Busou Renkin

July 4, 2009

Although the anime series Busou Renkin has came out and ended its run from late 2006 to early 2007, at that time I did not have any intentions to go watch it. Sure, it is one of those typical shonen genres whereby it is filled with action and fighting. And even though this series had some comedy elements (though for comic relief purpose and not the main driving force), I was still reluctant to watch. So what made me changed my mind and decide to go take a peek?
 
Some time back, I have a little glimpse of how the main villain of the series, Papillon, is quite an amusing character himself. I saw pictures of this fashion faux pas guy circulating over the internet of how funny and comical he really is. And he doesn’t disappoint. Yeah, he’s so gay I tell you that every time he makes his appearance, it’s like I will be grinning and smiling to whatever antics he has in store for me, even if his schemes are evil or whatsoever. So there you have it. The main motivation for me to watch this series. A baddie in a butterfly mask who loves doing poses whenever he talks. And oh, did I mention that he keeps stuff in his skimpy underwear too? How the hell did he fit something big underneath that little piece of cloth? Mind boggling. But very funny lah.
 
Okay, before anybody gets the wrong idea that I’m infatuated with the Papillon guy and turned gay, let me continue with the main premise of the series. Many would think that this is a rip-off from the popular series Fullmetal Alchemist because it involves using the art of alchemy to fight against the villains of this series called Homunculi, non-human creatures which feed on humans and the only way to stop or even destroy them is through alchemy. But that is where the similarity ends.
 
And just like in any shonen genres, you can guess that this main high school kid, Kazuki Mutou is going to be the hero of the series because of his sense of justice to protect the ones he loves and jumping in to protect them without giving thought of his own life and safety. Yeah, guy heroes must be so like that. Oh yes, he has spiky hair too, that’s why. So in the 1st episode… He died!!! Woah! How many series starts off with the main hero getting killed off? Besides that pessimistic Nozomu guy in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, that is. Fortunately, he wakes up in the middle of the night in his dorm and thinks is only a nightmare. Or not. So this episode introduces Kazuki’s other school buddies like the resident pervert and Regent hairstyled guy Hideyuki Okakura, large size buddy Masashi Daihama, bespectacled Kouji Rokumasu, Kazuki’s 1 year junior and a little air-head but optimistic and very supportive Mahiro, her best pals Chisato Wakamiya and Saori Kawai.
 
Then of course Kazuki finds out that nightmare is real and that he had indeed died. You see, while trying to save a girl with a scar across her nose, Tokiko Tsumura, from a Homunculus at an abandoned building, he gets pierced through the heart instead. To show her gratitude, she saves his life by inserting a hexagon shaped metal plate called Kakugane as a replacement for his heart. So you can say that Kazuki is being kept alive by it. Then to make things worse, while cleaning the school compound that night, one of his teachers is actually a Homunculus and turns into a vicious monster to eat him. Unfortunately unsuspecting Mahiro was there as he gobbles her up. What would a pissed off brother like Kazuki do if he sees his sister being devoured right in front of his eyes? That’s right. Somebody’s butt is going to get kick real bad. Unfortunately you can’t go hand to hand with a Homunculus so luckily Tokiko is there to save the day. You just got to love this girl’s alchemic weapon which she dubs Valkyrie Skirt, 4 scythe-like blades attached to her thighs. Slice and dice baby!
 
Thankfully when Mahiro comes to, she thinks all this was just a dream. Better stay that way. Though Tokiko insists that Kazuki should go back to his normal school life and stay out from being an Alchemic Warrior to fight Homunculi, but would that guy listen? Not when everybody’s life is at stake. If there are such selfless heroes in the real world. So Kazuki learns that Tokiko is in this town to destroy Homunculi and the part in the abandoned building she was just playing the bait part when Kazuki interrupted. So Tokiko goes off to the abandoned building to finish off all the remaining Homunculi with Kazuki tagging along. Because Kazuki has a Kakugane embedded in his chest, he can summon an alchemic weapon in a form of a lance to do battle. Tokiko is shocked by the development of Kazuki to use such weapon as he rips through each and every Homunculus from henchmen to leader. Thus Tokiko decides to train Kazuki to be an Alchemic Warrior to keep the city safe from Homunculi. Since partly that guy doesn’t want to go back to his boring normal life either.
 
So in most episodes you’ll notice this sort of trend. Kazuki fights Homunculi, powers up with his lance which is dubbed Sunlight Heart (because Tokiko felt the warmth of its sash to be one. Oh yeah, Kazuki did came up with other silly names too…), fights more powerful enemies, learns more about the world of alchemy, powers up even further and kicks more ass while maintaining his sense of justice and sanity. On the other hand, you’ll kinda notice some odd relationship or chemistry between Kazuki and Tokiko. I’m having trouble whether to classify this tough chic as tsundere because initially she feels responsible for bringing Kazuki back to life and is always by his side. So it just develops from there, though not very obvious. But you can just feel it. By the way, Tokiko’s favourite motto is "I’ll rip your guts out!". Warning: Don’t mess with her.
 
