First, the world of BBK/BRNK makes a lot more sense when you understand the title. BBK is a shorthand reference to “Bubuki”: weapons that are a combination of science/mechanization and magic. The are actually smaller parts of “Buranki”, or BRNK: large, humanoid robots that fell to earth a decade ago, causing mayhem and destruction. The Buranki actually live on an island high above the earth’s surface known as “Treasure Island”, where Migiwa Kazuki watches over them and (typically) prevents them from falling to earth. Azuma Kazuki, Migiwa’s son, has the misfortune of falling to the surface after a mass-awakening of Buranki prompts his mother to send him to Earth for his own safety, along with a powerful Buranki known as “Oubu”. Now, a decade after his fall to Earth, Azuma must work with 4 other Bubuki users; all holding a different piece of Oubu, and free the world from the tyrannical clutches of Reoko Banryuu and her destructive Buranki known as Entei.
The first thing you’ll notice about BBK/BRNK is that it utilizes a strange animation style that other series such as God Eater have been using. I can’t say I’m a fan of this aesthetic, though it does pull it off slightly better than some of its predecessors. The buranki and bubuki animations are particularly interesting, and that emphasizes one specific weakness of the style: machines look good, humans…not so much. Still, while the animation can be distracting, it’s hardly bad enough to walk away from the show based on that alone.
The story features some familiar elements: hostile humanoid robots, a large-scale disaster, a mysterious enemy and her band of evil henchmen. Yet, it also has some refreshing departures from the usual giant robot archetypes. For example, yes, hordes of giant robots fell to earth 10 years ago…but a single woman and her own giant robot quickly disposed of them. She didn’t do it to be a hero; she did it to assert her dominion over everyone who witnessed her strength. I’ll be very interested in the coming episodes to see if there are other ways that Reoko breaks that traditional villain mold, or if she has more in common with Kill la Kill’s Satsuki Kiryuin than meets the eye.
While Reoko’s ascension gave me one reason to stick with the series, I’m going to admit I’m also a sucker for the 5-person team archetype. The idea that each of the central characters form an essential part of the super-robot Oubu is a trope I haven’t seen used in quite some time, and I was a sucker for Voltron and Captain Planet as a kid. Granted, the characters are (currently) falling into their respective roles almost too well. While the team may be formulaic, the characters themselves don’t have to be.
Once the plot point regarding the 5 of them being part of a singular entity had been revealed, I remembered that Reoko has her own crew of followers. Immediately I began envisioning the climactic battle: will they all get their own Buranki that they then form into an even bigger Oubu? What tricks does Reoko and her crew have up their sleeve? As I mentioned before, I’m a sucker for this archetype, so it may be more appealing to me as a result.
Overall, even though the animation style can be disorienting, there’s some promise buried beneath the formulaic characters. Give it a shot!