With every season, comes at least one anime which seems as though it’s trying to become thought-provoking, with some doing so rather successfully: Puella Magi Madoka Magica, for instance, turning the Mahou Shoujo trope on its end. The blogosphere is now abuzz with discussions on Ordet’s latest 8-episode offering, Black Rock Shooter. Will BRS live up to its initial hype, or will it just burn out?
For starters, we see the same style of plot digression as the original OVA itself: fantasy world battles and undying characters duking it out with ridiculous weaponry (GIGANTIC MACAROOOOOOONS) interspersed with shots of random slice-of-life scenes, this time with 100% more drama and 200% more creepy obsession. Yet as much as it seems to be all hinting at some greater picture, like a gigantic, Sixth-Sensesque plot twist at the end, to me, it all suffers from the same problem which plagued the OVA: what exactly is going on?
Perhaps it’s just me, but the OVA and TV series seem to be hinting at the same kind of relationship between the girls and the other selves: their fights, arguably a metaphor for the conflicts they face in real life: death, the answer. We see Yomi’s epiphany represented by the shattering of the great stone heart she was chained to, and Kagari’s beheading arguably a metaphor for her relenting. Yet as we follow this supposed train of thought, we see that it doesn’t fit: how is Saya Black Gold Saw? How does she seem to know the identities of everyone else, and how is Kohachi involved in all of this?
If I wanted to apply my Literature Student Goggles (TM) , I could saw that Saya’s legion of marionettes/homunculi are her students, taken under her wing. We see her counselling Kohachi, and feeling pain for her, like she was her own daughter. And then I realize that even this explanation wouldn’t make any sense because Mato does, what was it again? Oh right – kills her.
So Saya seems as though she has some grand scheme in mind, given her other self stopping BRS and Dead Master from ‘saving’ Chariot, but it still makes no sense to assume that they share the same thoughts. It’s as though the characters are really just their sycee and mind – but that makes even less sense than the previous theory. As such, we make plenty of theories on what goes on – because we simply don’t understand it. What is Black Gold Saw doing? Why is BRS fighting? How are the characters linked? Will we ever know? I doubt it.
The thing I have with BRS is that it seems to be a pile of grand ideas: heavy symbolism doesn’t flow into the next piece of symbolism, but rather, replaces it. It crashes incessantly upon the previous one. There isn’t a logical flow to take, to the point where all of it seems arbitrary and random. Like there is no meaning behind anything in the show. In the OVA, we see that the girls’ other selves seem to represent their sycee: they are affected in real life, the same happens to their other selves. But there isn’t much reason behind anything in the series.
For instance, why is BRS fighting? We see her exploring, going about from place to place and pretty much picking fights with everything, like a sexy drunken brawler with a huge ass gun. There are so many questions, yet we can’t really answer with certainty whether they are on purpose, like thought-provoking questions or philosophical ones, or merely gigantic plot holes made in the name of ‘art’.All in all, BRS seems to try and fill itself with all sorts of drama and symbolism. The symbol of the bird and the allusion to Yomi’s name ; the idea of fighting in the other world, like conflicts in the mind – all of these couldn’t possibly have been accidental. Yet BRS still comes across as one of those shows which just tries to be full of mindfuck, just because. It reaches the point where there is little coherence or logic behind the premise itself, much less the other themes of the show. Will BRS ever fill the big shoes PMMM left behind? Will BRS even become one of the better shows of 2012? Only time will tell.