Black Rock Shooter TV

September 29, 2012

I didn’t expect Black Rock Shooter (BRS) to spawn a TV series albeit it only lasted for 8 episodes. All I remember were girls in hot outfits and cool weapons meant for fighting each other in another world while we have some sort of drama between friends in reality and the link between both worlds. I thought the TV series would be somewhat a continuation but as I watched, it follows a different storyline from the OVA although the same characters are retained.

In the OVA, Yomi Takanashi got jealous of her best friend Mato Kuroi when she seems to be friendlier with her other classmate-cum-friend, Yuu Koutari. Yomi eventually disappears and this causes Mato to head to the other world and merge with BRS to fight Dead Master who was possessing Yomi. For the TV series, Yomi and Mato still meet and become best friends but this time round Yomi and the other girls are plagued with their own issues while in the other world, their dark personas continue to fight as both worlds are entwined by the threads of fate. This is the story of their ‘pain’… Oh, that word and its synonyms. You’re going to hear it quite a bit of it.

Episode 1
A narration about the blue sky, ocean and tears that reflects the colour blue and a small bird that flies among the blue tears. Mato starts her first term as a middle school girl as she is making statements of opposites like long (the assembly) and short (the skirts). Till she sees a girl with a self made red chain stitch on her wrist, Yomi . Mato talks to her friend Yuu about wanting to be friends with her but back at Yomi’s house, she speaks through a paper cup telephone and the voice on the other side warns her not to. Mato reads a book about a multi-colour bird that flew to different world with different colours has been her favourite since young. Next day, she sees Yomi to ask why her surname is pronounced Takanashi (literally means no hawks) instead of how it is obviously read as Kotori Asobi (literally means where little birds play). She explains since it is only when there are no hawks that the little birds come out to play. Uh… What? Yuu brings Mato to the counselling room where they meet counsellor Saya Irino. She is being told no matter what kind of troubles or stress she faces, she can always come here to seek advice. On the way home, Yomi bumps into Mato on the streets and notices a multi-colour bird handphone strap she has. Mato is excited to know that Yomi too has that multi-colour bird she drew herself as her handphone screensaver. Learning that Yomi has an earlier edition of the multi-colour bird book, she decides to visit her home and take a look. They also exchange emails and Yomi gives Mato her red chain stitch. Suddenly the doorbell rings and her mom says she has a visitor. Instantly Yomi panics and doesn’t want them to come in yet but too late. The wheel chair ridden girl is Kagari Izuriha and she does not hold back herself to say Yomi did this to her. The atmosphere becomes awkward with Kagari around. She gives all the dirty coloured macaroons and while they’re playing dolls, Kagari speaks through her doll to tell Mato to go home. Eventually she leaves and feels how scary that girl is. She feels heartbroken and wonders if she had done anything wrong but receives an SMS apology from Yomi. Yomi speaks to Kagari via paper cup telephone and the latter reminds her that she is hers since she has to take responsibility for herself.

BRS finds herself in an odd place (heck, the entire world is odd). She thought she heard someone telling her to go home when she is rolled over by a large spider-like machine! Man, it’s amazing she hasn’t been flattened! Then she gets blasted away and drilled by its buzz saw while Chariot piloting the machine drops macaroons on her while telling her to go home. Would you believe it? BRS took all that sh*t and there’s not even a scratch on her! Mato goes to see Saya (who was in the midst of listening to her senior Arata Kohata’s trouble on how to court a certain boy). Saya learns that Mato thinks she is being hated. She replies when she first looked at her, she had such beautiful eyes. Probably because she rarely gets hated, it’s not good to make enemies. But sometimes you end up with them so you have to accept it. Her heart may hurt but it won’t bleed right away because someone else is enduring the pain for her. Later Mato goes to see Yomi in her art club and commends her artwork. She puts on a smiley face and invites her to the festivals but Yomi refuses thinking she’ll hurt her. Using Saya’s words, Mato assures her she won’t get hurt and wants to do things together. So touched that Yomi cried. Meanwhile, BRS fights back by materializing a cannon but it’s not good enough as she is chained to the wall by Dead Master. BRS continues to get sliced by the buzz saw. Eww! Looks painful but she doesn’t seem to be in much pain.

