Black Rock Shooter (BRS) began as a Vocaloid song, where Miku’s uniform was inspired by some illustrations made by a guy named Huke. An OVA was created in 2010 based on that song/illustration combo, which received a ridiculously huge hype by all the Vocaloid fans. Not a surprise since it was after all a fan catering title. Two years later (2012) NoitanimA decided to take this title in its timeslot and to expand it further, thus creating the current version, which lasts 8 episodes. Weird number I must say since all its shows last 11 to 22 episodes. On the other hand it’s not like it deserved 11 or more; the theme is pretty simple in terms of plot and the pacing is deliberately slow just to manage filling it with something.
Both animation and directing are done by newcomers in the field. This is Studio Ordet’s first main animation project and if the girl designs remind you of K-On, this is not a surprise if you know the staff is actually ex Kyoto Animation employees.
The story of BRS is nothing much; it is just about a bunch of schoolgirls going through an emotional maelstrom, caused by jealousy. The heroine Mato is looking for friends in her new school (yeah, we can’t have schools without transfer students) and manages to befriend another girl named Yomi. This causes the other girls who were friends with to feel betrayed for loosing the full attention. It sounds silly but it makes sense if you think they are spoiled teenagers who have no control over their hormones and where the slightest event can make them angry or sad.
The above is what we see half the time, as the other half is something completely different in presentation altogether. While we watch the simple everyday lives of some normal girls, the plot will be going back and forth to an alternative reality, where we see them dressed in weird gothic clothes and fighting each other with very fantasy-themed ways. This alternative world is a hellish place which is supposed to symbolize their mentality. Chaotic, dark, depressing, violent, dangerous. And them fighting is supposed to symbolize their emotions and their friendship being challenged because of jealousy. These parts are practically non-stop action with all sorts of over-the-top weapons and it looks like a fantasy videogame. It is very eye-catchy thanks to its weird imagery and fast paced action, and makes a complete contrast to the rest of the normal scenes.
And that is basically the main attraction and lure of this show. Watching some girls having an everyday emotional conflict, made to look in their minds like it’s an all-out war in that other world. I must say this symbolic conflict is quite interesting in terms of character immersion and it hasn’t been used much in anime as of yet. There is for example Real Drive doing something similar but it was very unimpressive in terms of excitement. There are also many fantasy anime where demons turn people to monsters that represent their negative feelings; with the most famous examples being the witches’ mazes in Madoka Magica and the tv shows in the Persona 4 game/anime. So in terms of allegory it is quite fascinating to have an entire world being the projection of one’s mentality. Sorta like those weird Picasso/Van Gogh paintings that are supposed to be symbolizing something.
Despite all this artistic value though, have no illusions of what the core purpose of the franchise is all about. It is still nothing more than a fan catering work that promotes the song/illustrations and intends to sell a lot to the Vocaloid fans, or anyone else who is into fighting lolis.
"Oh my God! She has a flat chest, a big gun and blue flame comes out of her eye; this is SO COOL; I must buy everything with her face on!"
Of course I could say the same about any other anime or movie ever made (Gundam plamos anyone?) but in this case it is done in a too obvious way and aside from the fighting and the visual flavouring there is absolutely nothing complicating about it. It is just a simplistic concept presented in an extravagant way. Yes, it is art, but it caters too much on a specific type of audience instead of being the pure thoughts of its makers; thus turns sour from a point on. I really don’t care much about girls getting all emo and insane just because some other students don’t want to be friends with them. As cool as it sounds on paper, the show overdoes the whole insanity thing to crazy high levels and you are just not that attached to it after awhile.
Other than that, I was actually pleased they remade the whole thing; since the OVA hardly explained anything that is going on, such as why Yomi disappeared or how did Mato find her later on. When the explanations came though, it all felt like random nonsense and I guess it was silly for me to expect some good reasoning from a fan catering loli show.
So these alternative girls are some sort of magical mental defence. They fight the cause of their grief (usually another girl) and the one who loses makes the problem to disappear. That is, people simply forget it like it never existed. Contrived and messy but that is what they came up with. It kinda reminded me of that Fade to Black Bleach movie, which was equally stupid. The ending is also quite a cop-out, with the girls all naked and crying and saying “We must embrace the pain and keep going.” Yeah, ok, did we really need 8 episodes of this mess just for that obvious line? When did we even see the girls trying to run away from the pain and thus excusing all this mess? It was nicely presented in Neon Genesis but here it just came out of nowhere and was resolved in a dull way.
So once again it is proven how NoitanimA sucks hard in sci-fi shows (Fractale, C, No.6, Guilty Crown) and does wonders with slice-of-life or light fantasy (Tatami Galaxy, Kuuchu Buranko, Usagi Drop) so they better learn from their mistakes and just give up on trying to make supernatural, action, or science fiction anime. They just can’t do it right.
