Black Bullet – 07 Review

_C12__Black_Bullet_-_07.mp4 - 00008Guess in the distant future they don’t rate your tests like they used to…

I was THIS close to dropping this series as well. This whole arc about Tina, the assassin, was just terrible. How could you make it any worse than delivering bland drama with the depth of a dirty puddle? And it wasn’t even just stereotypical, apparently that wasn’t enough, no, this episode made an effort to be SO contrived that the only trouble ended up being – stubbornness. I mean, I DO understand where these last three episodes were coming from. In a world filled with Kaiju-monsters who are also a deadly plague and some tyrants who like to make shady deals and order assassinations, isn’t it natural that the biggest challenge anyone faces is realizing – that we live in a very beautiful world? I bet everyone knows what this arc is talking about: There’s this person who for some reason is totally flabbergasted by the notion that butterflies cause tornadoes to keep the earth from standing still (which would be a bad thing) and they meet you, a nice person, who doesn’t eat at 7 in the morning a donut while crying yourself awake. But then… the shocking truth! Turns out that you just befriended – a terrorist! Or maybe a professional assassin. You’re not sure whether your new friend is doing it for religion or money. So you do what all good friends do during a conflict of interest: You beat the shit out of your friend! And thank God that you’re that violent! Because guess who had a real revelation because of that: Your friend! (who may or may not be a terrorist and if not that then at least your friend’s a professional assassin…) your friend realized that he or she really doesn’t have to work in the killing-people-industry. Those people don’t even have a union! And no health-insurance – or life-insurance! And so you can ride off into the sunset with your new friend (who’s technically an old friend) but at least you can fully trust him or her now since you know that you can beat the shit out of him or her at any point. It’s a real happy ending.

Synopsis:
Enju just got her butt handed to her by Tina because it turns out – the little girl that sucked at killing the albino-princess is actually… strong… four million times strong in terms of percent… or miles, ounces, kilos, tons, gallons or something… Anyway, she’s strong and Enju evidently wasn’t but Rentaro… He’s a guy, no, more than that, he’s a man, a ladies’ man even, considering there’s no female in this series who can’t resist his… charms? Well, he’s nice and he’s kind of strong and has his heart in the right place (which is in his chest). I guess, that’s gotta be enough to beat the non-existing male opposition in this series.

So, like every good man who sees a woman close to him, who also wants to fuck him, hurt… he started to stink. Seriously, he’s a real stinker with all that anger, worry, regret and other manly emotions you don’t need to show to express. So, he pondered his fate and the fact that he sort-of fucked up by just sending Enju ahead (without a real man to protect her) made him emote a lot of regret shown by not emoting anything. And he realized that he just can’t go on like that, he needed to make amends. So, in a very dramatic fashion he went to a bad part of the town under a bridge and got angry, resolving himself to stop being a bodyguard for the albino-princess who he hadn’t talked to since… well, he didn’t exactly twitter her his status-updates and he didn’t follow her on Twitter so just talking with her about it was impossible. Anyway, he decided to ditch his job when all of a sudden Captain Asshole came around and made it clear to him that he better fucking quit his job or something… consequence… bad… catastrophy… bad luck… accident… misfortune… pain… Well, Captain Asshole was jealous, okay? That sort of thing kinda makes it impossible to be eloquent about one’s needs. But when Rentaro heard it he immediately did what ever good man would do in his position: He changed his opinion about 180° just to spite the weak male in front of him.

Well, a lot of unnecessary pondering later Rentaro’s most devious plan takes shape: By convincing Captain Asshole to put out a fake-meeting-point for the third meeting he managed to ambush Tina… because abandoned ruins with no one around are the perfect meeting-place between two influential leaders of humanity’s last pockets of civilisation.

So Rentaro beat the shit out of Tina. She realized that she should’ve just stopped being bad all along. And that’s it. Easy-peasy, case closed, mission successful, world saved, bla bla, and whatever else you say in situations like these… Anyway, turned out Enju is just fine and Tina starts working for the place Rentaro works at because… for reasons.

