Black Bullet – 13 Review
Yep, Rentaro’s loli-harem produces a deus-ex-machina for the finale! Good for them! And finally normal little girls and Cursed Children are working together! That’s what Rentaro has been working for all along! I mean, it’s not like there’s more to humanity than getting little girls hooked on a specific dick. Really, this series DEFINITELY has no problem acknowledging female characters above the age of 25. There’s like… wait, let me count… one and like, uhm, let me count again… a couple hundred who are under 25, it seems. So, it’s JUST LIKE IN REAL LIFE – RIGHT, GUYS?!
Does Black Bullet deserve a second season? Actually, no. I mean, I like this first season overall. It’s not a complete disaster. But this wishy-washy adaptation of the Light-Novel-series is hardly doing the series any favours. Just read the Light Novel series for God’s sake! Looking back on it, though, I really wish its main-character could’ve been Kisara. Rentaro is just a spineless, irrelevant character! Who gives a shit that this pretty boy who’s sorta like Robocop can kick ass and spout moralistic bullshit…?! Meanwhile, there’s Kisara, a girl growing up in a power-obsessed corrupt influential family with a penchant for justice and she’s just going nuts faced with the horrible nature of humanity on display in her family. That’s a fucking story! In contrast, Rentaro barely has any sort of a character-arc in this series. He’s forced to be a bad person by bad events but he doesn’t like it. Boo-fucking-hoo! Nobody gives a shit about that sort of tepid character-drama.
It’s the middle of the night and darkness reigns as catastrophe looms in the form of a giant Gastrea-army. If that wasn’t clear enough: Rentaro’s in a fucking pinch! There are no fucking lights for his desperate final ploy, no stage-lights to illuminate his theatrical attempt at saving the world once more! What is a hero to do without an appropriate audience to give applause to his efforts? Even Achilles had the gods at his side when he was felled in the most tragic way imaginable.
Luckily, Rentaro’s loli-charming has finally paid off as all the little girls of the city, normal girls and Cursed Children alike, put little candles into the air… and it’s enough to turn the night into a sunny afternoon. Motivated like this, Rentaro moves out with his A-Team and everyone’s doing what he’s supposed to do – and that’s killing some fucking bugs.
That’s when Rentaro has finally has to get his shit together and deal with Tyrannosaurus Gastreus or whatever the fucking name of that thing is. And following his gut-instincts he takes the fucking bomb and rams it into this stupid piece-of-shit-called-a-monster-or-Gastrea-or-whatever. The countdown… counts down, I guess… but nothing happens!
Technology, right, guys? Women never get that stuff right. No wonder, that tech-girl fucked up the design for this so-called wonder-weapon. Well, Rentaro, having lost his leg is out of options – but that’s when his new, old, best friend (look, it’s a complicated relationship… even if the series doesn’t seem to think so). He has an idea. And like all good ideas delivered in a dramatic circumstance, it’s a really stupid one. Mostly, because it’s an inherently suicidal idea. But what is Rentaro gonna do? Stand up in protest? He has only ONE leg!
So, Shoma, the fucking bastard ends the mission and saves the day – much to Rentaro’s chagrin.
But thing’s aren’t settled yet! Kisara still has some debts to settle with her family! So he calls over some fucking moron from her family (who does a spectacular job to sell himself as a rather stupid villain) and she simply decapitates the guys. And then she has a good laugh about it afterwards. Rentaro isn’t as amused, so Kisara announces that she’s gonna become a villain in the name of justice (which always ends badly in a world with guys like Rentaro around but hey, that’s a story for another day…).
And so Rentaro is left with a lot of regrets and the realization that he has chosen the worst fucking job ever if he wants to stay an innocent little hero-person… or whatever the fuck he’s trying to do.
Well, to be precise, he’s talking about villains in kiddy-TV-series. And technically he doesn’t really qualify as that type of villain, so… I guess it’s his fault that he ends up dead… or something.
This episode lacked a preview for an assured second season and with that things kinda change. Black Bullet is based on a Light Novel series that already progressed past the events of this series. So, the question becomes: How confident is the series that it will get a second series? Considering that the series didn’t seem to go for an epic world-saving ending that could fuck up the continuity, I would say, those people are pretty confident that there will be a second season.
And still there’s a little panic-fuelled writing going on in this episode. The biggest problem of this episode is its lack of time. This last episode wants to be the epilogue and the tragic setup for the finale… which is ALSO happening in this episode. So, there’s a ton of plot to get through in this episode and while it could’ve been worse, I don’t think the episode got through that rollercoaster unscathed.
The last episode ended with a cliffhanger. Screamy-guy, the dude who felt SO wronged by Rentaro that he would rather sabotage the vital defense of his city than help him, actually DID sabotage him successfully. So, the episode opens with Rentaro and his buddies waiting for a delivery of batteries for their stadium-level-lights. And it’s a delivery that will never arrive, of course. But that’s when a miracle saves the day – a few minutes after the actual episode has started. The final episode immediately starts with a pacing-problem.
Look, cliffhangers are supposed to convince the audience to watch the next episode because there’s one hell of a problem that needs to be dealt with. But if the next episode starts with a rather ‘easy solution’ of the problem, then the audience will feel cheated. A cliffhanger is a deal between the writers and the audience, because it isn’t a full scene. It lives from only showing a bit of a scence, the crisis-bit, to be more specific and the solution will be delivered in the next episode. But with a cliffhanger there’s a break between the crisis and its solution and that means that the audience will build up expectations and these expectations mean you gotta have one hell of a solution ready for when the audience tunes in next. What Black Bullet did instead was to use a deus-ex-machina.