And now a warning for all those of you who have watched the older OVA. Be aware that the production values in the series are worse. The girls in the normal world are drawn in a more simplistic way, while the girls in the fantasy world are now made with computers and have a hell of a lot more armour and fancy accessories on them. Makes you wonder how the hell they even move in those things. The battle scenes also lack the cool fluent fighting choreographies of the OVA and now just seem like a loose line of random special attacks using familiar monsters and trashing the sceneries. It feels far more artificial and distant. And I guess not explaining anything was better than giving this ridiculous reasoning; thus the OVA was better.
So in all it is a somewhat different watch but definitely eons away from being great. Not recommended for any other reason that watching lolis fighting in an extravagant pretentious fantasy way.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 9/10
General Artwork 1/2 (well-made but feels artificial and cold after awhile)
Character Figures 2/2 (generic moeblobs and cool fighting lolis)
Backgrounds 2/2 (hellish in that fantasy world)
Animation 2/2 (very good during the fights)
Visual Effects 2/2 (bizarre during the fights)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (slow)
Complexity 1/2 (seems complicating at first but it ain’t much after awhile)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 4/10
Historical Value 1/3 (meh only the Vocaloid fans care about it)
Rewatchability 0/3 (too boring to deserve a second view)
Memorability 3/4 (interesting presentation)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 2/10
Starts in an interesting way but towards the end it becomes a pretentious pile of emo nonsense.
I heard about this anime from an AMV I watched, and the first two episodes were really cute. Then the third episode got a little strange, but I continued watching anyway. It was worth it. I'm in tears, as I just finished the last episode. If you like deep psycgologal stories, this is for you. It has deep meaning, and it's beautiful.
I didn't go into this anime knowing it was related to vocaloids, but I did recognize them in the theme song and think it was pretty annoying. I'm just not a big vocaloid fan. Anyway.
The first episode or two made me think that I might enjoy this series, the artwork reminded me of Madoka Magica (which I somewhat liked, but wasnt nuts about like some people) but the story at the beginning seemed more realistic, like some psycological middle school dependant relationship drama with some characters who seemed at first hard to figure out.
But then there was these random non sensical fighting scenes with these crazy looking women in skimpy outfits with huge guns fighting random shit at seemingly random times. Gonna be honest I mostly ignored these since they were boring and didn't make sense and waited to get to the story.
But in the end the story ended up being a dissapointment and fizzling into weird "alternate self" sci fi crap that barely made sense. I like anime about supernatural things, scifi, and fantasy. But It needs to be somewhat more coherant than what this show was trying to present.
This reveiw is purposely vague so there isn't any spoilers. I found this anime annoying, and dissapointing because at first I thought it was nice to look at and could have a good story and be different from all these anime lately trying to have some crazy barely tangible twist to them.
I wanted it to be over by ep 5/6.
Black Rock Shooter Review:
Just because a form of art is considered good just because of the medium it is in, it doesn’t mean THAT IT IS AN AUTOMTIC SUCCESS IN ANOTHER MEDIUM! Or at least, critically. The thing about Vocaloid is that the stories they tell are kind of hard to fit into an anime, prime example being Mekaku City Actors. But MCA isn’t the only franchise that has gone into the actual anime medium itself, the other notable example being Black Rock Shooter! While MCA was good but definitely had flaws, this show is bad but definitely has flaws! But why? Let’s find out in this review of Black Rock Shooter!
Black Rock Shooter is an 8 episode anime which was a collaboration done by Studio Ordet and Sanzigen back in 2012. It was originally a character created by “Huke” that was inspiration for a Vocaloid song sung by Hatsune Miku. Since then, it spawned an OVA in 2010 (which I won’t be talking about since I barely remember it and is vastly different from the anime), mangas, and games.
This anime is rated TV-14 for violence and heavily dark themes. Viewer discretion is advised.
Probably one of the main reasons I would give an anime 5+ out of 10 is two words: wasted potential. Black Rock Shooter is no exception. And this is probably one of the most psychological and deepest of plots I’ve ever heard! So the story is about a girl named Mato, a typical high school girl. She decides to become friends with Yomi, a very shy and quiet girl in her class. After befriending her, everything turns to hell. Everything as simple as befriending someone or falling love with someone becomes nothing but a huge physiological and emotional battle in another world, where another version of you has to fight off all the emotions you have been “attacked” with.
Black Rock Shooter for me goes the Sword Art Online root where it’s amazing at first but then it turns out that it’s actually pretty bad. The only difference is that Black Rock Shooter is trying and succeeding in what it’s doing but because of the story being extremely over dramatic that it’s very hard to enjoy. I can understand why it has to be overdramatic or else this plot would never exist, but why overdramatize such simple things? I’m not gonna spoil anything for you, I’m just saying that I wished this anime focused on even more traumatic experiences like murder and drugs so the overdramatic tone of the show could be more fitting. Though it isn’t that the things that happen to the characters in this anime are not traumatic; it’s just that it’s not something that should be taken very seriously in a psychological way…never mind I’m just confusing you and myself. MOVING ON!
