Black Rock Shooter – 02 Review

It’s great that the only sense of humour we get to see in this show is Kagari’s. Because an animal being eaten alive by ants is just the kind of thing the whole audience can laugh about alongside Kagari, right?

Black Rock Shooter 02 – It’s Weird To Pity Sick People

It’s great to see a series taking Horror seriously like this one. Kagari is one hell of a character (I’m still thinking of The Exorcist every time she appears on screen). But Saya is just as good. Normally you’d think that when you ask for advice concerning a friendship you’d get to hear about stuff you could actually do. Saya, though, tells Kuroi only mystical vague stuff about “other worlds” and what friendship really means (Summary: It’s even more complicated than you think). Kuroi and Takanashi are so pure and naive on the other hand that it wouldn’t surprise me when it’s revealed that they can walk on water. I do like the imagery of the Apocalyptic Bathroom, I have to admit. In the real world Kuroi screams that Takanashi should break up her ties with Kagari which translates into a scene in the Apocalyptic Bathroom where BRS beheads Kagari. But still the series claims that Kuroi doesn’t hate anyone and doesn’t want to be hated by anyone. Truly amazing how the biggest pacifist of the world could have a “subconscious” that’s all about killing stuff.

Kuroi tries to meet up with Takanashi for a festival but Kagari keeps Takanashi from appearing at the meeting place and also stops her from calling Kuroi. Therefore Kuroi ends up walking home alone while having a very important monologue about why being stood up hurts.
The next day at school Kuroi confronts Takanashi because she’s disappointed that she doesn’t take the chance to become a bird from a children’s book (yeah, really cool metaphor, it’s forced, obvious and completely misplaced in the dialogue). Kuroi runs off to Saya after that who offers her the usual deep advice you’d expect from the Delphi-Oracle, I guess. Understanding the plight of Takanashi Kuroi runs to her house where Takanashi is already crying but now happily runs out of her room to greet Kuroi… but Kagira blocks the way. And since Takanashi isn’t willing to stay in her room Kagari throws herself down the stairs blaming Takanashi for the accident. Ending up at the hospital Kuroi argues with Takanashi’s mother as to how weird the whole thing is with Takanashi taking care of Kagari who got in an accident because of her. Kuroi storms off after the argument to Kagari’s room and starts arguing with them while trying to open the closed door. She nearly succeeds to convince Takanashi to give up on the sick psychopath but…
In the Apocalyptic Bathroom some fighting happens and in the end a mysterious newcomer appears who turns the battle around which leads to a baffling change of mood in the hospital where Kuroi argued with Takanashi and Kagari just moments ago.

Doesn’t that sound a bit egoistical as to how friendship should work? Sounds like being Kuroi’s best friend is a demanding full-time-job.

It takes itself SO serious! So unbelievably serious! All the time there’s this weird tension of making even the most normal thing look like the end of the world. This series just doesn’t know how to restrain itself from becoming ridiculous. It wants to be so dark and brooding but it doesn’t realize what it’s actually talking about. It isn’t bad to have a series that is pretty singular when it comes to its mood and atmosphere but the story itself has to go along with it. You can’t take a story about a snail and expect to fill it with the tension of a race against time. BRS takes the rather normal life and simple issues and exaggerates them in a very unnatural way. I’m ignoring the apocalyptic bathroom for this because even if they have an effect on each other the School-Life-part is the one which should stand on its own because that’s where the real story happens. So you have a normal school-life but this series isn’t aware of that. For starters there’s no humour in this show. It doesn’t need it but in contrast to Madoka Magica where the supernatural and normal were closely linked in this case there’s an obvious line to be drawn between the two. And that means anything relating to the School-life-part should seem normal. But really nothing’s quite normal with the plot of this School-Life-Part. Humour would really help here since it could give the show some necessary self-awareness as to how drastic the difference is between what you and me what call normal and what kind of dramatic tension sets the tone in Kuroi’s and Takanashi’s life.
The story itself is also really weird with the way it’s set up. So you have Takanashi who has to take care of the sickly Kagari. And Kuroi tries to… free her? It certainly leads to bizarre arguments like when Kuroi talks with Takanashi’s mother in the hospital and complains how weird it is that Takanashi is taking care of the sick child who got into an accident because of her. Yeah, because ignoring the plight of a young disabled girl for what you are partially responsible is really weird, right? What is that sick kid thinking limiting Takanashi’s freedom so much? Takanashi should really just ignore her because that’s how you treat sick kids. Don’t pity them, tell them they’re sick and that they should deal with that! Okay, that’s basically what Kuroi is saying. I know that Kagari is one of the scariest bastards on this planet and individually one can understand what Kuroi is talking about. But what she’s saying beyond that seems somehow disturbing to me.

