When he was a child, Murakami was infatuated with a girl he called Kuroneko. She insisted on knowing about aliens and having met them, but no one believed her, even young Murakami was skeptical. One day, she decides to show him the aliens, but an accident occurs and Kuroneko dies while Murakami is left seriously wounded in the hospital.
Years go by and Murakami obsesses on finding proof of the existence of aliens because of a promise he had made with Kuroneko. Then, one day, a new transfer student comes to his class, who not only looks a lot like Kuroneko, but is named Kurohaneko!
And even though she insists on never having met Murakami before, the girl has superhuman strength and seems to even be able to predict the future!
How will Murakami's life change now that he has been saved by this mysterious girl that claims to be a magician?
Brynhildr in the Darkness (gokukoku no brynhildr ) is a manga written by Lynn Okamoto.
He will be more known for his other work mainly Elfen Lied .
I have been a fan of his work for some time and read some of his short stories such as Allumage and Flip Flap and obviously Elfen Lied which as the author says is the same type of story as Brynhildr. (also read Nonono his ski jumping manga but who cares)
The thing is Gokukoku's plot was inspired of Old Norse mythology (Ragnarok / AESIR-VANIR war) which makes for a way better and more complex plot in
Gokukoku is an intelligently done and fairly well thought out piece of work, made of dark tragedies and drama as its expected knowing its principal influence : The Twilight of gods or Ragnarok in old Norse Mythology.
The description of a cyclic death and revival is without doubt prominent to the series.
I will say it is not possible to fully understand the manga without having some knowledge about the Edda or at least the tale of Ragnarok. So looking these up is essential to enjoy the manga more.
The story starts off with a what we could call a 'generic start' with Murakami Ryouta, a nerd-ish student trying his best to become a Nasa researcher to ensure he finds aliens. Quirky...
However the plot quickly drifts aways as he retrieves witches having escaped of 'Vingulf' (which is none other than the building of the gods in Norse mythology).
One of these witches is Kuroneko his first love (that 'died' when they were child) which is later revealed to be the valkyrie Brynhildr.
Links to the poetic Edda and Old Norse Mythology.
In Norse mythology Siegfried saves Brynhildr from death and Ryouta also saves Kuroha. Other interesting fact is that Brynhildr is included in a long battle between brothers and that can also be said for Kuroneko stepping in between Murakami and Makina.
The witches Drasill relates to the mythical tree Yggdrasill (tree of life) ( this tree's roots are being eaten by a mythological Dragon Níðhöggr which signals the collapse of the world's order).
In the manga the use of the Drasill for the magicians could also represent the evil abuse of power and the lack of honor that finally leads the Old Norse Gods to their demise.
Lot of these crossreferences can help predict what will happen or more surely how this manga will end. It is surely important to believe in fate as its influenced by myths and to expect some pretty hardcore twists.
THE AESIR-VANIR WAR
The 'magicians' that befriend Ryouta are used to represent the Vanir group of gods while the Aesir are represented by the villains so Vingulf (In old Norse myths thats also one place where these gods live)
Kazumi is made to represent Frejya :
-'Frejya' in Old norse mythology is the Goddess of Love and sex /fertility.
-That seems highly likely that someone so interested in sex like Kazumi was used to represent the goddess.
-Freya in the manga is actually seen to be quite the opposite only playing video games and lacking hygiene
-Kazumi beats Freya and is said to be equivalent to an S rank
-In Old Norse mythology the Aesir are said to to misuse of Frejya 's power because of their bad morals ---> Kazumi fails the test because her good values and is then given to the Vanir
- She is attempted to be killed three time both in the manga and the mythology.
-As Frejya joins the Vanir group of gods she is associated with a group of goddess of fertility(herself)/ wisdom(Mimir so Ryouta) / magic(Kuroneko-->Brynhildr) / and the ability to see the future(Kana) (making the links between the characters there ofc)
-She is able to join the Edda.
Although in the mythology, Mimir finishes with the Aesir with Odin, this time Ryouta who has the head of Mimir (when his body was reconstructed) ends up mostly with the Vanir. That is important because it points out that if Mimir's wisdom had been shared with the Vanir and the Aesir...the Ragnarok might have been avoided or at least that was what the author might have thought (my guess)..supressing the crooked ego of the gods and making them realize the consequences of their abuse of power would ultimately save the world.