So episode 2 has Kazuki learning more about alchemy and Homunculi and its source. Tokiko has Kazuki come with her to a haunted factory and her suspicions that the Homunculi are developing some new weapon, comes true. Not that I understand how that little red embryo capsule works but it’s some sort of parasite which could turn a human into a Homunculus. Only one way. No turning back. Of course they are interrupted by a masked guy, Koushaku Chouno, riding on his eagle Homunculus, Washio. A short fight before Chouno escapes after failing to turn Tokiko into 1 of them. Of course Kazuki’s friends and sister suspect Kazuki of having a girlfriend and goes to the factory to spot him and Tokiko together. In order to hide their true identity, the duo claim that they are siblings. Wait a minute. What does that make Mahiro then? Better to come up with a better excuse. Of course everyone gets along fine with Tokiko and as they walk home, Tokiko spots the parasite on Kazuki’s hair and tries to get rid of it but the parasite strikes her instead. Similarly, Kazuki pushes Tokiko as the duo tumble down the ravine. Bad news is that Tokiko has the parasite embedded in her skin and within a week it will reach her brain, in which she will turn into a Homunculus. The only way to save her is to destroy the creator and if not, kill her. They are then being ambushed by a frog Homunculi and Kazuki takes the lead in defeating him since Tokiko can’t call her weapon. With that, Kazuki vows to be stronger and save Tokiko within 7 days.
 
Episode 3 has Kazuki and Tokiko knowing that the creator is a student of his school and that he wears a papillon mask and a rotten look in his eyes. You can guess that is this sick coughing Chouno guy in bed as he’s taken an interest in Kazuki while being flanked by his other Homunculi servants. So a frog Homunculus decides to find out more on Kazuki and stalks him. Of course the inevitable battle but since Kazuki is still green and Tokiko’s Kazuki-is-in-danger-sense is tingling, she heads off in search of Kazuki. But remember Kazuki can’t die because he already dead. Okay, so it’s because he doesn’t have a real heart anymore should be a better excuse because frog Homunculus stabbed him there. As expected, Kazuki powers up with his Sunlight Heart to send that cowardly froggy begging for his life. Before Kazuki could get an answer from him, froggy is destroyed by his backstabbing comrade, a Homunculus in a plant form. Luckily Tokiko arrives in time and manages to summon her Valkyrie Skirt to finish her off. Because Kazuki’s Kakugane has healing properties too, Tokiko manages to heal the wound albeit not perfect. Kazuki now knows how his weapon works and this leaves Tokiko a little impressed because he’s gotten a little stronger.
 
While Kazuki learns that Tokiko don’t actually go to school and is just wearing her previous school’s uniform, Kazuki finally meets this Papillon guy in episode 4 by accident (not sure if that skilfully sketched picture helped, if you know what I mean). Although he is a student of Kazuki’s school, Kazuki has never seen him around much because of his sick body which makes him skip classes. Chouno even lives in the same dorm that Kazuki resides and you know when everyone doesn’t give a damn about a sickly kid, he’s sure easy to be forgettable. Chouno gets excited when he learns Kazuki has a Kakugane and wants it for his life in exchange for Tokiko’s antidote but Kazuki punches him in the face instead. Ouch. Then when Tokiko arrives, Kazuki learns that he is ripped off because the antidote is fake. Phew. Luckily he didn’t give his Kakugane. He can’t either because he won’t be able to live without it. Soon they learn that Chouno wants to become a super human type Homunculus to get rid of this sickly body of his. There’s lot of talk about dying and living and depending on your side of the argument, both seems right. Then Washio comes crashing into the dorm to take the duo away far from his master. They manage to free themselves but find that they are free falling. Luckily Kazuki’s sash breaks their fall as they prepare to face off with Washio in the nearby woods.
 
Tokiko and Kazuki combine their powers to fight Washio in episode 5. They have too since his powers are of a different level. With both sides having strong determination and willpower to protect, it won’t take long to know who will win in this outcome, right? Of course the human hero lah. So a short flashback about how Washio was once an eagle who was shot out from the sky by some unknown hunter. He was then taken in by Chouno and therefore this explains his undivided loyalty to him. After an explosive battle, even Washio is relieved to know of Kazuki’s resolution and could die in peace. All that’s left is for Kazuki to give injured Tokiko a piggyback ride.
 
Kazuki goes to Chouno’s home to ask his family for his whereabouts in episode 6 but finds his brother, Jiro instead. Not only that, the entire family especially his father isn’t interested in him and considers him to be someone who tarnishes the family name. He’s disappointed for the family’s successor to have such an incurable disease. Such heartless people. How can they throw and abandon someone like that. Oh wait. It’s happening in the real world too. Soon Kazuki manages to find Chouno alone in some secret room of his but Jiro and his bodyguards have followed Kazuki to finish off Chouno whom he hate so much for good. Chouno manages to merge with his parasite experiment to turn into a Homunculus. This is where the freak show fun begins for him. Uh huh. Posing in his Speedo trunks because normal bullets can’t harm him, Chouno sucks the life out of Jiro and his bodyguards and heads over to his home. Because everyone thinks he is Jiro, Chouno decides to play a game whereby if anyone could correctly identify him, he would spare them. Unfortunately, nobody did. Not even daddy. So Chouno has a field time sucking everyone up. Of course Kazuki faces off with him but Kazuki is in a dilemma because the key to Tokiko’s antidote is inside his stomach and Kazuki has to kill Chouno in order to obtain it. Kazuki eventually has to kill Chouno and the latter calls him a hypocrite because the former didn’t want more lives sacrificed but had to do so to save Tokiko. However Kazuki collapses due to fatigue but when he wakes up, he finds Tokiko cured because some Alchemic Warrior in white manages to deliver it to her in time.
 