Episode 2
Mato’s mom helps her to get prepared for the festival. Mato vows not to get hurt. Meanwhile BRS chases down the spider machine but once more she gets caught in Dead Master’s chains. Mato waited for 2 hours but Yomi never showed up. Only much later that Yomi replied and apologized for not coming. Mato watches the fireworks alone and heads home heartbroken thinking Saya’s words were lies. In actual fact, Kagari has forbid Yomi to go the festival and forced her to stay with her at home. Since she can’t go, so Yomi can’t either. Yomi breaks down because she really wanted to go so Kagari is going to do something to remove her sadness and carve it into her. OMG! What the hell is she going to do with that needle?! BRS is able to turn the tables on Dead Master and trap her in her own chains. However she hears cries to save her. Before she could do anything, the little spiders whisk Yomi away. Mato wakes up sweating from a bad dream. Next day in school, she is shocked to see a heart shaped mark carved over Yomi’s chest. Yomi is puzzled she is not mad for not turning up at the festival. But if she wants to, she can. And so she did. She tells her off she is different than the small bird since she can’t go anywhere she wants and is a coward. Mato goes to see Saya. The counsellor deduces that if they’re both having the same dream, it means they’re deeply connected inside. Dreams can be used to express something that words can’t. It may be possible she knows what Yomi wants deep inside. Mato is outside Yomi’s house and the latter is glad to see her. But as she goes out of her room, she sees Kagari waiting by the stairs. Noting that she’s been waiting in her house the whole time, she is going to fall down the stairs and won’t forgive her if she dies. Guess what? Kagari stood up and drops down the stairs!

Unfortunately the b*tch didn’t die and just fractured her wrists. That’s it? Mato waits at the hospital and will not leave without Yomi. Even Yomi’s mom seems to be afraid of Kagari. She explains Kagari has loved Yomi since young. However when they moved to another town due to her husband’s job, Kagari chased them only to be met with a car accident. Though doctors cannot find anything wrong with her leg, the problem lies in her heart. Though mommy finds Kagari pitiful, Mato is upset that Yomi had to sacrifice herself and is more pitiful. Now that Kagari can’t move her hands, she wants Yomi to take care of her, do everything for her. Suddenly Mato knocks on the door and Kagari instantly turns hysterical and filled with hate over the other woman. She thought she saw Yomi smiling. Kagari continues to scream at the top of the lungs and wants that b*tch to shut up. Yomi is in a dilemma on what to do as she wants to be friends with Mato but can’t abandon Kagari. Mato says Kagari is only pitiful because she pitied her. Otherwise she’d be treating her just like she’s pitiful, just like she’s an idiot. Yomi realizes Kagari was becoming crazy because of her. She was afraid of driving her to insanity and in the end it was just easier to do what she wished. She tells Kagari not to lock herself up at home and to come out. Come to school. She promises she won’t leave her alone anymore. She can’t do it because she feels scared. BRS crashes into a house and breaks open a doll to see chained Dead Master inside. But the spider machine smashes into the scene for another epic battle. This time it rains more macaroon missiles so BRS counters it by evolving her weapon into a cooler cannon! Cool! Fire away! The machine bursts into flames but Chariot isn’t done yet and they engage in melee combat. Dead Master breaks free from her chains and also breaks the wall to the outside world. The force is sucking everything out when a devil lady, Black Gold Saw (BGS) plugs it with her saw and saves Chariot. When Chariot thought she had ambushed BRS, BRS sliced off her head! Suddenly all the screaming stops and Mato is let into the room. Yomi is calm. Kagari is calm. Oh, she’s smiling too.

Episode 3
Seems there is nothing to worry about. Kagari has returned to normal. She’s going out more often, doing exercise and a lot more cheerful. Mato excels in her basketball club so much so Kohata decides to make her a starter for the summer tournament. That means hell for her, right? Mato and Yuu are washing up but they see Kohata nervously giving a letter of confession to a boy! Surprise, surprise. Back home, Mato continues to read the book on the multi-colour bird. Its wings absorbed all the different colours each time it went to a new world. But because it absorbed so many colours, her feathers became dull. She ponders if the colour of that girl’s eyes change. Yomi calls Mato to chat but she may have got more than she bargained for because Mato starts talking about her inseparable best friend since young who is no other than Yuu. Starting to feel jealous, isn’t she? Mato and her basketball club go on an excursion and it seems she is having motion sickness and is trying to hold in her vomit! Wouldn’t it be better to just let it all out? Stubborn girl. BGS seems to be growing, urm, little hooded girls? Don’t they look like little trembling Kohata clones? An earthquake rumbles the place and they can tell somebody is coming. Suddenly slabs of rock fall and crush them. Slam! So much for raising them. Mato wakes up from this dream and talks to Yuu about it. Thinking about Saya’s words, she thinks the girl in her dreams may be the one enduring the pain for her. Mato and Yuu are buying souvenirs when they see Kohata buying a wooden sword supposedly for her crush as her pals tease her. Yomi thought of visiting the counselling room but changed her mind when Saya greets her. Saya looks through the year book and it seems she has circled out Mato and Yomi.

