrival of Akihito, Reoko’s fourth henchman and Shizuru’s designated opponent. While the two battles play out, Matobai heads to an isolated mansion where Reoko has been recovering from the battle between Entei and Oubu. He informs her of the rogue Buranki that’s threatening the area, and they set out to meet a train that’s carrying Entei into the fight. The two Bubuki duels wrap up just in time for the Buranki to arrive, and its first target appears to be Azuma.
In a way, Zetsubi is a good match for Hiiragi in a Bubuki duel: they’re both the most obnoxious people on their respective teams. I realize that everyone in Reoko’s group is probably a little crazy, but Zetsubi raises the bar in terms of being nuts for no reason. Part of the problem is that we’re given very little information about her; she’s the only one of the four “limbs” that doesn’t get any backstory beyond her spontaneous decision to infiltrate Azuma’s group. In the absence of a satisfying explanation for her personality, there’s not much for the audience to do besides dislike her. Barring a couple of colorful teleportation effects, her fight with Hiiragi isn’t terribly interesting as an action scene. On the positive side, we do at least see some progress toward resolving Hiiragi’s gratingly hostile attitude towards his own Bubuki.
In contrast to the fight between Zetsubi and Hiiragi, Akihito and Shizuru’s duel is a real winner. It starts off with Akihito making one heck of an entrance on a fuel truck, and Shizuru’s transformation from a quiet and quirky girl to a charmingly unstable killing machine is certainly surprising. Their fight incorporates some nifty choreography, which works to the advantage of the CG animation style by allowing us to follow the two combatants as they counter one another’s attacks. As a character, Akihito’s relatively calm and rational personality makes him an intriguing foe. I wonder what he’s doing in Reoko’s group? His backstory as Shizuru’s uncle also shows some promise, both in terms of setting up future plot twists and showing off Shizuru’s striking arts and crafts project. Unless we get a spectacular one-on-one fight between Azuma and Reoko, Akihito and Shizuru seem to have a lock on the prize for best pair of rivals.
Now that the four Bubuki duels are wrapped up, BBK/BRNK has a chance to introduce some less predictable plot points. With Reoko showing signs of more than one personality and a rogue Buranki derailing the Oubu train, the series seems poised to jump at that opportunity. Some of the visuals in this episode, like the red-eyed Buranki looming over the mountain near the end, serve as reminders that this show has some solid creative talent up its sleeve. There are hints that there’s more to the story than just breaking Reoko’s iron grip on the country, and that’s got me excited to see where this is all going. Bring me more ominous-looking giant robot monsters!
BBK/BRNK is moving in an encouraging direction, and the fight between Shizuru and Akihito suggests that the writing has the potential to do something genuinely interesting from time to time. Over the next few weeks, the series will have to find a way to move from dropping hints about a bigger picture to actually developing the plot into something more than just a series of individual battles. The time has come to reveal some of this world’s secrets and let the characters deal with the consequences.
BBK/BRNK is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Paul Jensen is a freelance writer and editor. You can follow more of his anime-related ramblings on Twitter.