Inspiration comes in a myriad of forms, and anything can lead a person on a flight of fancy. In 2007 the artist Huke designed an original character called "Black Rock Shooter", which he posted on his blog. The character inspired Ryo, the leader of the band Supercell, to write a song entitled "Black Rock Shooter", and Huke joined the band to provide further illustrations that were used in the music video for the song. Anyone familiar with the band's musical history will find it unsurprising that the lyrics themselves are sung by none other than the Vocaloid Hatsune Miku.
In 2009 Yamamoto Yutaka's production comapny Ordet (Suzumiya Haruhi fans should recognise his name as the production director for the original series until he was fired from KyoAni during the making of Lucky Star), decided to make a series of animated music videos based on the original work in conjuction with Ryo. Ironically, the same scenes was used for all three shorts, with the only real change being that the titular track was presented in three different ways.
All three shorts were gathered together and released on DVD under the title "Black Rock Shooter: Pilot Edition" and, following its successful release, Ordet embarked on a 50 minute OVA for the show. In an extremely surprising move (and truth be told, a very good bit of marketing), the new iteration was subtitled into seven different languages, and released free (that's right, free!), on the cover of Hobby Japan and Megami magazine, with a further release on the cover of Animedia scheduled for August 10th 2010.
The anime will also be released as a retail version in December of this year as well, but with all the freebies it will be interesting to see if anyone actually buys it.
Okay, now you know something of its history, but why have I bored you with all that when what you really want to know is, is it any good? Well, there's a reason for all that information (and no, it's not because I love the sound of my own voice, which is admittedly rather gravelly these days - and don't ever let me sing!), which has a big effect on how one views this show.
As far as the story goes Black Rock Shooter is ostensibly about two friends, Kuroi Mato and Takanashi Yomi, who are both first years in junior high school. The anime is also about a blue eyed girl wearing very little who is engaged in various battles with other characters.
And that's about it really.
The main issue with Black Rock Shooter is that there is no explanation as to what is actually going on, or more importantly, why. While I'll be the first to admit that such sentiments are not always necessary in anime (especially certain comedies), the lack of any real direction makes one wonder what they've just watched. While the plot may be fairly straight forward in the "real" world (albeit on the brief side), the whole deal with the parallel world is never investigated, nor are any explanations forthcomin no matter how long you wait. The viewer must assume certain things in order for the story to work, however while this may be fine in certain shows, there is simply too much missing from Black Rock Shooter to allow for any viable suspension of disbelief.
What does make sense though, is that the story is effectively about depression and isolation, however the highly stylized approach adopted by director Yoshioka Shinobu leaves too much to the imagination, with no real compensation for the viewer's input except for a scantily clad girl with a gun/sword/whatever it is at the moment. The fact is that there is scope for a much, much better story here, but for various reasons, some of them obviously financial (hence the "official" retail releases and all the merchandise), there is no room for the plot to evolve into something worthwhile.
The seeds are there though, for a much more in depth look at the franchise, and I for one would be interested to see how a 13 episode series would play out as this OVA does have some good ideas and concepts.
One area where the music video influence shows is in the look of Black Rock Shooter. The animation is pretty decent in both the real world and its parallel counterpart, however there are some flaws with both styles used by the show, especially with the character movement which are, at times, a little on the odd side.
The design of the anime is good on the whole, especially the settings in the parallel world, all of which are a little on the post-apocalyptic side. The look of the real world is very much like that of any number of anime, although there has been some effort to increase the level of detail in the surroundings. The one thing that irked me, however, was the number of scenes in the parallel world where one character or another does nothing more than pose in a cool way, as this just seems an unnecessary attempt to curry favour with the viewer.
On a side note, has anyone else noticed that the scantily clad, gun-toting, parallel world loli looks remarkably like a punk/goth version of Hatsune Miku?
As far as the sound goes, Black Rock Shooter is good in every department, but it's a long way from being great. The acting is decent for the most part, however there are occasions where the sieyuu are overcompensating for the lack of characterisation. The effects are well chosen and choreographed, however there are some timing issues that occur during the heavy action scenes.
Now given that this is a show that's ultimately based on a music video, one would be forgiven for thinking the music might be a little bit special, however this is not the case. While the thematic music tends to be rather subdued over the course of the show, there is a distinct lack of accompaniment for the majority of scenes. The major piece is actually the ending theme "Braveheart" by Gomband, a fairly generic J-rock song that actually works rather well given the manner in which the show ends.
To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure what to make of the characters. On the one side Mato and Yomi are decently realised as junior high school students with a budding friendship, however there isn't any real development of them or their relationship as what the viewer is only given a "fast forward" perspective until the "interesting" stuff begins to happen. On the other side there are the characters on ... the other side, none of whom are explained in any way, and only one ever gets named.
Granted this is only a 50 minute OVA and there's a lot to cram in there, but this is exactly why I believe this show should really have been at least 13 episodes, as while the "real" world characters are personable enough, I'm pretty sure many viewers have asked the same questions I did (i.e. who are the parallel world characters and what the hell is going on?).
While the OVA is enjoyable to a degree, the problems it has are simply too big to be overlooked or marginalised. One of the biggest issues is that the money wasted on producing this 50 minute OVA could, with a bit of frugality, been used to produce a 4 episode series that would have allowed formore development o both the plot and characters.
In essence though, Black Rock Shooter is simply another example of what is actually wrong with the anime industry. The various production studios waste so much money making shows that cater to a minority market, even within the anime community, and must therefore make up for their losses by overpricing the licenses for overseas distribution, and that's basically what's going on here (hence the retail release and the huge amount of merchandising).
Be that as it may, Black Rock Shooter is a decent way to waste 50 minutes, but it's not the best way to spend your time given the number of "better" (and I use that word very loosely), shows on offer.read more
Friendship. Something that is craved and needed by everyone. But if that friendship were torn, how far would you go to repair it?
Black Rock Shooter is a fantastic short story of two girls whose friendship grows from the roots that is highschool. Everyday brought them closer, making the possibility of losing one another made it that much more unbearable.
Story: Inevitably in a short OVA like BRS, there isn't much time to create a deep and complex story. So knowing this, BRS takes a common storyline and throws in something unique, making it utterly fantastic.
The way BRS shows the two sides of the storyline in a linear fashion makes the conclusion all the more effective, and by splitting the anime into two halves and showing them next to each other, BRS presents its story in a way that is not only refreshing, but more intriguing to follow as the viewer tries to decipher what is taking place. Although I began to doubt the storyline during the final few minutes, the conclusion brought it all together and cleared my doubts by showing how far someone would be willing to go to save a friend.
Art - Seeing as BRS is an independently made anime, the money in the art department is limited as shown by some sketchy bits of animation. When I first saw the characters, I immediately saw the similarites to others, such as Azusa from K-ON!. But aside from that the art is generally well done, from the characters emotions shown through a variety of expressions, to the battle scenes (which although sketchy at times) were well done overall. The eyes of the characters caught my attention most as they were very detailed and this combined well with the complex variety of emotions shown throughout.
Sound - When I first saw the trailer to BRS, the sound was something that caught my attention (I was tempted to write 'caught my eye' but it wouldn't have made sense would it? ;P). Although there isn't a great deal of music in this anime, the pieces used during the battle scenes and the ED song were brilliantly composed. The silence used during some parts of the anime were more effective then any musical piece could have been.