Takachicho, Ryouta's father knows of the failure of the ancient gods and that is why he thinks that by mixing both wisdom and brutal power (Mimir and Loki) he can create a perfected evolved human race free of vice and truly self sufficient.
The battle between Ryouta and his father could be a symbol of the higher god Odin's decisive battle in the Ragnarok and his downfall.
As I said I interpret Ryouta to be a mix of Siegfried and Mimir's brain. This would explain why Ryouta realizes the danger of his power refuses to obtain it listening to his friends.
Mimir's( a giant enowned for his knowledge and wisdom) head was the trophy of Odin over a contest and he now uses it for advice. Odin is often characterized as the will for power in the mythology. He tries the hardest to be the wisest amongst all and for that is ready to kill, steal or do anything that would normally stand against values of wisdom. Odin doesnt only kill a giant for his will of power, he also steals the Mead of Poetry (drink of wisdom basically) from them, not to say that he and his brothers killed Ymir, the origin of all giants and of most of the Old Norse universe.
The evolution of the plot is consistant. Starting with a rather 'easy' and kinda 'carefree' tone, the witches and the MC have to deal with more and more dangerous opponents and villains to save their own lives but can still enjoy their relative freedom. However upon realizing the reality of 'Vingulf' and their plan for Ragnarok they are fated not only to defend themselves but to attack regardless of the danger. This is when comes the grimness and bluntness of the series and its perfectly what characterizes Okamoto's work.
Ensuring a continuing theme of death and failure, of insecurity but also keeping the warm and fuzzy side of themes as childhood / friendship and love makes Brynhildr unpredictable and jaw-dropping. Being able to switch from a date in town to the death of friends and bring you back to the harsh reality they live in.
In this matter I think the author introduces the concepts of living for the moment and enjoying life to the fullest. Thats what Brynhildr is basically about after all. A bridge between death or life.
The author does accomplish this by making some harem-ish scenes and involving some fan service/cosplay that some purist or serious readers may not agree with. However I felt like these moments were needed to break through the continuous darkness of the plot and that these scenes did not impact the plot's content.
The main villains are well designed and are made to look inhumane, holding no moral values to the highest degree and being the most often sadists and individualistic...Involving some pretty gory and shocking scenes as expected.
The villain's reasons for scheming for Ragnarok and their plans are all very well orchestrated and makes for an astonishing constructive end. The more and more we dive into the story the more and more it becomes oppressive and breath taking.
One example would the link between Loki's personality in the myths / his will to claim his freedom from the gods which also appears through Takachiho in a human form and for becoming 'self-sufficient'
Another would be the representation of Brynhildr an important Valkyrie and Freyja the Goddess of Love . These two figures are reflected in Kuroneko and Kazumi.
Siegfired and Mimir as Ryouta.
Takachiho as Odin. Both seek for knowledge but are driven by power. Both acquire the power to understand poetry by power also.
The art quality is high and even picky readers can come to enjoy the author's gloomy and artistic style through the story, even if it's not for the level of details put into his characters.
Brynhildr was the first time Lynn started drawing on computer and using softwares instead of doing it all by hand.
This lead to a major improvement of his background details but also of after effects, giving Brynhildr a more authentic Gothic and depressing vibe. The double pages spread and entire pages drawings are made with elaborate details and its easy to observe how much Okamoto's art has evolved since Elfen Lied. and his other works.
Although some say Brynhildr was 'tamed' regarding Elfen Lied which had gore all over the place Brynhildr shows later that its use of bloodshed is way more sinister than it ever was in Elfen Lied even if less present.
I would say Brynhildr is more impactful and morbid because of that. Although Elfen Lied would represent better the vice and obscene side of men.
The continuous drama and better character development make for some hyper graphic and sinister deaths and blood scenes. There is also less clumsy use of ecchi or comedy which could break the tension (although its still there ofc XD)
Please note that the use of drama by the author is used till a comedic point which might put off some readers. Again this is a work of fiction.
Characters : 8/10
The character development is one of the best thing about the manga.
Although the MC Murakami looks firstly like a socially awkward character.
This is cleaned up fairly quickly, showing himself to be our hero we expect, developping into an highly intelligent planner as time goes by and an unexpected mastermind after resolving many complex situations that looked doomed to death.
Through his unability to forget and his 'fate' he more than deserves his strong M.C status.
