Black Bullet – 10 Review

[HorribleSubs] Black Bullet - 10 [480p].mkv - 00002This is how romance works in Black Bullet: The more powerful the dick the more women (no matter what age) want to fuck the guy. Look, it’s not about gender, it’s ALL about power! It’s just that women have no dicks and are naturally somewhat weaker than men because of that (Kisara, Rentaro’s love-interest, got a disease-thingy because of that!). And that’s why women need to fuck a guy so that they can be protected from the bad, bad, evil world.

Series like Black Bullet frustrate me. I can see why someone would turn it into an anime because it has potential to be a really good series. This series does stuff few animes do and it has a really good grasp on portraying horrible human hehavior. But in the end there’s just TOO much anime-bullshit to really capitalize on those attempts. With series like Game Of Thrones and other stuff on TV that give no shits whatsoever in worrying about who will watch it and just chase its own vision of faithfully adapting cool fantasy-novels, when will come the point when Young-Adult-media stops being a thing? I mean, there’s value in talking about stuff that matters to teenagers by having a story mainly focus on teenagers but at this point nearly everyone is flooded by all sorts of media that isn’t necessarily aimed at them. At some point in the past parents would be able to control what kinds of media a child or teenager would consume but nowadays…? I don’t think it’s really possible to control what your child does in the internet and what he or she finds there. At that point what’s really the point of limiting artistic output for the sake of some target-audience that might as well have already consumed media without such limitations? I’m saying that because Black Bullet has some interesting grim story-elements – but the series doesn’t really commit to them (at least in the anime-version). Furthermore, there are a ton of other cheesy story-elements distracting from those far more interesting ones. And when those edgier ones reappear it happens without proper build-up and incoherently tone-wise.

Synopsis:
The end of a city: Millions die as a sacrifice to a universe’s disgust for humanity. Like angels Gastrea will swarm over the city disguised as inhuman, murderous beasts – the same way humanity has swarmed earth a few dozen years ago, forgetting virtue and compassion with each step. Cruelty was never more just than in this case – but humanity is more than that. Mankind isn’t about to sit down and let itself be victimized by some alien world-order in search of punishment to level the scales. One Man will do everything to show the universe what Justice REALLY means.

But before that…! That very man will do his utmost to create a loli-harem! Rentaro is more than happy to be the teacher of a bunch of little girls who all want to fuck him and even gives him some flags for Kisara as he has some heart-to-heart-talks with her as well bringing him (again) VERY close to fucking her.

But then… Catastrophe, Confusion, Anger, Duty… other emotions a proper male rather swallows down than show… Anyway, ‘School’s Out’ for those Cursed Children since they’re all kinda over the place after the rather explosive surprise someone left for them there. But worse than that… the monolith collapsed a day earlier than expected! … because nobody remembered that there’s a fucking fan turned on for to be hit by shit!

[HorribleSubs] Black Bullet - 10 [480p].mkv - 00003It’s his dick, isn’t it? That and the fact that he’s not trying to beat you to death, I mean. I can see the appeal, honestly. It’s like everybody who has a dick in this city behaves like a dick – except Rentaro. No wonder every vagina in this city tries to get a piece of that dick…

Review:
There’s a guy walking down the street and a piano falls on his head turning him into bloody splat. Is it tragic, comical, evil, maybe even good in some way if he’s a bad person or… is it just another thing that happened? You may say ‘Hey, look, this guy died! That shit should matter!’ and you’re right in saying that. But there’s so much else going on in everybody’s life, it’s so easy to just ignore it and move on, to just pay attention to what was on your mind before you saw a man die because of a falling piano. Life may be about choices but looking back on it, it seems more or less like a straight line and consequences of choices made in the past push that linearity into the present making it seem like you never had any freedom in the first place. With that said, empathy is naturally more than just being understanding and compassionate, it’s understanding something that’s relevant to you in the first place. That doesn’t mean it has to be egocentric, it means that it should matter to you – even before the event that triggers empathy happens. And plot-twists work the same way in regards to build-up. I say that because the death of the class of Cursed Children, while undeniably tragic and brutal, happened too suddenly.

A lot of this episode is the “calm before the storm” and structurally I don’t fault this episode for doing something wrong except that the last two episodes of this arc weren’t that tense to begin with. Therefore an episode trying to insert some sort of breather before all kinds of shit hit the fan is somewhat unnecessary. More than that, the pacing of the first half was kinda confusing to me because of that. After the last two episodes that were mostly about setting up the stage, getting to this episode that wants to take a break seems kinda strange. Considering that this is based on Light Novels that’s either the writer’s fault for writing the Light Novel not well enough or the anime-staff’s fault for not choosing the right scenes to convey the plot and keep the pacing intact. No matter what happened here, this episode seems somewhat dull for most of the time and until the last third it isn’t really clear why the pacing slowed down so much.