_C12__Black_Bullet_-_07.mp4 - 00003There’s no better way for fate to convince a man to do some thing than to send an asshole telling said man not to do that thing.

Review:
With this episode the Tina-arc is concluded and as expected Tina joins the Rentaro-Fan-Brigade because Rentaro is simply the most powerful something-or-other around. The fifth and sixth episodes were already bland, predictable and fairly uninteresting but by trying to conclude all that this episode really has topped the previous two in terms of straight-up nonsense. More than simply failing to deliver a good action-packed story the whole plot becomes so contrived in the course of it that it’s hard to see how exactly all the elements of the story were parts of a whole at any point.

The first sign that an episode is suffering from bad writing is when a third of the episode are scenes trying to hammer the same message into your skull again and again. And considering that it has been the major reveal of last episode that Tina is supposed to be a real badass-assassin, it’s kinda baffling how this episode acted as if the audience would need to hear that pointed out a dozen more times before it would sink in. The sheer amount of dumb dialogue this episode has, explaining how powerful Tina is in comparison to Rentaro, is quite ridiculous, not only because it’s always going for the same message in the end but also that this episode finds multiple ways to say the same thing. There’s an actual simulation which leads to power-comparisons à la Dragonball Z with the most idiotic kind of meaningless numbers imaginable as if any of the multiple remarks about rankings and Enju’s critical state weren’t proof enough. Multiple scenes with different characters in it and with slightly different undertones are all used to get the same point across and at no point anyone in the story just tires of the whole thing and tells Rentaro something like “Yeah, whatever, just get it over with.”. Rentaro is weaker than Tina but he has to fight her. And despite how inevitable this conclusion is Rentaro questions himself or is questioned by others again and again only to be faced by the same facts again and only to arrive at the same conclusion – again. Rentaro is really only running in circles most of the time during the quieter moments of this episode which makes the suspense before the fight at the end more tiresome than anything else.

And this impression of running in circles gets only strengthened by the fact that the whole assassination-plot has simply become superfluous. The whole raison d’être for the plot seems to be seeing Rentaro fight against Tina – despite their friendship. And the story really does go down on the whole tragedy of this battle but the actual plot that led to this point just becomes a bit of an afterthought as its relevance seems to disappear. Usually after identifying the assassin and finding out the unpleasant truth about “that certain nice person you just met and never expected to be an assassin”, the story would go on to connect the dots between the assassination and why the assassination happened in the first place. In this case, though, the story just drops the whole question of why basically any of the events so far have happened and just goes straight for the “tearjerker”-drama inherent in the battle between Rentaro and Tina. Sure, in the fifth episode some sort of tyrant of another haven is introduced who kindly told the albino-princess to better stay out of his way or regret it for the rest of her then short life. But that must be the lamest political maneuver ever conceived to attend three meeting with a political rival and, while obviously threatening that rival, send some assassin to kill him. Also, the whole political angle of the assassination-attempt isn’t even mentioned in this episode. And I praised the ending of the first arc for offering quite a lot interesting plothooks for future arcs and having the potential to have serious consequences for the characters as well as leading to some character-developments. Well, this final episode of this arc actually managed to lower the stakes of its story by just gradually stripping away all sorts of bigger implications the story had and reduce it to a bit of drama that sort-of involved fighting.

_C12__Black_Bullet_-_07.mp4 - 00006Ha! It’s funny because it’s sarcasm… I mean, it should be. Seriously, there’s a lot of nonsense in Rentaro’s life, especially his romantic life. Get your act together… man-person!

