Manga: Gokukoku No Brynhildr aka: Kiwaguro No Brynhildr
Neko Kuroha, the one to be blamed for everything.
For ten years, Ryouta Murakami has been tormented by the death of his close childhood friend Kuroneko. The guilt he feels because of her death motivated him to fulfill a childhood promise he made with with her to show aliens do exist. At 16, he's already third-ranked in school and is on fast track to become a NASA researcher, thanks to his Photographic Memory. But her death left him with a deep inability to communicate with and understand the opposite sex.One day, Neko Kuroha, a lookalike of Kuroneko appears. This begins a story of horror, experiments, human communication, and despair.Kiwaguro no Brynhildr (or Gokukoku no Brynhildr going by the furigana spelling and the Twitter account for the anime; officially translated as Brynhildr in the Darkness) is a manga by Lynn Okamoto. It shares the science-fiction horror tone and 'Gorn of Elfen Lied. A 13 episode anime adaptation aired as part of the Spring 2014 season. The animation studio behind it is Arms, already responsible for the Elfen Lied anime. The manga began serialization in 2012 in the Weekly Young Jump.Crunchyroll is streaming the anime, which can be viewed here for people living in the following areas: U.S.A, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Turkey, Latin America (Central and South America including Caribbean), Spain, Portugal.The character sheet is currently under construction. Character tropes should be listed there.Cautious editing/viewer warning: While the manga is Seinen and has a public run, it is very graphic.
Anyone Can Die: Zigzagged. Kotori, unfortunately, ends up with a Mercy Kill in order to keep her from eradicating the world, which is the first time a main character gets a perma-death. Except there's a key phrase: perma-death. Many other characters end up Back from the Dead via Time Reversal (Ryouta and Neko), Not Quite Dead (Nanami transfers her consciousness to Ryouta), or get subjected to Hatsuna's Healing Factor abilities.
Beach Episode: The very end of episode 10/chapters 55-57 has them go to a beach.
Bilingual Bonus: The Harnessed is the button-like thing on the nape of magic users. Due to how things are transliterated to Katakana, it's easily possible to miss that the real transliteration is her nest (which gets written in the same way), an obvious reference to where resides the Drasil inside the magic users' bodies. Interestingly, according to the translators, "Harnessed" in English was the original name.
Bittersweet Ending: The anime's Gecko Ending. The Big Bad and The Dragon have been stopped, the apocalypse has been cancelled, and Kogorou has managed to synthesise the death suppressants, meaning the remaining witches with Ryouta will live. However, Kotori sacrificed herself to do said cancelling, Kuroha has lost all her memories again, and the Omniscient Council of Vagueness is still out there presumably creating and hunting down more witches.
Blessed with Suck: Witches in general. Their powers come at an extreme cost, and they're all ultimately fated to either die due to lack of death suppressants, be killed by The Organization, or hatch and be devoured by the Drasil in their Harnessed and then proceed to go on a killing spree.
Blood from the Mouth: This happens to the Magic Users when they do not take their "death suppressant" pills. If they don't take the pills every 30 hours or so, they'll start to bleed. And after 35 hours, their internal organs start to melt and they die.
Bloody Horror: Quite a few witches in the story are shown to be on the run from the organisation responsible for creating them. Even eluding the more direct methods of disposal, they are not exempt from having to regularly take the now unprocurable death suppressant capsules to push back the certain gory melting to death. Your skin ruptures a bit or nose starts bleeding? Congratulations, that's an indication of entering the 5-hours final countdown stage. And if the drug supply you had is used up by now...
Episode 4, or at least the second half. While episode 3 had a lot of intense action, episode 4 is mostly filled with high school hijinks and Fanservice scenes.
The first half of episode 5 spends time with the girls and Ryouta bonding a little while watching the stars at night on a mountaintop. Then Shino, one of the witches that escaped with the girls, shows up being chased by another witch.
Most of the later half of episode 7, where Ryouta and Kazumi go to Akihabara. Until Ryouta looks at the device Kuroha gave him.