In episode 7, Kazuki feels bad for Chouno especially after being called a hypocrite. But he gets assurance to continue his mission with the appearance of another Alchemic Warrior, Captain Bravo. He is Tokiko’s commander and the one who saved her previously. Because of that, Tokiko is a new transfer student in Kazuki’s class (don’t know why she doesn’t have to wear the same uniform as the other girls) and to make things worse, Bravo is also a supervisor of their dorm. So is Bravo his real name? Nope. But he can’t reveal it because he thinks it’s cool. Hah. I thought the series would become boring since that Chouno guy had died but fortunately, he is revived by his great-great grandpa, Bakushaku AKA Dr Butterfly (note his butterfly shaped moustache. Hilarious!), who too is a Homunculus and leader of the LXE group of super humanoid Homunculi. Kazuki gets a surprising call from Chouno to meet him at a fast food joint to talk things over (everyone staring at his worse fashion outfit!). In short, Chouno and Kazuki promises to settle their score one day and Chouno is now known as Papillon as a sign for casting away his humanity and the only one allowed to call him by his real name is Kazuki. Later at the school rooftop and after more talking, Papillon leaves but the alchemy gang has to face off with a member of the LXE who is there to crush them, Kinjou, who has a Kakugane from a recently missing and defeated Alchemic Warrior. But Bravo decides to fight this one and show the young ones the true power he posses.
 
Though Bravo easily defeats Kinjou in episode 8, before they could question him more about LXE, another whip wielding Homunculus, Jinnai, destroys Kinjou. Bravo notes of Kazuki’s progress and decides to have him undergo special training as he has Tokiko guard the Kakugane. While Bravo and Kazuki are out training that night, Jinnai hypnotizes everyone in the dorm except for Tokiko, to retrieve the Kakugane. Finally Tokiko faces off with Jinnai and defeats him but gay Papillon creates a diversion to snatch the Kakugane before Tokiko could. Of course the dorm students are freed from their spell and wonder why are they sleeping in the hallway before returning to bed (except for Chisato who had a near encounter of being eaten by Jinnai and starts thinking if the dream was real). By that time, Bravo returns with Kazuki who is dead tired from his ‘ordeal’ and learns of the Kakugane being stolen but he understands her situation.
 
Kazuki continues his tiring training and his tiredness is pretty obvious in class. In episode 9, the student council president, Oka Hayasaka lends her umbrella to Tokiko and Kazuki but the latter decides to return it seeing that his pals brought umbrellas. They did so and meet Oka’s twin brother, Shuusui, who is a member of the kendo club. Kazuki is thrilled of meeting another person who wants to be stronger too and has a practice match with him. I also want to mention another amusing LXE Homunculus, he is Moonface and his face is like well, a yellow crescent moon. I find it amusing with each sentence of his having him going "Moooon~". Another funny guy. Anyway, Dr Butterfly and Moonface gives the Hayasaka twins a pair of Kakugane so that they could find the Alchemic Warrior in their school. Oh, so the twins are Homunculi too, eh? However a pair of Chinese zombie Homunculi aren’t too pleased that the twins got the job. While the twins conduct their investigation, they still mix around with Kazuki and co, not knowing that their target is right under their nose. Also, Papillon visits Kazuki to warn him about the enemy close by and his role is to watch over the twins to see whether they screw up or not. However the school gets a rude shock with the appearance of the Chinese zombie pair in a poorly disguised school uniform outfit. They’re here to take the twins Kakugane but since Kazuki summoned his weapon, the zombies now take an interest in him but are easily defeated. By that time, the twins realized that the duo are Alchemic Warriors.
 
In episode 10, the twins confront the duo and suggests a fight that night within the school compound to settle things. So it’s a power battle between the sword and the lance as Shuusui takes on Kazuki. Thanks to the sparring with Shuusui, Kazuki too have gotten stronger. Meanwhile Tokiko’s Valkyrie Skirt takes on Oka’s archery skills (by her side a pink cupid alien?). Remember Kazuki doesn’t have a heart? Yeah, Shuusui stabbed there but Kazuki manages to break through Shuusui’s powerful and strongest attack and wounding him in the process. This causes Oka to panic and freak out. Oka then shoots her arrow to transfer Shuusui’s wounds to herself. However Kazuki finds from Tokiko that they aren’t really Homunculi because if they are, their wounds would heal. The twins are more like Disciples, humans who have sworn to work for Homunculi and to prevent them from being eaten if ever caught, there is some ‘8’ symbol on their body. They learn that the twins’ wish is to become Homunculi so that they could forever be together. Incest twins. Nope. It’s that normal kind of siblings love, mind you.
 
The twins’ flashback starts in episode 11 as they tell a tale of how they were abandoned by everyone. Even though they were victims of a kidnapper who played their ‘fake’ mom, when she got caught, their true parents didn’t even want them. That’s when they made a vow to always be together. That’s when Dr Butterfly and Moonface picked them up too. Tokiko decides to finish them off seeing that they are the enemies but Kazuki stops her. Does he have compassion for them now after hearing their sob story? While having his argument and debate with Tokiko, Shuusui takes this chance to stab Kazuki. But Oka again transfers his wounds to herself. I guess she too had opened her eyes. Her wound is too grave and they need to heal her with their Kakuganes if they want to save her. Since Kazuki can’t take his out, he requests for Tokiko’s. Reluctant at first, she then gives in. Moonface notes of their failure but decides to retreat after a brief face off with Bravo. As the twins recuperate in hospital (a car accident excuse was given), Tokiko and Kazuki visits them as they find out that the pink cupid angel, Gozen, is a crude talking creature! The other personality for gentle Oka? In short, seems like the twins are grateful to them for giving them another chance as Shuusui leaves for a personal training mission to be stronger but promises to come back.
 
