Black★★Rock Shooter: Dawn Fall is an anime series based on the Black★Rock Shooter franchise by huke. It premiered on April 3, 2022 and ended on June 19, 2022 with 12 episodes. It aired first on Star (Disney+) in Japan before becoming available in other countries.
It has a new plot similar to the game and has light novel prequel called Black★★Rock Shooter BEFORE DAWN, which is complete at 8 chapters. It also has a 4-Koma Slice of Life spoof called Black★★Rock Shooter DAWN FALL Official Yonkoma Manga Dawn Fall!, which is complete at 12 chapters.
It is the year 2062. For two decades, Artemis, an automated workforce AI, rebelled against humanity and laid waste to the Earth. Empress, aka Black★Rock Shooter, wakes up in an underground laboratory with no memories. She joins a resistance force and is ordered to destroy a Space Elevator Artemis is constructing, because if it is completed, hordes of machines Artemis is constructing on the Moon will be able to descend on the Earth. She also runs into her old friends Dead Master, who is obsessed with her, and Strength, who blames her for her suffering.
Provides examples of:
- 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: More than the other two anime. Characters flip-flop between both styles on a regular basis; while vehicles, mecha and effects are shown in 3D only.
- A God Am I: Lunatic prides herself as one, with the end of the series being a final battle against her as she unleashes swaths of enemies and meteors to wipe out all land-dwelling life and start humanity again. In her defence, the one time she actually likens herself to a god, she catches it and corrects herself.
- Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Compared to the other animated versions of B★RS, Empress seems to have a Dark and Troubled Past that also ropes in Dead Master and Strength and may have something to do with their hostility towards her.
- Adaptational Heroism: While Dead Master and Strength are still at odds with Empress at the start of the series, this is the first continuity where they willingly teamed up with her against a much greater threat, albeit not for altruistic reasons. It is later revealed in flashbacks that both Dead Master and Strength were already on Empress' side even before the Institution's invasion began and their initial hostility towards her is actually the result of their minds being messed up after their disastrous first confrontation against the Big Bad, playing this trope straight.
- Adaptational Skimpiness:
- After the End: The series takes place in a Mad Max-inspired wasteland, one that seems to be toxic to most humans.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Artemis was supposed to help humanity through Elysion's automated workforce, but ended up betraying humanity and becoming the story's primary antagonist. Specifically, Artemis was tasked with calculating the optimal way of terraforming other planets for human habitation. Artemis instead decided that it would be more efficient to transform humanity, and began calculating the optimal way to do that. Its conclusion? Wipe out humanity, wait for it to re-evolve, then rinse and repeat for billions of years until an ideal version of humanity emerges. Being immortal, Artemis can't think in human time scales and is happy to play The Long Game.
- Artificial Human: Empress is reimagined as a genetically engineered Cyborg with regenerative abilities called a Hemitheos Unit in this series, and both Strength and Dead Master are the same.
- Bittersweet Ending: Empress destroys both Lunatic and the space elevator but seemingly loses her life in the process as a result of removing her limiters. Earth is spared as a result, but only due to Artemis postponing her plans for at least 200 years despite wiping out 70% of humanity. Dead Master, Strength, and Colonel David perished while battling the Institution, and Isana is finished off by a meteorite. However, Empress' death doesn't stick, as the rest of the cast (as well as the child clones of Dead Master and Strength) see her resurfacing again 50 years later to gun down Artemis' forces on the Moon.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: The daughter of Colonel, Charlotte, becomes this thanks to the Institute. It took a beating from Empress, a Deprogramming attempt from Monica, and a lot of convincing from Colonel to undo the brainwashing.
- Conveniently an Orphan: Empress, Dead Master, and Strength were nameless orphans who lived together in Lighthouse No. 8.
- Cool Bike: After all previous adaptations barring The Game left out Black★Rock Shooter's motorcycle, in comes Dawn Fall, where all three of huke's characters have them.
- Cool Starship: The Black Trike is rebuilt as one in the Distant Finale.
- Distant Finale: The second half of the final episode skips ahead 50 years.
- Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: A recurring theme is how Empress wants to help everyone she can, no matter the cost. Even though she's on a race against time to destroy Artemis' Orbital Elevator before its completion, she constantly stops to assist others in need; on multiple occasions this leads to herself or Black Trike getting damaged, which results in further detours while they track down the materials needed for repairs. As a result, they fail to reach the Orbital Elevator in time and Lunatic is able to begin an Orbital Bombardment that kills many of the people she spent all that time saving in the first place.
