Buso Renkin (武装錬金 Busō Renkin?, lit. "Arms Alchemy") is a manga series written and drawn by Nobuhiro Watsuki, the creator of Rurouni Kenshin. Buso Renkin was serialized in Shueisha's shōnen magazine, Weekly Shōnen Jump from June 2003 to 2005, ending at 80 chapters. The individual chapters were collected by Shueisha into 10 tankōbon volumes which were released between January 5, 2004 and April 4, 2006. The series has been licensed by VIZ Media for US release and has been adapted into an anime by Xebec, which finished its run in Japan with a total of 26 episodes. There are also two drama CDs as well as a novel based on the series.
The story begins when high school student Kazuki Muto (武藤カズキ Mutō Kazuki?) is killed one night saving a mysterious girl from a monster, only to wake up in his school dorm, believing it to have been a dream. However, he soon finds out that dream wasn't a dream at all when a giant serpentine monster attacks him and his sister. Tokiko Tsumura (津村斗貴子 Tsumura Tokiko?), the girl he saved, explains that the monster is a homunculus. Kazuki had been attacked and killed by it when rescuing Tokiko. However she, feeling responsible for him, revived him by placing a Kakugane medallion in his chest, serving as a replacement heart.
The Kakugane, as Tokiko explains, is an alchemical (alchemistic) device that, when activated, takes a certain form based on the Kakugane's user, forming a unique Buso Renkin. The Buso Renkin is the only thing that can destroy a homunculus monster. Using this, Kazuki creates his own Buso Renkin, taking the form of a giant lance, later named 'Sunlight Heart'. Along with Tokiko and her own Buso Renkin (the Valkyrie Skirt, an execution scythe), Kazuki joins the fight against the homunculi and their master.
In the world of Buso Renkin, there are two types of alchemy besides the historical one: buso renkin (arms alchemy) and homunculus. In this world, these are the only categories of alchemy which had succeeded, while the attempts to transform base metals into gold or achieve immortality had failed.
Buso Renkin are weapons formed by the alchemically-created kakugane, based on the user's will to fight. The shape the Buso Renkin takes reflects the user's personality. Buso Renkin are the only weapons known to be able to kill a homunculus. Kakugane are developed in the process of creating the Philosopher's stone, the ultimate goal of the Alchemy Warriors around the planet. Kakugane will generate a weapon that reflects the user's battle style; a user will always have the same type of Buso Renkin regardless of the Kakugane number, though there will be cosmetic differences. Buso Renkin are activated by the fighting instinct of the user. This means that they can only be used by humans or human-type homunculi, since only humans have the instinct to use tools to defend themselves. Kakugane, in their normal state, can also strengthen a user's healing abilities. In total, there are only 100 Kakugane, from I (1) to C (100). The first three of were turned into Black Kakuganes and the second one was made into a White Kakugane afterwards. After the Victor Incident, Kakugane were scattered around the world; currently, there are 25 known Kakugane that are used in Japan.
- Black Kakugane
Black Kakugane I-III are the first results of the Alchemy Warriors. However, they were unstable, and upon insertion of Black Kakugane I (1) to replace his heart, Warrior Victor lost control. The same thing would happen to Kazuki 100 years later when his Black Kakugane III awoke. A person who has been revived using a black Kakugane is called a 'Victor,' since he was the first person to become such a being. Black Kakugane give their users glowing light green hair, red eyes, and tanned skin, with the ability to use 'Energy Drain,' a 'vital body function' which absorbs people's life force; it's possible to kill a person by draining his/her energy. As it is a vital body function, it is impossible to stop or shut off. Black Kakugane users also have the ability to evolve. While in stage 1, a user can transform from normal human to his/her 'Victor' form. After six weeks, a user evolves into stage 2, when he/she is permanently transformed into a 'Victor' form. After more time has passed, the person may willingly change back and forth from stage 3 where the tanned skin turns into a dark red, and the power of energy drain greatly increases. Black Kakugane have all the functions of a standard Kakugane. Buso Renkin created by Black Kakugane tend to be much stronger, since they make their users' bodies so much stronger.