Censor Steam: Used a lot in episode 4, both to hide gruesome stuff in the first half, and to hide the usual female nudity in the second half. Used again in episode 6 when the girls are outside with a garden hose due to it being really hot that day.
Chekhov's Gun: The device that Kuroha gives to Ryouta. He's Genre Savvy enough to not turn it on while they're at the observatory, and instead activates it in Akihabara while shopping there with Kazumi. He later uses it again in episode 12, this time with the hopes of attracting whoever owned the device. Fortunately for him and the other girls, Hexenjagd agents show up and save them from Ichijiku and Valkyria, though they still manage to kidnap Kotori and make their escape.
The first is in episode 3, after Ryouta finds Kuroha fighting Saori, and watching the latter turn his friend into Ludicrous Gibs.
Another happens at the end of episode 5. Kuroha heads to a lake to help Shino. Then they find out the witch chasing her is Kikako, a AA+. Kikako shoots a beam from her mouth, which vaporizes the right side of Shino's body. Kuroha just watches in horror as she's unable to do anything.
Valkyrie shows up in the observatory right at the end of episode 11.
Compressed Adaptation: Somewhat expected to the very long nature of the series. Due to only having thirteen episodes to work with, the anime is forced to cut out large chunks of story and even some characters, such as Yuki Tsuchiya and the Skadi arc (it is trying to go through around 100 chapters, anyway). During the first 9 episodes though, it manages to stay remarkably close to the source material. However, the compression gets really egregious in the last 3 episodes. For example, episode 10 skips some content from chapter 40 to 58, and episode 11 includes content from chapter 59 to 70.
Cosmic Horror Story: Ichijiku explains humanity actually has its original form as the weird Eldritch Abomination (see entry). Each person has it innately, since humanity is aliens, but the race has evolved far enough that they use their "human" forms. This otherwise means the powers come from an innate human trait and the research facility was simply unlocking it for their own use.
Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The third button on the witches' harnests. They don't know what it does, because nobody's ever been brave enough to press it, considering what the othertwo buttons do. According to Nanami, Kuroha's will unleash her true power if pressed, but has a 99.9% chance of ejecting her. Even Ichijiku himself says it'll eject her... but when she presses it, sure enough, her true power is unleashed.
Kana also gets hers pressed, and while it removes her forecasting ability, it cures her paralysis, allowing her to run in and protect Kuroha from Valkyria.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: In order to get inducted to the Vingulf research facility, you must possess high knowledge and have low contacts. They can prove the former with agreeing with the college of graduation, but the latter is done with incredible levels of spying (for example, they know if you've gone to porn sites). Yuki believed that this was one thing, but the reader knows that it is the other.
Eldritch Abomination: The horrendous Drasil that remains when a magic user is destroyed with her Harnessed's down-left button gives all vibes of this. Might be an alien life form that parasites the magic users' bodies and gives them their powers, but this is unconfirmed. That thing that resides in a Magic User has multiple eyes, a jelly mass, is apparently sentient, and most likely alien. If this is not Eldritch, then what is?
The Initial Sorcerian is something not from this world, but has been tested for the past 20 years. Its DNA and overall composition supports this, but the exact details of what it can do are left ambiguous.
Everything Trying to Kill You: Between the The Men in Black using Magic Users trying to capture and remove others, rogue Magic Users attempting to kill anyone just for the sake it, and several times the environment trying to kill the main characters, nobody is safe.
Evolving Credits: In episode 10, Nanami joins the main cast at the end of the credits as they look at the night sky. Hatsuna joins them in episode 12.
Fan Disservice: The first two pages is Ryouta stabbing Kuroha with lots of blood flowing in full color. By this, you know that Fanservice will not be plentiful. In chapter 3, we learn that Kanade, another escaped magic user, has been captured. She's shown strapped face-down on a table, naked.
Fate Worse than Death: What the Magic Users are told about the third button on their harness. Note that this is implied. Kana's disables her foresight to let her walk. Neko's causes her to regain her full memories and powers.
Kogorou and his team unlock the secrets behind the pills the girls need on their own. In the manga Hexenjagd gives them the recipe for Ryouta and the other witches helping them stop Ichijiku and Valkyria.
