The "Black Rock Shooter" OVA is a very love-it-or-hate-it type anime. It has completely mixed reviews, many lovers and an equal number of haters. It's, all in all, an anime that simply demands to be reviewed.
Story: The story is a difficult one to explain. The hyperactive Kuroi Mato meets an interesting girl at her school. Her name is Takanashi Yomi, and she calm and composed yet beautiful and poised. Her graceful presence is in stark contrast to the loud Mato. At the same time, in an alternate universe, a young woman by the name of Black Rock Shooter is fighting the axe-wielding Dead Master. These two very different scenarios intertwine into an odd experience which raises the philosophical questionings of inner demons and battles.
Animation: Like the anime itself, the art is viewed differently by each person who sees it. In the world not unlike our own, the one in which Mato and Yomi reside, the artwork is done with a light, minimalist touch. The color palate consists of whites and light grays, with almost no dark colors. The characters of this world are the same; their designs simple and not particularly unique. In Black Rock Shooter's gothic world, fallen columns and moody skies create images of post-apocalyptic lands. The hellish backgrounds are complemented by the soulless eyes of its inhabitants. Black Rock Shooter wanders the grounds as panoramic shots allow the viewer to watch, awestruck, as gorgeous artwork fills the screen. Of course, this is an acquired taste. Some people may dislike the stylized art, while others find it breathtaking.
The animation is quite good, but through most of Mato's world, it's never any more than that. However, during the fights between Black Rock Shooter and the other women of that world, the true beauty of this animation comes to life. Some of the best action of any anime is shown here, with the surreal abilities of the characters and perfect buildings making for excellent long-distance shots and close hand-to-hand combat.
Sound: The music played during the scenes is good, but not very memorable. The voice acting does deserve a mention, though. Hanazawa Kana brings a chipper, girly voice to Mato and a melancholy voice to Black Rock Shooter. Both voices are fitting, but Black Rock Shooter solemn says a word. Sawashiro Miyuki's dead-on portrayal of the elegant and slightly gloomy Yomi brings another level of depth to her character. Dead Master never once speaks, as Black Rock Shooter's world is silent and dreary.
Characters: There is a very small cast of characters in this anime, and the only main ones have already been mentioned. Black Rock Shooter is a rather confusing character because, for most of the episode, she is either walking or fighting. Only in her final battle with Dead Master and her meeting with Mato do we discover that she is so caring of others. Mato seems a little obsessed with Yomi, but shows how much she truly loves Yomi by the end. Yomi, on the other hand, starts off simply viewing Mato as a kind girl to whom she is a friend. When the two are distanced, the line between her and the evil Dead Master is blurred. The only other character worth a mention is Kotari Yuu, the manager of the basketball team on which Mato plays. She is the most relatable character because she is willing to do anything to stay with her friend--even if it means destroying the budding relationship between her friend and another girl. And that is the problem with "Black Rock Shooter." Its characters are not very relatable and there is no true development, it is actually that we find out more about the characters.
Overall: "Black Rock Shooter" is not a masterpiece, but it is a feast for the eyes worthy of a watch. Unfortunately, it ends with a cliffhanger and has a few more major issues, but the pure beauty of the OVA is a wonder in itself.