Saturday, April 7, 2012

Anime Review: Black Rock Shooter TV Series

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+
Art: B
Overall: C+


A Day Without Me said...

Oh, bummer, I'm enjoying it, disappointing to hear that the end isn't any good.

Katherine Hanson said...

@A Day Without Me- A number of people liked the ending, but...yeah, I thought it was pretty "meh."

Steven said...

I suppose it's telling when the only things I can remember about the last episode are Yomi's frantic searching for Mato and their embrace at the very end.

Still, I enjoyed the series overall despite a lackluster final episode, especially Yuu's ribbing Mato about Mato's feelings towards Yomi.

Katherine Hanson said...

@Steven- Yuu's ribbing Mato about Mato's feelings towards Yomi
That was one of my favorite parts of the series also. :-)

Rincewind said...

Well, I liked the end. The MasterSpark was nice. :P

Sure, It could have been better, with, lets say, a kiss between Mato and Yomi.

Katherine Hanson said...

@Rincewind- It could have been better, with, lets say, a kiss between Mato and Yomi.

On that, I agree with you. :-)

Anonymous said...

With all honesty... The very 1st (OVA), which was actually supposed to be a music video of the song "Black Rock Shooter", but it blew up as a Japanese animation sensation, I find to be 20 times better than the series.

1.)The style of animation, way too stiff! I mean CGI... is cool and all for video games, but when it comes to the action scenes in this series REALLY felt like I was watching wooden puppets duke it out on some twisted Pinocchio's Mortal Kombat.

2.) I agree, the ending did bite tons of wind freshly polluted with several bowel movements.