Posted by psgels on 2 March 2012 with categories: Winter 2012 Kaleidoscope

Well, since this was the best BRS episode so far I might as well dedicate this week’s kaleidoscope entry to Black Rock Shooter and share some of my thoughts on it. This really is a show that symbolically links stories together. It’s not just the battle world, but there also is the picture book about the bird that keeps returning, and this episode also showed a brief scene of a class that was about literary analysis (or “the protagonist in this book died because… etc”). That could have been very good, really.

My big issue with this series is: why? What does everything boil down to in the end? Unfortunately, the answer to that seems to be forced teenaged emo. The entire plot basically revolves around this mentally deranged character. I can live with that, but the reasons that pushed her in the situation she’s in now… I failed to buy them. The blond girl is one thing, but that teacher in particular is just a walking plot device.

Emo of course doesn’t have to be bad. I’m personally a big fan of Narutaru (or in any case the anime of Narutaru, having not read the manga), which also was a very dark show about teenagers and the issues they can have. The big difference between the two lies in the build-up: Narutaru first created relatable characters and showed scenes in which… they weren’t actually emo. Yomi however, is poorly fleshed out to me: all she has been doing in this series is be mentally depressed. In fact, every character in this series is very one-sided. They’re more plot devices than actual characters and their issues are all just so simple when you boil down to it.

The only interesting character really is the main character, because she is the one who links everything together, in a much more extreme way than usual. She connects all of the different stories together, she is the only one who knows all of the other important characters well. Everything in this series revolves around her, and even the things that don’t at the beginning, end up doing so because of how her symbolic character in the other world ends up fighting everyone.

In this episode things got interesting, as all of these different stories started to intertwine. I admit, I did not expect Yomi’s part to be resolved this early. At the very least the show still seems to be building up to something, so let’s hope that at least that part of its buildup will be good. I adit that I liked the action and the soundtrack in this episode.

I can understand what Mari Okada is doing: the OVA was so dull, something had to happen to it to make it actually worth watching as a full fledged TV-series, and if the build-up was better then this episode actually would have worked really well, however I do think that she took the wrong approach. This type of characterization definitely isn’t her best, and I also believe that the characters in the action world should have… actual personalities and characters. I don’t care if it offends the fanbase of Black Rock Shooter. The creators are already raping the fanbase of Noitamina, so why stop there?
Rating: (Enjoyable)

14 Responses

  1. meow says:

    One thing about Black Rock Shooter. If someone were to ask me what it was, I think I would have a hard time answering. It has multiple incarnations, first as a Hatsune Miku Vocaloid song, then as an OVA, followed by a PSP action-shooting-rpg game and now an 8(only?!) episode tv series. Each under different creative direction, each with their own(?) stand-alone story. I’m pretty sure this TV series, apart from sharing some of the same characters, is, at best, a parallel world version of the OVA story. And I’m not even sure what a fan of this “franchise” would expect from it, other than the visual image of Black Rock Shooter herself. (Interesting how she’s depicted wearing a cowl now, to cover up her Hatsune Miku-like twin-tails?)

    I am seriously having a hard time figuring out what this story is about. Up til this episode, I wasn’t even sure if the dream world and reality were even connected or were just some bizarre visualized representation of things happening in reality. Reminds me of when I was first watching Suzumiya Haruhi’s scrambled up story and wondering whether there actually were any real aliens, time travellers or espers or were we just getting trolled.

    And I seriously doubt if Yomi’s part is truly resolved, if what we see now of Kagari is any indication.

    • Sei says:

      It was an otaku-pandering franchise to sell more figures and singing programs. The thing is..I wonder why the heck could it get so big? If it actually got a story, it would be understandable…This series itself is very pandering, too. What is with cute emo lesbian schoolgirls?…Why, why? Really? At least the first Yu-gi-oh series has somewhat a decent story before the card games got too big for the franchise to handle.

      I’m sorry if I sounds offensive to BSR fan or fan of those voicaloid things out there. But really, this season just raped NoitaminA for me.

      • Juno says:

        As an artist, I love HUKE’s artwork. And Black Rock Shooter’s character designs are great. Great enough to warrant me buying so many of the figma figures, which are some of the best-designed figmas I own, and a few artbooks. As for the stories, they all have so much potential, but I can see where they fall apart. I’m not sure if they’re being “milked” like a big franchise or extensive fanservice would, but I do see enough effort being put into TRYING to make deep stories, so I respect that, at the very least.

      • Alterego 9 says:

        I don’t particularly care about Vocaloid, but saying that a show that’s direction you don’t like “raped NoitaminA” sounds overtly melodramatic.

  2. Andmeuths says:

    The anime of Black Rock Shooter is one of those stories which has a very intriguing premise, with excellent potential behind it. Unfortunately, the writing falls flat, and very, very short of what could be done with the premise as it stands in Episode 5.

    Somehow, I get the impression that this anime lacks a certain sense of focus, of decisiveness, and as a result meanders of into a painfully over melodramatic mess that we are suppose to regard as reality.

    Of course, if the writing had consciously referenced to the artificiality of the over the top nature of the melodrama here, then Episode 5 will be masterful mid-season denouement, instead of the first really good episode so far.

    • meow says:

      I think it might be a little too soon to say whether the writing has fallen flat yet.

      I think what’s happening is BRS was originally just a song and a piece of art. Maybe a nicodouga music video. Both the song and the character design got wildly popular but there wasn’t anything solid behind it. Fans demanded backstory so one had to be conceived around this character on the fly. Different storytellers got involved and each had their own ideas about where to take this character and so it got a little incoherent. I’m thinking that this TV series may be based on source material from the OVA, with some ideas on how to expand it into 8 episodes.