Character - Once again, with BRS being a short OVA, there isn't much time to work with the characters. However when the time calls for it, Mato and Yomi both show a degree of development as they strive to keep their friendship intact.
Enjoyment - The timely change from daily life to battle scenes was very enjoyable, and when the conclusion brought the two together it brought a smile to my face when the larger picture was revealed. When watching BRS, I was originally confused at how the two storylines would connect. Now however, I feel like if I watched it again I would enjoy it so much more, knowing that now I know the bigger picture, I can focus on the events that lead up to it.
Overall this is a fantastic attempt at creating something new and unique. With the short amount of time available, BRS gives us a fantastic story, which although small, is definitely memorable. Even though the Trailer seemed to promise a more action-filled epic, we were given a heartwarming combination of reality and the unknown.
Personally I really enjoyed this anime as a whole and like I said, I'd probably enjoy it a lot more if I watched it again. By coming into this anime with few expectations, I was pleasently surprised to find something as compelling as Black Rock Shooter.
It also posed me an interesting question: How far would you be willing to go for a friend?read more
This show was so hyped up. For a year before its release, floods of fanart, teaser videos, even cosplay, were everywhere. Then it finally comes out and is probably the most disappointing thing I've seen in a long time. It's probably going to get high ratings just because it has forced popularity, but don't be fooled. Here's the what and the why. Spoilers, of course.
Awesome promo art, a catchy song, cool fight scenes, and what does the story end up as? A slow-building, slow-moving school drama. It's not even interesting. Basically, the main character Mato becomes friends with a Yomi girl. Mato then becomes friends with a Yuu girl. Mato gets jealous (since they were OBVIOUSLY such good friends after all of what, three days?), vanishes suddenly, and is never seen again. After the end credits, she's back. What happened? Who knows. It also impllies Yuu is now jealous of Mato and Yomi being friends, leaving room for a sequel (God knows it doesn't deserve one).
There are fighting scenes throughout, where characters that look like personas of these girls duking it out in a phantasmal checkerboard world, except for Yuu's persona, who just stands on a cliff for one scene and then is never seen again. The show keeps you guessing how it's related to the story you see unfolding at the school - could it be her imagination? A wild world contained in her dreams? No! It has no fucking connection at all! It's a metaphor for her trying to overcome her friend's jealousy. It's not deep. It's not inspirational. It's just stupid.
Yes, Black Rock Shooter is Yoko from Gurren Lagann combined with Hatsune Miku. Yes, there are girls with heavy weaponry, scythes, skulls, and skimpy clothing in this awesome cathedral world. But then when you actually watch it, you discover that during those fight scenes, the video gets so choppy you can barely tell it's animated at all! It's like you're watching a powerpoint presentation! The school life sequences were better animated, but were generally poor enough quality that it feels like you're watching K-On animated by underpaid laborers. Oh, wait...
Remember that awesome Vocaloid Song the show was going to be based on? It doesn't appear in the show at all. Instead it's replaced by a punky-sounding end credits song, very sparse background music, and the voices, well... most of the lines are grunts and heavy breathing. For 50 minutes of video, there's not very much talking, and for what they do say, I have no comment. The music though, was a big let-down.
There are 6 characters in this show. Mato, Yomi, Yuu, and their personas. The personas look awesome but never talk until the very end, where one speaks. Deep? No. Lazy.
Their designs are decent enough, although Black Rock Shooter to me looked more like a zombie with her pale white skin and stomach scar. I don't really have much to say about the school-life versions. They're really boring. If you can find one defining thing about any of the three of them, please, PLEASE tell me. I won't even remember their names by tomorrow.
Because it was only an hour.
Yeah, so people are going to say if you don't get the plot of this show, it's too deep for you. Well guess what? There is no plot. It's 40 minutes of highschool drama - /sorta/. 4 minutes of credits, and across the whole thing, 6 minutes of low-framerate fight scenes. The moral of the story? My friends and I came up with two.
A. You cannot have more than one friend.
B. Girls are bitches.read more
If you keep yourself on your toes, and have seen a fair share of anime in the past, I can guarantee you will be able to predict every single major plot event in this drawn out and clunky story. First off though I'll say that the animation does not disappoint, the quality is up to if not better than most on the air shows and although there's not much deviation from the standard in terms of design and motion they staff's done a solid job.
Now, about predictability, which most certainly is not an issue in any good story as plenty of plots have a beginning that practically gives away the end. But with good story telling, you don't mind. Black Rock shooter however, does not have good story telling. Instead it has lengthy undramatic and emotionally forced build up to a random(yet, of course predictable) occurrence, which leads to the final 10 minutes being used neither to explain nor expand but rather continue the purposeless fight scene that we've already seen plenty of circa random cut aways sandwiched by the friendship-drama snowball rolling down the story's hill.
Certainly there's finer points and details I can get into but I'm definitely not the only one disappointed here so I won't get into what other reviews have already said.
The school life portions, had they been well written and presented a conflict that anyone could care for, would have been fine. The pointless cuts to the 50 minute stale mate of a fight scene would not have been necessary either if they just made the portions of the script where characters were interacting and developing something more than what it was. The first time they showed the fight probably hooked people easily enough that the 10 or so other times it was done were definitely not necessary. And really, the way it started had so much potential, the plot in the original song is so vague and ambiguous that really, there could have been any sort of plot but instead they just went along with the source material and stayed vague and ambiguous, painfully so.
Considering how much they provided for detail in the meaningless little portions of the ova, it's also disappointing that they didn't spend that time expanding on some of the inferred portions of the story. Considering how meticulous and detailed the fan-base is with their own renditions of BRS it's almost sad how unimaginative the writing in this is. There's one shot of the two heroines together with one playing the guitar, expanding on that could have made the plot amazing, half the point of BRS is that it's a song, without the song the character isn't much and without the character the song isn't much either. That's a specific example I'll bring up, but if you watch the OVA or have already, just imagine some of the scenes and developments given more meaning.
But anyways, compared to the quality that the independant creators on the internet were able to produce in terms of creativity, this OVA comes nowhere close. They stuck to cliches and were content with a run of the mill plot, didn't really seem to give much about their characters and have a liking for macguffins and deus ex machina. read more
A year ago, an OVA about huke's original character and ryo's song Black★Rock Shooter was announced to the Japanese public, and soon, the Western-speaking world via the Internet. The Vocaloid fandom rejoiced as the thought of something relating to their beloved voice synthesizers finally becoming an anime at last. The project quickly became one of the most anticipated anime of 2010. Was it worth the hype? Well...I'm just going to say it: no, not even close.
For those of you who aren't well-versed in the Vocaloid fandom and don't know what the hooplah is about, here's a brief history: Black★Rock Shooter started out as an original character by the artist huke. A Vocaloid song producer named ryo saw some illustrations of B★RS and thought that she looked like a dark-haired Hatsune Miku. One song and music video later, B★RS was introduced to the Vocaloid fandom with positive reactions. The song, video, and character became worldwide hits, which in turn spawned the OVA.
With an action-packed trailer for an OVA based on a great song, one would think that the anime would be an entertaining fantasy adventure, right? The results are quite far from that.
