After watching Episode 5 of BRS, we see the toll that the recent spate of events has taken on Yomi’s well-being. We watch her gradual descent into madness, with bracelets strung with her own hair and her obsession with cutting everything in her room up. We find out the ending to the story of the bird with the rainbow-coloured wings; how it eventually becomes black, dull and dies. We even see Saya trying to kill Mato in the most literal sense. Surely, this show must have entered the realm of psychological anime right?
No doubts about that. But is it a good anime?
For one, it is seen that they have been trying to push for the whole ‘psyche-battle’ theory I was rambling about in my previous post. Yuu straight out tells Mato this. Yuu even knows her dreamworld identity and presumably kisses her to make the two halves combine. How that makes sense I can’t begin to imagine, but it’s a lesbian kiss scene, so let’s just roll with it. Then we cut to Black Rock Shooter pulling her katana out from Dead Master’s torso, as she seems to go insane.
At first glance this anime seems to be running along the line of shows like Serial Experiments Lain in that it heavily emphasises the perpetual question of existence and the impact of emotions on our behaviour. We see society in a negative light. The first arc had Kagari obsessively ‘hoarding’ Yomi to herself, her psychological problem preventing her from walking. As a person who was utterly devoted to her for ages, and afraid of her, Yomi was the one to help her recover and introduce her to school. All of this, which later made Kagari’s about-face rejection of Yomi all the more surprising, and thus her descent into madness begins. And we see how Mato, this innocent girl who just wanted to help, was at the centre of all this madness – for urging Yomi to free herself, for behaving the way she did to Yomi. The worse thing was that she didn’t know any of this at all – was this why we probably get to watch Insane Black Rock Shooter next week?Probably.
So we finally see the show clearly: all of the scenes make sense. To save someone from their grief and free them from their pseudo-shackles, you must kill them. This is the premise set by the show: it is completely different from the OVA, the game and the manga, Innocent Souls which portrays BRS as a shinigami-like character. So now that it makes some semblance of logic and sense, is the show any better?
For one, the way they revealed everything seemed a bit rushed to me. It was just like Angel Beats- a sudden inclusion.For instance, I found it to be highly unlikely that what was presumably a children’s picture book had such a depressing and shattering ending, one that ‘fans of the book’ like Yomi and Matoi seemed to be completely unaware about. It’s like they just wanted to shout at us, “YES! THIS WAS WHAT WE MEANT TO SAY ALL THIS WHILE. IT WAS NO COINCIDENCE, IT WAS MEANT TO BE LIKE THIS. THE ENDING IS BLEAK.”
The dreamworld still makes little sense to me. I understand that as a work of fiction we should give it some creative space, but the reveal makes no sense. If it was a dreamworld they were unaware of, why do only these girls have other selves? Why do they fight? What determines how they look? (Saya vs BGS). And how is Yuu even aware of any of this? How does Mato even combine with BRS at all, if they’re both in different dimensions?
No doubt, I like the concept of existential crises as it is portrayed in the anime. Surely it’s something teenagers have considered at least once. Why do we exist? To live? To suffer? As the buddhist teachings say, to live is suffering, right? Yomi breaks down after Kagari, such a great pillar of her life, coldly rejected her despite all that she did. Kagari breaks down in a similar fashion. And now we see Mato, who seems to be unable to grasp any of this new information that was being thrust on her. Yet all these psychological concepts, all this drama and emotion, takes a vague form. As they say, in literature, the author is dead. But do we simply paint any meaning we desire onto the show? It’s a vague collection of scattered thoughts and threads of psychological questions and angst. Do we simply decide for ourselves how the show should be? Maybe not.
This is exactly what makes it hard to rate BRS. On the one hand, it has a horribly scattered plot-line and a bizarre sense of logic. The characters seem to be weird as well. Yet on the other hand one could always argue that this was the point, that all of this was to illustrate the futility of life (bird dying; yomi being the ‘little bird’), this angst the characters face and the emotions that plague them all.
SO is BRS even good or bad? I’m afraid I can only answer that in April.