Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Black Rock Shooter Anime Impressions: Beta

For some reason, before starting this show, I didn't look up any previous reviews or impressions.  This wasn't on purpose, but now I am glad I did as it would have hampered my original viewing.

There is a lot of hate out there for this show, and really I'm not surprised.  While there is divergence of course, it seems people fall into three camps.

1) They loved the OVA because it left EVERYTHING up to interpretation, and thus hate how the anime explains anything.

2)  They hated the OVA, and by default hate the anime because they wanted a Black Rock Shooter TV series that is more like the PSP game, with less moe slice of life high school girl stuff.

3)  They like the TV show

I guess I fall into camp three, though with an added, I also hated the OVA.  And at one point a part of me would have liked a more sci-fi BRS, like the PSP game.  However, the more I get into the anime the more I realize that is a shallow, and overused concept compared to what is going on in this TV show.

Now I'm not going to say the anime is revolutionary or one of the best series ever, but it is really good, after more than a few seasons of really lousy anime.  I think it is a step in the right direction.

Sure it has the overused "highschool girls/slightly yuri" vibe, but it doesn't really fall into a lot of traps of other anime before it.  There is a cast of female students, but you won't find any K-On moments here.  It feels a lot closer to high school for me than most shows, as everyone is worried about their own personal hangups and relationships and what everyone thinks about them. 

And through all the awkwardness of adolescents, our main heroine Kuroi, stands the voice of reason in the series.  Every time I see her I like her more and more.  She is such a good easy to relate to protagonist.  Most of the time when everyone else is doing something completely stupid, she won't beat around the bush to tell them they are being a moron.

One scene in particular (which I should have mentioned in the Alpha impressions), was when she confronted Yomi's mother about letting her daughter waste her childhood taking care of a girl who didn't need taking care of.  She called Yomi's mother "weird" about 30 times in 10 seconds, and I couldn't have agreed with her more.

Of course that is Kuroi's role in the series, to fix everyone's personal hangups, while Black Rock Shooter cuts off their heads in the other world.

It's nice to see now, the direct effects from BRS's actions and how they affect the human world.  At first it seems when she lops off someones head she severs Black Gold Saws control of that person, but at the same time, that person looses some of their memories or feelings during that point in their life.  But by the sixth episode we know the full extent of what is going on in a pretty shocking plot twist.

Black Rock Shooter is more of a villain than a hero.  Black Gold Saw is trying to keep people in the other world alive and safe and Black Rock Shooter is going around decapitating anyone she meets.

In her own way BRS thinks she is doing the right thing, in that when someone dies in the other world, in the human world, all their emotional baggage vanishes, including any positive and negative feelings they were feeling at the time. 

The twist caught me off guard, as I was just rooting for BRS for no good reason other than she seemed like the good guy.  And she still kind of is, but now every character exists in a shade of gray and not just good and bad.  In the other world, the humans "other selves" feed off the emotions of the human world counterparts.  Saya, as Black Gold Saw is keeping everyone alive in the other world, but in the human world as a school counselor she has to make all the girls as emotionally damaged as possible to make them stronger in the other world. 

Kuroi gets really emotionally attached to everyone she meets and wants to help people through their problems, thus making Black Rock Shooter really powerful.  However, BRS is a murdering lunatic and keeps slaughtering anyone who gets close to Kuroi. Kuroi and BRS merge completely by the end of the sixth episode with it seeming like Kuroi is in full control of her other self.  But we will see what the last two episodes have in store for us.

The character of Yuu/Strength has turned out to be an amazing character in the series.  In the OVA she was annoying and forgettable.  Here, she is the shining star.  In fact, the biggest mystery so far, is who she is.  She doesn't have a shadow, but in flashbacks with her and Saya in high school she does have a shadow.  My theory is that Yuu and Strength switched places.  Strength in the other world seems a lot like Yuu from Saya's flashbacks.  Yuu in the present (who hasn't aged) is much friendlier and outgoing, and no one seems to remember her after she leaves their field of vision (except Kuroi).  Also Saya keeps referring to Strength as "that girl" when she should be referring to Yuu.  That's just my theory anyway.


Although I always liked Black Gold Saw's character design, up until the last two episodes I was fine with BRS killing her and getting back at Saya, but now I want to see her make it through the series.  the last two episodes should prove interesting. 

Now, I'm actually caught up to the series so I won't be able to post those final comments for another two weeks.