So, here we are...Black★Rock Shooter: a slice-of-life anime involving the relationship between two best friends. I'm not kidding: that is the core of the story. If you strip away all the hype surrounding the anime, this is what the anime really is. It's nothing that avid anime fans haven't seen before. To make sure that what the viewer is watching is in fact an OVA about Black★Rock Shooter, various scenes involving a death match between her best-friend-turned-nemesis, Dead★Master, have been thrown in. For most of the OVA, the scenes from the slice-of-life side and the fantasy side of the story seem irrelevant, despite the fact that the two fantasy characters bear striking resemblances to the real world characters. It's only during the last 10 minutes of the OVA that the director decides to slap on some logical reason as to how these 6 characters connect. Because of how the story is structured, there is a lot of guess work needed to be done about the relationships between all these characters: Why does Black★Rock Shooter's world look so desolate? How did Dead★Master become evil in the first place? And so on. The OVA brings up more questions than it does answer them. The storytelling technique of two or more stories intertwining can either fall under brilliant or gimmicky/messy. Anime like Baccano! perfect this technique. Guess which category this OVA falls under? I hope A-1 Pictures decides to animate more OVAs to clear up the plot holes in this one.
The art was the only thing that prevented me from dropping the OVA (along with the hope of things eventually getting better). When I saw the trailer for the OVA, I thought it looked terrible and hoped that it would get cleaned up eventually. At least that one expectation was reached. The pleasant, pastel look of the real world was a good contrast against Black★Rock Shooter's seemingly post-apocalyptic world. It also looks more gothic than I imagined it would be, with cross-shaped graves and a barren church populating the action scenes. The character designs are also interesting and distinct. Even characters such as Mato's brother and the detective stand out from the rest of the cast. The main characters are the most appealing, since the story focuses on them. The animation is especially nice in some scenes, including Mato dangling Yomi's cellphone charm and the action scenes in Black★Rock Shooter's world. If you're going to watch the OVA for one thing, make it the animation.
The sound was just as good as the animation. supercell, ryo's band, provides a nice mix of orchestral cues and hard rock music for each setting. ryo's use of the piano is a trademark in his music, so you'll be hearing a lot of that in the more dramatic scenes. He even manages to throw in homages to the song the OVA is based off of in some of the soundtrack to give the music a more thematic feel. The insert song also sounds nice, but the eniding theme might take a few more listens in order to get used to it. The voice acting is decent at best. The character's voices weren't as annoying as I thought they would be, but there's nothing special about them, either. Miyuki Sawashiro as Yomi stood out the most for me. The way she spoke gave the character a sort of elegance that brought to mind Rue from Princess Tutu. There is also the case where the fantasy characters don't speak at all (except for Black★Rock Shooter at the end), a very interesting move on the writers' and director's parts, but it does nothing to help with their side of the story.
As for the characters...where do I begin with them? If the writers wanted to turn Black★Rock Shooter into this kind of anime, there really should have been more attention paid to developing the characters in both settings instead of just one. What form of development we get is very weak and underwhelming. The development in the real world setting is alright, but more could have been done to make the viewers care more about the characters. In Black★Rock Shooter's world, there was next to no development between B★RS and Dead★Master. It seemed as if they were there only to appease the fans that were waiting a year for this to come out. Although the problems occurring in both worlds are similar, they exist as two separate entities that would eventually connect in the end. That's not an excuse to abandon the development of one set of characters in order to develop another set. The fantasy characters were there as fanservice and a weak way to move the story along. The character development was what really dragged down the OVA, not the story.
Like a handful of people that were awaiting the OVA, I was surprised to notice that the OVA not only failed to reach my expectations, but seemed to abandon my expectations altogether. Given the nature of the Black★Rock Shooter character and music video, I was expecting an action-oriented OVA that used the character's world and design as a framework to help develop the story. I really thought that she was going to get an actual personality and a decent backstory. I ended up getting something else. I really was let down, not because I didn't get the kind of anime I wanted, but because the effort put into this project was so shallow. If you've been waiting to watch this OVA like I have, don't waste your time. If you just so happen to be wanting a slice-of-life/action hybrid in your anime-watching diet that'll kill a lazy afternoon, then I guess you can go ahead with this anime. It's mediocre, but it's not the worst anime ever. Again, I hope a few more OVAs will be made to clean up the mess this one has made.read more
I've never written a review for this site, so bear with me. I've been noticing a lot of mixed and disappointed reviews. That's somewhat understandable if one's going solely on the trailers. Instead of an all action fantasy piece, we got a very experimental story of friendship. The very core of BRS is the meaning of friendship. How it bolsters one. How its absence crushes one. How far one will go to preserve it.
I'm not good at assigning number grades, so take them in stride. It's hard to quantify the difference between an 8 and 9 and so on and what deserves what.
Story: The story of Black Rock Shooter is a somewhat generic, basic one told in a very unusual way. It deals with two friends, Mato and Yomi, who grow very close to one another in their first year of middle school, only to drift apart in the second year. What makes it interesting is that this descent evolves into a fantasy battle spliced into their regular lives.
This effect is apparently rather hit or miss judging by other reviews. Some even suggest that the reviewer didn't connect the two, which is a shame. I thought it was an interesting way of presenting the story. Seeing the downfall of the relationship, the bitter ashes it created, while also watching its genesis gives things an unusual perspective. The battle portion working in time, building with the actual friendship (an example being that the fight doesn't really begin until the defining moment of the friendship). Hence we see it wax and wane simultaneously, and can't help but wonder what went wrong. Why did it come to this? What's more, we see the evolution of that battle, the true meaning of it, as Mato realises just what her friendship and actions have come to mean as well.
This presentation is probably what sets the show apart. Had it been linear, the story would've been rather average indeed. It would still be good, but much more 101. That's due to the simplicity of it. It really is nothing more than the rise and decline of a friendship and the fight to restore it. A lot has to do with the emotions of it. How friendship can lift ones spirits and how its decline can drive them into the darkest of corners. Seeing these concurrently drives it home.
Obviously, this form of presentation can be confusing if taken at face value. Complaints about seeing a fight between two characters that have no reason to fight in the previous timeline are marginally valid. One needs to realize that it's essentially two episodes playing concurrently, with scenes not always meant to complement one another. It is foreshadowing on a grand scale.
So what we have is a very simple story told in a deceptively simple way, and it's up to the viewer to put the two together properly. The only part I didn't really get was the opening fight scene involving a character that doesn't matter.
Art: The art of the series is both eye-catching and a touch mundane. Though I believe that's the point. The "real" world is done in blues and soft colors, and has a rather basic school show look to it with pastels and other soft colors. On the other hand the fantasy world is more greens and yellows, and sports a more gothic and checkered look, with richer colors and darker atmosphere. Appropriate for a friendship gone sour. This color themeing goes right down to Mato and Yomi themselves, with Mato themed in blue, and Yomi in green. The two styles play well off one another in conveying the respective moods.
Character designs are simple yet eye-catching. I particularly love the look of Dead Master. Overall, the art is probably the most memorable and appealing aspect of the show as the storytelling is highly visual. Particularly the fantasy world. It supports the story well in accentuating the emotion and action each scene is telling.
As a first effort, the animation is suitably fluid. The battle scenes are a touch hectic, but work well. About the only complain I could find is that the artists couldn't seem to decide whether Yomi's hair was short or not. The front and side suggest a close-cropped nape with long front, yet several back shots tend to show parted hair. So there's a inconsistency there.
Sound: There's very limited dialogue in the OVA, and the actors are more than adequate for the job. In fact, there's no dialogue at all in the fight scenes. Since the show works heavily on a show, don't tell" concept, this isn't an issue. I can't imagine an argument between BRS and Dead Master adding to the emotion already inherent of two friends at each others mercy. Hence the silence is fitting. All that needed say already had been at that point.
