I was not sure what to expect when I started watching Black Rock Shooter. I knew it had a decent following as far as artork went and I was familiar with the song bearing the same name. However, after watching for 50 minutes, I decided it fell somewhere between mediocrity and art.
While the first long while of the animation may leave some a little alienated (I came to see action, not slice of life!) I found it quite nice. The relationship between the two protagonists was quite well done, albeit a bit shallow. As we continue to witness their characters develop (at a snail's pace), we are greeted by some other scenes with dark, chilling atmospheres. This was what I was expecting: quick paced, jolty action scenes with blows and shots flying left to right. Hoorah! These scenes of undeniably awesome fighting and landscapes are suddenly and rather unfortunately interrupted with the lives of our two schoolgirl heroes. It was almost as if a switch was being switched on and off at random: "macabre" - "school girls" - "macabre" - "school girls" - so on and so forth.
Although both halves are nicely done, there are two overarching issues I had with BRS:
1. It's not slice of life, it's not action. If you are a fan of only one of these, then you'll find yourself bored for one half and mildly entertained for the other.
2. The animation, while exceedingly eyepopping at times, is faultily done in general. Whenever there is a fight scene, the movements are fluid and well drawn. Whenever there is not a fight scene, the animation becomes drastically worse. Half drawn characters, awkwardly drawn lines, and overly jumpy movements are noticeable for a good 3/4 of the film.
Despite these criticisms, I found myself enjoying both parts of Black Rock Shooter. The main character was easy to relate to, and even the somewhat distant best friend was quite nicely done. The voice acting and music were most likely the saving grace for BRS. Both main characters were noticeably well voiced, one energetic and boyish and the other slightly quieter and introspective. The BGM for the scenes in the "alternate world" fit in nicely along with the choreography, ultimately crafting pleasing aesthetics for the film.
Ultimately, I must recommend Black Rock Shooter despite its shortcomings and issues.
(first review, please be gentle!)