Most of the episode tries to emphasize Rentaro’s connection to Kisara and more than that – his connection to the class of Cursed Children. And yet again, all those female characters just can’t get enough of Rentaro with the joke being that they all want to fuck him (I’m SURE the female part of the audience will appreciate that depiction of romance…). And they want to marry him but seriously, in this context that just means fucking. Anime-fanservice has fewer limits than Western cartoons but the implications are crystal-clear. And I was quite shocked to find out that even Tina is at the point where her life-goal is to fuck Rentaro. I figured that her suddenly wanting to call Rentaro her brother was already enough but no, I guess, it was just a setup for a pseudo-incest-romance. And I hate it that Kisara has this moe-shyness of turning her romantic relationship with Rentaro into a Will-They/Won’t-They-scenario. They should just get it over with and make it official. Instead, though, adhering to the series’ fascination with power, Rentaro’s expression of love is uttered by promising protection, even though Kisara should be strong enough to protect herself (or at least tries to appear that way). There’s nothing wrong with a man wanting to protect the woman he loves and a woman feeling flattered by this since she likes that man as well – BUT emphasizing the woman’s need to be protected instead of showing how strong she is on her own terms is just patriarchal bullshit. And that doesn’t mean every series has to be feminist, it just means that female characters shouldn’t serve some stereotypical ideal while ignoring individual characteristics and motivations. Meanwhile, the Cursed Children are already a lost cause in that regard. Turning them all into some sort of loli-harem for Rentaro certainly undermines the severity of their persecution. They all are just turned into little girls who want to fuck Rentaro for NO reason at all. If a random Cursed Child on the street protected by Rentaro has to remark on her willingness to fuck him, I’m starting to think the script-writers don’t actually take the persecution-aspect of the Cursed Children serious.

Also, I didn’t give a shit about the bombing of the class. It was mostly an “Uhm, okay, so that’s a thing now, I guess…”-moment for me because it was just SO sudden and it felt like it was forced down the audience’s throat. To come back to the beginning: Build-up is important. But the death of all those Cursed Children in the class didn’t have any build-up. The purpose of the reveal that they were all killed was supposed to be a shock-twist so naturally it needs to come as a surprise for the audience. But even a tragic surprise needs a setup in fiction. Actually, nothing in fiction can just ‘happen’. In real life things get a bit more complicated and trying to chase down that difference is a noteworthy goal but Black Bullet obviously isn’t interested in realism, so it doesn’t matter in this case.

[HorribleSubs] Black Bullet - 10 [480p].mkv - 00001Ha! That moment is more ironic than everything else! First of all, they don’t worry about being victims of a bomb at that point. Second, they talk about death like it’s some lost toy whose rediscovery is merely a matter of time. Death certainly doesn’t work like that. And the scene COMPLETELY fails in conveying the severity of death overall.

Therefore the question becomes: How do you set up a surprise? Well, the first thing to note is that foreshadowing doesn’t exist to make things predictable. It’s a structural ploy where you try to connect later scenes with earlier ones, even though the audience is not aware of what happens in the hinted-at later scenes. The point is the sense of doom or of possible rescue that comes from stuff that only makes sense in the context of later scenes. But that very foreshadowing provides another sort of context for those very later scenes since there’s now a sense of expectation with which the story can toy around. That’s more than what a scene can play with when it comes completely out of left field and the audience is forced to spend some time comprehending the events. But foreshadowing is therefore also another structural ploy meaning it’s just another thing that can’t ‘just happen’ in a fictional story. The foreshadowing needs to be coherent with the story it’s hinting at, meaning showing scenes of random Cursed-Children-persecution aren’t foreshadowing for the bombing of Rentaro’s class. And since the revelation of the incident also came as a surprise to Rentaro and Enju, it was doubly surprising for the audience that didn’t expect that thing to happen and also, attached to the perspective of Rentaro, wasn’t aware such an attack was even in the process. It’s important to note here that regarding the sense of surprise the fact that the class happened in the middle of a large field of rubble played a huge role. That location seemed SO remote in comparison to the big-city-vibe, meaning the city-area that is otherwise shown in this series, that it’s hard to even see the connection between events happening in the city and the bombing of that class.

Another thing to note here is the possibility that the perpetrator isn’t one of those punks harassing Cursed Children in the city. I mean, the bomb had Vara-something-stuff in it so I doubt it was just some random punk who did it. But even if the reveal of the perpetrator is supposed to be another surprise, there wasn’t enough build-up for the bombing. And the reasons are dramatic in this case because if a villain-character enters the stage he’s a character who needs a motivation and a goal. Otherwise he’s basically just a deus-ex-machina in the negative sense. And if the villains is a result of Rentaro’s actions, it would’ve been better to give those classes a sense of impending doom instead of letting them just be the happy nonsense that they were.

