For once, I’ll review something that has just finished airing. I feel that I just have to write about this whole experience to get it off my chest. This time, I will be talking about one of winter 2012’s noitaminA offerings, Black★Rock Shooter.
The anime was spawned from the Black★Rock Shooter music video by Supercell, which was inspired by Huke’s post-apocalyptic character designs. Not long after that, the franchise just kept getting bigger and bigger. Figurines were made, fan works were circulated and eventually, an OVA was created. Riding the popularity of the franchise, a TV anime by studio Ordet was soon announced.
The story revolves around the existence of “another world” where it is said that there exists someone to take your pain and suffering so you don’t have to deal with it. These girls from the other world would spend all of their lives fighting each other to the death to accomplish this goal. Mato is an ordinary high school girl who was about to find out about her counterpart in the other world – Black★Rock Shooter.
I’ll get straight to the point. Black★Rock Shooter would be the last time that I will ever watch anything with the name Mari Okada in it. I should have learned my lesson with the pile of nonsense Fractale, but nooooo! I JUST HAD to watch this until the end.
Okay, I admit, not all of it was bad. For starters, the use of CGI in this anime was superb. I mean, really. I think BRS established a new standard in me when looking at CGI in anime. The fight scenes were well-made, and the level of violence put in here is nothing to laugh at. BUT, I’m afraid everything else just felt… ridiculous and pretentious.
I think Mari Okada has a tendency to place unusually large values on topics that don’t really matter and focuses the attention of her writing into creating some of the most angsty anime to ever grace television screens. Fractale had a lot of this that I won’t even bother pointing out. Ano Hana spent too time showing that the character’s couldn’t move on from Menma’s death, as well as OMG IT’S SO SAD LET’S ALL CRY scene from its eleventh episode. BRS had all of this unjustified insanity, characters whose actions don’t make sense, and yes, one of my most hated things about anime, glorifying trivial subjects.
As I said, BRS used insanity very poorly. It’s like asking a fifth grader to write how he thinks insane people act. It’s unnerving, but not quite believable. Let’s take for example Kagari’s behavior. Okay, fine, she was creepy and all that, but I just couldn’t shake off the feeling that there’s something amiss. She felt less like a disturbed person and more like someone feigning insanity to get away with a crime. The same can be said about everyone else.
The characters’ actions do not make sense. Why would Yomi’s mother tolerate Kagari’s outrageous behavior toward her own daughter? Why would Saya torture students who weren’t even involved with her problem (Kohata)? How did they know for certain that Mato was BRS, Yomi was DM or Kagari was Chariot? A lot of other questions remain. This is like Fractale all over again.
As with Ano Hana, I had a lot of trouble trying to sympathize with the events of the story. In the end, the anime ended up being about saving Yuu from the other world. That much is clear. My only problem with this is that the way they did it was so bad. It felt empty. I couldn’t really describe it, but I was so frustrated while I was watching the final episode that I even considered dropping it then and there. It’s the same feeling that I had with Ano Hana. I just don’t like it, and I won’t bother trying to find out why.
All in all, I think Black Rock Shooter could have been much, much more. All of the flaws I have pointed out can all be traced back to the writing. If this show had a different writer, I think a lot of the problems with this show would not be as frustrating as they had become. Sure, the angst will still be all over the place, but at least it won’t be Mari Okada Angst. I give Black Rock Shooter TV my personal MAL rating of 5, which should have been a 3 if it wasn’t for the cool CGI.
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