BBK/BRNK – Episode 12

I know what you’re thinking. This is the last episode, so why am I writing an episode review on it?

Actually, I was assigned BBK/BRNK over at Crunchyroll for this season, and for that reason I decided to stick to it and complete this episode review, even if it just so happens that the last episode aired right when I started this blog. If you want to check out my previous mid-season review for BBK/BRNK, you can check it out here.

But yeah, this was the last episode, and boy did I have mixed feelings about it.CefQ5vUWwAAx6dW.jpg-large

It starts off with a rather late exposition regarding the story of Reoko, who we discover was once close friends with Azuma’s mother, Migiwa. Reoko was apparently suffering from some terminal illness at the time. Not wanting to fall into obscurity, she decides to reveal the existence of Buranki to the world — an action that sends Migiwa rushing over with Oubu to subdue her. In the end, Migiwa destroys Entei’s heart and makes Reoko its replacement heart, imbuing her with the power of immortality.

Although Reoko escaped her imminent death, she is imprisoned for eight years before Migiwa eventually tasks her to take care of the Earth while she returns to Treasure Island. The story then reconnects to the previous events where Migiwa causes all Buranki hearts to cease, leaving behind Reoko as the sole Buranki-user to protect the earth from whatever harm that may come about. With Buranki-users now at the mercy of their respective governments, Buranki witch hunts commence as bureaucrats slowly take over. Reoko, however, doesn’t let them have their way, and goes on to execute members of parliament, eventually establishing her own puppet government and creating the twisted political system we saw at the start of the show.

All these reveals are sudden, but they make a very solid statement: BBK/BRNK has a compelling world-view and story, a complex anti-hero, and a deeper thread that chains all of these historical events together. It’s sad, however, to see such a great concept foiled by poor choices in narrative execution and untimely reveals. This type of information could have been more carefully layered throughout the entire season without the need for a “shock factor” like the bloody coffins in the latter half of the episode. Instead of complimenting the actions of Reoko’s compatriots, these scenes made much of their initial conflicts with Azuma’s team seem totally unnecessary.

But the show ignores that and shifts back to the mayhem happening on Treasure Island. Other countries are still looting the grounds for hearts to power their downed Buranki while the protagonists scramble to keep the falling island from wiping out the entire human race. The helter-skelter setup is actually very impressive — multiple factions with their own vested interests taking advantage of the situation  — and was another nod to the depth and complexity of the world of BBK/BRNK. They eventually bring the island down safely before it is revealed that Azuma’s sister, Kaoruko, is working with Guy. The show then abruptly ends on that note.

Yes. It just ends. Kaoruko gives a silly monologue about not understanding how geniuses think and that their actions have allowed her story to finally open up. It’s a sad, wasted effort sort of feeling to see such an intriguing character give you the short end of the stick. Now I feel like everything Azuma et al did was meaningless in a grander scheme of things that the show simply won’t tell — all for the sake of creating dramatic reveals and a season-ending cliffhanger.

And this is where I think BBK/BRNK needs to draw the line between expounding on its world-building elements and withholding information for the sake of dramatic reveals. Overall, I think the concept is compelling and capable of creating a flavorful fantasy with its adolescent coming-of-age story and a profoundly misunderstood antagonist. Unfortunately, what we get is Azuma as a character who fails to advance beyond nonchalant naïveté, making his lines in the latter half of the episode lack resolve or heft regardless of how truthful they were. Reoko rightfully refuses to accept Azuma’s blind pity towards her, which deepens her character as a victim of a still unclear motive. And that motive is probably linked to Migiwa, which is probably known by Kaoruko. But we’ll have to wait for a sequel to figure all of that out.

But if the point of this story was to build up Kaoruko’s story, then it honestly felt like a big cheat. A story should be able to stand for its own worth and not for that of another — otherwise, it becomes blatant marketing. And that’s sad given the fact that I honestly expected a lot from a show that had so many unique ideas that were conceptualized brilliantly, albeit taken to “ink” with fully rendered 3DCG characters. BBK/BRNK was a grand opportunity for a memorable 10th Anniversary release by Sanzigen, but what it turned out to be was a so-so production with less-than-memorable feats of strength. It truly is a shame, but if ever Sanzigen chooses to continue the franchise with Kaoruko’s story as its sequel, then I’ll be honest to say that I’ll definitely check it out. But the fact still remains: this last episode left a pretty sour taste in the mouth.

 

Episode rating: B-

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