But what a bit of drama it was, right?! You see, when a person makes a choice that person most of the time considers the consequences of his choices and sometimes things are so dire a person will feel like he doesn’t have a choice in the first place. But here’s the thing: When you lower the stakes of a story and isolate it from all sorts of external influences setting-wise then it’s just about people being dicks to each other and trying not to be dicks to each other anymore. Furthermore, even THAT will be an exaggeration when the stakes and external influences become so superfluous that you begin to question yourself why there was drama in the first place. And guess what? That’s exactly what Tina’s plight had become at the end of this episode! For some reason Tina was a merciless assassin because she just couldn’t say no to a sociopathic doctor! But surprise, surprise –that is, until the moment she could! And everything worked out just fine after that moment! So, to summarize: Tina was a real Debbie-Downer while she killed countless people but then she met Rentaro who was the first person not to act like a dick towards her and he had to beat the shit out of her so that she could finally say “Fuck it!” to her assassin-life – and Tina could’ve done so at any point during the story without suffering any consequences. Yep, that’s one hell of a shitty story-arc.

 

Continuing the lackluster beginning of this arc the story finds new depths of idiocy to explore in an effort to wrap everything up. Rather than expanding the world or its characters this episode is satisfied with delivering very rote drama that lacks any sort of impact or meaningfulness. Ignoring the addition of Tina to the cast this episode and the last two could safely be called filler – and therefore a waste of everyone’s time.

Episode-Rating: 4.0/10

Random Thoughts:
Just to point out the couple scenes in this episode that made NO sense at all…

  • There’s a scene where Rentaro stands under a bridge in a really shitty part of town kinda convincing himself to quit his job as a bodyguard. Then, Captain Asshole arrives in a car… for some inexplicable reason… and starts yelling at Rentaro that he should quit his job. So, Rentaro… somehow reinvigorated by this yelling… tells Captain Asshole that he won’t quit his job and he forces Captain Asshole to facilitate a showdown between him and Tina. The weird thing about this isn’t that a Rentaro who wants to give up changes his opinion only because an asshole tells him he should give up, the really weird thing is that this scene has happened for the SECOND time in this arc. Yes, in the fifth episode Rentaro also had a moment of doubt where he didn’t want to take the job as bodyguard – and that’s when Captain Asshole arrives and tells him not to take the job. And so he takes the job. It was a badly written scene the first time around, but doing the same shitty thing AGAIN?! What the hell…
  • Rentaro has NO chance against Tina… Literally everyone tells him so. But that wouldn’t be enough, of course, since Rentaro is going to… some other girl who wants to fuck him and enters a simulation that he finishes at a superhuman rate. But then the comparisons come… and it turns out that most people are WAY more superhuman than Rentaro is and among them is Tina. So the characters spout a couple of idiotic numbers with a whole scene amounting to what a phone-call did in the last episode within two seconds.
  • Of course, I’m as surprised as anyone that Tina actually fell for this trap Rentaro had set up. It’s stupid and just another thing that proves how shitty of an assassin Tina actually is. Tina let’s herself get fooled into thinking that the meeting would get a last-second-change of location – to an abandoned skyscraper. Well, Rentaro ambushes her instead… or something like that. He’s running around while dodging bullets from automated sniper-rifles and avoid the attention of scout-drones. First of all, why did Tina only shoot with one rifle at the albino-princess at the ambushes when she’s able to actually use four sniper-rifles at the same time? The stuff she delivers in that final battle is way deadlier than the stuff she used during the actual assassination-attempts.
  • … But she loses because of a misfiring flash-grenade that reveals a flaw of the all so powerful Tina that’s SO fucking obvious, it’s really a miracle she was ever considered a good assassin.
  • After Rentaro has beat the living shit out of Tina he has a sort-of heart-to-heart talk with her that includes… him thanking her! After all, the way she beat up Enju was just the nicest thing she could’ve done in this situation!
  • And Captain Asshole strikes again when after the end of the battle he suddenly appears and shoots Tina… for no reason at all. Seriously, his character makes NO sense. Me suspecting him to be some sort of mole was a deeper characterization than what this episode delivered.
  • But for some reason the albino-princess has more interest in checking on her assholish bodyguard than pursuing diplomacy so she suddenly arrives as well – and promotes Rentaro to Rank… something higher than Captain Asshole… or whatever the hell is going on there… The point is, as people who hire other people to work for them, are wanton to do albino-princess asks Rentaro what would he ask of her if he had one wish. And he says… some stupid vague crap about power – so she promotes him. I don’t know how exactly that’s supposed to make sense and it’s not entirely clear what it means and why it happened and why it’s so easy to do that and why/how albino-princess interpreted Rentaro’s vague cheesy response that way … It’s just stupid.

