Reviews: Black Rock Shooter

Black Rock Shooter

For those of you who got hyped for this based on the music video: Black Rock Shooter is a fantasy about a Romantic Two Girl Friendship between two schoolgirls that relies heavily on cuteness, with occasional action in a cool-looking Alternate Universe, reminding us this is pretty well-animated.

Note that 'fantasy' is mainly the girl's relationship being unrealistic, rather than Fanservice (...though that's there too). We have Mato, the short hyper girl, and Yomi, the tall, shy and somewhat mysterious type. After Mato sees Yomi for the first time, half the OVA is them being happy, peaceful, predictable and cute. Then they're put in separate classes and Mato dares to get another friend, which sends Yomi straight to Angstville. Seriously, I can believe she's mentally scarred from moving around a lot, but it raises questions. Why didn't we spend some time on that rather than watch them be cute? Why couldn't we get some conflict that is really conflict and not something most people have experienced and dealt with in a reasonable way? ...hell, why don't they have any other friends to begin with?

Then things get interesting, kicking logic aside, waking up the pacing and resurrecting Willing Suspension Of Disbelief. Cue credits. Great.

In the end, this is not a bad OVA, but the schoolgirl cuteness could have been made much more credible in much less time. If sitting through half an hour of Moe before something happens doesn't strike you as a very nice way to spend your time: Waiting it out is not worth it. If the premise sounded appealing to you: It now comes with fansubs.

Haters gonna hate.

(Review truncated)

The first twenty-five minutes were a little boring when I was watching - okay, some cute moments between friends, and random symbolic moments with BRS and Dead Master. Repetitive. But it wasn't until later when I realized how absolutely valuable every one of those twenty-five minutes was, establishing the bond between Mato and Yomi, how important getting Yomi back becomes to Mato. And, of course, building suspense. The tension when Mato discovers Yomi's gone. The tension with Mato and...herself.

Interestingly, BRS and Dead Master are supposed to be their other selves, and you see within each girl the opposite of herself exists. Mato is an excitable, tomboyish girl - but BRS is calm, collected, rational (and badass). Yomi is sweet and polite and adult-like, but Dead Master is showy, evil, and completely insane. That face she has when BRS makes the climax confirms it. She can't accept any form of affection; the only way to get Yomi back is to destroy that inner self completely.

Of course there are open ends left; how did Yomi merge with her other self? What's wrong with Yuu? But I don't think there's a sequel to remedy these. (Do you have any idea how much work they had to put into this thing?) These open ends are intentional, made to make one think.

The open end that I don't think was intentional was Black*Gold Saw. If BRS is fighting her, that means Mato knows her counterpart somewhere, but said counterpart did not even get mentioned. As for STR, I think she's Yuu. STR's figure was approaching while BRS and Dead Master were duking it out, and Yuu's feeling of being "left out" is increasing. Once again, probably not a sequel, although I have this image of BRS and a reformed-type Dead Master (not DM herself, she's dead) fighting against STR.

The characterizations were stellar. Mato at first appears to be your typical excitable tomboy, but she's definitely a more emotional one. Yomi is a polite, drawn-back girl, but she has signs of jealousy and loneliness, and Yuu of course is more than your average lolicon. Each character has an in-depth, deeply explored personality that's always more than meets the eye.

The scripting was done well. The art was beautiful, down to the in-depthness of the energy blasts and the "special" eyes of the alter-selves. Can't blame them for so much work in 50 minutes.