Most of the music is average, with one rather odd bubbly number during a friendly montage. I was also rather surprised at how little the title song features in the show. Though it does appear at an appropriate moment. The music doesn't really shine until the end, with some very fitting piano pieces. Particularly the finale score adding to the emotion of the scene.
Characters: This one is tricky. Being only 50 minutes long, not much character development occurs. Indeed, all we get is what's important, and that is an extroverted girl befriending an introverted one and becoming very important to her. So important that when they start to drift apart it literally consumes her in darkness. By that account the characters pull off what's needed, and that is the friendship at the core of the story. Sure, we could've learned more about them, especially Yomi, who always seems to have a sad side to her. These are characters of which much can be inferred upon. I have no problem with that given the context of the story.
The point is that the relationship of the two is handled well enough to keep the story afloat leading to a satisfying conclusion to the conflict. They're likeable, identifiable, and one cares enough to want to see it through. In a story like this, that's what's important.
Enjoyment: The enjoyment of the series really depends on what you give it and take from it. Black Rock Shooter strikes me as the type of show that might improve on repeat viewings. It also depends on how well you like the blending of stories. One does tend to spend much of it wondering when the next fight will occur and how it came to be. Both lines build slowly, and at the end really come together nicely. The entire storytelling style pays off brilliantly at the end, in my opinion, as we view the beginning and end of Mato's journey to save her friendship simultaneously. It can be a touch jarring to essentially see the beginning after the end, but it drives home the very reason she became Black Rock Shooter in the first place. That moment alone practically makes the whole thing.
Overall, Black Rock Shooter is a very ordinary story about friendship told in an extraordinary way. Those coming in expecting wall to wall action will be disappointed. Perhaps I avoided that when I read that the story was to be about two friends so i knew what to expect. It's essentially a minor tragedy, not an action piece. The experimental way the stories told rewards viewers willing to put up with it and not just take it at face value. A lot of hype has hit this, and it will be judged far harsher because of it. Is it the best show of the year? Probably not, but it definitely is entertaining and worth a view, especially if you're a fan of unorthodox storytelling. The light hand of the story and characters allow for a lot of fan exposition, and I can see this inspiring fan fiction and sequels, especially with the open ending. The artwork alone is good enough to keep this one around.
Give Black Rock Shooter a shot. The show deals heavily with friendship and what it means to people in an interestingly visual way. It may not be the masterpiece everyone was expecting, but it certainly is an excellent first effort and a welcome change from the average Slice of Life shows. Let it soak in awhile, and maybe you'll find something worthwhile in it. It definitely lingers with you.read more
Some months ago, I watched the trailer to Black Rock Shooter for the first time. In short, I was blown away: the art was pleasing, the song it featured (also called Black Rock Shooter, released by Supercell) was both memorable and impressive, and the story at its simplest description was not hard to guess from only that preview: two high school girls, friends at some point, locked in battle after one turns evil. Needless to say, I was expecting this to be epic, and I think it's safe to say that I was not alone. However, I'm afraid that Black Rock Shooter simply did not live up to the hype.
The story presented in this OVA was a simple one, though it definitely had potential. Despite this, the story is weak, and one of the main areas in which the OVA fails to shine. Why? It's not that the plot turned out to be rather poor. It's also not because of unbelievable characters. And not specifically due to rushing either. I feel like the story was lacking because of the focus and presentation. For the better part of 50 minutes, we are watching a somewhat boring slice-of-life school drama, in which two girls become friends and then grow apart. Inserted somewhat awkwardly, at intervals, are scenes of Black Rock Shooter standing, running, or fighting with the mysterious antagonist. The "slice of life" portion of the story is dull, and tells a story that we've all heard before without (in my opinion) doing it in a way that is very entertaining. The scenes in the bleak other world manage to hold the attention a bit more, but are not all that they could be due to the lack of information on what exactly is going on and because of the actions of the characters who appear there.
The characters in the slice of life portion are likeable enough, but as typical high schoolers, there's nothing too special about them. They had appropriate emotions throughout and I was able to sympathize with them, so I am pleased. But again, nothing is specifically interesting about them, or at least there is nothing interesting about the way they are portrayed. As for their counterparts in the other world- while they wear cool clothes and have nice big weapons, they lack personality, unless you count the occasional evil smile, courtesy of our antagonist. It doesn't help that they're practically emotionless and don't say a word while they're around each other. They have no backstory, no (given) reasons, and just sort of exist. They lack any identity outside of "good" and "evil" which, as I stated before, contributes to the overall dullness of the story. Keep in mind however, that another OVA will most likely be produced, in which case those two will probably be fleshed out much more. Though, looking at this as a standalone project, I am not too impressed.
The art was very good, and consistently good, so I don't have much to complain about. The character designs were perfectly acceptable, and in the cases of Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master, simply awesome. The other world is animated very nicely as well, barren and bleak and depressing, and most of all impressive. Same goes for the antagonist's fortress: I got a real sense of despair from looking at that place. There were a few small issues that while noticeable (by me at least) did not really effect the nice quality of the OVA: For one, you may notice that whenever the characters turned their heads, the profiles were a bit...off. I wouldn't say they were drawn poorly, but a little weird. Too thin perhaps. And secondly, the animation during the fight scenes was sometimes all over the place, so it was at times hard to focus. But other than those minor things, the animation I saw was fine.
Not much to say about the sound. The pieces were good enough: the somewhat classical bits during the school scenes fit well, and portrayed nicely how it feels to hanging out with a close friend, and conversely, how sad it is to loose one. A very "slice of life" feel. The music played during the scenes with the other world were great, perfect battle music. Very intense. I personally did not like the ending song, but I definitely wouldn't say it was bad, just not my taste. All in all, the music was good and blended well with the scenes they came with, but there was nothing that stood out to me as being particularly amazing. On a side note, I was a bit disappointed that the song featured in the trailer was not featured in the OVA, except for a couple of non-vocal cover versions. But this was something personal, and did not change the overall quality of the music.
It was a bit hard for me to enjoy this. As I said before, the slice of life scenes were very "typical" and not particularly appealing, and the scenes from the other world were entertaining, but I would have been happier if I could have gotten more elaboration. I understood the story, but I can see how some people might not have gotten everything completely. I'm disappointed that most of the story took place in "reality", as it was a bit boring for me. I thought this was going to be more of an action/adventure, so I would have liked more scenes with Black Rock Shooter. Overall, I can say that I was entertained for the most part, but I definitely felt that more could have been done with the story.
I'm giving this OVA a score of 6. It was acceptable, but it didn't blow my mind like I thought and hoped it would. It was ok, not great. It did not live up to the hype. While I will not say that Black Rock Shooter was all bad, the project as a whole has left me with mixed feelings, but mainly disappointment, as perhaps I expected too much of this. Don't get me wrong- you may possibly enjoy this. But while Black Rock Shooter managed to be watchable, it was nothing more than average, at best. read more
Okay, First BRS Review because I Just watched it. /without subs. But having no Subs at all really doesn't matter, because the story is VERY Easy to follow.
//Spoilers Included, Of Course;
Mato and Yomi become friends when Mato pushes herself onto her (probably out of admiration of her), and they actually begin talking, going out and hanging out with one another; Sharing stories, and experiences, and having matching cell phone charms.
