Black Rock Shooter TV
As Mato enters middle school and becomes friends with Yomi, she soon faces personal troubles and the influence caused by another world where Black Rock Shooter, a mysterious black haired girl who possesses a burning blue eye and cannon that can shoot rocks at high speed, fights other mysterious girls.
If you could see me right now or, should I say, if you could see me as I wrote these words, you would see a rather peculiar expression on my face. That expression, since you cannot see it and I am not posting a picture, is one of mixed emotions that have been brought on by the conflicting feelings I have for this show. On one hand I am impressed that a studio decided to take a marketable media property with a credible aesthetic pedigree and turn it into a series with a coherent plot and serious themes but, on the other hand, I am disappointed that it isn't as good as might have been possible. Black Rock Shooter is a good show, perhaps better than it ever had a right to be, but a melodramatic style and a heavy handed narrative holds it back from being as powerful or interesting as it could have been.
First, the positives...
The conspicuous use of CG animation in anime has been a bit of a minefield for anime studios of late and has often been very poorly done even by studios of prodigious talent (I'm looking at you, Production I.G.). However, I am happy to say that BRS has the best CG animation of any anime television show I have seen so far and it gives me faith for the future; this show won a couple of technical awards in Japan and I find it hard to disagree with them. The action scenes involving BRS, herself, and her various opponents are fluid, visually arresting, well-choreographed and exciting and the visual design is striking - from the backgrounds to the character designs. The real world scenes that the action scenes intercut are quite pretty too - they are obviously far more subdued, with plainer and more ordinary backgrounds and character designs, but the characters are varied and easy to recognize even in their simplicity and the traditional animation style allows the CG scenes to feel even more extraordinary when they do come around.
The visuals are not the only competent aspect of the production though. One of the more interesting aspects of the series is that it is a mere eight episodes, and yet the series never feels rushed or stretched. It is nice to see a show that uses the number of episodes that it needs; the season system exists for a reason but every idea and every plot has an optimum length and those lengths often aren't exactly twelve or thirteen episodes. Another positive of the plot is that it actually addresses some really serious and interesting themes and, in many ways, actually does a pretty good job. The pain of rejection, self-doubt and guilt are all addressed with genuine pathos and it successfully made these situations empathetic. For the most part, this is why I enjoyed the show.
If this was all I had to say about this show then I would be giving it five stars right here and right now but sadly this is not the case. In truth there are only a couple of real issues but they are big ones. First of all, everything in this show is so bleedin' melodramatic! In a sense it is appropriate, they are middle-school girls after all, but it doesn't cure the fact that a lot of what could be genuinely moving is lost underneath a rather off-putting lack of subtlety throughout. For example; Kagari doesn't want Yomi to see Mato again so you might hope for Kagari to perform a careful guilt trip, a cruel and unnerving undermining of Yomi's confidence to bring her back into submission. Sound interesting? Don't get your hopes up. I won't spoil anything but if something is subtle then it has no place in this show and that is disappointing. Another issue is that, even in context, the whole relationship between the two worlds (when it is revealed) is rather silly if I am to be perfectly honest. It is forgivable because it does work with the show's themes but, without spoilers, it is the most bizarre premise for a serious show I can imagine. Seriously, watch the show and just think about it. It's crazy.
Overall, I really like this show. Sure, its characters are middle-school girls, i.e. often obnoxiously histrionic, and the show lacks even a basic understanding of subtlety but its fights are enjoyable, its themes are interesting and the story from beginning to end is fun without being flimsy. As a show that is shorter than most things Peter Jackson has made in the last decade, I think this is worth your time and I give it my recommendation.
BRS is worth seeing for the visuals alone and the competent story is just an added bonus. Take a star or two away if you can't stand melodrama but I still say that you should give it a try. — Aiden Foote
Recommended Audience: There are plenty of scenes of fantasy violence between the girls of the other world throughout the show and the occasional scene of emotional or physical abuse in the real world.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital source
Review Status: Full (8/8)
Black Rock Shooter TV © 2012 BRS on TV
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