In episode 12, Papillon eavesdropped how Dr Butterfly has no confidence in him so he tries a Kakugane himself. Bravo tells Tokiko and Kazuki that the Homunculi base has been found and will infiltrate it. But as they bust in, they find it to be void and only Moonface is there. He tells them that Dr Butterfly has taken his experiment tube thingy (the revival of some great traitor to the Alchemic Regiment) to a place with lots of live energy, the school. The kids rush back as Bravo faces off with Moonface. Meanwhile a mysterious mist has descended upon town and the school which makes everyone lose their sense of direction. Also, Dr Butterfly (now wearing a white fashion faux pax just like Papillon) unleashes several white giant Homunculi to attack the school. Kazuki and Tokiko manage to arrive in time to fend off the horde while trying to hide their identity but a student among the school, Suzuki, who is also a Homunculus is confusing the students that the enemy is also Kazuki and Tokiko but their pals barge in to tell him otherwise and that they believe in this friend of theirs. I guess they all know it’s them alright. While Chisato is paralysed by the fear of those monsters, Mahiro steps in to protect her friends because she believes her brother will come to save them. And as expected, Kazuki shows up.
 
In episode 13, the students supports Kazuki and Tokiko to boost the duo’s confidence to take on the menace. Dr Butterfly combines all the monsters into a single giant entity while Bravo’s fight with Moonface begins. We see Bravo’s weapon is his impenetrable Silver Skin coat while Moonface has clone 30 of himself as different phases of the moon. Back at school, Papillon takes on Dr Butterfly and the person inside the experiment tube starts to awake. When the tube lands on the school rooftop, it starts feeding the life force out of the students, causing them to faint. Kazuki and Tokiko rushes to the rooftop to stop the process or else everyone will be ‘eaten alive’ while Papillon continues attacking Dr Butterfly with his Near Death Happiness explosions. However Dr Butterfly has caught Papillon in a psychological nightmare illusion of his own called Alice In Wonderland (the names that they give…). Papillon manages to snap out of it and sets off a series of explosions with his Butterflies of Black Death, defeating the old man even though this move of his wounded him. Hey, he died before, right?
 
Kazuki stops and opens the classroom door, believed to where his friends are in episode 14. But they assure him that they’re alright and tell him to continue his mission. I don’t know why, they should’ve taken the shortcut in the first place by blasting a hole straight right up to the rooftop. As Dr Butterfly lay in defeat, he tells Papillon about the person in the tube, Victor. Once an Alchemic Warrior a century ago, he was considered a traitor and was pursued. Dr Butterfly and Victor’s path met as the latter promise to restore him into a kind which is neither human nor Homunculus with the alchemy knowledge they shared, no matter how long it took. However Papillon already knew all these but the answers that Papillon is seeking for still remains a mystery like how he could be as strong as Victor. Dr Butterfly’s answer: Don’t know or go ask him yourself. With that, Dr Butterfly disintegrates so Papillon takes his Kakugane which is all that is left (and his butterfly moustache too!). Kazuki and Tokiko reaches the rooftop to see 2 metre tall, tanned and illuminated hair Victor already awaken. Now this Victor guy is totally powerful and he hates Alchemic Warriors. The duo are no match for him but Kazuki’s willpower has him going strong. But is that enough? The energy drain by Victor is like a reflex action akin to breathing so the only way to stop it is to beat him totally. It’s going to be tough. Real tough. That’s because Victor has a Black Kakugane (I guess it’s more powerful than their usual grey ones) and his alchemy weapon is Fatal Attraction! No, you won’t turn gay. Tokiko becomes furious when Victor seemingly killed Kazuki because his Kakugane fell out of his body. She feels guilty for killing him but feels his Kakugane pulsating. Suddenly Kazuki gets up and picks up his Kakugane as it shatters into a Black Kakugane! OMG! He then turned tanned and his hair illuminated! Wow! He powered up so much and in such a short time in which most anime characters will take several episodes or years to do so! Hehe. Just kidding. Now Tokiko wonders what she has done to Kazuki.
 
Another power battle ensue in episode 15 but is a short one because Victor has enough of today’s feeding and flies away while Tokiko restrains Kazuki. With Kazuki being Victorized, he too has that energy drain reflex. He then switches back to his normal form as Tokiko collapses. But Papillon isn’t happy of what he has seen. He thinks hypocrite Kazuki has turned into a powerful being when Papillon himself is the one who wishes to obtain it. Papillon decides to go ask the higher ups of the Alchemic Regiment seeing that these lower ranks don’t know anything. It’s funny to see Kazuki clinging on to Papillon’s heels as he flies away. Meanwhile the battle between Bravo and Moonface ends with victory to the former. When Papillon arrives, seeing that Bravo too isn’t sure, he decides to conduct his own investigation. Since he’s not a threat, Bravo lets him go. Moonface isn’t killed off either because Bravo is thinking of taking him back to headquarters for interrogation. As everything return to normal for the students (being treated, hospitalized and all), Kazuki and co passes their exams (well Kazuki barely since he had undergone rigorous special training), it’s time for their summer vacation and it’s to the beach. While Tokiko is a little embarrassed to wear a swimsuit, to everyone’s surprise, they spot Bravo surfing there too! And they thought he had gone back. However, Tokiko gets another surprise when another Alchemic Warrior, Gouta Nakamura, approaches her and tells her that they can talk about things tonight and not get others involved.
 