Though when Yuu gets into the picture when Mato hurts her knee in Gym, slowly the girls start speaking less and less with one another as Mato is progressively interested in Yuu. To put more stress on the situation, They no longer have homeroom together.
When Yomi ends up missing, Mato realizes what she has done, and desperately wishes for her friend to come back. One night she gets a message from Yomi's cell phone, and she travels to their sightseeing spot and finds Yomi's charm, and Black Rock Shooter appears, giving the chance to Mato to find her lost friend.
It's slightly over-used highschool drama/friendship testing that we're used to seeing, just mixed with a fantasy backdrop that's not even remotely elaborated upon due to time restrictions. You see Black Gold Shaw and STR, but they do close to nothing except /be/ there, and their appearances aren't even explained; Moreso with BGS than STR (Who must be Yuu, I'm sure). It's easy to follow even without subs, which is convenient but also saddening, because it lacks /depth/.
Ordet does some amazing fight scenes, other times it seems a bit lazy and lackluster, especially in some talking scenes when the hands are reduced to blobby mittens. Also the lines seem to just "poof" out of no where in what you would think were easily animated parts. But the eyes are always nice to look at and the liquid style are a plus and outweigh the negative.
Oh my god. This soundtrack.
The fight scenes are orchestrated to the heavy metal/rock music almost perfectly, and add a sense of "shit's hitting the fan" more so then most music I'm used to hearing in fight scenes. The everyday scenes are in perfect contrast and are airy, with happy undertones and make you feel carefree as well. The music shifts are done very skillfully and expertly executed.
I'd seriously love to know who made the music for the battle scenes though. They made my year with it.
The characters are developed very nicely in the short time frame, though more so on Yomi than Mato, Yuu, or BGS/STR. We mainly only see how Yomi is affected for much of the show, and I felt more partial to her feelings than Mato, who completely ignores Yomi as soon as Yuu appears. We don't get to know much, if at all, Yuu's real personality. So for this the score slightly suffers, but I give it a lee way considering the time frame.
This anime. Made me almost cry; and it made me jump. Oh, and It also made me have to tweet something every five minutes about SOMETHING THAT WAS JUST Too "Adorable" or "Angering" or "WHAT!!?". Overall, this was a very enjoyable experience.
And there's going to be an obvious continuation by that hint, Yuu.
So I'm eager for the next installment and even though some points were saddening, I loved every moment of it.read more
This is my first review, so... Well. Here I go.
Really... Before watching BRS, I was expecting something, like... "Pew pew pew fight fight". Indeed, I didn't receive it. It was just a slice of life. And guys, I tell you. The OVA is good, it just got the wrong public with that trailer. I mean, everyone was expecting something else, like Black Rock Shooter fighting against Dead Master and all. But, well, you see, they got... That. A slice of life.
The story isn't bad, it's even good, I tell you. For a slice of life, it's great. But I can't rate it with more than 7. Simply because it could have something more.
The art was great, but it wasn't actually "Godlike". Well, I suppose you can't have a good OVA just because of the art, right? After all, once the animation was the ones of an OVA, it had to be great.
The soundtrack of this OVA is AMAZING. Really, it couldn't be better. But, like the art, it can't make a good OVA alone.
How can I put it? Well... The characters didn't catch my eye. They were just "normal". It's not like if I didn't like their personalities, they simply weren't "FUCKING WIN". Something like this.
Many people won't enjoy it, because of the trailer. If you watched the trailer and you're waiting for fight and all, then you won't enjoy it. But, if you like a slice of life with those typical problems of an adolescent (feeling like if you've been forgotten by your best friend), then you'll enjoy it.
Well. The anime itself is good. Very good. As I said before, it just had the wrong public. Again: IF YOU ARE EXPETCING SOMETHING WITH (many) ACTION SCENES, THEN DON'T WATCH BLACK ROCK SHOOTER! Unless you like few action scenes and lots of slice of life.read more
I feel this anime definitely had far too much hype behind it and I honestly feel like it needs to have a review from the other side of the spectrum.
Story 5/10: There was virtually no story line or plot behind the anime besides a girl attending high school and her "alter ego" fighting what turns out to be one of her classmate's "alter ego." The plot was cliche almost entirely with few exceptions. I don't want to add in too much so I don't spoil it for those who really still want to watch it after this.
Art 10/10: Was amazing as expected of a newer season anime.
Sound 9/10: Was also amazing, the music matched the anime flawlessly.
Character 7/10: I wasn't too impressed with the characters themselves, however the actual character development for the time span that was covered in the anime was decently done and I was surprised that there was at least some sort of character development, compared to the actual plot and storyline. There were however a few characters that just seemed to be tossed in along the way that really served virtually no purpose.
Enjoyment 3/10: I didn't enjoy this anime at all. I just honestly could not get into it due to how slow paced it was. They should have focused much more in the actual perspective of the BRS rather than that of the girl, in my opinion.
Overall 5/10: The anime itself is mediocre and slow paced, some people might like that, however. I wouldn't recommend watching this if you can't stand slow paced anime.
Black★Rock Shooter was one of the most hyped up series of the year and perhaps the decade, everyone thought that this would be the next big thing. However in the end it just appear to disappoint because it didn't turn out to be the masterpiece everyone was expecting. Although it was a disappointment to many, to a casual anime watcher with no real expectations it was alright.
The story is about 2 girls who become best friends but as life goes on they grow apart and eventually one of them disappears. I don't know how to describe the next part except that the main character turns into Black Rock Shooter and fights what once was her best friend. Although the story did seem a bit bland (and something I've heard before) I think it was okay on it's execution, don't get me wrong it could have been better but I didn't see any real problems. Also you have to remember that this is an OVA so it really doesn't have the time to develop a very in-depth story.
I absolutely loved the art. The designs were simply amazing and the tone really achieved the mood they were going for. There were some minor animation issues but nothing that can't be overlooked.
This was done really well too. I don't have much to complain about here, the background music always gave you a feel of what was happening and ending song was good. The voice acting was average but that's not really something to complain about.
The characters were average, the anime did manage to get me to sympathize and feel for them but they seemed like typical high school girls that every anime has. Theres really not much interesting about them but keep in mind this is only a 50 minute OVA so it's actually pretty impressive that they got some character development in
For a casual watcher like myself Black★Rock Shooter is pretty enjoyable. It could have been paced a bit faster and although the story was a bit bland I was able to sit through it without getting bored (through-out most of it).
Overall Black★Rock Shooter is actually pretty good, I liked the story and enjoyed watching it, the artwork and sound were also amazing. The problem is that some people put their expectations way to high and wouldn't except anything less than a master piece. I think people tend to forget that this is only an OVA and because of that it doesn't really have time to develop into something awesome. However for someone like me who didn't see the epic trailer and wasn't all hyped about this coming out it was alright. I might be a bit generous with my mark but only a bit. Although I do hope they make more so I can see more development Thanks for reading :) read more
This is a crappier version of Heartcatch Precure, a magical girl show written for 12 year old girls. I'll be using Heartcatch as a comparison show. Go watch that instead, or do anything else with your time but this.
THIS IS NOT THE ACTION FANTASY YOU WERE PROMISED BY THE TRAILERS.
Roughly half of the 5 to 10 minutes of actual Black Rock Shooter footage was already shown in the previews.
I've seen a couple reviews saying that the show is all about a great friendship story, which is the only thing they can claim when the first 44 minutes of this 48 minute show are spent without the title character getting more than a 30-second spot on screen.
