Title: Black★Rock Shooter
Genre: Action, Drama, Slice of Life
Summary: Mato Kuroi is drawn to Yomi Takanashi, her classmate with an unusual family name. Mato does her best to talk to Yomi, who just won’t open up. Yuu Koutari mocks her best friend Mato’s efforts but at the same time, supports her. Mato also finds herself surrounded by other colorful characters at school, like the eccentric school counselor, Saya Irino, and the hot-blooded captain of her club club, Arata Kohata. However, outside a world of their own was one of pain and suffering. In this world, people fight to the death, taking on the struggles of the real world. This is their story.
Review: When I initially watched the OVA for Black Rock Shooter (BRS) I was kind of excited when I heard there would be a series. I didn’t give the OVA a great score, but it was watchable. The reason I got so excited for the series was because the OVA didn’t give you much in terms of a story. The story was loosely put together, and after watching the series, it was obviously made get people excited for its series appearance. Personally I got excited because I was assuming over eight episodes the story would be a bit more clear and would compliment the amazing art and soundtrack. Sad to say that didn’t happen. Actually I found the story to be worse overall because there was far too much going on. I wasn’t even sure what the anime was trying to convey. At one point they are talking about how depression is bad, then another how it is good to feel pain. The transition between the separate worlds wasn’t smooth and left me wondering what the point of the entire series was. In the end I appreciated it strictly for the magnificent CG and soundtrack. The story and characters just made me angry if anything else.
BRS has some of the best CG and animation quality I’ve seen. I would say in terms of enjoyment it was right there with Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari. Of course the highlights were the action scenes where it was clear production spent quite a bit of time getting every detail accounted for. It really sucked me into the world watching the “others” fighting to the death. I was surprised how morbid the series got with all the bloodshed, bullet wounds, and insane weaponry. It was some of the best work I have seen. The fights didn’t’ get old either. The ending took place nearly entirely in the alternate world and it pulled out all the stops. It was fluid, dynamic, colorful, epic, and basically any other word you can think of to describe an awesome action scene. Going back to the “real” world of the anime, the animation quality didn’t drop there either. It looks like a standard anime production, but minor details made it unique. The eyes, for example, were slightly tweaked from the normal anime eyes that you see. Tiny details in body movement and lip syncing were also well thought out. The characters moved in a very realistic fashion. I wish I could say the same about their attitudes though.
The problem I had with the series is the horrendous character development. I hated every character in the series. Every. Single. One. They were just a group of whiney middle school kids who didn’t know how to deal with other people. It wasn’t that they were socially inept; the girls just took everything way too seriously. It was as if they couldn’t understand the concept of friendship. Other than Yuu it seemed like everyone was way to involved. I didn’t understand anyone’s reasoning or logic behind their actions. One of the characters, Yomi, is probably the most problematic of them all. Initially Yomi and Mato don’t really know much about each other, but thanks to Mato’s persistence they became friends. Psycho-crazy Kagari decides that Yomi must keep her devote friendship to her alone and tries to break up Mato and Yomi. How? By being freaking crazy. Suddenly something snaps in her mind and she becomes a rather normal person. She let’s Yomi go and everyone seems like it will be all hunky-dory. Wrong. Yomi decided that she needs to now be Mato’s only friend. Because that’s obviously how the world works right? You can’t have more than one friend, that’s ridiculous. So now she turned into this psycho, overbearing, clingy, jealous girlfriend figure and starts freaking everyone else out around her. There was no reason behind that. None whatsoever. The entire series was one train wreck after another. This alternate world they spoke of where their “emotions” fight was complete nonsense. I couldn’t even understand if it was a good thing or a bad thing. One point in the anime they are talking about how it was a good thing someone didn’t have to bear their pain. Later they started talking about how it is wrong to have people fighting for your happiness. I’m not sure if it was the eight episode limit that killed the anime, or the lack of caring on my end to try and understand what was going on. The final episode seemed like it would hold the answers to my questions, but it just ended up with me being more confused. I’m curious as to why I thought the series was going to improve after a couple episodes, because it surely didn’t. I feel most of my enthusiasm to watch BRS came from the action scenes, which the final episode was a blast. It had one of the greatest fight scenes I had ever seen. However, after all the fighting was done and over I realized that I just watched fifteen minutes of eye candy with no resolve.
The music on a similar note to the artwork was phenomenal. They had some of the best matchups with beautiful pianos to hard rock guitars. One of my favorite songs being “Battle of BRS” which most of you probably remember from the OVA. The opening was also a great listen because I’m a fan of Miku and Supercell, as I’m sure many others are. The final episode had music playing nearly the entire time, which I felt was one of the main attractions to the series. The soundtrack added a lot to the series and fit perfectly with the intense action or melancholic scenes. I’m probably going to try and snag a copy of the OST if I can.
Final statements: Even though I praise the art and soundtrack I absolutely couldn’t stand the characters or the story. I had zero interest in what was going on in their pre-teen, drama-filled lives. It is obvious that the anime had a message; I just can’t figure that message out. I found the story to be poorly constructed and the characters unlikable. Eight episodes I feel that should be an avoid watch but worth picking up the OST and fan art.