About M0rg0th

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

Posted on May 22, 2014, in Anime, Black Bullet, Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. while I still like this show, I’m annoyed how it’s a one gender thing and that there are no boys around for Enju and Tina their age. it kinda defeats the purpose of the “children” part. Also little girls in anime have no respect anymore. if someone makes a show staring a kid it automatically has to be pander to a certain audience which gets distasteful after a while.

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    • I mean, I can accept the fact that for some bullshit-reason all offspring from humans and Gastrea turns out to be little girls. I’m not sure about the timeline but I also figured these Cursed Children never really grow up and just stay in that moment with not enough time having passed to have found out whether they die of age anyway… *sigh* Naturally that’s a whole lot of imagination-work done on my part but it made it somewhat palatable for me to believe this stuff to be the case.

      And making basically everyone a racist when it comes to Cursed Children… sort-of understandable and it’s a nice storyhook for drama of a more serious variety, so I’m somewhat fine with that, too.

      Now where the series has lost me is that there’s a severe lack of male characters in the cast to the point of it being unrealistic and the thing that’s even worse: Like all the other female characters of the show, these Cursed Children, like Enju and Tina, apparently have ONLY Rentaro as their defender and all rely on him to save them. And the eighth episode really made a point of portraying Rentaro as THE savior for the whole Cursed Children population in that haven he’s living in. And the drama there shouldn’t be that Cursed Children are pitiful-looking cute little urchins, the drama should be the fact that it’s either that or becoming professional killers who have to fight against Gastrea each day.

      Nah, the series had a good beginning but this Tina-arc has left a VERY bad taste in my mouth.

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  2. I’m getting tired of this “otaku pandering” bull. it has completely ruined certain things in anime like sibling relationships whether real or fake and grade school romances. when was the last time we (the audience) saw a grade school boy and girl fall in love in anime? never because the otaku won’t allow such things to exist anymore

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    • While it’s a good thing that not every anime thinks the value of pantyshots is defined by its quantity to count as good fanservice, there’s this mindset of seeing stereotypical scenes as some sort of culminating event in the story. Even in reviews by Western Otakus you can often find this attitude of expecting the show to respond to their love for certain stereotypes.

      Sure, even Western shows and movies do that to some degree but I feel like in animes there are SO many neatly defined stereotypes for girl-characters in high-schools for example that it isn’t even about selling a character anymore. It’s about selling a stereotype people like doing stereotypical things. And while from an artistic perspective one would think this to be a bullshit-move, it can’t be denied that there’s something comfortable about pushing a certain stereotype that you grow up with as a kid liking, maybe and then later it becomes a comfortable routine that neither challenges nor confuses the audience who already knows all there is to know about that stereotype. There’s joy in finding expectations turning out to be right.

      And there are a lot of bullshit-stereotypes in Black Bullet, that’s for sure, but actually the one that bothers me most is the portrayal of Rentaro and how the world around him responds to him. Romance-wise all the female characters respond to him with love – despite him not really doing anything substantial that would earn him love. Sure, he does good-guy-stuff but that should get him a “thanks, dude.” and not the blind adoration this show portrays. The other thing about him that REALLY bugs me is that whenever he faces opposition he’s immediately confrontational. And it never escalates because he’s for one unreasonably strong and two, all the bad guys inexplicably also immediately consider him an equal that can’t be simply squashed or called out on his rude behavior. And with that all in mind, it’s a bit troubling that the show wants him to be a hero that the audience is supposed to identify with.

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