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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Buso Renkin Box Set 1
Buso Renkin Box Set 1
VIZ // Unrated // April 29, 2008
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted April 30, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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P R I N T
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The Show:

With words like alchemy and homunculi being thrown around in the description for Buso Renkin you'd almost be given the impression that it's similar to Fullmetal Alchemist. For all intents and purposes the comparisons stop there. VIZ's latest release is its own entity and the fact that it comes from the mind of Nobuhiro Watsuki, esteemed creator of Rurouni Kenshin, definitely gives the show it's own legs to stand on.

Rather than tackle individual volumes and play that game VIZ has made a wise move in releasing Buso Renkin in a boxed set. This collection is comprised of the first thirteen episodes of the series with another thirteen to come down the road. To be brutally honest I wish more publishers would adopt this style of releasing anime. The industry is changing and publishers such as VIZ need to change with it so I tip my hat. At any rate let's get back to the show.

Buso Renkin follows the exploits of Kazuki Muto who is your average high school student who doesn't really stand out in many ways. When the show begins Kazuki is somewhere undisclosed and watching a scene right out of a horror movie. A young girl is being pursued by a giant snake that is just about to move in for the kill. With a flash of chivalry Kazuki lunges forward to protect the girl and is himself impaled. At that very moment Kazuki wakes up in his dormitory screaming at the top of his lungs. Was it a dream? It couldn't have possibly been real!

The very next morning on his way to school Kazuki is scolded for not having an appropriate bag and sentenced to detention at the end of the day. Naturally it's kind of unfair but school discipline takes on a whole new meaning when his teacher turns into the giant monster snake he dreamt about. It kind of makes cleaning board erasers seem like fun, right? Well, after running for his life he comes across the same girl from the night before. All hell breaks loose as the snake eats Kazuki's sister and the unidentified girl whips out some weird weaponry.

After the snake is dispatched and his sister is saved we learn that their savior is alchemic warrior Tokiko. She explains that Kazuki did indeed die the previous night but was resurrected thanks to the power of alchemy. Also she goes on to talk about how the snake is a homunculi and how warriors of alchemy fight against them with weapons known as Buso Renkin. Naturally the prospect appeals to our young hero and he decides to join the fight. Quite honestly I can't imagine the show would have been that interesting if he chose to rest on his laurels.

From this point the show begins to introduce more characters both good and bad. One such villain is the outlandish and dare I say "eclectic" Papillion. With a butterfly mask, some strange powers, and an even more bizarre outfit, this guy takes the cake for villain you don't want to meet in a dark alley. All evilness aside the character just gave me the creeps and though he meshed well within the dynamic of the series he just stands out like a sore thumb against some of the more serious moments in the show. Joining Papillion in the kooky character roster is Captain Bravo who is one of the good guys and works his way into Kazuki's life.

Buso Renkin really doesn't waste any time getting off the ground. It jumps right into the action and doesn't leave a lot of room for explanation in between. The world is full of homunculi to kill and it's up to Tokiko and Kazuki to work together to achieve that goal. Through the thirteen episodes here there are a variety of opponents they face though Papillion is generally the main source of antagonism. This means that while some arcs pop up during this first volume most of the time is eaten up by fighting and formulaic content. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but it certainly gives Buso Renkin some awkward pacing.

With the first half of the series over I'm left feeling a little perplexed by Buso Renkin. It wasn't the most outwardly original show I have ever seen and it felt like it lacked focus from time to time. With that being said it was packed with action and an appropriate amount of humor. It's not quite as good as Rurouni Kenshin but it's entertaining just the same. Consider this first boxed set worth checking out if you're in the market for something new and once again I applaud VIZ's treatment of the series.

The DVD:

Video:

Originally broadcast in 2006 Buso Renkin hits DVD with an anamorphic widescreen transfer. VIZ did a wonderful job of bringing this show to the states and the technical quality of this release equals some of their best work. With only brief glimpses of aliasing and grain to be found, each episode receives a fine compression rate and an appropriate amount of attention.

One thing about this series that I didn't mention before was the artistic design. Coming from the mind of Nobuhiro Watsuki there are some truly outlandish characters to be found and some striking design elements. This coupled with some decent animation makes for a nice looking show all around.

Audio:

Buso Renkin comes with 2.0 stereo dubs for both English and Japanese. Technically speaking the quality for each is roughly the same and about what you'd expect a stereo presentation to sound like. The audio has a decent presence on the soundstage but it certainly isn't immersive and there is only some slight separation among the front channels. What's here is decent but underwhelming just the same. As far as the dub quality is concerned both the English and Japanese casts do well though I fell that the Japanese one takes the prize here. That may just be a matter of personal preference but there's no denying a certain element of cheese in the English dub.

Extras:

Surprisingly there is a decent spread of bonus content on this release. The first disc offers an audio commentary for the first episode with the English voice actors for Kazuki and Tokiko. The second brings a commentary for the sixth episode to the table with some more voice actors and the third rounds things out with some of the production team talking about translating the show. Each of these three commentaries offers something different and the experience of watching them is definitely diverse. They go in order from retrospective to goofy to informative in case you were wondering.

Probably the most interesting feature on this release is the Behind the Scenes bit which comes in at just under 25 minutes. Rather than take a look at the Japanese production of things we get a glimpse at the cast that put together the English version. Full of interviews and comments from the voice actors and producers there's actually more information about the show here than you would think. The cast seems like they had a lot of fun with their roles and if you appreciated the English dub you'll definitely want to check out this feature.

Final Thoughts:

I really like the way VIZ decided to release Buso Renkin. The three disc package with thirteen episodes, three commentaries, and a behind the scenes featurette goes a long way to making this a nice set. The show itself isn't quite the breakout success I thought it was going to be. Some of the pacing is off and the series can be a tad too silly for its own good at times. With that being said this is a promising anime that has some interesting characters and fine action. If you're looking for a new series in this dry market definitely give this one a spin. Recommended


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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