If you came to watch Black Rock Shooter because of the obvious long pigtailed badass then I’m going to say turn back right now. Though Black Rock Shooter is there and very significant she is not the entire focus of the show. But the thing is, it should be! Every other character in this anime is either bland, doesn’t get enough screen time, or is just a plain asshole. The only character I can tolerate or even like is Yomi due to her being very relatable and sympathetic. Mato, our main protagonist is just a bland girl worrying a little too much about herself and her friends. Everyone else I won’t spoil, but I still have holy water and a cross prepared in case Saya comes walking into my house (you’ll find out who that asshole is later).
Not much else to say: bland, doesn’t get enough screen time, or an asshole. 8 epsiodes definitely wasn't enough as far as character developemnt is concerned.
Now the animation for Black Rock Shooter is a little more interesting to talk about. If it wasn’t for the other world plot and all that, I would give the score a 5 which is average. It’s solid, fluid, but a bit bland in colors and quality. As for the animation in the other world... it’s definitely interesting. I can’t tell if the animation for it is mediocre because it heavily uses CGI or if it is so good that it’s animated so well it looks like CGI. But either way, it does make the score a little above average!
And my guess is that the only song you pretty much heard of from this anime is the opening theme. While good, it’s not anything utterly spectacular. The music of this show is nothing but slightly fitting but nothing extremely noteworthy. One thing though: the ending theme is overrated. I’m sorry, I don’t like! It’s just so unappealing to my ears for some reason, and I don’t know why!
Don’t watch Black Rock Shooter just because it has something “slightly” to do with Vocaloid. I love Vocaloid, but not this. It had so much great potential ad I tried my damn hardest to like it! But alas, the wasted potential simply killed it. Should there have been more eps. I don't know it would fix every problem but at least a couple more, like 12 or 13.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch some Madoka Magica recap movies to calm myself down.
Next Review: Angel Beats
(If you have any questions or corrections on Black Rock Shooter, contact me! :D)
Black Rock Shooter (TV) is supposed to be a melodramatic slice of life with some rather strange action elements tossed in, but those (interesting) action elements really mutilated this already broken mess of an anime.
Black Rock Shooter is about an average middle school-girl named Mato Kuroi, (What is it with the main character being average) who meets a less average middle school-girl named Yomi Takanashi, and they eventually become friends... Then I guess a bunch of other stuff happens, and confusing stuff happens along the way, too.
The story of Black Rock Shooter is really confusing, and generally uninteresting. You get a bunch of characters that get little screentime, then never get shown/mentioned again.
Oh, and don't get me started on the action scenes, while the action scenes are really cool and are supposed to have a part in the story, the series would have been better if they, didn't exist. About 1/3 of the series is this action scene in this desolate world, and all that time could be used to develop the characters. Also, it keeps clipping the actual story by throwing the action scenes in, so every single time the action scenes pop up, your all like "No! Go back to the average slice of life stuff!" Then once it goes back you're more like "I don't even care anymore.
This is 1/3 of Black Rock Shooter, I wonder what is with the whole Ao no Excorsist eye.
Overall, the story is rather dull and forgettable, (I had to look at a wiki to remember what happened) and the action scenes give a lot more trouble than bliss.
This is where Black Rock Shooter stands out, easily. The animation is actually really good for a mini-series, and quite possibly some of the best CG in an anime for a long time. The shadows and lighting are very good, although they really only use it for "super dramatic scenes." The backgrounds are also very well drawn too.
As you can see here, the lighting and background is very superb.
It mildly falls back because (some) character models are strange, I would say that the weird fighting world has good character models, but the real-world characters look kind of uninteresting. The animation is still very solid and picture-esque.
Well, there isn't much to say about sound, the sound isn't that great in general, but it's not horrible. About half the action-sequences are either ambient, or have no sound at all.
And... that's it. Nothing more or less to say about sound.
While at first it seems these characters have great potential, it falls flat about halfway through. Like I said about story earlier, they place a small drop of emphasis among a few characters, then drop that character entirely and you never see that character again.
Yomi doesn't seem too excited about this show's characters either.
Back to the action scenes, these characters are supposedly connected to the other characters (mildly hinted by their appearance) but they have no similar qualities. While in one world, the character is nice and all, the other could be violently hanging a girl, (There is only one boy character in the entire series, Mato's brother) which is really subtle, don't you think? While some characters get no attention, a select few get too much attention, they're small characters that aren't supposed to contribute much to the story, but are given much more screentime than they need, not even for expansion, just, being the same. The characters are generally about as uninteresting as the story.
Black Rock Shooter is an attempt to revive a rather mediocre OVA, but actually does even worse in the process. This show is trying to do so many things in so little time, when it is absolutely impossible to flesh out everything at least hinted at in the mere 8 episodes it is given. While some of it's ideas are rather cool (like the other world) and the animation is spectacular, everything else dims the light of this anime
Black Rock Shooter gets a 4.8/10