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Buso Renkin #2
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Written by maehara   
Saturday, 12 April 2008 16:00
Buso RenkinTokiko's worsening state means a solo mission for Kazuki - but first they've got to track down the Masked Creator, and Kazuki needs to learn how to better control his buso renkin. As they say, what use is power without control - and he's going to need a lot of control if he's to defeat the Creator's creations...

8 - Lock On
Kazuki wakes up to find himself in a hotel room, wearing very little and with Tokiko wearing normal clothes instead of her usual uniform. She hasn't been molesting him, though - it's the hotel room she's been using since coming to town, and was the closest place to take Kazuki while he recovered from his latest battle. Kazuki finally realises how little he knows about his new fighting partner, and tries to get some information out of her, but she seems a bit touchy about saying too much, so he drops it. They have more important things to do, anyway - like finding the Masked Creator before Tokiko's homunculus core takes her over, so it's back to the school to continue their search...

9 - The Other New Life
Having found the Masked Creator, Koushaku, Kazuki calls Tokiko to give him some backup , but before she can get there Koushaku makes him an offer: his only remaining dose of antidote, in exchange for Kazuki's kakugane. A fair trade is no robbery, or so the saying goes, but given that losing his kakugane will cost Kazuki his life, the trade is hardly fair - but on learning that the kakugane has that level of power, Koushaku is even more determined to get it. He's ill, you see, and only has a short time left to live - that's why he's been researching alchemy, looking for a way to create a homunculus core that would let him keep his own identity and personality. But why go down that route, when Kazuki's kakugane will do the job so much more easily..?

10-13 - VS Washio
Not being trained to fight himself, Koushaku calls on the last of his homunculi, Washio, to deal with Kazuki and Tokiko. Washio's no ordinary homunculus, either - the latest of Koushaku's experiments, he's able to control the level of his transformation to best meet his needs, and proves to be a difficult challenge for Kazuki and Tokiko. Needing time to come up with a way to defeat him, they withdraw for a while, but with the homunulus core getting ever closer to her brain, Tokiko's time is running out. Meanwhile, Mahiro gets the feeling that something is wrong...

14 - Midnight Run 2
With Washio defeated, Tokiko's left with little more than a day to track down Koushaku and get an antidote to the homunculus core - not enough time, especially as the core has already cost her the use of her legs. With her future looking bleak, she gives up, and orders Kazuki to travel on his own to deal with Koushaku while she ends her own life before the homunulus can take over. Kazuki's not about to let her give up on life so easily, though...

15 - Dark, Hot and Sweet
While Kazuki's away dealing with Koushaku, Tokiko is left in Mahiro's tender care, and she's taking the job of tending Tokiko's wounds very seriously. Kazuki has problems, though - Koushaku isn't where he thought he would be, and with only 5 hours left before Tokiko is lost to him, he needs a break, quickly. Circumstances, and Koushaku's insanely jealous younger brother Jiro, conspire to make sure he can't reach Koushaku before he's transform into a homunculus. Kazuki already doesn't want anyone else to die - but now, he may not have any choice...

16 - Butterfly of Black Death
Fully-transformed, Koushaku goes on the rampage, killing Jiro and the family bodyguards while all Kazuki can do is stand and watch. With the power of the kakugane fully tied up in healing his wounds, he's not able to manifest his sword - but as luck would have it, he'd borrowed Tokiko's kakugane before he left. One kaskugane may not be enough to let him fight for her, but two - that's plenty...

17 - Fade to Black
Two buso renkin, two lances for Kazuki to fight with - but in his weakened state, he's still not strong enough to actually fight with them. Fortunately, Koushaku has his own problems - having been forced to use an unfinished homunculi, he's discovering that there are certain problems that go along with that, not least of which id the endless agony of a body that doesn't work properly. In that condition, even a weakened Kazuki is enough to win the fight...

More fighting with this volume, with 4 chapters mid-volume devoted to the stand-off between Kazuki and Washio. The author himself admits in the liner notes that he wasn't entirely happy with how this segement played out, so I don't feel too bad about saying it was too much posing & explaining, not enough fighting - and given that a later fight is much shorter and to the point, the lesson seems to have been learnt. I've never been entirely convinced that the sort of action scenes you get in Buso Renkin work that well in a manga - it's very hard to get a feeling of action from a static page, or perhaps that's just my lack of imagination at work - but the later battle just about manages to capture the feeling.

I'm more interested in the human side of the story than the action, though, and we get some good stuff there as well- both from Kazuki trying to live up to his desire to sake Tokiko and defeat the homunculi without any other human lives being lost, and through the way that Tokiko and Kazuki are slowly getting closer to each other through their experiences together. It's mostly portrayed through looks and glances - the only people who ever say anything about the possibility of a relationship there are Kazuki's friends - but it's definitely there, fired on by Kazuki's eagerness to protect Tokiko. She's a powerful girl and really doesn't need the protection, but she appreciates what Kazuki's able to do for her. Makes a change from most anime & manga leqad girls, who either just don't see it when others are being caring towards them, or reward it with ultra-violence. In short, the more I see of Tokiko and Kazuki, the more I want to see them becoming a couple being written into the story.

The large chunk of the volume devoted to fighting does limit what you can write about it, so I'm just about done for this one. As enjoyable as volume one, just in slightly different ways, and still managed to throw just enough points of interest in there that I want to read the next volume - which is exactly the result you want if you're Viz and trying to sell the books. More, please...

Rating - ****

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