I was looking forward to Black Rock Shooter as I enjoyed the OVA and always enjoy Huke’s fantastically stylized animation. The problem I found with Black Rock Shooter was the fact that the story was as dull as an overused knife and really wasn’t as good as it was trying to be. The problem here is the fact that there are eight episodes with which to build characters that I care about, but I never do care about them. So from the start it’s a tear-fest where I feel that I should relate to the characters, but can’t because I don’t know them. And I felt that way throughout the entire series. On top of that, the supposedly “adult” metaphors weren’t that adult. There were two main metaphors, the bird that takes on all the colors, and the world of Black Rock Shooter itself. Both were rather basic metaphors for emotions, and neither were at all adult. You didn’t have to truly think about what the chains around Dead Master meant, or the heart they connected to. It’s pretty simple.
The story, I’m just going to say it bluntly, sucks. Mato wants to be friends with Yomi but can’t because Yomi’s best friend, Kagari, has her in chains essentially. Everything Kagari wants, she gets, because Yomi feels bad about her getting hit by a car as a child. Kagari thinks that Mato will take Yomi away, so treats her like crap. It’s an unbelievable relationship made even more so by the metaphoric fight that takes place between Mato and Kagari so Yomi will be free. When Kagari is defeated, she forgets everything and seems to act like a normal person. After that, it just gets worse. A girl gets made fun of because she confessed to a guy, the school counselor turns out to have been best friends with Yuu as a child. Yuu hated the real world so much she and her “soul” (her personality in Black Rock Shooter’s world) switched places. It’s a convoluted mess of emotions and nonsensical plot twists that just don’t work well. Maybe you have to watch it twice to get the full impact, but this is a review based on my first time watching it.
And I shouldn’t have to watch it again. And I don’t think it’s because I missed something that I came out of BRS feeling like a lost kitten. I think it’s the sheer convolutedness of the show. It tries to be an emotional masterpiece, but is instead a fairly nonsensical, and kind of dumb anime. And it’s not dumb because I didn’t get it, it’s dumb because of the things that do make sense. Switching with your soul because you’re scared of the real world? Staying confined to your house and not being allowed to have any friends because of a crazy bitch in a wheelchair you feel bad for despite she’s a faker?
I enjoyed the Black Rock Shooter sections because of their action and unique artistry, but otherwise, the story wasn’t that great. It wasn’t smart, it wasn’t adult, if anything it seemed to be aimed at angsty teenagers, especially the bullying parts. Otherwise, I can’t commend the story. I’m sorry to people who did enjoy it and may have understood it, but it was too damn convoluted and the fact that I had to deal with characters crying every ten seconds didn’t really make me all that happy. I might have cared, as I said, if the characters had been built up, but they were never given time to develop and give you a reason to care for them. BRS wants you to feel emotions and be moved by what is happening, and it seems to kind of hinge on that fact. Too bad I can’t be emotionally attached to such cardboard, unexciting characters.
Such as Mato, who is made to sound like a robot because she doesn’t display emotions. When she does, you don’t care. It’s funny really that her alternate personality, Black Rock Shooter, seems to have more character than she does. Oh sure, she plays basketball and makes friends and does some normal stuff, but the emotional connection you are expected to have with her is never established, so the second half of the series especially is ruined by that very fact.
The girl she tries to be friends with, Yomi, isn’t much better. She’s as uninteresting as watching paint dry (it’s funny because she’s in the art club). She’s being manipulated by a girl she knows is faking the fact she can’t use her legs and for what, because she feels bad about something that happened years before? Yomi has a heart stitched into her chest by the bitch, and yet she puts up with her crap? Oh sure, Kagari threatens to kill herself, but would you really care if she died? Even if you were in that situation I am certain that you would be happy she was dead, so that you could make new friends and be free of those shackles? The shackles are cut, but then Yomi goes crazy thinking Kagari is popular and she doesn’t have Kagari and…
…convoluted emotions of teenage girls. Either that, or terrible writing. I still can’t decide.
I did enjoy early Kagari. She was crazy, she was a bitch. Watching her push Mato away was hilarious. “You get all the dirty colored macaroons.” She was the only character with any sort of effective emotions, at least, until she changed and became a goody-goody.
As I said before, the animation is perhaps the best part of the entire series. Well, half of the animation. The real world portion was not the greatest looking thing, but Black Rock Shooter’s world was gorgeous and the fight scenes were spectacular. Black Rock Shooter and Black Gold Saw, as well as the others, were very distinct and awesome in appearance.
Protecting your friends, carrying emotions, finding the color and happiness in the world. These are lessons to be learned from Black Rock Shooter, and they are conveyed, but not as well as they could have been. I don’t know whether the series should have been longer, or it should have focused on Yuu and Strength more so than the others. I can’t really constructively criticize how the show could have been better.
Convoluted, sometimes exciting, sometimes dull and emotionally challenged, Black Rock Shooter is not as bad as I make it out to be, it has its moments where it does shine, but it is otherwise a pretty basic specimen. It’s safe to say that BRS is decent, but it is in no way something you’ll remember or want to watch again and again. And if that is the case, it’s more than likely to watch the other-reality portions rather than the waterfall of tears in the real world.