- White Kakugane
Developed by Alexandria, a White Kakugane is the exact opposite of a Black Kakugane. It holds the ability to nullify a Black Kakugane's power, restoring a person with a Black Kakugane to normal.
Kazuki's Kakugane that Tokiko took back from Alexandria was a 'test model' that was disguised as a normal kakugane. However, it proved to be unstable when it was in close proximity with a Black Kakugane; in this case, Victor's Black Kakugane I. Alexandria then developed another kakugane based on Black Kakugane II, moving past the test stage. This Kakugane was used in an unsuccessful attempt to restore Victor to normal; a Black Kakugane user in stage 3 can only be restored to stage 2.
Papillon was able to make a White Kakugane based on his own knowledge and the research Dr. Butterfly and Alexandria left behind. Using them, he was able to develop a White Kakugane from scratch, and used it to change Kazuki back to normal in Buso Renkin Period. His devices were then used to create another White Kakugane to restore Victor back to normal. Other than the converted Kakugane II, the other two White Kakugane's are not numbered as they were not the original 100 Kakuganes. It is possible to have more than one White Kakugane in a person's body, as shown by Victor, who has two White Kakugane in his body by the end of the story.
A homunculus is created when an embryo-like creation from a plant, animal, or even a human is placed inside a human. The embryo then invades the brain and takes control of the body, giving it abilities that mimic the natural talents of the embryo's origin. They can all regenerate from virtually any wound inflicted on them, and are considered to be the closest lifeforms to immortal. They are only vulnerable to alchemy-based attacks, such as Buso Renkin or other homunculi.
Animal-type and Plant-type homunculi possess strength relative to their animal or plant base as well as retaining their sentience (they have the intelligence and reasoning of a human, but consider themselves to be an animal or plant). To activate their abilities, they have to 'transform', usually resulting in a large version of its base (an Eagle-type homunculus would become a giant eagle, for example). Often the homunculi's creator would have to brainwash them into following their creator with blind loyalty, though a few have been known to do so by their own choice.
Human-type homunculi do not change form, but merely gain the strength and regenerative powers of a homunculus while retaining their human form and mind, or at least a humanoid shape (as the embryo for a human homunculus almost always comes from the human him/herself). Human-type homunculi have one distinct advantage over Animal or Plant-types; they have the ability to use Buso Renkin (only humans can use Buso Renkins).
Most homunculi have the urge to eat other humans, but in episode 25 Papillon tells Victoria that eating humans doesn't whet his appetite. Victoria explains that homunculi eat humans because they desire to regain the aspects of humanity that they gave up; this may be why we never hear of Washio, who was once a wild hawk, eating any humans. She then tells Papillon that because he no longer has any connection to humanity (or rather, that he no longer desires to be human), he has become something other than human or homunculus, but rather a "superhuman".
Nobuhiro Watsuki started writing Buso Renkin thinking it would be his last shonen manga so he tried to do anything he could with that genre. Although he thought he would be good drawing its fights scenes, he still had troubles with them. He also remarks he "struggled with the comedic elements." During the series' publications, Watsuki had four severe colds, being so weak in the fourth one that he could not finish the chapter supposed to be sent to the Shonen Jump.
The "League of Extraordinary Elects" was based on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The term for the human followers of the homunculi, "familiars", comes from the human disciples of the vampires in the movie Blade. The death scene, featuring Shusui next to his dying sibling Ouka, has been compared to Tomoe's death scene in Rurouni Kenshin. Watsuki has claimed Ouka and Shusui to be reincarnations of Rurouni Kenshin's Yukishiro Enishi and Yukishiro Tomoe. The submarine Buso Renkin, Deep Breathing, was inspired by the Nautilus from the movie League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Buster Baron is a reincarnation of the Armor Baron from Gun Blaze West.
