Anime of Tomorrow
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Final impression – not a second wasted (10/10)
Winter 2012 (8 episodes) (TV series)
It’s the first day of junior high school and Mato Kuroi decides she’s going to be friends with the gloomy girl who has a funny name, Yomi Takanashi. The two soon discover they have a shared love of a children’s storybook and it looks like they’re going to get along great. But when Yomi’s spoiled, childhood friend Kagari butts in to push them apart, Mato isn’t going to just give up accept this bleak turn of events. She makes it her mission to liberate Yomi from Kagari’s possessive personality. But doing so will have greater consequences than she knows. In another world, the girls’ voiceless souls are fighting their own, very real battle with life and death on the line. And when the results of their battles become reflected in the real world, it’s going to change the course of their lives in ways they cannot possibly anticipate.
Quality in writing is often not about a story’s content, but about how well that story is told. Sometimes the best plot is the simplest and Black Rock Shooter tells a fabulously creative adventure about the subtleties of relationships and how the most well-meaning intentions can have unexpected, unintended consequences. It’s a wonderful metaphor about allowing ourselves to be close enough to our friends that we can fight with them honestly and without inhibitions. We must accept that we occasionally hurt people and that we are hurt by others; how we deal with that pain shapes our character and the ultimate fate of our relationships. Balancing this emotional drama between real people and their actions mirrored by their duplicate selves locked in gallant combat is a poetic dichotomy flooded deeply with incredible metaphors. Kana Hanazawa is perfect in her role as Mato Kuroi, depicting her exceptional personality and growth from naivety to strong, determined young woman. But what’s most amazing about Black Rock Shooter is that it probably would never have existed if it wasn’t for the Vocaloid song by the same name, popularized by casual anime fans who wanted to know the story behind the music. For something so spectacular to come out of simple fandom and not from a novel, manga or video game is truly remarkable.
Initial impression – a rough diamond
Winter 2012 (8 episodes) (title synonym – BRS) (more info)
And so begins the anime that was inspired by a Vocaloid song. The first episode is showing excellence, but comes with quite an emotional roller coaster; leaving me only slightly optimistic about the tone of this series. It would seem that with only eight episodes they’re rushing content and a slower revelation of this anime’s darker elements would have been better—allowing more time to set the mood. That being said, there’s still an air of novelty around the concept of our inner psyches engaging in epic battles as we experience the tumultuous drama of our daily relationships. The art style is also trying something unique with reality looking plain and somewhat unrefined; switching to a sharper and edgy theme when the action starts. The talent of Kana Hanazawa greatly adds to the depth of the composition, which is going to be a necessity to pull off the range of feelings Mato is inevitably going to experience. At its core, Black Rock Shooter is an experimental anime that’s breaking new ground and it’s off to a promising start.