When Mato returns from her excursion, she gives her souvenir to Yomi, much to her delight. But because she starts talking about Yuu’s snoring during the trip, Yomi wasn’t really thrilled. Mato thought she could talk to her if she has any problems since they’re best friends but as Yomi mumbled, she’s not really her best friend. Yomi gives her a blue chain stitch she just finished. A crowd is gathering at the notice board. Mato and co go take a look and find something horrifying. When Kohata goes up to see it, she is shocked to see the love letter she wrote on it. Seems the guys of her crush are making fun out of it and everyone else starts laughing at the tomboy. But Kohata didn’t flinch. She puts on a cheery expression and takes off her letter. Mato and Yuu are so sad that they both cried! In sync? Yomi notices how close they are. BRS kills all the Kohata clones but BGS escapes. As Kohata sees Saya, the latter feels it’s better for her to cry. Oh, now it’s Saya’s turn to cry. She feels sad that she has become the laughing stock of the school. It must hurt a lot to stay strong and put on an act. Okay, this is just getting creepy. Later Kohata sprains her ankle in a basketball practice so Mato takes her to the infirmary. Kohata explains when something bad happens, she doesn’t like to think it’s someone else’s fault. If it’s so, she can’t do anything about it. So if it’s her fault, she can do something about it and could always run and fly. After Mato leaves, Kohata starts experiencing pain in her head. BRS sees a clone and extends her hand but she inches away in fear. BRS left eye turns into a bright blue flame as she cuts off the clone’s head! Mato could feel something wrong with Kohata and rushes back to the infirmary only to see her collapsed on the floor. Likewise, Saya too could feel what is happening and starts crying. Yomi who is visiting her, is shocked to see her in this state.

Episode 4
We see Strength dragging her loads of heavy equipment through the desert. One of them being Chariot’s broken and decapitated body. She throws it into the abyss. It seems Kagari has become a new transfer student in Mato and Yomi’s class. Everyone loves her even though she’s foul mouthed because she’s saying them in a cute way. Mato talks to Yomi about the new Kagari but Yuu calls for Mato since Kohata is back in school. Yomi notes how she’s always looking at their backs. Then she learns Kagari has joined the cooking club and has her own friends. It’s reversed now, eh? Yomi talks to Saya that Kagari was a person who depended on her so much and that she promised never to abandon her. Saya says she should relax because nobody will be troubled by her absence. No one needs her that much after all. Oh dear. Is that what she said? Yomi is so troubled that when she and Kagari are playing Monopoly, she shows her frustrated side. Truly reversed now their roles. On a cloudy to school, Mato meets Kagari who wants her to bring her to school. In class, Yomi arrives late and seems short of breath. She scolds Kagari for leaving without and was worried she wasn’t there when she went to pick her up. Kagari apologizes but her new friends defend her. Later Kagari talks to Mato about the changes. Initially she was lost and couldn’t do anything and now she’s perfect at everything. She has always depended on Yomi to do everything but now wants to do something for her. However she doesn’t how to do things for others. Meanwhile Kagari’s new friends tell Yomi off for always hogging Kagari. Yomi explains taking care of her was hard and that’s why when she gets along with others, she doesn’t mind. Then she realizes Mato and Kagari heard that and runs away. So when Kagari tries to visit her, Yomi tells her to go away and doesn’t want to see her. Mato is also worried and Yuu can tell. She asks her for Yomi’s email address and wants to be friends with her too.

Meanwhile Kohata’s boyfriend needs to talk to her. He apologizes for the cruel prank his friends put up. He was about to confess but Kohata doesn’t know who he is! Neither does she understand what has happened. The guy accepts what had been done is unforgiveable and is willing to change but really, she doesn’t remember a thing. Kagari visits again but Yomi still doesn’t want to see her. She receives an SMS and thought it would be Mato. The perfect solution to cheer her up. To her horror, it’s Yuu and despite her message that is worried about her, Yomi goes crazy and tries to break her handphone with her… Pillow? Realizing that Kagari is still waiting outside, then she realizes that she still needs her and rushes downstairs. Now she’s so needed, eh? She instantly hugs Kagari as she gives Yomi her cookies she made. Yomi is happy till she realizes Kagari did this to thank her or else she will never let her go. Oh no. The heartbreak is setting in as Kagari further explains though she said she was happy about her making friends but was just putting on an act. Before, she thought nothing would work out if she was gone but now she remembers not needing her that much. And yeah, she thinks she liked her. Liked? As in past tense? So let’s forget what happened up till now and release me, okay? Man, you should see the anger building up in Yomi’s face. It’s contorting into something evil. So her alter ego in the empty world who has been chaining up herself in a mountain of chains, it finally blows up. Now she has turned into a badass girl with a legion of skulls as her army. BRS arrives on scene and though she takes a blow, how do you deal with such monstrosity? Just fire back your gun lah!

