Belated, obligatory Black Rock Shooter post

I wasn’t in a hurry to watch Black Rock Shooter, which is why I just watched it a couple of days ago. Saying there was hype for this 52-minute OVA would be an understatement – as soon as it came out, 9 out of 10 blogs on Anime Nano wrote a post about it. So, if you’re still not sick of hearing people’s opinions about it, here are mine…

I had no familiarity with Black Rock Shooter before watching this OVA – I hadn’t heard or seen the original song, music video, or illustrations. I decided to watch the OVA because of all the hype and because Nagaru Tanigawa (author of the Haruhi novels) wrote the screenplay.
I can pretty much divide my opinions about it into what I liked and what I disliked. I’ll start with what I liked.

The first thing that caught my eye was the design of the “other world” (not sure if it has a name) in which Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master fought. If anything represents my idea of a dream world, the design of that world, with its haunting colors, desolation, and mysterious, archaic architecture, is spot on.

The OVA was not lacking in aesthetics either. The animation was fluid and the background music was good. As someone who doesn’t notice background music very much, I did notice it at key parts and I also liked how there was lack of background music in most of the OVA – it forced you to focus more on the subtleties and dialogue between the characters.

Which leads to what I liked most about Black Rock Shooter – how beautifully and realistically the friendship and eventual jealousy between Mato and Yomi is portrayed. Their first meeting and conversations followed by the many typical activities that friends do, was very well played and I could just feel their friendship blooming. Even though most of their time together throughout the school year was rushed through for lack of time, the initial way their friendship was portrayed was perfect.

Then, when Yuu is introduced, Yomi’s jealousy is again surprisingly realistically presented. I’m sure many of us have experienced something like this – you make a good friend, but then feel pangs of jealousy when they start giving their attention to someone else. Such a common conflict between friends is very sympathetic, and it was conveyed well in Black Rock Shooter. Mato’s reaction to Yomi’s disappearance was also realistic and fitting. I guess what I want to say is that the realism of the character interactions and emotions in Black Rock Shooter are what I liked the best.

But…going on to what I didn’t like about the OVA is simply lack of explanation about the Black Rock Shooter/Dead Master world and the abruptness of the ending. To me at least, it’s extremely ambiguous as to whether the fight between Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master in a desolate world is just a metaphor for what happens between Mato and Yomi, or whether the two girls really did get transported into a fantasy world, take on alter-egos, and duke it out in order to save their friendship. If it’s the latter, then an explanation as to what/where this world is and why/how the girls became a part of it, is necessary.

I was waiting throughout the whole OVA to find out what the connection was between the dream-like world and the real world. Instead, after the OVA focuses on a realistic, slice-of-life setting, in the last few minutes something fantastical suddenly happens – the phone strap begins to glow and Black Rock Shooter appears before Mato. Then, just as suddenly as the two worlds finally connect, the OVA ends. Again, it’s very vague as to whether the fight between Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master is a metaphor or whether Mato and Yomi are literally transported into a fantasy world. I don’t mind when an anime leaves things up to the viewer’s interpretation, but in the case of this OVA, it still needed explanation.

Adding to the ambiguity is the final scene after the credits role. We’re given the impression that Yuu is starting to experience the same jealousy as Yomi. We did get a glimpse of her alternate character earlier, but what exactly happens with her is untold. The way this OVA ends really makes it seem like there will be more – either a sequel OVA or a more detailed TV series – to explain what happens to her. However, despite this open ended ending, as of now I can’t find any info about any future Black Rock Shooter anime.

So there’s my two cents on Black Rock Shooter. An otherwise good OVA that unfortunately needs more explanations and perhaps a sequel or thorough retelling.

10 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. Mikoto says:

    The first scene where BRS fights Black Gold Saw, the Strength scenes, and the Yuu scene at the end were pretty much sequel hooks. I would be really disappointed if there wasn’t a sequel, but I did enjoy the OVA for what it was. Even if some things are not explained much (if not explained at all), I like how the plot kind of pieces itself together for you as you watch and the animation was stunning.

  2. Yumeka says:

    @ Mikoto

    Yeah, pretty much my thoughts about it too. I liked it for what it could offer, but more explanations and a sequel would be best =)

  3. Liza says:

    Overall, I thought the animation for BRS was spot on. Both worlds were beautiful and well done. However, the plot was just too confusing for me. The connection between the two worlds were not explained and I felt like the other world parts, although flashy didn’t really have a purpose. Plus it is called Black Rock Shooter but the Shooter didn’t really have a role in it(to me she didn’t). This was a disappointment to me but that’s probably because I was actually expecting this to be a certain way and it did not deliver in that way.

  4. Yumeka says:

    @ Liza

    Yeah, one thing that was sort of confusing was how Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master’s fight didn’t happen chronologically with the events of the “real world” with Mato and Yomi. We see bits of their fight throughout, ending with BRS “saving” Dead Master (by hugging her). But their fight should have actually started where the OVA ended – when Mato and BRS meet. But yeah, to me it wasn’t so much confusing as it was just plain lacking in explanation.

  5. Myna says:

    I agree, the emotions were presented quite well and was pretty realistic.

    however, I found all of the school stuff to be, quite frankly, the most boring thing I”ve ever seen. Maybe it was too realistic? For me at least, idk. I kind of skipped all of the real life scenes.
    But I think the action sequences almost made up for it.
    (The hug at the conclusion of the fight totally brought me back to the last episode Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne (one of my most disliked anime adaptations :P))

    Would’ve loved explanations about the other world and the alter egos, but I kind of like it when they leave it up to the viewer to interpret.

  6. Yumeka says:

    @ Myna

    I personally enjoyed all the slice-of-life scenes, but then again I’m a fan of the genre. Just something relaxing and touching about it.

    But yes, the action sequences were good and more explanations would have been better. Like I said, I don’t mind when they leave it up to viewer interpretation, but in this case, a little too much was left to interpret =P

  7. Christina says:

    I too liked the slice of life moments. Those alone needed their own episode. But with the back and forth from the other world to the real world I feel as if both stories got cheated out of time and at the end I really don’t know what happened or why this show was a big deal.

    But I did really enjoy the friendship. It really was realistic of how young girls deal with relationships.

  8. Yumeka says:

    @ Christina

    I wouldn’t have minded if the two settings of BRS were shown together rather than in separate episodes, there just needed to be more explanations about the fantasy world and how it’s connected to the real one (again, is it supposed to be real or a metaphor?)

    And I agree that the friendship between the girls is very realistically portrayed. As I said, it was what I liked best about the OVA =)

  9. Danielle says:

    i would absolutly love to see a sequal to BRS i honestly want it soooo bad i want moreee

  10. Luce says:

    COOOOOOOOL

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