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Busou Renkin (literally "Arms Alchemy") follows Hero and Ordinary High School Student Kazuki Muto, a second year student in Ginsei Axademu, who one night is killed trying to protect a mysterious girl who was being attacked by a monster. . .

However, to his surprise, he wakes up again the next day (after freaking out his friends from the school dorms), seemingly good as new.

It turns out it wasn't a dream either when the girl, Tokiko Tsumura, shows up again, informing him that she felt responsible for his death and resurrected him with the power of Alchemy. From here on Kazuki discovers his own powers and, together with Tokiko, journeys into the world of Alchemists and their Renkin as they fight the monsters known as Homunculi. No, not the Fullmetal Alchemist ones, though there is definite overlap between the series theme wise.

A manga by Nobuhiro Watsuki, the creator of Rurouni Kenshin, it was later adapted into an anime and a light novel. The series is in many ways a parody of the Shonen genre and hence often has tongue planted firmly in cheek. And when it's not being an affectionate parody, it's deconstructing various Shonen tropes, particularly the Shonen Upgrade.

Tropes used in Busou Renkin include:
  • The Ace: Shusui, at least among the Muggles. Competes in kendo on a national level, is extremely popular with the girls, extremely intelligent, vice president of the student council (behind only his twin sister,) and is...*ahem*...'bigger' than Kazuki and his friends.
    • Rokumasu is pretty good at many things as well.
    • Kazuki is good at nearly everything he does, no matter how little experience he might have. And then one learns why he is that way... it's not as simple.
  • Action Girl: Tokiko.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Mahiro, during the 5th episode Busou Renkin Seminar, begins talking about what she wants to do with Tokiko, if she becomes her big sister via marrying Kazuki. She gets to This and That before she announces that she is SOOOOO excited then stops herself and says she will continue at her dorm later on.
  • Affectionate Parody
  • After-School Cleaning Duty: A Sadist Teacher does this to Kazuki in the very first episode/chapter. Turns out the teacher was a homunculus, and only assigned him to cleaning duty so he could eat him and there would be no witnesses.
  • All Just a Dream: No. No it wasn't Kazuki. But you figured that out already, didn't you?
  • Amphibians Are Abhorrent: Homunculus Kawazui, a Surinam Toad.
  • Anime Hair: Okakura
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Papillion bursts into tears when Kazuki appears to have stranded himself on the moon. "And now... there's no one left... who knows my name!"
  • Anti-Villain: Washio and Victor
  • Back for the Finale: All dead homunculi come back to life and join Victor on the moon.
  • Back from the Dead: Kazuki, in the form of a First-Episode Resurrection.
    • Papillon and his homunculi. Infact, all homunculi can be resurrected.
  • Badass Normal / Badass Bookworm: Papillion before he becomes a Homonculus. In the second episode, he is riding around totally calmly on Washio's back, even when Washio is attacking and defending - from a few hundred feet up in the air. Including perfectly holding his balance during dives and blurringly-fast maneuvers. Not bad for a guy with an Incurable Cough of Death.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Kazuki uses his energy liberation to push Victor up to the Moon, so that they can battle without destroying anything/anyone.
  • Battle Couple: Kazuki and Tokiko, eventually.
  • Beach Episode: though it only serves as a backdrop to set the second phase of the anime into motion. With a bit of an Onsen Episode thrown in, and of course, the Wham! Episode part.
  • Beehive Barrier: Captain Bravo's renkin, Silver Skin, is a beehive longcoat!
  • Belated Backstory: Tokiko's origin is not revealed in the manga until the final issue.
  • BFS: The Renkins; in Kazuki's case, Sunlight Heart's a BFL (Big Frickin Lance).
  • Big Badass Bird of Prey: Washio, the eagle homunculus
  • Blessed with Suck: Becoming a Victor.
  • Brain Bleach: some of Papillon's antics will have you reaching for some. Quoting Ouka in episode 17:

"Somehow, I feel unbelievably frightened..." (she is looking through Gozen's eyes and seeing Papillon walking through the beach in just a mankini and a swimming cap, and shaking his booty all the way!)