However, the "great friendship story" is 10 to 15 minutes of content dragged out over 44 minutes. Girls become best friends, one girl gets all sad, evil lady captures sad girl, forces her to fight her best friend, best friend transforms and rescues sad girl. This is the entire plot to both BRS and the first episode of Heartcatch, and Heartcatch includes a better fighting scene and does it in half the time. Never has a show made me want to re-cut it for better pacing more than this show. I could have started halfway through the show and not missed anything.
The art was the best part of the show, which I guess makes sense when the entire show was based on a song and some character art. Some of the animation was a bit sketchy, but I could have forgiven it if the rest of the show wasn't such utter crap.
For a show based on a Vocaloid song, the music was almost non-existent. I think the piano version of the song showed up once, but it was really quiet. The battle noises drowned out any music during them.
For voices, they weren't too bad, except for Yomi's VA (Who I had come to expect better work from). The final scene, the big emotional payoff, was ruined by the "I'm hugging you/I don't want to be hugged/Too bad/I'm going to moan like I'm giving birth to a camel." Everyone in the room cringed.
These characters could have been memorable, if they had given them more lines than idle chit-chat about unimportant crap. The Heartcatch Precure characters have more developed personalities than these girls.
Black Rock Shooter is, for the most part, a simple slice-of-life story. What makes the story unique is the juxtaposition between the real world and the world of Black Rock Shooter. This creates a sense of mystery and breaks away from the more traditional style of linear storytelling. The downside is that this makes certain points in the plot quite confusing, and more than likely you will have to watch a second time in order to pick up on some of the subtler plot points.
The main drawback of the plot itself is the rushed feeling it gives; it becomes quite obvious towards the second half of the OVA that 60 minutes is not enough time to develop the story effectively. However, the merits of this OVA should not be considered on its own; it is but the beginning of what appears to be a continuing storyline.
The art style and animation are superb. The art has been upgraded since the Pilot edition trailer. Every scene has been rendered with exquisite detail. huke's unique art style has been well conveyed by Ordet Studios rendition of Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master. The actions scenes are particularly well animated, with a nice mix between detail and speed.
The soundtrack for the OVA, composed by ryo (the composer of the orginal Black Rock Shooter vocaloid song) is excellent and effectively evokes the emotions of each situation. From the slice-of-life moments to the action moments, each scene has an appropriate accompanying piece of music (or lack thereof). Perhaps the only complaint would be that the song Black Rock Shooter itself does not actually appear (although parts of the song do appear instrumentally within the soundtrack).
The characters in the OVA are well-designed, but are quite cliqued and predictable. In terms of personality, both Mato and Yomi are quite plain, with no real unique or special characteristics. Mato is your typical sports-oriented girl with average grade and Yomi is your typical sheltered rich girl. However, these plain character designs do not detract from the overall story.
Black Rock Shooter is a unique, well-designed OVA that is a definite watch for those looking for something a little different. Just remember to consider the OVA as simply part 1 of what will mostly likely be a much bigger story.read more
Now, before I get into the nitty gritty, I must admit I didn't follow much of the hype at all. I like Vocaloid related things and BRS was a pretty good song. I saw the OVA up and decided I'd give it a shot.
I watched the trailer and admit that like others before me I expected tons of fight scenes, epic action sequences and a whole cargo container of gar to top it off.
The general expectation wasn't met. I think a lot of people are disappointed, and probably rightly so. Starting with an action sequence right off the bat without any form of conversation to give a good context isn't what I'd say gives a good impression. We the audience only know three things:
1. We're in a setting obviously not in Japan.
2. The symbolic Black Rock Shooter gal is duking it out with someone.
3. Said someone is winning.
Why is BRS in this struggle? Don't ask me, if you know please send me a PM because it's practically like watching and extended part of the trailer, then it moves on to what I presume is the main part of the story.
Throughout the rest of the OVA the two worlds will periodically interchange, some say it's alternate worlds and the events are occurring simultaneously. I'd like to be somewhat generous and will hence claim that it is a split time-line. If I tried to explain this the review would be too long, so let me try to illustrate it with a simple sentence.
"This is a sentence with the word plot". 8 words, let's split and mix it up:
"This with is the a word sentence plot". Doesn't make sense does it? I think it's kinda like that.
So we end up watching what's possibly the beginning of this BRS story as well as the events leading to the climax and end at the very same time. This makes it terribly confusing.
I gave the story 7 points because I'm biased for slow moving, going absolutely no where, fluff high school girl stories. That said the show lost points from me for not truly providing a satisfactory context.
I like the art, what more need I say? 'Tis my review and the beauty of art is it's up to the majority of opinions. I rate it how I feel, you can decide for yourself.
The animation however had a few flaws, but overall was clean enough to pass my standards.
The eponymous song, Black Rock Shooter, never makes a true appearance. It makes an appearance near the end as a watered down piano only version.
Cute. Now if only the song wasn't really the only reason I was watching this OVA.
The rest of the music is generic BGM stuff. Passable but c'mon, we were mostly expecting epics here. I should note here though that ryo did all the music stuff here and the Ending Credits song is "Braveheart" written and arranged by ryo but performed by THE GOMBAND. The question as to why BRS couldn't have been played as the ending credits song I can only wonder.
Rather than just a female animated Rambo with much less muscle - in fact bordering not eatin' enough, kickin' heaps of arse, we have seemly two main protagonists; one resides in a standard suburb in Japan and the other in the trippy world we've all seen in the trailer and art. In fact it seems all the main characters have an alternate persona in the trippy world. The voice actors fit the characters to a T, and it seems Asumi Kana has landed yet another pint-sized character role.
Watch it and you'll probably see why I rated this so.
I rounded up the average score which was 6.6 to give 7.
A startling lack of references to Vocaloid and the eponymous song makes this just like any other generic high school girl anime released, I still enjoyed it a little cause I'm a dude who likes watching relatively cute animated high school girls with funky, logic defying hair work out their friendship problems but I was left feeling that the OVA was more like someone had taken characters from an established setting and recycled it into a different, plainer narrative. It was alright, but honestly I was expecting better.read more
Unlike a few others, I just picked Black Rock Shooter on whim a few months ago and put it on my Plan to Watch list. I never saw any of the trailers or preview footage, so I had no expectations on how bad or good BRS might be, therefore zero bias. Safe to say, BRS is average at best, though it has a few merits that made it well worth the watch.
The storyline is where this OVA falls apart. Basic premises is that we have two girls (Mato and Yomi) who establish a friendship on their first day of high school. Despite being complete polar opposites, their bond and friendship strengthens, as they progress through the year. In a choppy transition to the second year, Yomi and Mato are now separated into different classes, and Mato has now became more acquainted with a friend named Yuu. The former best friends inevitably grow apart...
Now, one of the flaws of this OVA is how predictable it was. We could already tell the shy Yomi was the type who craved companionship, and that the active and upbeat Mato would inevitably find someone else to hang out with. Also, the OVA intermittently cuts out from the main story to focus on a dialogueless parallel universe, where alternate forms of the main characters (Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master) are pitted against each other. The problem here is that I found there was no reason to include these parts other than to a) Include some action b) lengthen the OVA or c) create a convenient plot device. The uncreative writing suffers similarly to Clannad's alternate universe device, as both would've been much better if they were more creatively resolved.