Kuroha's fight with Valkyria is drastically shortened. In the manga it goes on for several chapters, while in the anime it lasts a couple of minutes, and nearly borders on The Unfought. Much of the city is also Spared by the Adaptation, since Kuroneko stops Valkyria before she can cast her antimatter spell, whereas in the manga Valkyria destroys a significant portion of it before being stopped.
Kana's role in the final battle is downplayed. In the manga she shows up to slash Valyria's throat, though that doesn't stop the latter. In the anime she arrives to momentarily stop Valkyria's attack on Kuroha long enough for the latter to press the harnest and unlock her powers to deal with Valkyria. Additionally, she is seen in a wheelchair again, implying she's crippled again, while in the manga she can still move around and transfers to Kitsuka's school.
Kotori's fate is the same in both adaptations, but it differs slightly in each version. In the manga, she convinces Ryouta to eject her. In the anime she does it on her own, though she still manages to tell him to let Ichijiku know his little sister doesn't approve of what he's doing.
Hexenjagd plays a smaller role in the anime than in the manga. As with the example with Kogorou above, they only serve to stop Ichijiku and Valkyria. Their interactions with Ryouta and the witches is largely downplayed after they save them from Ichijiku and Valkyria.
Good Old Fisticuffs: One of the security guards attempts this in chapter 111 on an awakened drasil that just appeared inside the hospital. It seems to work at first, as his attacks seem to be hurting it, but then the drasil simply bites him in half.
Gorn: Okamoto indulges in this each time more and more; just compare the post-accident Ryouta in episode 1 to the fight with Saori in chapter 9/episode 3.
Gory Discretion Shot: Done to Shino at the end of episode 5. After getting blasted by Kikako's attack. Part of the right side of her body is vaporized, but most of it's blocked from view by the wooden fence.
Government Conspiracy: The villains are implied to have powerful contacts in the government because in episode 6 Ryouta is warned that the police will be on the lookout for a Harnessed, meaning they must be in on the whole deal.
Hope Spot: One occurs in episode 7, when Ryouta attempts to have his uncle Kogorou analyze the pills the girls take to see if they can make more for them. He warns Ryouta that at best, it might take half a year, or several years to analyze the drug. He then mentions it might be possible to make it within a month if the structure is a crystalline. Ryouta later gets a call from him, and he tells him that it's not crystalline.
How We Got Here: The opening pages show Ryouta over Neko with a knife in her chest, devastation abound and him wishing that if someone, presumably Neko, would have just died none of the damage would have happened. Come Chapter 95 Ryouta is trying save Neko by pulling out the knife and talking to Neko's murderer Valkyria.
I'm Melting: What happens when the harness of a magic user is removed and is first seen in chapter 3/episode 2 with Kanade.
Immune to Bullets: A security guard fires some bullets at a drasil that's awakened inside the hospital in chapter 111. Said bullets don't even seem to faze it at all, and the monster simply eats the guard.
Insistent Terminology: The girls with the magic powers are called both magic users/magicians/mages ("mahoutsukai") and witches ("majou"). The girls themselves use the former, the people from Vingulf and Hexenjagd use the latter. Which one is the correct term is unknown.
Lighter and Softer: Compared to Elfen Lied, the tone and themes are certainly this; the violence is somewhat less extreme (though still graphical), the nudity tamer, and there are more light-hearted moments overall. Not that the series doesn't have its dark or sad moments though, far from it.
At the end of Chapter 10/Episode 4, the island visible from the beach Neko and Ryouta are standing on will look awfully familiar to fans of Elfen Liednote The island is Enoshima, which was significant to the plot of both the anime and manga. It helps that they are visiting Kamakura itself, where Elfen Lied took place.
Speaking of the Harness, if they are taken out from the Magic Users, their bodies will melt. In Elfen Lied, Lucy's body melts in the end of the manga.
The setting is in Nagano. Nononono has also a setting in Nagano.
Mood Whiplash: Well crazier than Elfen Lied. In the anime opening, the girls are shown bloodied around a normal background, but then the background is swept away to a more desolate looking scene, while the girl then gets cleaned up and looks normal. The show also switches back and forth from going to school, to more action-oriented things.