    • Gozen falls apart on seeing the mankini.
  • Brain Food: What Victoria's been eating all these years.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: The Hayasaka twins are a little too close to each other. It's more justified one learns learn about their past - they were kidnapped as children and their kidnapper/surrogate mother would have them play a disturbing game built around wedding vows. When their real parents rejected them, the two legitimately felt like they only had each other, and latched onto the one thing that was happy from their childhood. Furthermore, once they realize that they're not alone and begin to relay on their friends, a lot of the creepy stuff gets toned down.
  • By the Power of Greyskull: "Busou Renkin!" In the manga, this is often followed by "Busou Renkin of the XX, YY!" where XX is a description of the weapon and YY is its name.
    • Tokiko's opponent in the first episode does this for her, something along the lines of "So this is the Death Scythe Arms Alchemy; Valkyrie Skirt."
  • Calling Your Attacks: Kazuki and Captain Bravo both have names for most of their attacks — "Sunlight something" for the former, "Bravo something" for the latter. Tokiko, who takes herself more seriously than either of these two, finds the behavior rather odd.
    • Lampshaded and justified during the fight with Washio. Tokiko asks Kazuki why he keeps yelling "slasher" and "flasher" and whatnot. Kazuki responds that he feels more powerful that way.
  • Catch Phrase: BRAVO! Also the opening theme song has led to people shouting MAKKA NA CHIKAI! Also, while Tokiko doesn't call her attacks, she does get the battle cry "I'll splatter your guts!" (which doubles as an "On the Next Episode of..." Catchphrase)
    • And how about "Papi... llon!!!"?
      • Pa...pi...llion. WITH MORE LOVE!
  • Clingy MacGuffin: Kazuki's Kakugane, which replaces his actual heart. If he loses it, he dies.
  • Conspicuous CG: The Kakugane.
  • Conspiracy Redemption
  • Credits Running Sequence: Kazuki in the intro.
  • Defeat Means Friendship
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Tokiko.
  • Determinator: Kazuki. It's not for the normal reasons, and gets him in quite a bit of trouble later.
  • The Ditz: Kazuki's sister Mahiro, who like a classic Damsel in Distress has to be rescued in the first episode.
  • Dude, Not Funny: On one occasion Gouta makes a sarcastic remark about how they'd be able to save on food money if Kazuki stopped eating normal meals and instead just started draining people whenever he gets hungry. Kazuki is not amused. Considering that he'd previously put up with Gouta being an asshole to him and pining over Tokiko with a friendly attitude and cheerful smile, the glare he gives Gouta after he says that speaks volumes.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: And how! Considering how generally lighthearted this series is, it's actually quite shocking at how bad things get--and every time an alternative solution comes along the universe decides "nah, I'm gonna pick on Kazuki a bit more..." Our heroes just keep on pushing until the universe lets up and allows them their happy ending, dammit.
  • Empathic Weapon: The Renkins
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Kazuki's sister Mahiro, despite supporting his bid to Tokiko's heart, is a little too "hands on" toward Tokiko
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Kazuki. Tokiko eventually falls in love with him and decides to stay at his side, and it's very obvious that Papillon is obsessed with him as well.
  • Everybody Lives: There are a few casualties here and there, but this is - thankfully - pretty much the happy ending.
  • Evil Laugh: Gen. Shousei when he beats up people.
  • Evil Tastes Good: "As dark as the devil, as hot as hell, as sweet as a kiss. This is how a human tastes." Papillon after having been transformed into a homunculus.
  • Expressive Hair: Okakura's ducktail, which seems to change sizes according to his mood (as if it wasn't impossibly long in the first place).
  • Expy: Kazuki is visually similar to Misao Makimachi of Rurouni Kenshin, and the author even calls him "A boy version of Misao" in character notes.
