“The Island Fortress”
In a room somewhere deep in Demokratia’s island fortress, Kaoruko discovers the identity of the Bubuki users that Guy had called “traitors.” She asks Double why she never knows what’s going on and why all this happened, but Double only tells her that if she doesn’t live up to Guy’s expectations and eliminate the approaching Azuma and Oubu, she’ll receive the same treatment as the traitors… and that there are some things she doesn’t need to know.
“The Butterfly and the Gallows”
Kaoruko has been trying to find a way to see her father again ever since he left her at a boarding school in Taiwan. One day, Guy tells Kaoruko that her father reunited with her mother by going up to Treasure Island in a Buranki that still had its brain. Sensing that Kaoruko, despite her brave act, really wants to see her parents again, Guy makes a proposal that will allow him to use her feelings to serve his purposes..
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I’m actually glad I got to see these two episodes back to back. They were both great at demonstrating BBK/BRNK can roll with the punches both literally during the fight scenes and figuratively in the more quiet moments; and best of all, it never ceases to be entertaining.
Episode 17 is all about the daring rescue of Reoko in France (in case you thought they were going to drag the situation, BBK/BRNK never drags anything). The entire episode is one big action scene but that’s not to say they neglect the characters. Guy is very well aware of the rescue attempt and he sends every available Buranki to protect his fortress, so this is an epic clash between Oubu, Mega-lala (America), Epimew (U.K.) and Entei, newly commanded by Kaoruko herself. The situation has changed however and things are no longer certain (I’m beginning to wonder if Guy is not only evil but actually kind of dumb also. He certainly does not seem to be a good strategist).
Kaoruko is struggling to control Entei and not burn herself in the process but she’s no longer loyal to Guy after finding out what happened to Maxim and his team. She’s only there because Guy basically threatened her and even so, she still manages to warn the other Bubuki users, effectively shattering Guy’s benefactor image. Sadly, Laetitia has her own reasons for fighting even if she believes Kaoruko and Epizo follows suit because he’s apparently fallen for Laetitita. To make matters worse for Kaoruko, the moment Entei feels Reoko’s presences it stops obeying her. The positive outcome however, is Reoko starts to gain her strength back, but then she tries to kill herself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: being Reoko is suffering. Tsuwabuki also makes a return, since he was aiding in the rescue from the ground.
Episode 18 is much quieter in comparison, it deals with the aftermath of Reoko’s successful rescue and Kaoruko’s failed attempt at freeing herself, but I get the feeling she’s about to do a lot of growing up, and fast. We get confirmation that yes; Guy did lie to her about her father in order to get her to cooperate in the bringing down of Treasure Island. Kaoruko is no longer blinded by his lies though, she now realizes what a big mistake she made. There’s not much she can do, however. I admit this episode had me worried for a while. It got dark fast and given they’ve already killed the Russian kids (or did they? Why would they go and put them in specialized coffins? Arer you playing games with my head again BBK/BRNK?), I was worried they’d go for the tragic back-story and turn Kaoruko from a vibrant if bratty young girl into sad motivation for her brother. Turns out Entei has a brain or something similar to a brain still functioning and darling sweet Guy discovers they don’t really need all of Kaouruko to control Entei. If they can just connect her head to Entei’s brain they can control it just the same. No, you’re not misinterpreting what I just wrote, the plan is to sever Kaoruko’s head and keep her brain functioning somehow, or something like it. I don’t know if there would still be any conscious thought though, I’m not well versed in Buranki technology, biology, whatever… but it sounds horrifying .
Thank the Universe for nice surprises because right when she is about to get beheaded by Demokratia’s executive secretary with the unfortunate name of Double de Vavres, we find out she’s none other than Zetsubi who’s been working undercover all along. So that explains why and how they knew where Reoko was exactly and how to attack. I also have to give credit to Zetsubi’s excellent spy skills because she had me completely fooled. I love how it’s not an exaggerated costume; it’s pretty believable to the point where you almost feel stupid for not noticing before. The scene is also fantastic in showing Kaoruko’s emotions, her fear and desperation at first, her relief later on and finally and more gloriously her newfound joy in being alive. There’s nothing like the threat of imminent death to make you appreciate life.
Ironically, Reoko is also undergoing a similar process after being saved by Azuma. It is much more subtle however. The conversation between these two is one of the high points of the episode, as Reoko explains what guy is trying to accomplish (I’m not sure I understand, he seems to be trying to do two opposite things at once). Both are trying to protect what they love, with Reoko representing the authoritarian approach (fear and control prevent war) and Azuma representing the peaceful resolution. I have a feeling the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Reoko has the experience but her situation has left her bitter and angry. Meanwhile Azuma may be naïve but he hasn’t yet given up to despair. The awkward push and pull between them is both fascinating and strangely heart warming to watch. BBK/BRNBK excels at little details, showing us how similar these characters really are beneath the surface without making it seem forced or corny. Just a little softening of the eyes, a quiver of the mouth, it’s all it really takes.
Just in case you’re getting to overwhelmed with so many emotions, the episodes also has a hilarious scene when Matobai and Tsuwabuki try to feed the kids with cup ramen and sake (Matobai honestly looks like he forgot kids can’t drink). The psychological beating they get from the girls is hysterical, even Hiiragi was laughing at them. I love how the next day there are still empty bottles of sake on the floor in case you thought they got over it easily.
BBK/BRNK never fails to entertain, but what I really love about the show is how it never forgets its heart. Yes, the action scenes are great and look great, yes there is a lot of fun to be had and intense thrills, but in the end it’s all about the characters. They’re all on a journey and not one of them remains emotionally still for very long. I even have a feeling we might learn more about Guy in the future, there were a few hints that he’s not just an evil villain. That like most interesting villains, he might actually think himself a hero. It was also nice (not sure if that’s the right word honestly) to see Azuma really let go and cry for the first time. It gets rid of that aura of invincibility and reminds us that no matter how brave and strong, he’s still just a grieving kid. I don’t think he’s even aware of how far he’s pushing himself. most of the time.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll