Saturday, April 7, 2012
A lot of people liked Black Rock Shooter's ending. I didn't, just to be up front. I liked its first seven episodes, but episode eight closed the show with a fizzle instead of a bang, leaving me without strong feelings about BRS as a whole for better or for worse.
Black Rock Shooter is, from its first arc, about the danger of avoiding- or not properly confronting- reality. BRS's protagonist, a middle schooler named Mato, has to help her new friend Yomi stand up to her abusive childhood friend Kagari, who has constructed an insulated reality of her choosing to make Yomi take care of her.
In a fantastical alternate dimension, Kagari's alter ego Chariot tries to kill Mato's alter ego, Black Rock Shooter. Mato herself eventually enters the alternate dimension to restore Yomi's memories of her, which disappear after Yomi's alter ego, Dead Master, dies.
Two of the other beings in the alternate world, Strength and Black Gold Saw, represent Mato's best friend Yuu and Saya the student counselor, respectively. Saya seems like the real villain of the show, since she keeps emotionally manipulating the girls who ask her for help in order to control what happens in the alternate world. Her role is more complicated than that. Episodes six and seven, which explain Yuu and Saya's connection to each other and the alternate world, are the best in the series.
But then came the ending.
As I said above, Black Rock Shooter has a clear point from its opening arc on. It makes that point without feeling overly didactic through episode seven. Episode eight chucks any pretense of subtlety out the window, ties a bib around its audience's neck and spoon-feeds us its message. The resolution to the conflicts that built up until then felt...well, like the writers forced the characters to go where they wanted them to go- like story puppets- rather than let them take the story wherever it may have naturally gone, just to neatly tie things up as they wanted.
Yuri comes in the form of subtext- mainly Mato being blushy and fluttery over Yomi and Yuu good-naturedly teasing her about it. There are other potential ships, but Mato's flutteriness is all that I read into.
Story: B until the final episode. C+