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.