The fun in the sun continues in episode 16 but since Kazuki is still worried that he isn’t strong enough, Bravo tells him to meet him at a rocky outcrop at midnight. There, Bravo tells of the Philosopher Stone (okay, maybe another term from Fullmetal Alchemist) in which it was experimented on and rumoured to have multiple uses such as turning a mortal into having eternal life. The extensive research spawned 3 Black Kakuganes and Victor was the 1st test subject. But it failed so they used some excuse that he turned traitor to cover up for their mistakes. Bravo’s investigation on the Black Kakugane is the same time when Kazuki received his Kakugane and after conducting several samples from him, he concludes that his body and Kakugane are inseparable. Though the Victorization has many stages, by the end of 6 weeks, Kazuki will turn into a monster like Victor himself. Thus Bravo’s mission is to kill him. Gasp! Can they kill the hero? Meanwhile Tokiko confronts Gouta at a pier and though she battles him, he mentions that he’s just a distraction to keep her at bay while Bravo carries out his mission. Kazuki is still finding all this hard to swallow so he has no choice but to engage in battle with Bravo. With Sunlight Heart evolving into a more compact form, soon Kazuki finds a formidable challenge in Bravo as he even transforms himself into a Victor type. Even so, Bravo’s Another Type Reverse Double Strap works like a straight jacket to shut off any offensive move. Bravo wins and tosses Kazuki into the ocean. But Tokiko comes rushing and dives in to save in while Gouta tries to dissuade and calm a frantic Tokiko. Hmm… I can smell that this guy has a crush on Tokiko senpai. But is it really over? Operation Re-kill a success? We’re talking about Kazuki here…
 
So he didn’t really die in episode 17 because Tokiko and Gouta pulled him back up ashore after knowing he still has the energy drain threat. Meanwhile Bravo meets another Alchemic Warrior, Sekima Hiwatari, over his Operation Re-kill. We learn his Silver Skin is immune to energy drain and is instrumental in the fight against Victor. Elsewhere, Oka finds Papillon and works under the latter to research about the Victorization (well, Papillon did say he loves manipulating others but doesn’t like being manipulated himself. Hypocrite?). While Tokiko tells Kazuki that the Kakugane he received was from a previous mission whereby she infiltrated a school called Newton Apple Girl’s Academy, Tokiko’s guilt tells him that she will die with him to if he is Victorized. Gouta on the other hand, reminisces about the training times he had with Tokiko and I guess that’s where he looked up to her. However he is met with Hiwatari and his subordinates, Genji Ikusabe and Shinobu Negoro, who are to conduct Operation Re-kill seeing that Bravo has failed his mission. Gouta has a short duel with them before escaping through a diversion. The next day, Kazuki and Tokiko set out their journey to Newton Apple after informing their pals about their mission. I guess they understand what’s going on so they wish them good luck. On their way, they meet Gouta who tells them that their act may be treason against the regiment but he’s joining them. Of course it’s to protect Tokiko and though Gouta considers Kazuki to be his love rival, Kazuki thinks they’ll get along fine because they have the same person to protect. Oh, and on a disturbing note, you should see how Papillon’s fashion in his skimpy swimsuit! It’s so disgusting yet hilarious! An eye opener, I’d say. See it for yourself. If you have never known the true meaning of fear, now you will! And wherever Papillon goes, he’ll have Gozen as his annoying companion so that he could relay info to Oka to conduct further research.
 
In episode 18, Bravo is being interrogated by the regiment for his failure to ascertain Kazuki’s death. But Bravo’s colleague, Chitose Tateyama stood up for him. Furthermore, the leader of the regiment, Shousei Sakaguchi, acquits Bravo and lets him off the hook. Meanwhile Tokiko tells the boys of her previous school infiltration mission whereby she met some ghost-like person who allowed her to take the Kakugane. At the same time as Hiwatari and co are tracking down Kazuki, they encounter Papillon who wants to know where Kazuki is. Ikusabe decides to take on Papillon so that the rest could continue their mission. Ikusabe makes a deal that if Papillon beats him, he’ll tell. Papillon has a tough time with Ikusabe because his alchemy power is self resurrection, even if he’s completely blown to bits. Meanwhile Chitose gathers several Alchemic Warriors to hunt and locate Victor. They include Hanaka Busujima (a metal fish mask?), Madoka Maruyama, Rintarou Inukai, and lastly she picked up Shuusui while he’s training in the mountains. At the same time, Hiwatari and Negoro have surrounded Kazuki and co.
 