Well, at least it saved time, I guess. Or it would’ve done so, if it hadn’t become such a symbolic scene for the ‘achievements’ of Rentaro during the course of this series. The Albino-Princess and a ton of girls assemble to help out Rentaro and his army. But! It’s not just Cursed Children who assemble in the royal palace, it’s also… NORMAL LITTLE GIRLS! Yes, it’s like… ALL the people that matter are assembled! Or not… if you’re a reasonable person and don’t think that cute little girls are all the people that matter in a city. Anyway, they somehow miraculously provide the light needed for the battle and somehow this shit actually DOES last throughout the entire fight.
That’s the first part of this finale and there’s still a lot of ground to cover. So, the episode just shows the Gastrea-army showing up and Rentaro & Co rushing at it… sort-of. There isn’t really a war-like scene at any point in this episode, it all seems more like Shounen-battle-series stuff where a chosen few side-character-fighters take on multiple enemies to confirm their existence. Meanwhile, Rentaro does his thing against the big baddy of the finale but… the miracle-weapon doesn’t work!
And that’s how the second part ends. A few forgettable scenes confirming that Rentaro has assembled a team full of people of minor importance and then it’s all Rentaro being a real boss and whatnot. BUT… the moment where suspense is built up has arrived. You know, like when a hero in an action-movie stops a villain but discovers some sort of big time-bomb.
Rentaro is TOTALLY bummed out about this, of course. Like on all battlefields, his friend Shoma naturally can just walk up to him and be like “Hey, bro, I got an idea, bro! I have, like, this special-move, bro, that‘s totally, like, messed up! I’m talking karma, dharma, shwarma AND lama kind-of messed up, bro!”. And Rentaro’s like “NO! You can’t do that! But I’m gonna let you because what else am I gonna do?”. And there’s your fourth part! Problem solved through a noble sacrifice!
The episode’s still going, of course. Seriously, it got through that climax in record-time. Naturally it doesn’t really work out like planned, or at least I hope it was planned, because the pacing for these various plot-moments just seems so thoughtless. This is a finale just going through the motions for the sake of plot-development. Considering that the series actually DOES have some dramatic depth, it’s a total waste of time to approach the plot with such a perfunctory approach. This series could be good, there’s fucking potential in this thing! Well, it’s not as bad as Akuma no Riddle as far as endorsements to read the still-ongoing source-material goes, but still… This series is certainly not interested in showing off the original story’s best side!
Then, the episode makes a time-jump to the epilogue and hell, what a sequence that turned out to be! I mean, this was a serious WTF-moment for me when this scene centered around Kisara finding her revenge started. This scene really has NO place in the anime. There just isn’t enough build-up for such a scene. Considering how dramatic and brutal the scene turns out to be, the characterization for everyone involved wasn’t deep enough and the stakes for the conflict weren’t made clear enough, until this scene had put them into focus.
In many ways, Kisara is way more interesting as a character than Rentaro, especially considering what’s happening in this epilogue. I’ve already talked about how this series obsesses over the question of power and what to do with it and how there’s also a light/dark-side approach to how it’s depicted (if the particular characters is actually powerful). The big difference between Rentaro and Kisara is here that the latter has a personal stake in this conflict. She has been confronted with evil from day one while actually being a good person while Rentaro just sort-of tagged along. It’s crazy that if you look at the story Rentaro, the main-character seems blander than an under-characterized SIDE-character. I don’t even give a shit how strong Kisara is supposed to be, just the dramatic potential alone should make her the main-character instead of Mr. White-Bread-With-Too-Much-Bacon.
*sigh* So much wasted dramatic potential…
Where Kisara had a very personal connection to the human evil behind the Gastrea-conflict, Rentaro is just a moralizing mouthpiece for the series to turn his judgments into the series’ way of delivering its message. Drama is a personal affair! Romeo And Juliet isn’t about the patron and matron of two rival families complaining non-stop about the romance between their kids! But instead this series puts this beefy guy into the limelight whose only real achievement is being a good person and being really popular with the ladies (at least, as long as they are under 21). That’s really one of the main-reasons why this series seems so unfocused with its approach to light-hearted slice-of-life and depressing brutality: The main-character just can’t get his shit together to direct the plot.
But Kisara certainly shows in the epilogue how to direct a plot into a certain direction! Okay, I’ve already wondered in my first review of the series whether this whole brutality-shtick wouldn’t just become a crutch for the plot at some point. And boy, they really did go overboard leaning on that crutch for this character-development! Instead of her slightly leaning towards the darks side during an especially emotional moment, she turns into a full-on psychopath. It isn’t very subtle and the change in personality while interesting drama-wise, doesn’t seem founded on any sort of characterization provided by the anime-series.
In the end, Black Bullet just seems as promising as it was in the start but the muddled focus on light-hearted loli-harem-scenes and brutal action delivered a mediocre series. The characters promise more depth but sadly the most uninteresting character of the whole bunch is the actual main-character and so a lot of potential drama is rendered ineffective by this uninteresting generic male white-pants-teenager.
- Uhm, I don’t think it’s a good strategy to put a whole section of the town you’re supposed to protect between you and the enemy…
- Also, even after the big bad guy is down, those Promoters and Initiators still have to deal with a wild horde of Gastrea. They may be less dangerous because they aren’t controlled by a giant Gastrea anymore, but we’re still talking about a giant horde of evil bugs here… And such a battle should’ve provided more than enough drama for this finale.
- Seriously, that epilogue that focused on Kisara felt more tacked on than anything else. Its only saving grace is that Kisara is a way more interesting character than Rentaro.