Bullbuster Anime Series Review

Bullbuster Anime Collection Overview

Yes, Studio NuT is responsible for creating the anime Bullbuster. These two items make me think of a testicular joke! Yes, yes, yes. Now that we’ve had that mature (if rather childish) laugh out of the way, let’s dive into the show’s plot. Bullbuster manages to do a number of things that no anime, no matter how many I’ve seen, have managed to pull off.

If you want to avoid being let down, it’s wise to know what type of series Bullbuster is before you start watching it. It belongs to the “real robot” type of mecha anime, which is less concerned with unrealistic robot battles and more with realistic robots doing mundane tasks. Bullbuster places a far greater focus on office hijinks and pranks, with Patlabor being the most well-known example. Our hero, the idealistic engineer-turned-super-robot-otaku Tetsuro Okino, arrives to the pest control firm Namidome accompanied by the Bullbuster, a cutting-edge mech that he created exclusively. He will finally be able to realize his dream of operating a massive robot when he moves to Namidome with his robot.

A vast chasm between his ideal and the actual world, however. Namidome is not a flashy, cutting-edge enterprise; it is a former construction firm that is now a division of Shiota Chemical. Actually, it’s the polar opposite. It’s a small operation with only six people working out of a dilapidated warehouse. Giant Beasts, mutant creatures, have overrun Ryugan Island and expelled its inhabitants after the installation of a desalination plant. As part of their “pest control” efforts, they are combating these beasts. Not only do the wacky mutant monsters of Namidome have to deal with financial constraints, social media gaffes, and antagonistic parent companies, but they also have to deal with weird mutant monsters. To sum up, capitalism, not the Giant Beasts, is their biggest threat.

The general anime audience was either uninterested or outright hostile to Bullbuster, a series that I loved dearly. I can understand why people would be disappointed if they were anticipating awesome robots battling monsters; the film falls well short of those expectations. The majority of Jūki Izumo’s mecha designs prioritize functionality above aesthetics, leading to intentionally clumsy and ungainly outcomes. Although I find it appealing (since it aligns with the series’ practical style), it’s doubtful that it will attract those who are actively looking for mecha series. But the Giant Beasts are unattractive. Never does the computer-generated animation blend with the hand-drawn parts; it’s approximately on par with PlayStation 2 visuals. Their origin seems to be from another realm.

The hand-drawn animation, however, is visually stunning. The character designs are particularly noteworthy since they convey the characteristics of the individuals so well. The young vitality exuded by Okino’s freckles contrasts with Tajima’s disheveled hair and unshaven face, which suggest that he is overworked and neglects his own personal hygiene. In contrast to Shirogane’s conservative business attire (vest, shirt, and pencil skirt), Nikaido displays a completely different attitude in her tied-up jumpsuit and tank top. We can tell Namari is an uncomfortable, careless young guy even from his terrible hairstyle.

Even in seemingly little actions, like Okino adjusting his hairstyle before filming himself flying, each character’s unique body and gait is on display. Characters like Muto describing his daughter bring them to life, even if they are quite stereotypical (the cool chick, the grizzled veteran, the fresh-faced rookie, etc.). Although it has an ensemble cast, the plot and concepts presented here are what propel the program forward, not the people.

Despite the fantastical nature of Giant Beasts and combat robots, Bullbuster use them to probe contemporary business culture. Although their mission is not lucrative, the Namidome crew views it as crucial to returning the Ryugan Islanders to their homeland. Kataoka, who is also their accountant, is often harping on the fact that they are low on funds and thus unable to purchase necessities like ammunition and the ability to charge the suits. Despite Namidome’s best efforts to appeal to the Shiota lab manager’s feelings over the displaced Ryugans, he remains unmotivated to do study on the creatures due to a lack of funding. The tale progresses, however, and it becomes more and more apparent that his reluctance may have a darker motive than meets the eye.

As the plot develops, the inadequacies of a tiny business against a callous and perhaps hostile corporate culture become more apparent. There isn’t a practical remedy for this issue, yet it is really real. Unless you include communism, of course; the people of Namidome just don’t have what it takes to topple their regime. Bullbuster is fearless in its refusal to settle for a cliched finale, even as its protagonists revel in a fleeting triumph. Authors often shirk their responsibility to tie up loose ends, despite fiction’s greatness as a vehicle for probing real-world problems. They come up with some fanciful solution instead, which may work in the story’s universe but won’t help the audience. Telling a narrative about people who fight back but yet realize they may not be sufficient needs guts.

Although Okino seems to be the main character at first, other characters come into prominence as the tale progresses. This adds to and detracts from the plot. As the new recruit, Okino provides an easy way for viewers to get to know the show, but he also doesn’t have much of a personal investment in Ryugan Island. His youthful idealism, which he displays by rejecting essential realism and other critical concerns, becomes grating in such a realistic context. Instead of basing everything on Okino’s narrow viewpoint, the other members of the ensemble start to take center stage, particularly as their stake in the fight becomes apparent. While this does allow for further tale development, it also makes the characters’ early growth and other aspects seem like a narrative dead end. This seems a little awkward in an anime setting; maybe it is because it is based on a series of novels, where shifting viewpoints between books is more fluid and natural.

Among the many excellent musical selections, Tom-H@ck’s “Try-Lai-Lai” stands out as the standout opening theme song. It’s an energetic smash hit with matching high-energy images that never failed to fuel me for what came next.

You won’t find the thrilling mecha action you’re seeking in Bullbuster. Nonetheless, it’s well worth your time if you’re seeking a narrative that employs massive machines to do something novel, intelligent, and maybe even somewhat political.

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