Buso Renkin was serialized in Shueisha's shōnen magazine, Weekly Shōnen Jump from June 2003 to 2005, ending at 80 chapters. Only the first 79 chapters were serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump, while the finale chapter was published in another magazine from Shueisha in two installements. The individual chapters were collected by Shueisha into 10 tankōbon volumes which were released between January 5, 2004 and April 4, 2006. Viz Media released the manga's 10 tankōbon volumes between August 1, 2006 and February 5, 2008. The manga is licensed in France by Glénat, in Germany by Tokyopop Germany,
In Japan on October 4, 2006, the Buso Renkin manga was adapted into an anime series which ran on TV Tokyo directed by Takao Kato and produced by Xebec. Buso Renkin aired between October 4, 2006 and March 28, 2007 on TV Tokyo. The episodes were later collected by Geneon Universal Entertainment and released in nine DVD compilations between January 25, 2007 and September 21, 2007. A DVD box set containing all twenty-six episodes was released on November 26, 2009. On December 8, 2007, Viz Media announced the release of the English dub which would be released in two DVD sets of thirteen episodes each. The first set containing episodes one to thirteen was released on April 29, 2008. The second set containing episodes fourteen to twenty-six was released on October 7, 2008.
Shueisha released two drama CDs for Buso Renkin. The first CD was released on May 26, 2005. The second CD was released on October 6, 2006. Geneon Universal Entertainment released an animation soundtrack CD for Buso Renkin on January 25, 2007, featuring Jyukai and Yoshiki Fukuyama.
Geneon Universal Entertainment released two "Expert CDs", which features the radio drama, opening and ending themes as well as unreleased soundtrack songs. The first CD, Expert CD 1, was released on March 28, 2007. The second CD, Expert CD 2, was released on June 8, 2007. Both CDs feature Ryoka Yuzuki, Noriko Shitaya, Mitsuaki Madono, Aya Hirano, Takayuki Kondo, Jun Fukuyama, Masashi Ebara, Yuto Kazama and Yoshiki Fukuyama.
- Watsuki, Nobuhiro (February 5, 2008). "Afterward". Buso Renkin, Vol. 10. Viz Media. pp. 182–183. ISBN 1-4215-1542-3.
- Watsuki, Nobuhiro (December 5, 2006). "Liner Notes #18 ~ 23". Buso Renkin Vol. 3. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-0617-3.
- Watsuki, Nobuhiro (February 6, 2007). "Liner Notes #27 ~ 33". Buso Renkin Vol. 4. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-0840-0.
- Watsuki, Nobuhiro (December 4, 2007). "Liner Notes #74 ~ Last Chapter". Buso Renkin, Vol. 9. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-1047-2.
- "Buso Renkin- Profile". Viz Media. Retrieved June 12, 2009.
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- "Buso Renkin #10" (in French). Glénat. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
- "Buso Renkin" (in German). Tokyopop Germany. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
- "Buso Renkin Official Website" (in Japanese). Xebec. Archived from the original on January 15, 2010. Retrieved January 15, 2010.
- "武装錬金 DVD-Box" [Buso Renkin DVD-Box] (in Japanese). Amazon.co.jp. Retrieved January 14, 2010.
- "New York Anime Festival and ICv2 Conference on Anime and Manga". Anime News Network. Archived from the original on January 14, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2010.
- "Buso Renkin, Vol. 1 (DVD Box Set)". Viz Media. Retrieved January 14, 2010.
- "Buso Renkin, Vol. 2 (DVD Box Set)". Viz Media. Retrieved January 14, 2010.
- "集英社ドラマCD 武装錬金2" (in Japanese). Shueisha. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
- "武装錬金 ドラマCD " (in Japanese). Shueisha. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
- "武装錬金 ドラマCD 2 " (in Japanese). Shueisha. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
- "Buso Renkin Original Soundtrack". cdjapan.co.jp. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
- "Buso Renkin Expert CD 1" (in Japanese). Neowing. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
- "Buso Renkin Expert CD 2". cdjapan.co.jp. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
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- (Japanese) XEBEC's Official Buso Renkin Site
- (Japanese) Buso Renkin Website
- (Japanese) TV Tokyo's Official Buso Renkin site
- Buso Renkin (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Buso Renkin (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Manga life review 1
- Manga life review 2