Using the shock of the bombing alone would’ve actually worked – except that such grimness isn’t really Black Bullet’s style. After the first few episodes I praised the series for employing such grim story-elements but at this point I can certainly say that the series as a whole isn’t very grim (mostly because of how Black Bullet idealizes Rentaro). So, those grim aspects, while being quite edgy compared to most other Shounen-series, are employed in a rather cheap way where the story doesn’t have to commit to its actual implications.

And it’s all a bit sad because letting the revelation of the bombing happening around the same time the monolith collapses earlier than expected is a great move story-wise. As a third-act-preparation for the fourth act there’s nothing better than piling on the tragedies after somehow getting a break from the revelations at the end of the second act. A better director certainly could’ve injected this story so far with far more tension than it had offered. And this story REALLY could’ve needed more tension.

 

With an uneven pacing Black Bullet delivers a break from the “action” of the previous two episodes in this arc. Sadly, the quiet moments of this episode do little to provide necessary build-up for the shocking twist at the end. Therefore the dramatic potential of the plot-twist coupled with a catastrophic event mostly falls flat when it’s supposed to be an effective plothook. Aside from that, the series’ grimness has become more of a gimmick at this point and the romance-aspect remains the weakest aspect (since every vagina between somewhere and nowhere wants to bang the over-powered male main-character).

Episode-Rating: 4.5/10

Random Thoughts:

  • There are two scenes in this scene among all the quiet moments that are actually plot-relevant… except that they are SO short it really seemed like the story of this episode was trying to downplay their relevance. First is a scene at the monolith where Rentaro offers the idea that the Gastrea attacked that pillar because it’s flawed. Regarding this… Well, again, it’s assuming Gastrea would act like a human enemy. Also, this idea assumes the Gastrea would need to go for a weakpoint. As for me, I like my version of a high-level-Gastrea forcing other Gastrea to focus their efforts following some sort of primitive hierarchical primitive social structure. But it seems Rentaro is right as the second plot-relevant scene reveals that some evil guy from Kisara’s family ordered that monolith built without following regulations (which is hard to believe considering how important that sort of thing is to the survival of the city).
  • At this point, I’m more invested in Kisara proving her worth (despite her illness) than Rentaro saving the day yet again. Seriously, at this point Rentaro’s drama is all about not being powerful enough to protect all those girls in his harem. And the rest is all idealistic bullshit.
  • You just know that a guy wrote the script/Light Novel when Enju and Rentaro “just wipe away the tears and do their duty” after being faced with a traumatic tragedy. I certainly have read WAY better versions of this kinda stuff like Jack Campbell’s “Lost Fleet” novel-series for example.
  • Also, if I’m allowed to say so myself… that beginning of my synopsis of this episode is a way better summary for the series than anything else you will find on the internet. Especially since it makes the series out to be much cooler than it is.

About M0rg0th

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

Posted on June 11, 2014, in Anime, Black Bullet, Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. MoonlitNights0S

    Just to note, a lot of these otaku-pandering things did not really exist in the source. Which is one reason why it was not that popular to begin with compared with many other novels. However, it was still popular enough among the older audience since it was more philosophical and about contradictions of human nature and the likes as you can sort of see. The adaptation removed a lot of things but at the same time also added more fanservice although to be fair, I still think the fanservice is much less compared to many other shows.

    In terms of the patriachial bullshit, obviously it’s going to be there since most society in the world including the U.S., it’s like that. Even if it’s becoming a lot better, it still exists so although the author himself is more modern, he still tried to be closer to what society currently is and try to deal with that in the writing. Also, Rentarou said that he wants to protect Kisara so there’s nothing wrong with that but Kisara also wants to protect Rentarou, which is why she’s there anyway, so I think that’s all fair.

    The story does later delve and disect Rentarou’s character and the problems with it but that will never really happen since the anime is only 12/13 episodes only.

    Basically I think this show has a lot of good things about it but suffer due to adaptations. At least I do know the source is much better than the other shows this season but funnily the other shows does a better job at adapting. Might be due to how Black Bullet tends to rely on exposition.

    Anyway, now time to read up more on Soredemo. That show really is fun and relaxing. It’s nice you continued to watch it since I keep reading too many people complaining about it being a shotacon show without even thinking deeper about the show.

    Like

    • > However, it was still popular enough among the older audience since it was more philosophical and about contradictions of human nature and the likes as you can sort of see.

      Even in this adaptation Black Bullet has a way darker tone in some moments than many other shounen-series do. I can see why there’s value in adapting the series, if those dark parts are more prevalent in the source-material. I think I will give the Light Novels a try to see just how much the anime differs from the source-material.

      > In terms of the patriachial bullshit, obviously it’s going to be there since most society in the world including the U.S., it’s like that.