      I’m not sure if BRS is the only popular character. I’ve seen premium figures out there for Dead Master and possibly Strength and Black Gold Saw based on the OVA. Curiously, I think a character that strongly resembles Strength shows up in the PSP game too, even though most of that cast is vastly different from the OVA and TV series.

      About the emo-ness of all the characters, I figured there has to be some kind of connection between all that high-octane combat the BRS world characters are engaged in with their school world counterparts. You can’t have the BRS girls doing all of that while everything is passive and normal in the school world. I do agree that some of the things happening in the school world are kinda over the top but there’s where the BRS world and the school world connect.

  3. citizenofulysses says:

    Just a small side comment — I love your blog and all (one of the few I can actually bear to follow), but rape jokes = totally not cool. I know it’s not a huge deal and it’s just one sentence, but still, not cool and it kinda trivializes some horrible things. Just wanted to stop by and say that!

  4. RABUJOI says:

    I can imagine Misaki Mei, a girl whose class pretended she DIDN’T EXIST, would look at Yomi’s plight and say “Big whoop, you’re useless. So go goof off!” ;)

  5. RABUJOI says:

    My motivation for giving the series a try was very simple: the OVA looked really badass and featured an intriguing concept, and I thought it would be nice to see it expanded into a series where more life could be breathed into it.

    It’s already done that, so I’m satisfied, even if I had to dial back unrealistic expectations. It’s no masterpiece, but nor is it dog food. My mistake with BRS seemed to be making it out to be more than it was.

    I was actually unaware BRS series represented some kind of cynical, hastily-developed, committee-bred, otaku-pandering calculation, but whether that’s the case or not, I think ignorance is bliss in this case.

  6. inkka says:

    I don’t understand at all why Black rock shooter was so popular.It come from some famous Vocaloid music and its character design for that song is unique enough.That’s it…Right?

    Well..End of that BRS famous topic,Talked about the BRS tv anime.This is surely one of the most stupid teenager EMO stuff that I ever seen.Most of character(except the main one) go absolutely crazy in too little stuff.both their character development and the way that their problem end are really get on my nerves here.Especially Yomi,she is such an insane one.The way that they portray her problem was much worse than OVA in my view. Well thanks to some parallel world’s action here.At least it make the emo stuffs look more interesting…

    Although in ep5 the staff at least try to explain about suddenly don’t care sister antic of Kagari.But it still can’t change the fact about Yomi’s character development. It was too bad now.

    Anyway I watch this to find fault here and there.And sometimes I rather enjoyed those crazy stuff anyway.With 3eps left.I will watch it till the end for sure.I want to see how it will end too.Especially when we see that the story start to come together in Ep5.

  7. riddlekiller says:

    I’ve got to agree, as much as i love Black Rock shooter, the anime didn’t work out for me. I preferred the OVA. The anime was just too rushed. There were too many emotions that were happening at one time and it was all so fast. I couldn’t relate to the characters and for some reason the story felt like it was going through a washing machine and being spat right out.

    The whole show feels rush, which is such a shame, simply because if done right, this show would have rocked. However, they only have 8 episodes…so they rushed through it. I rather they do 8 seperate OVA’s then rush through an anime. Nothing is worst then rushing through the story because of the time line.

  8. hoiut says:

    I really liked this anime up until episode 6. Why? I could think of it as one giant, overblown extended metaphor. (See my thoughts here: ).

    But now? None of that. My suspension of disbelief has ended, as it seems to have gone the oddly cliched route of spirit ghosts. Or something. Bah.

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  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:43 PM)
    Anyway seriously though, I’d say it does actually make sense in context xD Since none of monsters are actually that threatening.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:42 PM)
    .-. I have no words, mainly because whenever anyone uses word “Realism” in context of video game, I want to say rude words xD
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:40 PM)
    I think he gave it a passing glance and felt it wasn’t his thing, I remember he also felt that he thought the idea of sparing the monsters wasn’t believable or realistic given that he felt if you were realistically placed in that situation yourself, the real thing to do would be to fight back out of fear.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:37 PM)
    Did he actually play the game though? I mean, did he actually discover it himself or did he just heard the spoilers?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:35 PM)
    I had a talk with a friend about undertale and he wasn’t a fan, he prefers other types of rpgs, the choice element also made him uncomfortable and that he felt the game was too punishing.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:34 PM)
    @Kaiser: Puzzle elements, outside of sparing everyone, seem to be mainly just parodying video game puzzles. Like, only place where you actually have to solve actual puzzles is in Hotland, before that pretty much every puzzle is automatically solved, really easy or has some silly twist to it. Like the puzzle you can skip by pressing a switch in tree trunk. Can’t say I’m too fond of puzzles either, but I liked how game was making fun of them
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:32 PM)
    Speaking of awful sense of humor and things that dorks like, just wanted to say that turns out I was right about Jitsu wa watashi wa in that main couple does get together before chapter 100(forgot what exactly, some where in 80-90 range I think). But they are such huge dorks that they do everything ridiculously slowly because they are that embarrassed, so they have had like just one date(in chapter 100). Not that I expect anyone to remember what the heck I’m talking about xD
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:32 PM)
    The battle system grew on me a bit, but I didn’t like the puzzle elements it offered, the actual gameplay looked kind of dull also. Some of the characters were likeable enough, Papyrus, Asogore, the flower guy being my favourite though the plot didn’t really get interesting until the end.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:27 PM)
    I think any emotional response from undertale for melargely came from that it gave me this great sense of nostalgia bomb, but I’m okay with that totes =)
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:27 PM)
    And as a dork, I can say its to me personally funniest crap I have played in long time because it appeals to my sense of humor so well that I realized things about my sense of humor that I hadn’t noticed before while playing the game <_< I mean, its really darn silly game, even with the emotional moments.

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