    • Word of God also stated that Tokiko is a female Expy of Kenshin, or mostly his Hitokiri Battousai mode.
    • Word of God in a lot of the character bio pages says lot so characters are expy's of Kenshin characters and in a few cases shots look like they're lifted directly from Kenshin. An early rival in the kendo club is an expy of Enishi while his sister is one of Tomoe. Later in the series an Alchemist Warrior looks like Hiko Seijuro just forgot to shave for a few days.
      • A lot of people read Kazuki as being a teenage, slightly-more-mature form of Kid Samurai Yahiko.
  • Eye Poke / Eye Scream: Tokiko is nothing if not practical. During the fight with Hanabusa in Chapter 6, she jams her fingers into both the homunculus's eyes and rips them clean out, then beheads her with the Valkyrie Skirt.
    • Contrast this with the epilogue, when Tokiko catches Kazuki staring at her scar and pokes him in the eyes. Here it's played for laughs.
  • Eyes of Gold: Tokiko.
  • The Faceless: Subverted by Captain Bravo. After first seeing him in his face-concealing trenchcoat, Kazuki and Tokiko wonder how long they will have to wait before they see his face...then he shows up, unmasked, a few pages later, and looks utterly unremarkable.
  • Falling Into His Arms: Kazuki tries this, after Tokiko used his lance to pull her into the sky for an attack. He almost ends up catching the falling lance with his face instead (meanwhile, Tokiko safely lands using her Valkyrie Skirt, without any need for assistance).
  • Fan Service: The bulk of the naked body shots are male, with Papillon getting the most of them. His outfit rivals David Bowie's in Labyrinth and the camera shows a zoomed in view a few times.
    • YMMV as some would see Papillon as Fan Disservice.
    • There is also some fanservice on female characters.
  • Fan Disservice: Dr. Butterfly, Papillon's ancestor, who looks to be in in his sixties, wears the exact same outfit as Papillon except in white.
    • Papillon himself also counts.
  • First-Episode Resurrection: Kazuki, by means of Tokiko shoving a Kakugane into the giant freakin' hole in his chest.
  • Flash Step: Parodied. Kazuki and Shuusui spend their first few turns of combat playing "behind you!" to each other so much that they end up running out of the classroom the fight had started it, though Kazuki claims to have done it to minimize damage to the building.
  • Foe Yay: In-Universe, Papillon's obsession with Kazuki. Magnified by the fact that there's already a lot of subtext around Papillon. Just look at his outfit!
    • The scene in which Kazuki and his friends go to a bathhouse. Kazuki and co. compare sizes with Hayasaka Shusui, Kazuki making the comment, "The ultimate in masculine beauty..." Then later Papillon pops up and scares our hapless heroes senseless, and proves to be the biggest of them all.
  • Gecko Ending: thanks to impending cancellation, one of the only examples to have a gecko ending in the manga.
    • Eventually averted; the manga ends on a definite note with volume 10.
  • Genki Girl: Mahiro, in spades.
  • Gentle Giant: Masashi Daihama.
  • Giving Up the Ghost: This happens to Kazuki when Tokiko hits him, and especially after his disastrous attempt to emulate the 'Bravo Kiss'
  • Going Commando: In the second to last episode they show Tokiko getting dressed for a mission, and apparently under garments are optional even when wearing a skirt...
  • Gonk: Tai and Shi.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Tokiko has a scar across her nose and cheekbones.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: One homunculus, already in pain from wounds inflicted by Tokiko, pleads "please, just stop, already!". Tokiko responds by plunging her blades into him. Jump cut to shot of the sky, and a moment later, scream of agony.
  • Gratuitous English: It was Kazuki who came up with the names of his attacks, even before Tokiko baptized his Kakugane as Sunlight Heart. Back then, he used the word "Jousting" where he now uses "Sunlight" (e.g. "Jousting Slasher!!!")
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Some homunculi are normal people transformed into these by alchemy.