Right, because that will stop Kagari from being a total pychopath…

And the reason why it does that is because characterization is a great problem in this show. BRS wants to be serious all the time and every scene has to revolve around dramatic lines full of tension and sappy sentimentality. But this ambition leads to a very bland characterization which turns every character into one-dimensional roles. When Kuroi is talking to the school-nurse/advisor/whatever then you can bet that she’ll say rather mystical sounding stuff – without anyone raising their eyebrows. She just has this roll of Kuroi always telling this theatrical stuff about why things are as they are and Kuroi never questions it either. This woman is supposed to deliver good advice so that’s what she does and there’s no argument as to how useful it is or whether she’s a devoted altruist. She’s supposed to fill that role and everyone talking to her acts as if they know what that role is already. Kagari is of course the most extreme example of what this kind of dull characterization produces. She’s way too scary in her tyrannical creepy ways of tormenting Takanashi while keeping her to herself. When you have characters who are so pure that they might as well be declared saints in their lifetime then it’s a drastic contrast to have someone like Kagari appear who’s all about gruesome manipulation. Characters too pure and innocent to hate anyone stand beside a character demonic enough to be called a sadistic psychopath. It’s like if someone thought Hannibal Lector might be a good villain for a Precure-series. So Kuroi as the hero standing up to Kagari at the end of this episode was a good sign, I think and then… well, shit happened.
So this series has the school-setting with theatrical drama and it has of course the apocalyptic bathroom where the animation-budget gets eaten up. From what I gathered while watching the OVA and the first episode was that the concentration is on the school-setting. Some ditzy girls live their life, have some dramatic shit happen and some girl in a bikini shoulders the burden by fighting in an apocalyptic bathroom against… things. That’s the dynamic of the connection as I understood it so far and I’m fine with it. Black Rock Shooter doesn’t talk and her opponents don’t as well so having this rather simple one-sided context for everything in the apocalyptic bathroom is totally fine. This bathroom-realm is exciting to watch but has no story whatsoever. But having seen the last scene of this episode I was surprised to find out that apparently now the connection works vice versa meaning what happens in the bathroom-realm can have an impact on the school-life. And that’s how future deus ex machina’s are invited to join the plot because what happens in that bathroom-realm isn’t bound to logic. Everything’s possible over there so it’s a small step for a lazy writer to use it as an excuse to let some cheap plot-devices do the work instead of thinking the story through. And when the plot-twists in the bathroom-realm don’t make sense they of course won’t make sense in the real world either – which is exactly what happened at the end of the episode. All of a sudden practically everything could happen because the setting had created an excuse for cheating. This series certainly didn’t get better by the developments of few final minutes.

Black Rock Shooter still hasn’t proven to have a story worth talking about and the characters are ridiculously stiff as ever. While it apparently actually thinks about plot-development things have taken a rather questionable turn at the end. Now the apocalyptic bathroom can influence what happens in the real world and that means – things don’t really make that much sense anymore. It still makes sense in a way but only on a level of being predictable in a generic way. All the theatrical drama this series offers is a cheap façade for a rather generic series with decent battle-scenes.

Episode-Rating: 3/10



About M0rg0th

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Posted on February 11, 2012, in Anime, Black Rock Shooter, Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Black Rock Shooter is a very, very rushed mess. I take the opinion that it’s basically trying to cram an entire cour of Character Development into two episodes.

    The Scenes “could” be effective – as emotional climaxes, catharsis, denouement, The melodrama might have worked – had they succeeded in making the viewers SYMPATHIZE with the characters first, building up a believable relationship.

    Unfortunately, they’ve completely made a hash of characterization. I agree with you that the entire cast (with the exception of Kagari) feels extremely dull, puppet like and lifeless. And even Kagari is a one Dimensional Semi-insane bitch.

    And the plot contrivances hurt so badly. This is terrible Slice of Life on the theme of Friendship and Happiness awkwardly mashed as a paper thin context for the “Otherworld” fights.

    I predict that the next episode would almost certainly see Kagari making a 360 degree transformation in personality, with no basis in previous characterization.

    They basically threw that girl beyond the Moral Event Horizon when Kagari began cutting Takanashi up.

    So far, it’s a train-wreck if I ever saw one. It remains to be seen if the plot pacing begins to make more sense later on. For now, it’s a clear example of why it’s a bad idea to do multi-layered plots that are heavily reliant on Character Development, with just a little more than half a cour.

    It has an interesting premise, done very, very badly. That, and the awesome fight scenes are just about the only thing I can say in it’s defense.


    • Yeah, it’s certainly a trainwreck with the way it handles its dialogue and characters. I don’t think, though, that the problem would’ve been solved by having more time. It doesn’t feel rushed to me because the basic story is very simple. If anything the problem is the style of the show. Someone somewhere decided that the best way to make BRS into a series would be if it behaves like Madoka Magica on drugs with no substance whatsoever to talk about. The story is about friendship and happiness as you say but instead of exploring these topics it’s already a given at this point that Kuroi and Takanashi are destined to be friends and all the trouble Kuroi encounters during the show is Kagari desperately trying to stop this friendship from happening. There’s nothing deep or introspective about that approach (even if the show likes to think the opposite to be the case). Not even more time could save such a silly plot from becoming better. Black Rock Shooter is just fundamentally flawed story-wise.


  2. yaaaawn,,, this show is like, boring.. i dont get what they trying to tell


    • It’s about milking a popular franchise without substance and selling a lot of DVDs to people who don’t need substance in anime-series. Basically it’s just about making a lot of money without making a real effort.


  3. skip the mato’s part and just watch the brs world and it’s better :p


    • Well, they might as well have made it into a corny Mortal-Kombat-Black-Rock-Shooter-crossover anime-series if all they can do is animating fancy fighting scenes.


      • Hey, you could even take it one step further and make the Mortal Kombat parts live action like the movies, but keep the BRS parts animated! It could be like Space Jam, only with anime! Right?!

        …I…I’m so sorry, I don’t know what came over me. 🙂


  4. Reblogged this on myotakublog4ever and commented:
    Haha.. When I heard her saying that line I was like “What is so funny about it.” Hey but I really love the fighting scenes of Black Rock Shooter. AWESOME!!!


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