Aside from the storyline, the rest of the OVA was admittedly done quite well. The animation was up to standard and fluid, with the fight scenes quite flash and stylized. While some of the character designs were somewhat plain, Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master were very detailed and interestingly crafted, with BRS donning black bikini, cloak and knee high boots, and DM in some type of lolita type dress. To reference Clannad once again, I found the quality of the eyes in BRS to be on par with Key's crowning animation. While not drawn in the same way, BRS's eyes convey much meaning and emotion, and make us empathize every drop of anger or desperation pouring from them.
The sound was fantastic. In my opinion, the sound rating for me actually surpassed the enjoyment of this OVA. The pieces used are varying and fitting, as it ranges from classical piano for enjoyable subway rides to rock pieces for fight scenes. The voice acting was well done, with praise to Mato's seiyuu, Hanazawa Kana, who effectively depicted her as an energetic and upbeat person, who can also show genuine worries and desperation. If there were an OST release, I would buy it.
The characters were pretty good. The development and depth of Mato and Yumi's friendship was somewhat jagged and rushed, as they already grow apart before the halfway point of the OVA. The characters themselves were pretty self explanatory, with Mato being the upbeat one and Yomi being the shy and seclusive one. Though alternate universe characters mostly never spoke, its clear Black Rock Shooter is nobly trying to mend a broken friendship with a stubborn Dead Master.
Overall, the OVA was quite enjoyable. I had my qualms with the pacing and predictability, though the rest of the things brought it up. After finishing, I felt that is was worth the time to watch, though the developers could've done so much more. Adapt this into a 12 episode series? It's possible. All I can say is, you have to watch BRS for yourself if you want to judge it. read more
I kept hearing about BRS, so I got curious and checked it out.
My friend fell asleep halfway through, I barely stayed awake. There's very little that's worth watching on this mess of an OAV.
There's no cohesiveness to this. The main characters are awfully boring with an unoriginal plot. Yeah I'm sure friendship and bonds are the main themes but what other anime doesn't have that? You get pretty much no clues about why the characters jump back and forth between worlds, when you do figure it out, it still makes no sense. The episode primarily comprises of the "real" world, in which quite literally, nothing happens.
To top it all off, the animation is pretty terrible. The art is nothing to write home about but animation is very choppy and doesn't flow very well.
The characters are flat and dull. There's nothing spectacular about the main girls and you learn nothing about BRS and her enemies, the whole 10 minutes of screen time they have.
In short, this OAV is a complete disappointment. Not the worst I've seen but certainly nowhere near mediocre either. Plenty of better ways you can spend 50 minutes of your life.read more
Before I say what I think of this OVA in general, I'm just going to briefly say why I rated each attribute what I did.
Story: 3 (Poor)
What story? It's a high school slice-of-life, *but*, an extremely underdeveloped one. I've seen a number of popular slice-of-life animes, and while the genre itself is "basic", it doesn't have to be uninteresting. Genshiken is a shining example of slice-of-life done right. As is Azumanga Daioh, which I've just recently started watching. In order to make up for a lack of deep plot twists and turns (though they can work in the genre, they're rarely done well when implemented), character development usually steps up to the plate as a heavy hitter to compensate. I'll get to characters more in a moment, but as it stands the story leaves much to be desired. There is practically none. The fact that this OVA exists means that some semblance of a story *exists*, but just by virtue of "existing". It's very poor.
Art: 7 (Good)
I rated the art "good" because it was original. It reminded me a little bit of D.Gray-Man, which while definitely not in the top-tier of shounen anime nor anime in general, you've gotta hand it to it; the art was original. Same for BRS. Unfortunately, the high school scenes and anything unrelated to the world in which BRS originates from was bland and mediocre, if that. I've seen better artwork in 90's anime. But hey, I'm not saying it was horrible... It was "good".
Sound: 6 (Fair)
I have to say, I expected more than BRS delivered. The music was slow, quiet, and mostly made me want to fall asleep. Now, this is subjective; some people like that sort of stuff, and during some of the fighting scenes, the pace did pick up, but in others, there was just *nothing*. Two people starting at each other for a few seconds, and *nothing*. I realize it was probably done on purpose to build up to something, but most of the time, the build up was ruined by a jump cut away from the BRS world back to the high school, where the girls are sitting at their desks talking about nothing particularly interesting. There's not too much to complain about in the sound area, but definitely nothing notable worthy of praise.
Character: 3 (Poor)
I realize it's a short OVA, but if you were to add a mere half hour more to it, it would be a feature-length movie. I didn't find myself having any emotional attachment to any of the characters on *any* level. BRS could have died, and I wouldn't have cared. Any character could have just dropped dead, and I wouldn't have cared. I didn't even hate any of the enemies, nor cared about them at all. Sure, developing a tie to a character is a completely subjective experience, but I felt *nothing*. That says enough to show that BRS really lacked in this department. It had more than enough time to work with, and made no use of it. Perhaps they should have spent less time on meaningless shots of people starting at each other and high school kids talking about everyday life *almost every single scene*. I mean, come on. Use the first 15-20 minutes if you need to for setting up the plot scenario, and sprinkle it with a little more character development and background. It's hard to enjoy any piece of work when you don't care about who's involved.
Enjoyment: 2 (Deadful)
I thought "poor" was giving this too much credit. "Enjoyment" is purely a subjective category, so regardless of the production values, my opinion is all that matters here. And I found sitting through this thing to be as uninteresting as watching paint dry. For the first 20 minutes or so, it had my attention, but only because I was waiting for all of the build up to explode into something more intriguing or awe-inspiring. But then that feeling just slowly started to fizzle out with all the jump cuts away from where the action was. As soon as it started to look promising, you were dished out a helping of boredom. How disappointing. One thing is for sure: I never want to sit through this OVA ever again. I will not be watching the sequel, if there ever is one (God help us).
Overall: 3 (Poor)
There was a lot of hype surrounding this OVA, but I think people are starting to realize how disappointing it turned out to be in the end. People have been (for some reason) comparing BRS to Miku Hatsune, because I suppose it's enough to say that any anime girl with twin tails who's VA sings must automatically be inspired by the character who is the poster girl for a voice synthesizer software product. If you just went "HUH?" at that last but, you're on the same page as me. This OVA was riding on the coat-tails of unfounded fan speculation of a character completely unrelated to it (for some reason I *still* can't understand), but it jumped off and decided to hitch a ride aboard the fail trail.
I know this review sounds harsh, but really. This was a big disappointment.read more
Losing friends is not an easy process. And when I say friends, I don’t mean the people whose exiting your life would make you go ‘awww’ or ‘that sucks.’ I’m talking about the people whose absence from your life leaves you speechless, only for your voice to come back as heart wrenching stutters after your mind has caught up with the fact ‘this person is gone.’ It’s a feeling we don’t want to experience.
Unfortunately for Kuroi Mato, she shares this sentiment a little over halfway through this tale. Yomi Takanashi is suddenly missing, and no matter where Kuroi looks, she’s nowhere to be found. Not at the sidewalk where they meet each other in the morning, not at the train station, not at their school, not even on each other’s cell phones. The piano piece in this moment speaks Kuroi’s emotions, but lingers with enough restraint to let dialog go undisturbed.
Later, the police bring their investigation to the Mato residence, as they believe Kuroi, being Yomi’s closest friend, might give a lead on where Yomi might have gone. But as Kuroi hears the words ‘closest friend,’ it’s all she can do to stay composed and answer their questions. The sudden lack of music puts the focus on their dialog, and the natural lighting of the room creates a sense of normalcy that contrasts and highlights Kuroi’s tearful face. It’s a frighteningly believable scene.
