Late last month at the BBK/BRNK: The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy premiere in Tokyo, I was able to sit down with the show’s director, Daizen Komatsuda, to discuss the new season and the greater themes behind the story overall.
BBK/BRNK is set in a world where some special people carry living weapons called Bubuki. When five of the different types of Bubuki combine, they become a giant robot known as a Buranki. The story follows Azuma, a young teen that carries the heart of one such giant mecha.
But BBK/BRNK is more than just giant robot fights. On a thematic level, it’s about humanity’s relationship with the planet. “With science fiction, you can ask, ‘What is the nature of human existence within this world?’ And because it’s science fiction, I want to show this while also showing action and battles,” Komatsuda explained.
“Humans think they are the most important beings in the world, but that’s not true. There are many other living creatures,” he added. Much of BBK/BRNK is about the human characters and their relationships with both small creatures (i.e., the Bubuki) and big ones (i.e., the Buranki).
But just because the Buranki are giants capable of massive destruction, that doesn’t mean they are evil monsters. In the first season, we see that, without human interference, the Buranki live in peace with nature. This is alluded to in the title for the second season: “The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy,” an homage to the classic sci-fi novel The Gentle Giant of Ganymede by James P. Hogan. “They’re big giants, so they can destroy anything,” Komatsuda told me, “but they want to protect things smaller than them. So aren’t they kind? That’s why I really like the title of ‘Gentle Giant.'”
On a more personal level, the anime is thematically centered around the idea of “inheritance.” In BBK/BRNK, Bubuki are passed automatically from parent to child at the moment of birth. In this way, they are a physical manifestation of the blood shared between the two–the connection of family.
However, there is also a negative side to the whole idea when you consider what a Bubuki is. “It’s a thing that kills people that you are inheriting from your parent.” Komatsuda continued, “Because it’s a weapon […] it’s a thing that you both treasure and hate to have.” The conflict is most prominent in the character of Hiiragi and his father issues throughout the first season.
The second season is also focused on this theme of inheritance; however, instead of just the parent/child relationship of the first season, we now add in a troubled sibling relationship as Azuma’s sister, Kaoruko, re-enters the story.
In The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy, the two are complete opposites. “I can’t think of any similar points [between the two].” Komatsuda began. “For Azuma and Kaoruko [as twins], they were once a single person; then, they were split and born as two.”
While the two grew up together on the flying island, they were different from the start. “While Azuma treasures his mother, Kaoruko treasures her father,” Komatsuda added. This is why Azuma, rather than his sister, received the heart of Obu. He was already much more like his mother than Kaoruko was. He naturally wanted to protect life like his mother.
But that is not the sum total of the twins’ conflict. While Azuma spent the first season growing as a person through his new friends and his Bubuki, Kaoruko has had no such growth. “[Because of this,] the two have opposing true natures,” Komatsuda told me. “They cannot come to approve of one another and so, they come into conflict […] So when the two meet [in The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy], of course they fight.”
Yet, even as the twins’ conflict takes center stage in The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy, there is one other character who features prominently into the tale of BBK/BRNK: the villain of the first season, Reoko.
Cursed to never age and to come back to life when killed (though with ever-mounting brain damage) Reoko has spent years protecting the world from wild Buranki as the unquestioned dictator of Japan.
While the villain, Reoko is Komatsuda’s favorite character in the show. “Reoko has a strong will. If she feels like she should do something, she does it.” Moreover, he loves that she has a handicap, as her four companions lack powerful Bubuki and cannot help her form her Buranki, yet she still acts as a noble queen.
Moreover, she is much more like Azuma than she is different. Komatsuda expounded on this idea: “Reoko and Azuma are characters focused on justice. Reoko’s sense of justice clashes with Azuma’s, but while the two of them fight on the falling island [in the first season’s climax], the sense of injustice is cleansed from her.” This sets her up for her new role in the second season.
Closing out the interview, Komatsuda had this to say to those interested in the new season. “In the first season, there were a lot of battles and Buranki–and that’s still here in season 2 as well–but the second season is a bigger story, with more fighting against Buranki teams from across the world […] ‘Where are they going to go next? Who are they going to battle next?’ I hope you’ll look forward to that.”
BBK/BRNK and BBK/BRNK: The Gentle Giants of the Galaxy can be viewed for free and with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.