  • Hellish Pupils: Kawazui.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Kazuki's little sister is Suzumiya Haruhi while Dub!Mahiro is Kallen Stadtfeld.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Kazuki in the first episode (it wasn't even needed), attempted several more times over the course of the series
  • Hidden Depths: Angel Gozen represents Oka's subconscious, so she's not as nice as she seems.
  • Hot Dad: Victor
  • Humongous Mecha: Buster Baron, General Shousei's Renkin. Yeah. You read it right. A Renkin that generates a FREAKING GIANT ROBOT, which can even use other Renkin powers so long as their users are boarding it too.
  • Idiot Hero: Kazuki has his moments (like trying to shake hands with Gota even though both their hands are injured).
    • His reaction to waking up after coming back to life is to go on a rampage through the dorm screaming about how he'll avenge his death.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Homunculi need to eat humans to survive except Papillon - it's theorized that because he hated being human, he doesn't need to eat them.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Subverted with Papillon, who despite becoming immortal is still sick with the cough o' death.
  • Ironic Echo Cut

Tai and Shi: "Our disguises are perfect! We do not look suspicious!"
Every student who sees them: "Those two look suspicious!"

  • It Runs in The Family: The Chouno family's, eccentric, fashion sense.
  • JAM Project: Or at least, Yoshiki Fukuyama from said group. Makka na Chikai floods this show in hot blood.
  • Just a Flesh Wound: Hiwatari gets cut on the throat and doesn't even flinch! Of course, that had to do with his Busou Renkin, but it still was badass.
    • Oh, and let's not forget how Papillon has been mutilated more than once and never showed any expression of pain.
  • Karma Houdini: Papillon not only doesn't get punished, he serves as inspiration for children's toys at fast food restaurants. Really.
  • Large Ham: Captain Bravo, all the way. Specially in the English dub, where he is overly dramatic even while ordering a burger.
  • Laughably Evil: Papillon. What other villains do you know who will fight you wearing just a butterfly mask and Speedos?
    • Also, Moonface.
  • Light Is Not Good: Dr. Butterfly in stark contrast to his Dark Is Evil grandson Papillon.
  • Literal Change of Heart: Victor's Start of Darkness began when he had his heart replaced by the experimental Black Kakugane.
  • Made of Explodium: Papillon's Kakugane, Near-Death Happiness, allows him to manifest massive amounts of explosive black powder, which he can control at a whim. As per his name, he usually shapes it in the form of butterflies or butterfly wings.
  • My Suit Is Also Super: Subverted, often in the name of Fan Service, as a Renkin will regenerate your body, not your clothes.
    • The biggest example of the subversion is Ikusabe, whose Busou Renkin, Gekisen, literally regenerates his entire body, even from atoms, but not his clothes, finally dueling Papillon in the nude.
    • Apparently, Captain Bravo is the only one in the series that fits this trope, since Silver Skin is his battle uniform.
  • Nigh Invulnerability: Captain Bravo's Silver Skin takes it Up to Eleven. According to the liner notes, it's even proof against nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.
  • Noble Demon: Washio, and it made him an Ensemble Darkhorse.
    • So much so that he came back for the finale.
  • No, I Am Behind You: Hilariously parodied.
  • Official Couple: Kazuki and Tokiko, duh.
    • Perhaps one of the most sympathetic, realistic to be seen in anime. Even the most stone-hearted of shonen fans may find themselves shedding a couple Manly Tears at certain moments...
  • Oh Crap: Hiwatari in episode 22, when he sees Victor coming back without a scratch from the attack of Sakaguchi's Humongous Mecha Busou Renkin.
    • Tokiko tries to destroy the homunculus core dangling at Mahiro's hair... only for it to come towards her instead, and no way to block it.
  • Playing with Fire: Hiwatari.
  • Post Final Boss: Kazuki's fight with Papillion after he comes back from the moon is this. Cue in awesome opening theme song.
  • Power Fist: Kinjo.
  • Rule of Cool: Many of Captain Bravo's mannerisms are done because "they look cooler that way".