Fortunately for us, believably evoking a moment of loss is a testament to what the rest of the story has gained. But to call this moment the pay-off to the rest of the story wouldn’t be accurate. Pay-off implies the rest of the story is watched for this moment, but this moment is just another thread in a fabric of powerful scenes. Some loud and dramatic, others a whisper of the everyday, but all connected by the Golden Heart of a little-known OVA called Black Rock Shooter.
Of course, how a story about two friends in an everyday setting can conjure a title like Black Rock Shooter is bound to be confusing. But the tie-in between the title and story is the least confusing thing about the OVA. Several times throughout this anime, fight scenes between two characters—who I’ll call Blue Eyes and Green Eyes from this point on—are spread throughout the otherwise normal tale of Kuroi and Yomi’s friendship. There’s a lack of relevancy between the two concurrent story threads.
Or so it seems.
Now, the location of these fight scenes is never stated, but they’re less about the ‘where’ and more about the ‘what.’ ‘What’ they stand for. They’re not meant to be taken literally, but as a reflection of Kuroi and Yomi’s friendship, and of the characters themselves. Think I’m overreaching? Well, studio Ordet wouldn’t bother making Kuroi and Yomi resemble Blue Eyes and Green Eyes—or maybe it’s the other way around—without reason. The results are visuals that reinforce—reinforce, not creates—Kuroi and Yomi’s characterization.
Let me describe these characters. Kuroi is the outgoing one of the two, being the one to break the ice with Yomi while easily warming up to another character introduced later. She tends to easily show her emotions, from her bemusement meeting Yomi the first time to her later anguish. Then there’s Blue Eyes. She reaches out to Green Eyes, her weapon is a gun, and her outfit is revealing. Who reached out to Yomi? Kuroi. What does a gun do? It reaches out to things at a distance. What does a revealing outfit do? It shows a lot of skin, reflecting how Kuroi shows a lot of emotion.
Playing the foil and friend to Kuroi is Yomi. Her aloofness at the start believably melts into familiarity, as the reason she acts distant betrays her want for a friend. But she only opens up to Kuroi, and even then she holds back her feelings at the worst time. This creates the story’s conflict and justifies the fights with Green Eyes. Green Eyes herself wears a modest dress and fights with a scythe. What does a scythe do? It marks the end of things, and Yomi thinks their friendship has ended. What does a modest dress do? It doesn’t show much skin, mirroring Yomi’s emotional reticence.
Rolling the third wheel is Yuu Koutari. She’s the friend Kuroi makes later on, and serves as the catalyst of sorts for the story’s main conflict. Unfortunately, her relative lack of screentime, even for a side character, makes it hard to get a read on her, or get a general sense of her mindset and personality. It’s hard to tell if Yuu plays the ‘antagonist’—at least, Yomi sees her as such—by accident or whether she has ulterior motives for befriending Kuroi. The result is she becomes nothing more than a force to drive the story, which is one of the faults against the OVA.
The other fault of the story—but also one of its strengths—is how a year of Kuroi and Yomi’s friendship is shown as a montage. Their friendship would be more believable if it unfolded more in ‘real time’, but their development before the montage is believable as is. This pre-montage development covers what it needs to cover, from their first time passing each other by to Yomi believing Kuroi’s words. And the montage itself glosses over mundane stuff that would needlessly slow down the story. If nothing else, the light beats of the guitar-like track gives a peaceful, everyday feeling.
Speaking of which, the music is one of the overall stronger points of the OVA’s aesthetics. Pieces are either perfectly timed for whatever the mood is, or withheld entirely to bring focus to the dialog. Special mention goes to the tracks used during the three scenes at the town’s overlook. The instrumental in the first scene is upbeat and carefree to match Kuroi’s mood. The vocal track in the second scene mirrors Yomi’s melancholy AND Kuroi’s optimism in reaching out to her. And the piece during the third scene is understated, but helps to make a powerful statement about Kuroi’s character.
Now, I say the music is strong ‘overall’ because I was only talking about the music during the normal moments. The pieces during the fight scenes, save for the very end, amount to uninspired rock tracks. They set the mood for the action, but they’re all virtually identical. And with the fight scenes being spread throughout the story, the sudden change in music from soft to rock makes the action sound jarring. Thankfully, all the action only adds up to 10 minutes of a 52 minute OVA, so going back from action to normal doesn’t hurt the latter too much.
But while the soundtrack stays strong, the same can’t be said for the visuals. The normal scenes look nice, but the fight scenes have standard choreography and fluidity. The real strength of these visuals is what studio Ordet does with them. The fight scene backdrops are stylistic complements and echoes of the normal scenes. Blue Eyes is usually on lower ground than Green Eyes; Kuroi brings up Yomi’s height. When Kuroi is emotionally vulnerable, Blue Eyes takes a heavy blow. The final fight takes place on an overlook; the town overlook is significant to the story.
See, it’s the details within the fight scenes that link the action to the rest of the story. The biggest hurdle to overcome watching Black Rock Shooter is how the action seems thrown in for the sake of action. But as I might have pointed out, it—and the character designs—echo what happens in the rest of the story (except for that first—and only—scuffle with Red Eyes…) and don’t take up much time anyway. Of course, lots of thought being put into the visuals won’t mean much without compelling characters. And Kuroi and Yomi are genuine as characters and sincere as friends.
And it’s that authenticity between Kuroi and Yomi that makes Black Rock Shooter so strong, despite how it seems to misfire. Its story keeps firing forward without Kuroi and Yomi being reduced to mere story triggers (Yuu). Action that seems aimless has a lot of thought going into its design. Add music that’s on target most of the time, and the end result is something to keep your sights on. Its steadiness isn’t perfect, but all it takes to hit the mark is a Black Rock Shooter.read more
I swear I couldn't understand what the fuck was happening even after seeing this crapwork of a movie twice.
The stupid story is about two parallel worlds of completely different nature, in which there are two sets of female characters doing completely different things and having different looks except for hairstyles.
In one world, it's a typical slice-of-life between two schoolgirls, which led to no conclusion. In the other one, the two girls were fighting to death, and at last one of them died! There are supposed to be connections between the two worlds, but there's effectively none...
This kind of bullshit crap... I can make a ton in my lifetime if I want to, but no, because only idiots do.read more
I don't understand this one much at all. The OVA kind of throws you into the shit right off the get go and expects you to know things already. Me, since I did not read a synopsis, I could not understand it all till the end.
Reason for the confusion mainly is because we are in one world and then in another almost instantaneously and it keeps jumping back and forth between the worlds like birds migrating for the different season. There is a reason to it, you just have to observe and wait for the reason to get there.
The music in this OVA however definitely added a lot of good. I loved the sound, i loved the music and the voice work was also good. If there was one thing enjoyable to this thing, it was the sound.
Which leads me to story. Already told you guys about how it keeps jumping back and forth, but the main plot holds some ok value. Since this is just a 50 min OVA, they kind of rushed things though. I feel like more could have been added in order to help describe the plot a bit better and stuff but I guess what they wanted to do was to make people walking around like deaf people at a heavy metal concert.
If you are to think of trying to watch this OVA, I would say be prepared to be disappointed. Not the best thing in the world and you will only be marginally be enjoyed by the OVA. I would not recommend this to anyone either for it kind of disappoints me to see it fail.