Papillon figures out Ikusabe’s weapon’s weakness in episode 19 which prevents him from full body resurrection. So I guess he has to spill the beans. I’m not sure how the fight between Hiwatari and Kazuki went because Hiwatari used his fire alchemy to burn everything down to a crisp and the 3 kids are nowhere to be seen. He makes the same mistake of not ascertaining their deaths and leaves it to Negoro. Since they’re not dead, I don’t know how Kazuki has been separated from Tokiko and Gouta. But Negoro finds out that the latter duo are still alive so Gouta decides to take him on since Tokiko is slightly injured (and probably to show off to Tokiko). At first Gouta has trouble with Negoro’s Secret Trail (allowing only his body and accessories to go through any solid objects, thus a useful power to hide), but in the end Gouta uses his brains to finish him off by covering his own Motor Gear Kakugane with Negoro’s blood so that it could follow and rip Negoro wherever he went. Meanwhile Chitose’s team finally finds Victor on a Pacific island and engages in ‘test’ battle. But even the combine effort does not match up even close to Victor’s skills. If not for Chitose’s teleport powers, they all would’ve been done for. They retreat but obtains valuable information on Victor like his whereabouts. Lastly, Kazuki is lost but encounters Bravo along his way.
 
Kazuki’s power battle with Bravo begins in episode 20 and both sides have their valid reasons why they should win. I guess their power fight has them jumping from spot to spot so much so Tokiko and Gouta spot them and try to go after them. They do and also manage to figure out the Silver Skin’s weakness, which can’t be used at range (or else there won’t be a reason to wear it). When Tokiko urges Kazuki to Victorize himself, the latter refuses citing energy drain which could harm his comrades. And after all that heroic justice poetry, Tokiko questions Bravo back if he still wants to kill Kazuki. The duel continues and Bravo mentions he is adamant to complete his mission but won’t let him die alone because he too will kill himself (what’s this about blaming himself killing his subordinates?!). Just when Bravo delivered a fatal punch, Kazuki against all odds gets up and manages to penetrate Bravo’s Silver Skin and wounding him. After sensing his great willpower to protect others, Bravo changes his stand and decides to bet on as Kazuki has even surpassed him. The weary warriors embrace each other after a good fight. However, Hiwatari has been watching this on his floating great ball of fire and well, his crazy face seems to indicate that he doesn’t like the developments.
 
Hiwatari isn’t pleased of Bravo’s failure and in episode 21 he decides to finish the job himself. A short flashback on how previously Bravo along with Hiwatari and Chitose failed a mission whereby there were lots of casualties but only a sole survivor, a girl who curiously resembles like Tokiko. Hiwatari confronts Bravo and decides to burn them all with his Blaze Of Glory. But Bravo protects the kids with his Silver Skin and he himself gets toasted. Kazuki is bloody enraged and charges towards Hiwatari. But before the fight could start, Shousei appears and stops them. Thankfully this Shousei guy is a good and understanding person. Anyway he tells Hiwatari that Operation Re-kill is suspended for now as the regiment need to focus all their powers to fight against Victor and need all available warriors. As all the injured Alchemic Warriors are brought in for treatment, Shousei gives Tokiko and Gouta a new mission to keep an eye on Kazuki instead. Meanwhile a lone submarine is spying on Victor but the latter notices its presence and engages in combat. Though the submarine puts up resistance, it isn’t long before Victor crushes them. While Bravo recuperates in hospital, Kazuki and co decides to continue their mission to Newton Apple.
 
The assault on Victor begins in episode 22 with Hiwatari and Chitose’s team combining forces but Victor is still as powerful as ever. Plus, Victor is evolving himself into a more powerful 3rd stage so Shousei has the team retreat as he decides to take Victor on himself. Shousei shows why he is the boss of the regiment as his alchemy, Buster Baron, a giant silver mecha goes head on and is equally matched with a now giant sized Victor. Meanwhile Kazuki and co have reached Newton Apple but finds Papillon waiting for them. The ghost-like figure appears and leads them to an underground path. It eventually leads to a room filled with clone brains as the gang make a startling discovery that the talking brains are actually the remnants of what is left of Victor’s wife, Alexandria. And that ghost-like figure is Victoria, Victor’s daughter, a Homunculus and her power seems to be opening up pathways. Alexandria’s explanation include that she is the developer of the Black Kakugane a century ago and when Victor was seriously wounded in a battle against Homunculi, they did a Black Kakugane transplant but it went awry. When Victor saw his dead wife lying in his arms, any guy would go into rage. No wonder he hates alchemy so much. So over 100 years, Alexandria researched on the remaining 2 Black Kakugane. Since 1 is in Victor and the other is in Kazuki, where is the other one? It is right here, which Alexandria has managed to turn it into a near complete White Kakugane. With its nullification powers against the Black Kakugane, everyone is glad that Kazuki could return to be a human once more. Papillon continues to question how long it will take to produce another one but Alexandria’s reply is that it is impossible since the technology has been lost over 100 years ago. With that, there is only 1 White Kakugane, which means only either Victor or Kazuki will return to a human. Oh, the dilemma for our hero. To save himself or his enemy. No wonder Victoria was smirking how this won’t bring happiness.
 
Episode 23 begins with Kazuki and Tokiko back at their own school with the start of the new semester. Probably he needs time to think about the big decision he’s about to make. He is even surprised to see Gouta in his school (while taking a leak, that is) who offers him his support as a comrade. Kazuki also finds out Papillon is researching to make a White Kakugane so that he could beat him in his top form. I guess their future duel is what keeps them going on. Elsewhere, Shuusui isn’t too happy to know that Hiwatari indicates that he’s going to kill Kazuki once they finish Victor. So another guy who wants to beat Kazuki. But Shuusui will accept the current mission and the one on Kazuki, he’ll think about it when the time comes. The rest of this episode sees Kazuki and Tokiko spending some time together along with their pals at the amusement park. At the end of the day, Kazuki is still in a serious dilemma of what to do because he even thought of who is going to protect him if he protects everyone. Isn’t that what a hero is? Anyway Tokiko’s words sooth and comfort Kazuki. If he dies, then she too will die because they are one. With that Kazuki has decided and gosh! They kissed! Oh finally. The hero gets a kiss from a tough girl whom everyone would think twice about doing so. Meanwhile the relentless attack on Victor continues. I wonder how many ammunition and missiles they’ve got. They can keep blasting and destroy all marine life forms around him but Victor is still standing.
 