    • Hello? How about the entire freaking series? Alchemy had nothing to do with creating human/animal hybrids or summoning weapons from stones, but fans accept it because, hello, Tokiko has a SKIRT MADE OF SWORDS THAT SHE CAN CONTROL WITH HER MIND! Not to mention Kazuki's giant spear/sword, and every thing else that's just so made of win.
      • And then there's Hiwatari's Renkin, which is a freaking AERIAL BOMB... Yea, just like the ones dropped by dive bombers.
  • Sailor Fuku: Ginsei Academy has gakuran for the boys and dresses that mix fuku and Elegant Gothic Lolita elements for the girls. Mahiro specifically says that she chose to attend the school because she liked the uniform that much.
    • Tokiko wears a more traditional fuku with less frills and a shorter skirt. It's for practical reasons: her Renkin is made of blades attached to her thighs, so it'd shred the Ginsei uniform.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Busujima
  • Say It with Hearts: Papillon repeatedly admonishes other characters to say his name "with love".
  • Scaled Up: Homunculus Mita.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Papillon killed his brother, father and great-great grandfather.
  • Sexy Jester: Papillon.
  • Sissy Villain: Ooh boy. Papillon is the most extreme example ever.
    • And yet... depends on your definition of Sissy. Part of the... entertainment?... he provides is that he can somehow be so Unfunny when his appearance and mannerisms are so ridiculous.
  • Shipper on Deck: Mahiro really, really REALLY wants Tokiko to be with Kazuki and be her "big sister". (Really, she does)
  • Shonen Upgrade: An interesting variation in that Kazuki's upgrade is so dangerous that it causes his former allies to turn on him.
  • Shout-Out: To Rurouni Kenshin's English title, Samurai X, in the form of Shusui Hayasaka's Renkin, Sword Samurai X. Also, a shoutout to the same anime for a single panel in the manga where Tokiko is so bandaged up she looks like Makoto Shishio, for no reason other than an irresistable impulse the author had.
    • Let's not forget the training room being called the Danger Room or the Big Bad's weapon being named Fatal Attraction as a clear shout out X-Men, Watsuki's favorite American comics.
    • Kazuki is named after Yu-Gi-Oh!'s author and main character, Kazuki Takahashi and Yugi Muto.
    • Also, when Gouta manages to "wound" Hiwatari's throat, it starts spewing fire in such a way he looks just like Chamber, a former member of Generation X and, later, of the X-Men.
    • In the episode "Boy Meets Battle Girl" one of the attractions in the haunted house at the amusement park was a mannequin that bore an uncanny resemblance to Tomoe, mostly because of the whole Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette look she had going.
  • Shrinking Violet: Minor character Busujima. Also Beautiful All Along and Samus Is a Girl under her gas mask Renkin.
  • Sinister Scythe: Somewhat subverted by Tokiko. Despite being a buso renkin of the death scythe. It looks nothing like the typical one wielded by Death.
    • Lampshaded by Gozen: "Can you tell me which part of that skirt's supposed to be the scythe?"
  • Shrouded in Myth: Papillon becomes a local urban legend.
  • Something About a Rose: Homunculus Hanabusa.
  • Spam Attack: Captain Bravo's rapid-fire punches.
  • Spirit Bomb: Sort of. Once Kazuki develops a Black Kakugane, he starts draining life force from people around him to make himself more powerful.
  • Spoiler Opening: The opening reveals that Kazuki has the third Black Kakugane in him.
    • And also provides a glimpse of the final Big Bad Victor Powered.
  • Staying Alive: Just check what Papillon has been through and tell me if it fits or not.
  • Stock Footage: Ikusabe recomposing his entire body. It is used three times in the same episode.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: What happens when Hiwatari unleashes his Blaze of Glory.
  • Super-Powered Evil Side: Feared to be one of the side effects of the Black Kakugane.
    • Not necessarily. Those who have completed the transformation suck the life out of all living things in the general area. Like Victor does. It's not a question of being willfully destructive, it's just part of staying alive. Victor compares it to BREATHING.
