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March 26, 2012

Anime Review: Black Rock Shooter (TV)

Black Rock Shooter is a hard to explain story concept that involves two worlds and the pain shared between the characters of both worlds. This anime is not for those who cannot comprehend the deep meaning portrayed from the story. In the end, for the average viewer, it can be considered as messy and lacks continuity.

Black★Rock Shooter (TV)Synopsis:
It isn't the world you know. There wanders a girl with jet-black hair, ebony clothes, and a strikingly blue, glowing eye. Her name is Black Rock Shooter. With a huge cannon in hand, she throws herself into a fierce battle...

Meanwhile, in another world, middle-school student Mato Kuroi is drawn to Yomi Takanashi, her classmate with an unusual family name. Mato does her best to talk to Yomi, who just won't open up. Yu Koutari mocks her best friend Mato's efforts but at the same time, supports her. Mato also finds herself surrounded by other colorful characters at school, like the eccentric school counselor, Saya Irino, and the hot-blooded captain of her club club, Arata Kohata.

Then, one day, the window of opportunity opens. After Mato sees that Yomi has her favorite picture book, "Li'l Birds At Play", they strike up a conversation and Mato is invited to come over to Yomi's house. There, they gradually break the ice, until a girl in a wheelchair appears. This is Yomi's best friend, Kagari Izuriha...

Two worlds. Mato and Black Rock Shooter. This is the story of their "pain".

Review:
To be honest, I was slightly disappointed at the overall presentation of Black Rock Shooter. The OVA was good, but the TV series has been a messy, confusing and deep story. For the average viewer, they might not fully grasp the understanding and meaning behind the story. As for me, it took me until the final episodes to fully realize what was going on and how this story came to be. First let me explain my understanding of the story. The story is about a bunch of girls that are in high school, but they all share a common element: pain. Their pain is long suffering within their hearts and they are constantly troubled by the world around them. Hence, there is another "world" where the pain is stored by the characters of that world, which in turn fight it out. As for the real world, the girls go through much ordeal and sadness influenced by negative emotions and friendship hardships. Sound complicated right?  It is. For the first few episodes, it seems unconnected to each other, and we see only action of the other world characters fighting it out. However, you do see the connections of the actions played out in the real world reflected in the 'dream' world. In the end, I felt the moral of the story that was trying to tell. If you watched closely at the story and took in every dialogue and emotion, you may have picked up the same conclusion as I did. That is, building trust and relations with your friends is important, friends are there for you when you are feeling down (whether you need to laugh or cry on their shoulder), the world is not a bad place as it seems it is and treasure your friendship and make it last.

Let's talk about the art. The characters were not so detailed, but more like the 'Modoka Magica' style art. However, the 'dream' world is a much different place. I really liked the interesting backgrounds and places within the 'dream' world and the characters' unique weapons and looks. Black Rock Shooter never ceases to amaze me with her awesome costume and cool looking weapons that just seem to pop out of thin air. It can be said that the anime defies all logic situated in that 'dream' world. The battle scenes looked great and the gray overtones suited the environment perfectly.

The theme songs were of course 'Black Rock Shooter' by ryo as this anime was originally concepted from the music video. Catchy as always, 'Hatsune Miku' makes her debut in an anime. Well, just her voice though. Overall, I think the soundtracks did not play a major part in this anime. So it did ruin the atmosphere slightly. The battles scenes needed more energetic music to complement it. Other that that, the character voice acting was fine. No problems there.

Characters throughout the anime were a bit bland in my opinion. The anime series was not long enough to explain each character's background and situation properly to make me want to remember them. Of course the main character did play an important role, but I did not feel connected to any of the characters at all. I was disappointed that the anime was only 8 episodes long. If they extended it a few more episodes and tried to explains things a bit better, I reckon this anime would have got a higher rating.

Overall, I cannot say I totally enjoyed this anime. I was both disappointed and annoyed at the lack of cohesion and explanations that would have made this anime much better. The characters needed more work and the the background story was just in pieces. I really wanted to like this anime, but I could not find anything worth remembering (except for the cool battle scenes). In my opinion, this is one of those animes that care more about the action than the story. Perfect for people who just like watching intense fight scenes.

STORY: 5
The story has a deep meaning behind it. If you don't look for it, you will just become confused and frustrated at what is happening.

ART: 5
It is decent in a way. The battle scenes were excellently animated and I loved the 'dream' world characters and environments. Its just that, I think the real world characters looked a bit bland.

SOUND: 5
Lack of variety put this anime in a bad position. The theme songs were good, but were not enough.

CHARACTER: 5
Disappointed at the real world characters. The 'dream' world ones were much more interesting even if they didn't talk.

ENJOYMENT: 6
I enjoyed the intense fight scenes and I understand where this anime was coming from. However, I really felt unconnected to the overall plot.

OVERALL: 5
I wished this anime was much better.