In episode 24, Kazuki makes a deal with Papillon and in exchange that butterfly gay could set the time, location and any other conditions of their fight as he wish. Then at the park, Kazuki and Tokiko try to kiss again but is interrupted by Mahiro who is eagerly watching. Tokiko is definitely embarrassed but Kazuki wants to continue smooching right in front of his sister? Before anything could go on, Kazuki and Tokiko are whisked away in a helicopter, being told by Gouta that the White Kakugane is completed. Kazuki tells Mahiro that they’ll be parting for a little longer this time. Tears in Mahiro’s eyes. You know what that means. At Alexandria’s research lab and receives instructions on how to use the White Kakugane and soon despatches with the rest to the battle area. Victor is still holding ground and even if Buster Baron combines the alchemy powers of Hiwatari and the rest, it still isn’t enough. Victor is still pissed off about the past and is persistent in destroying everything related to alchemy. As Kazuki is on the way, he reveals to Tokiko about the deal he made with Papillon. He’s going to use the White Kakugane on Victor and as for himself, he will hibernate in Papillon’s tube chamber he created while waiting for him to finish another White Kakugane from scratch. So I guess this will take another century, eh? So that’s what parting a little longer means. I suppose a hero like him has to be selfless. They soon arrive and combine their alchemy powers to distract Victor as Kazuki and Tokiko together pierce Victor’s chest with the White Kakugane. It temporarily worked but since Victor has evolved a lot, he’s back to his powerful self. Then Kazuki apologizes to Tokiko as he can’t keep his promise. He releases her to the ocean below. Tokiko is devastated and so is everyone. Probably better off being a hypocrite, eh? Kazuki thrusts himself with Victor through outer space and on the moon whereby there will be no energy drain and they can fight to the ultimate. I wonder how will they breathe. Also, Victoria carries her mom’s brain as it disintegrates. Before Alexandria vanishes, she tells her daughter that if she ever sees daddy, tell him that she has always loved him. Tokiko is a total wreck while Papillon is upset that no one will ever call him by his real name again. Or rather no more gay scenes with Kazuki? Haha, just joking.
 
So episode 25 is a gloomy episode because everyone is feeling down and spacing out without Kazuki. Yeah, the whole world is safe and everyone else is living their normal life. Isn’t it how it should be? Nope. Without Kazuki, it’s boring. So they prefer to kick ass when he’s around? Tokiko is still feeling her usual guilt but hey girl, you’re not the only one. Thus Tokiko takes out her frustration slicing Homunculi in a simulation till she collapses. Her wounds won’t recover if she keeps this up. Then one day it hit Tokiko what she can do for Kazuki as she goes seek a request from Shousei, who by the way announces to his Alchemic Warriors that the regiment is gradually freezing all activities around the globe since the confirmed Homunculi threat has been under control. Soon Tokiko along with Gouta, Oka, Shuusui and Gozen, heads off to finish Papillon (her request). At some rubble site, Papillon’s dejectedness is obvious and we see Victoria spewing theories which disinterests Papillon and me. Tokiko and gang arrive but encounters previous animal and plant Homunculi clones which were once Papillon’s servants. The rest take care of the pesky clones to let Tokiko meet Papillon. Once the duo come face to face, Tokiko tells him that she is here to settle things and finish him off in Kazuki’s place. But Papillon isn’t too happy because nobody and he means nobody could replace Kazuki. I’m afraid he’s right, you know.
 
As Tokiko prepares to fight Papillon in episode 26, she notices a big flask behind him and thinks he’s going to burn the world which Kazuki has fought hard to save. When Tokiko pierces through Papillon, the flask breaks after finishing its countdown to reveal a White Kakugane. Wow. He must be so desperate to duel Kazuki that he managed to combine Dr Butterfly and Alexandria’s technology to complete 1 in a month. Then everyone spot a shining glow from the moon and in an instant it’s like Shousei knew what to do. He has Chitose teleport Tokiko back to the base as he is going to send her up to the moon in his Buster Baron using the alchemy powers of Hiwatari and Busujima. On the moon, Kazuki is still fighting Victor. They’re still going strong, huh? But Victor soon stops the match when he sees Buster Baron coming and tells Kazuki to return to Earth seeing that his buddies made quite the effort to come here after knowing he’s still alive. Victor is staying because he has only enough power to send Kazuki home with his anti-gravity properties of his Fatal Attraction. But you know, Kazuki isn’t going to leave him behind too and brings him along. First he wants to beat him, now he wants to save him too? Can’t understand how heroes think. Kazuki successfully rendezvous with Tokiko (wearing Bravo’s Silver Skin) as they embrace. Buster Baron soon lands back on Earth and everyone is glad to see him. Especially Papillon who gives him a White Kakugane to neutralize his Victorization and they soon engage in battle to settle their score. This Kazuki is sure a busy lad.
 