- Emergency Transformation: The Distant Finale reveals that Miya was transformed into a pseudo-Hemiteos Unit after being injured in Lunatic's Orbital Bombardment.
- Grey Goo: Arche, which is so prevalent that the human characters have to wear masks to avoid breathing it in (Isana demonstrates what happens if you do). It's an unusual example in that it can build things other than itself — it's mentioned that the Unmanned Forces are built from Arche, and that Empress can manipulate it to build her signature BFGs. It's later also used as fuel for the reactor powering the Moon Flakes.
- Heel–Face Turn: Realizing they have a common enemy in the Educational Institution, Dead Master and Strength put aside their animosity against Empress to help take them down. It helps that Empress saved them from certain death at the Institute's hands.
- Heroic R Ro D: Empress suffered one after using her Overdrive Key to save Strength and Dead Master from an eternity of torture at Lunatic's hands, resulting in her twenty-year stasis.
- Kill All Humans: The Educational Institution's ultimate goal, sparing a few young girls to become the bride of one of their generals, Smiley. They particularly take umbrage against Empress, Dead Master and Strength and attack them whenever they show up, any other casualties being a bonus. Lunatic engages in this mainly as a stepping stone to her real goal which is to cultivate a new humanity that can adapt to other planets.
- Killed Offscreen: Strength sacrifices herself to hold back the Unmanned Forces during the final battle, so Dead Master can back up Empress. Her death isn't shown, and neither is her corpse, but the fact that the Distant Finale has her reincarnated as a child along with Dead Master means she must have died too.
- Near-Villain Victory: Artemis manages to take out 70% of Earth life with the initial bombardment, Empress, Dead Master, and Strength are all struck down in the final battle, and defeating Lunatic doesn't even affect the core Artemis AI. However, the secondary bombardment doesn't go through due to Lunatic's defeat, the severance of the Orbital Elevator, and Artemis deciding to "take a break" before resuming her efforts; the survivors of humanity take advantage of this lapse to rebuild and instigate an assault on the core with a force that includes Charlotte, an augmented Miya, a reborn Dead Master and Strength, and a revived Empress. Humanity may be down, but it's not out, and it's not going to go quietly.
- Older Than They Look: Even after 50 years, Charlotte and Miya still have their same youthful appearances. This is mainly due to them being pseudo-Hemitheos Units.
- Once More, with Clarity:
- Strength has three separate flashbacks to her time at Lighthouse No.8 with Empress. The first two cut off after Empress notes, "It's hard to live forever", as Strength's memory corruption kicks in. The third time, Strength has recovered enough to remember the full statement: "It's hard to live forever, but it means we can keep on meeting new friends."
- Lunatic's victory over Empress twenty years prior is shown four separate times, with the first two cutting off after Lunatic's Breaking Speech, implying it worked. The third time, however, shows Black Rock Shooter's response — "I'm going to kill you. I won't give up." — and the fourth reveals that her twenty-year stasis (and Strength and Dead Master's amnesia) was the result of her overclocking herself to save them from Lunatic.
- One Bullet Left: During the attack on the Orbital Elevator, Colonel David gets down to just one bullet in his pistol... then immediately finds a crashed vehicle whose mounted machine gun still has ammo. He ends up using the bullet on himself, after sustaining a lethal wound.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: The Colonel's real name — David — is rarely, if ever, mentioned by the other characters.
- Pistol-Whipping: Empress does this with her sidearm in the first episode, when she's fresh out of stasis and her memory is still very foggy.
- Polluted Wasteland: The air is so polluted that regular humans must wear respirators when outside.
- Precision F-Strike: Although many of the characters are unashamed Cluster F-Bombers, Empress and the Black Trike are the exception, with one F-bomb between the two of them.
- Putting the Band Back Together: The first five episodes detail Empress' rowdy reunion with the other two orphans from Lighthouse No. 8: Dead Master and Strength.
- The Stinger: There's a short scene after episode 10's credits, revealing that something is happening with the Iron Ocean.
- Stripperiffic: Series-exclusive character Monica is dressed only slightly less skimpily than the main trio.
- Tarot Motifs: The Hemitheos Units are represented by Tarot cards. Empress is The Empress, Dead Master is Death (though before that she was compared to The Devil), and Strength is Strength. Jessica (codename Stella) was The Star. In the final episode, Charlotte is Temperance and Miya is Wheel of Fortune.
- Theme Music Power-Up: In the final scene, the original Hatsune Miku song plays as humanity launches their counterattack against Artemis along with Dead Master, Strength, and Empress.