      I’m talking only about the anime-version here… but frankly I don’t think that’s an excuse. I don’t call it “patriarchal bullshit” because the man of the story is the hero and the women are more in a kind of supporting-role. Portraying current social dynamics or those of the past is one thing but if the story goes out of its way to re-emphasize the message behind the social dynamics it becomes bullshit. And Kisara gets told that she needs to be protected by Rentaro… like all the time. Also, that disease is piled on that, making it clear that Kisara can never be the powerful fighter Rentaro is. The assumption is clearly that not Kisara has to deal with her own illness, Rentaro is supposed to deal with it by protecting her when needed. And I’m not sure the anime did a good job of selling the notion that Rentaro also has those weak moments where he needs protection. Her support manifested in her giving Rentaro a pep-talk and not much more.

      > Might be due to how Black Bullet tends to rely on exposition.

      Well, in this anime there’s quite a lot of exposition that’s just put into the room without the story doing much with it. It has this “Here’s information A, here’s information B, here’s information C… but let’s worry about that later when it becomes important.”-style when it comes to exposition. The exposition doesn’t really click with story that way as there’s this delayed effect of information being given to understand events instead of showing information that causes events.

      > Anyway, now time to read up more on Soredemo. That show really is fun and relaxing.

      Oh, don’t get me started… I have quite a few caveats with this show. That the female lead is in love with a boy is the least of my problems. I posted in the comments of Saranaufogus’ review what my take on the story would like: https://otakuness.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/soredemo-sekai-wa-utsukushii-01-04-review/#comments
      I definitely prefer my version where Nike is just kicking the boy’s ass because fucking hell… he’s a boy sitting on a throne. Who would ever think that to be a good idea?

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  2. MoonlitNights0S

    Ah you make good points and I agree with you. Also Since I have read quite a bit of the light novel (current translations as well as lengthy summaries), I do have extra information that compensates for what the anime only provides so I realized that certain things might not be as obvious. Like the whole thing about Kisara was a bit more clear in the novel where it’s shown that Kisara was definitely more powerful than Rentarou and that’s been stated a few times. So I do feel weird how the anime did not emphasize that very well especially the scene where she was losing to Tina. She still lost to Tina since everyone does but not in that “help me Rentarou” desperate type of way.

    I’m now curious at how decisions on adaptations are made since so many of them decides to remove or add unnecessary stuff to it that just makes you go “wut?”. Do they just make a giant dart board and throw darts at it to decide what to remove or what to add? Now that’s an amusing sight. Although that’s probably what happened with Mahou Sensou. I never read the novel for that one but as an anime viewer, that was just horrendous. I read through the light novel thread and that was also the first time I saw so many fueled hate by the readers as well. That show completely failed.

    About Soredemo… I should comment in that post instead.

    Like

    • > Like the whole thing about Kisara was a bit more clear in the novel where it’s shown that Kisara was definitely more powerful than Rentarou and that’s been stated a few times.

      Yeah, the anime did have a few scenes amounting to that message, yet it was more the story telling the audience that than actually showing that. The greater problem, though, is that Kisara isn’t a very compelling character in the way she’s portrayed. There are these three things a heroic characters needs to have (or at least two of them) and that’s: He needs to have a sympathetic motivation, he needs to do a lot for the sake of plot-progression and he needs to be good at what he’s doing. But Kisara is a rather passive character whose sole motivation seems to concentrate on Rentaro and she’s strong… except the story added a big ‘BUT’ to that particular detail. That said, though, her connection to a rather corrupt or otherwise evil-minded family, her incredible strength being severely limited and the fact that she’s chosen a life of poverty (to distance herself from the evil stuff her family does, I assume).

      All that would’ve made Kisara a way more compelling protagonist than Rentaro who starts to feel more like a superhero-character with all the typical idealistic struggles that are attached to that kind of character. In a way Black Bullet is less about the personal struggle of the characters and more about the question whether there’s a point to having ideals. And the grim elements of the story are just the counterpoint of saying that the world is SO shitty there really is no point to having ideals. Well, there’s also the whole power-argument that the best way to stop an evil guy is a good guy who’s more powerful. There it turns again to this notion of a single superhero-like person who can enforce ideals because he’s the strongest dude in the room.

      > I’m now curious at how decisions on adaptations are made since so many of them decides to remove or add unnecessary stuff to it that just makes you go “wut?”.

      Well, first of all, I bet like every other TV-production there’s a ton of people adding their voices to what ultimately is shown. So it won’t be some single-minded artistic interpretation but more like a ‘class-project’. And furthermore with animes we’re talking animation-studios that churn out new series EACH season. Animation is already a kinda rigid process where a lot of things have to go together and for that to happen EACH season without any fuck-ups means the whole studio will have to work like clockwork. So I can easily imagine for someone to approach a series like this one with some sort of formula in terms of the adaptation-choices that statistically will increase sales.

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