Although the witches accompanying Murakami may look like the usual stereotypes, like neko the tsundere and Kazumi the openly perverted one or also Kotori the clumsy one, they break away (even oppose) from these as the story goes on and they get to experience the joy of normal life (going to beach watching the stars, goings to school ) and the sadness of their reality (being chased by Vingulf, the death of their friends ect).
The background of the MC's life is nicely done which involves the reader more.
For me Kuroneko and Kazumi were two strong female leads which showed till the last moments news facets of their personnality and which were therefore easily relatable or understandable.
The romance development is harsh as we could expect of the apocalyptic situation and inspiration of the Ragnarok and there is many sudden change of events turning the table in a painful love triangle. Although the romance will be developped into dates and some kisses, the romance holds a true part to the tragic story and there isnt much gratification on this side.
After all this is no happy story. It's morbid lets say it.
Overall : 8.5/10
I highly, highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in a serious narrative, looking forward to a grittier tale and unafraid of less cheerful and bumbling story without filters. The negatives (harem-ish jokes? pretty girls ecchi?) or tragic romance are nothing worth denigrating Gokukoku no Brynhildr over and over, and would be more a matter of taste than anything.
On that note if you are curious about Old Norse Mythology, love mysteries and enigmas, horror and action Brynhildr in The Darkness shall be perfect for you to enjoy and always make you want to dive more into this epic adventure. Hold onto your heart !
This is a subjective review or what would be more appropriate to say is that this is my interpretation of the manga = Ofc Im a fan of Lynn Okamoto's work and moreover of the horror,mystery and tragedy genre and did look into it more than an average reader ever would !
Just think its strange Elfen has better ratings than Brynhildr when even the author said the manga would be an improvement over his previous work so I thought I could say a few things and share my interpretation.
I watched the anime before reading the story, and although I enjoyed the anime with its take on the manga, I really liked reading the manga.
The story's characters each have something to provide to the story. Ryouta is always surveying situations so he can come up with the best possible plan. His reactions are also pretty natural when you consider his personality, age, and experiences. Neko is adorable in so many ways, especially when it comes to her feelings for Ryouta. Kazumi is adorable for different reasons, but she's also quite funny. I laughed many times because of her.
The last 50 chapters really pick
up with the details. Many might think they were random or something, but you can tell the story had all of it planned from the beginning. I didn't feel overwhelmed with the flood of details.
Does it have a good ending? Yeah, I would say it was very befitting.
I also speak German, so all the German here and there only added to the entertainment.
I don't want to go too in detail but just to quickly sum it up.
The manga starts off pretty decent, the characters comical interactions with each bring a nice touch, the plot (for the first half of the manga) was fairly interesting but sadly this is another one of those mangas where things start off great but at a certain point you start noticing it go down hill.
At around the halfway point (similiar to where the anime ended) the plot development starts getting weird.
So much is crammed in the remaining chapters (120-181) that you see the pace is being picked up and quickly rushed a
long up to the point where you are at the end of the manga; realising how many things were added and quickly forgotten about.Then you remember the start of the manga that there were the original questions you hoped would be answered but were completely brushed aside a long time ago.
The manga is probably best enjoyed if you only read half of it similiar to where the anime ended, although it won't answer your questions you'll be more satisfied by how the turn of events came. Going any further only feels as if you are being bombarded by various ideas the author wanted in before it ended but there was not enough time to flesh out or explain the ideas but simply quickly slapped in "Okay, so X is here and Y is here and Z is here." but you don't get the why is XYZ there and for what purpose besides it simply being there.
If you are looking for one of those satisfying mangas where you can start from beginning to finish and actually be satisfied at how everything turned out and the majority of reasons why things occurred. This is not one of those mangas, maybe one day I'll find another like that but not today.
I am really surprised to read all those positive reviews here since I dropped the manga pretty quick. What can I say? First I was excited to read another story by Lynn Okamoto who created Elfenlied one of my favorite animes.
But as before when I read the Elfenlied manga I was pretty disappointed when I read Brynhildr.
Elfenlied was, in my opinion, pretty much saved by the anime studio. They cut the story off at just the right moment before Okamoto messed his whole story up.
When I read Brynhildr I felt like he did not really dare to do something new or at
least somehow different. He used all the same imagery and storylines, mixed them up a little and sold a new manga from it. This really felt like a lack of creativity, so I dropped it pretty soon.