Nothing Is Scarier: The Magic Users are told that on their harness the first button cancels their magic for 1 hour, the second button kills them, but are not told what the third button does. They are only told it is a Fate Worse than Death.
Power Glows: Several examples: Kazumi glows yellow whenever she's hooked in to her computer. Shino has the ability to understand animals and her ears glow when this happens. Kuroha also glows blue when she uses her powers.
Power Limiter: The harnest on the back of the witch's necks will partially eject, causing them to become "hung up" if they attempt to use their powers too much. Further usage before it resets itself after a day or so will cause the harnest to eject completely, causing them to literally meltdown and die. It can also be manually set, either to control them, or if the girls don't want to be found by a witch with the ability to track down other witches. Some of the unluckier ones have a harnest that can be remotely ejected should they attempt to escape custody as other witches have done in the past. The third button has a different effect depending on the witch. Kana can walk but loses her foresight. Neko could regain her memories and access to her incredible power but has a 99% chance of dying instead.
Prophecy Twist: Kana's forecasts show what will happen, but not why. For example, in episode 5 she sees Kotori smiling while standing over Kuroha's body and thinks Kotori killed Kuroha. In episode 6 we learn that it's actually Kotori being a Stepford Smiler to hide her sadness.
Random Power Ranking: The Magic Uses are ranked by how many powers they have and how skilled or powerful it is. If they are not strong enough, they are disposed of. It is because of that that this series started, as the Magic Users escaped a disposal transport.
Rank Inflation: To begin with, ranks are described as ranging from B to AAA (with A being a step up from BBB,) but in chapter 26 the existence of a rank S Magic User is alluded to but what sort of power involved is unclear.note The overall vagueness of what power this magic user can have makes this go either way between Beyond the Impossible and Rank Inflation. For background, a high-ranking Magic user was able to eviscerate anything withing a six-meter radius, as well as turn back time by one minute, and was demonstrated in the manga very clearly, but this user is not even close to Rank S.
Readings Are Off the Scale: Ryouta has a memory so good, he averages in the top 2 percentile. This is apparently known by many of his classmates. When Kuroha ends up beating him in the midterms, everyone gives a Flat "What." at the results as if it was something impossible, and gave Ryouta Color Failure. The implication is that Kuroha's intelligent enough that, if she wasn't losing her memories all the time, she can effectively beat photographic memory.
In chapter 69, after Kotori accidentally spills some water on Kuroha, Ryouta sees the three moles on her breast.
During chapter 73, Hexenjagd explains more about the nature of the witches. Specifically, the aliens that Ryouta saw are actually the "brain" of the girls, and any memories of early life they have are imprinted on them. Additionally, those organisms grow inside of them and use the "death suppressant pills" to do so. After some time, maybe a few years at best, the organism will consume the body of the girl, and they will emerge as something not-human and seek to kill humans. The only reason they let the girls live was because Ryouta told them they only had about a week's supply of pills, so one of the Hexenjagd members says it's not likely they would emerge in such a short time, and their priority was to capture Kotori, who was kidnapped by Ichijiku just moments earlier.
Rule of Symbolism: Norse Mythology gets thrown around by the researchers. The closest to any sort of explicit information is "Skadi", a AAA magic user with the ability to see, predict, and interfere with the future, at the cost of her life. Another one is "Drasill", which is briefly mentioned twice, never explained entirely, and said to have some kind of horrendous power. One head researcher states that if 1107 (i.e. Kotori) is not captured, it would initiate via Drasill. Also, the title of the series (Brynhildr is the name of a famous Valkyrie).
Anytime Kazumi tries to show off her body, especially her breasts, and Ryouta making a snarky comment about it. Then getting hit by her as a result.
Neko smashes something when something happens to Ryouta since it's her old self taking over and remembering that she loves Ryouta.
*something remotely sexual happens to Ryouta* BOOM (everyone looks at Kuroha) Kuroha: "I-I didn't mean for that to happen!"
Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: Sort of. From what Kuroha has mentioned, the girls who are turned into witches seem to have almost superhuman powers, but are also horribly abused and not allowed to learn basic things like reading and math. She also says they usually die young, which may also explain why they're only teens, and she feels she doesn't need to know stuff like that anyway, never mind that she's attending a high school with an education equivalent of an early grade schooler.
Nanami meets two children, one of them is angry at his friend because the latter drop his rare trading card in the water. The card looks suspiciously like a Yu-Gi-Oh! card. The anime puts a star on the black circle of the backside, but you can even see the frontside of the card there. It's a Pendulum Monster Card, a new introduced type of Monster Cards; the only difference is that they turned the green color part into pink like a Trap Card.
Soundtrack Dissonance: The anime's ending theme is jarringly light and happy, so pretty much any time an episode ends with a Downer Ending (which is a fair few of them), the viewer is subjected to this.
The first opening shows all main heroines, including even Hatsuna, who is not even introduced before the switch to the second opening. Other characters, whose appearances are spoiled there before their introduction and the switch to the second opening, are Valkyia and Hexenjagd. It also spoilers that Kotori is either a good girl or has a Heel-Face Turn, since she's introduced as a possible assassin, and the silhouettes of Saori and Kikako including their powers. Not to mention the final battle between Neko and Valkyria.
The second opening spoilers that Hatsuna is definitely going to be a main character. There are also a few subtle possible spoilers: Kotori is shown switching places with Hatsuna, probably a Foreshadowing that Hatsuna will replace her in the manga; Kana is seen moving her right hand, despite she can only move her left, Foreshadowing that she will move again.
The first opening is a bizarre mash-up of angry violins, ominous wails and chants, and dubstep.
The second anime opening is a heavy rock tune full of Metal Screams à la What's UpPeople… but the movie that accompanies it consists mostly of mundane, semi-static images, which gives a rather weird effect.
Take a Third Option: In episode 9, Ryouta asks the girls what to do about Nanami after she finds out where they're hiding. He tells them they can either fight her, or run away to a new hiding place. But Kuroha doesn't like either option, and he agrees with her. This helps to confirm what he said to her earlier about wanting to befriend her since she didn't attack him out of the blue like other witches such as Kikako and Saori did. Unfortunately she's remotely ejected shortly after joining them, though she transfers her consciousness into his mind before dying, and wiping out the girl's memory of her to avoid her death being a burden to them.
Talking Is a Free Action: Occurs a couple of times in episode 13, such as when Kuroha talks to Ryouta while Valkyria is nearby and attempting to break through the former's barrier.
Theme Music Powerup: In episode 13 the first opening plays when Kuroha reawakens her memories and powers as Kuroneko.
Truth in Television: In chapter 6, it's revealed that Kazumi's magic is her capability to factor very large integers with ease, and that makes her capable of breaking the security of many systems. Then again, the explanation and theory exposed in the chapter would make mathematicians and cryptographers cringe.
In episode 3, Kuroha is seemingly turned into Ludicrous Gibs right in front of Ryouta by Saori, another witch. However, Ryouta stabs Saori in the heart, forcing her to utilize her time magic to go back one minute into the past, before she killed Kuroha and him. And because it caused her to hang up, she couldn't fight back or even run away.
In chapter 69/episode 11, Ryouta finds out that Kuroha is his childhood friend Kuroneko after Kotori spills some juice on her by accident. Valkyria also finds them at the very end of the episode when she warps into the observatory right in front of them.
Episode 12. The Grane in Kotori's Harness awakens, beginning the apocalypse.
Wham Line: This manga just loves these. For more, see the character entries.
A particularly interesting one occurs in chapter 114, when Onodera, Ichijiku's replacement at Vingulf, says that a drasil hatching from one of the witches was entirely unpredictable and amounted to bad luck. After she hangs up the phone however, she gives off an Evil Laughter and strongly hints that drasil hatching is not random, and is instead triggered by something, or someone else.
You Are Number Six: The organisation refers to escaped witches by numbers − in the manga at least. It's downplayed quite a bit in the anime.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: How the research facility deals with scientists who leave the facility. They give a GPS tracker, a set list of guidelines, and a ride out. Then they kill the scientist.