  • Superpower Lottery: Captain Hiwatari.
  • Take a Third Option: What Kazuki tries between using the White Kakugane on himself or on Victor.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Lampshaded. Shusui uses his secret kendo technique on Kazuki during a match, while Koji manages to get in an explanation of the attack in between the attack starting and actually connecting, followed by Masashi pointing out that this is taking way too long.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Not only is what Papillon feels towards Kazuki, he also wants him to go this specific way.
  • The Power of Friendship: Subverted hard - it's commented during the defense of the school that Kazuki is drawing on the strength of others. What isn't realized is exactly how literal that statement is...
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Kazuki tackles Tokiko to prevent her from a Homunculus core bonding with her, and in the process, tumbled down a hill hitting his head constantly against rocks. He comments that the last rock (a fairly big one) is gonna hurt... but takes it anyway and hugs Tokiko closer to him, despite the fact that he knocked himself out.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Tai and Shi.
  • Transfer Student Uniforms: Tokiko keeps her old uniform because it allows her better access to her weapon, the "Valkyrie Skirt", and serves to point out that she's different.
  • Transformation Trauma: Becoming a homunculus drives most people mad - and it looks pretty freaky when they drop their human guises.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Tokiko stated that due to the trauma she suffered after Homunculi attacked her school leaving her as the sole survivor she has very little recollection of her life before the incident.
  • Trouser Space: Papillon's seemingly bottomless butterfly speedos.
  • Uncanny Valley Girl (and Valley Guy): the Hayasaka twins
  • The Unfavorite: Due to his poor health, Papillon was this compared to his similar-looking brother. So much so, that when Papillon went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against his household, he decided in advance to spare anyone who called him by his correct name. There were no survivors. Part of the reason Papillon is Affably Evil towards Kazuki seems to be that Kazuki was the first person to ever really care about Papillon, even if it was in an Arch Enemy sort of way. Owing to that, Kazuki is the only one Papillon allows to refer to him by name.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Papillon was ressurected by his grandfather despite getting vaporised.
  • Verbal Tic: Moonface tends to say "Moon?" when confused.
    • Hell with that, he says it at total random from time to time. Mooooooooon~
  • Villain Song: "Itoshiki Sekai", which serves as the second ending of the anime.
  • Walking Wasteland: The latter half of the manga revolves around Kazuki's quest to prevent himself from becoming this, and to cure Victor, who has already completed the tranformation.
  • Weak but Skilled: Gouta.
  • Weirdness Censor: Averted. As part of it's affectionate parody nature, the series often goes through examples of countless normal people noticing how just plain weird the entire main cast is, all while said main cast (except for Tokiko) acts as flamboyantly as possible while believing that the Weirdness Censor is in full effect.
  • Wham! Episode: Episode 16. The Alchemist Army turns on Kazuki after they find out he'll turn completely into a Victor-like in 6 weeks.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: In episode 2, when Kazuki leaps into the air to dodge the frogs' attack, you get a clear shot of the moon with a strange ring around it. It turns out that that's the alchemical symbol for Gold... or also the Sun.
  • What Is Evil?: Papillon invokes this after Tokiko brutally kills a humonculus, but not before telling it that it would feel the pain of hell before she kills it.

"Oh my, it begs the question, which of us is the truly evil one"

    • To be fair, she warned them repeatedly that she'd splatter their guts.
  • What The Hell, Big Good?: Victor calls out the Commander for repeating the mistakes of the past when Kazuki becomes Victor-ized and is automatically slated for termination. Turns out that was a launching point for his Unstoppable Rage against alchemists upon reviving.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve
  • Whip It Good: Jinnai.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity
    • Everyone who's been resurrected by a Black Kakugane aren't just turned into energy draining monsters; when they come back to life after turning into a Victor, they're so overwhelmed by their dialed-up fighting instincts that they destroy everything in sight. This is why the Alchemist Army thought Victor was a traitor and tried to kill him.