On the other hand, the other White Kakugane is used on Victor as he returns to a normal human being. He is reunited with an emotional Victoria when he asks her about Alexandria’s last words. Victor also requests for Shousei to turn him into a Homunculus so that he could take all the Homunculi to the moon where they will live there since they can’t co-exist with humans. Should’ve thought about this in the first place. I wonder what they will feed on. Moon rocks? With that, Shousei announces all Alchemic Warriors’ Kakugane will be recollected. No more human-Homunculi war? Later, it seems Papillon has garnered media attention and a huge following fan base. WTF?! Did everyone turn gay? They’re cheering on for him! How did they turn to love this gay butterfly? Back when Papillon was fighting with Kazuki, it seems it was the former’s lost but Kazuki didn’t want to kill him a 2nd time as he wish the exchange of lives to end here. As Papillon notes how Kazuki has turned into a bigger hypocrite, Kazuki says he will never forget about him (who wouldn’t?) and wants him to go live a new life with a new name in a new world. So that’s how he came to be. Still so gay, though. Yeah, he wants the cheering crowd to shower him with more love! *Shivering*. Lastly, as Kazuki and Tokiko are walking back to school, they are happily reunited with their friends. But I’m not sure about the ending credits whereby Kazuki is trying to chase Tokiko as she tries to escape from him. About touching the nape of her neck or ear to make her happy. Geez… I guess it’s better than fighting. Oh wait. Being a pervert isn’t good either. Oh and another thing. An unmasked Busujima at the end reveals to be… a girl!
 
Okay, so it was a feel good happy ending. Nothing that spectacular I guess. Our hero Kazuki is allowed to go back to his normal school life with his friends along with Tokiko who along with the rest of the Alchemic Regiment won’t be doing some fighting for a long time to come. Unless you know there’s this revolt whereby the Homunculi on the moon decides to band together and destroy Earth. But that’s another story. If that is even possible.
 
For Kazuki to have gained and powered up so much in such a short time and to give it all up in the end, now that is noble and heroic indeed. How many of us would sacrifice and let go the right things like that. Of course in this series Kazuki is the hero and probably should serve as a model to be emulated for his virtues. Well, most of them. Heck, the opponents he battle in a way gains their respect in the end. Some sort of a friendly foe, eh? On the other hand, I find Tokiko a little irritating because of her guilt-ridden behaviour that she’s responsible for Kazuki. I mean, it’s good in a way but the way she’s reacting is like it’s such a big deal and the end of the world. I’m not sure if Kazuki and Tokiko did become an item in the end. They should because they fit perfectly for each other.
 
As mentioned, Papillon was my main motivation to watch the series but as the series progresses, especially with the appearance of Victor, I felt less enthusiastic and was always hoping Papillon would get more screen time. Well, at least he’s still alive in the end :). One thing I need to mention about the Homunculi is of their short-lived presence. I noticed that after they make their appearance or entry, then after a short fight, they die. Besides, the Homunculi enemy is so comical that whenever they made their appearances, I would feel more inclined to laugh and be amused rather than feeling alerted or tensed because in no way the good guys are hardly threatened by their arrival. Especially Moonface. Do you not agree with me that his looks and character makes you want to laugh out loud? By the way, what happened to him in the end? I’d like to know that too. Send to the moon with Victor and the rest perhaps? Maybe because that’s why he’s called so. Haha. Another thing I want to mention is the names that the fighters give their alchemy powers. Some are aptly named, some sound grand while others totally hilarious and outrageous. I can’t see a reason to hate this show.
 
The drawing, art and animation is your typical Japanese bishoujo and bishonen feel and though the action scenes are not to say the best, at least they are well choreographed. The voice acting also fits the characters well like Jin Fukuyama as Kazuki (Kei in Special A), Ryoka Yuzuki as Tokiko (Ino of Naruto), Mitsuaki Madono as Papillon (Kon in Bleach), Masashi Ebara as Bravo (Alastor of Shakugan No Shana series), Rikiya Koyama as Victor (Kogarashi of Kamen No Maid Guy), Rie Kugimiya as Victoria (Taiga in Toradora among other loli tsundere voices), Hitomi Nabatame as Oka (Mikoto of School Rumble series), Kishou Taniyama as Shuusui (Takeya of DearS), Wasabi Mizuta as Gozen (the voice of Doraemon in the series of the same name), Tomokazu Seki doing dual roles as Moonface and Hiwatari (Sagara of Full Metal Panic), Sho Hayami as Shousei (Meister Kirisaki of Yakitate! Japan), Shinji Kawada as Gouta (Mine in Nodame Cantabile) and surprisingly Aya Hirano as Mahiro (that quirky Haruhi from that you-know-what series).
 
If you noticed several Rurouni Kenshin parodies here such as the time whereby Mahiro bandaged Tokiko to look like Makoto Shishio or one of the sword techniques of Shuusui is called Samurai X, that’s because the creator of this series is no other than Nobuhiro Watsuki, the one who created the Rurouni Kenshin series as well. I found out that the serialization of this manga series has ended a year before the anime was released. So I guess there won’t be any sequel since even the end events of this anime has indicated that everything has been settled.
 
I’m sure most of us are well aware that we don’t need special power ups and weapons to fight our enemies. Just a simple belief in our hearts never to give up and always to look on the positive side. We should have more people like Kazuki in this world. How about Papillon? Well Kazuki, you’re right because I won’t forget about him either. Especially his taste in fashion. That guy should have a spin-off series of his own. I bet he’ll be over the moon.
 

Busou Renkin