Episode 5
BRS fires away at the army of the undead with her double barrel cannon! She even takes on the giant skeleton and the twin-headed monster in this approximately 2-minute adrenaline pumping action. Mato and Yuu go to pick up Yomi from her house but it seems her mom tells them to stay away. But Yomi comes out and walks with them to school. Seeing Mato has worn the chain, she also gives one to Yuu. The duo feel something is off despite Yomi putting on a cheerful display. Then Yuu realized Yomi used her hair to make the chain! During art class, Yomi suddenly takes the scissors and starts cutting her hair to make a collage! Mato tries to stop her but it looks like it’ll have to take more than words. Seems Yomi’s mom is putting a forlorn look because Yomi’s room is thrashed. It’s like she cut everything from the fabric to the furniture. Mato heard from Kagari that Yomi snapped. What does she mean? It means her heart died. Mato instantly slaps her! Yuu confronts Saya and blames her that she caused Yomi to behave so but Saya says she merely gave advice. Besides, it only hurts for a little while. A heart boosts recovery and regenerates again when it’s wounded. Mato continues reading the multi-colour bird book whereby its wing got dull absorbing all the colours, it fell and died. She wakes up from a dream seeing BRS in a heated clash with Dead Master. She doesn’t want them to fight because at this rate they’ll kill each other. Mato then starts to scribble in the book and put her own good ending about the multi-colour bird. When Mato goes to see Saya, the latter asks if she wants to save Yomi. Sure she does despite not knowing what it meant. In that case, Saya thinks she should die for her and starts strangling her! OMG! Then she backs off and says she’s just kidding! How can she do that with a smile on her face! Of course Mato leaves and is pretty much distraught Saya used to be nicer. Was she? Saya tells her to go to the art room to see something interesting. There, Yomi’s friends want Mato to take back a painting that Yomi drew. It is a creepy picture of Mato crying blood. Mato realizes she was the one who made Yomi snapped.

Yuu is absent during basketball practice and to Mato’s horror, nobody remembers who Yuu is. Mato becomes frantic, thinking about the times she spent with Yuu. But the odd part is the more she tries to think about her, the more she can’t remember. Thinking she should head to her house, but upon arrival, the place of her home is now just a river. And Yuu is there (maybe she’s a ghost because notice she doesn’t have any shadow!). Asking her if she wants to save Yomi, she mentions that the world where someone else endures the pain for you exists. In that other world, the other Mato is always fighting and shoulders all her grief and suffering. In the course of fighting, that other her will eventually be annihilated. This will in turn set her free from all the suffering and gloom. This was what happened to Kagari and Kohata. So to save Yomi, the other her must be killed so she can be set free from the grief that plagues her since Mato is believed to be the biggest cause of her suffering. Once she dies, she’ll be able to kill all her feelings for Mato. Mato disagrees because agony isn’t something that can be resolved by dying or killing. She believes there is a proper way to resolve it and that is by talking it out. Since she wants to talk to her and clash with each other’s feelings without relying on someone, Yuu cautions resolving this herself can be very painful. Mato will deal with it so Yuu puts her forehead on hers and Mato is transported to the other world whereby BRS is still fighting with Dead Master. Mato is being told she’ll have to shoulder all the pain and pain that she has gone through and Mato is determined to do that. Once Mato enters the other world, she sees Yomi right in front of her. However to her horror she realizes she has stabbed through her as BRS. Yomi/Dead Master dies and BRS’s left eye turns indigo colour.

Episode 6
Mato realizes she just killed the other girl that looked like Yomi. Lots of things start impaling BRS and this transforms her into Insane BRS! She faces off with BGS and whatever pain she feels Mato could feel it with intensity. Including the ripping off of her own arm! OUCH!!! Strength is seen dragging Dead Master’s lifeless body away. Yuu panics when she can’t wake Mato up. She brings her to Saya’s place and the sensei slaps her after learning what she has done. It seems if the girls have to endure great mental burden, then the girls in the other world will lose what little humanity they have left. Saya has put lots of mental stress on Yomi in order to awaken Dead Master. Yuu didn’t think Mato would get trapped there but Saya says BRS will destroy that world. If that happens, could you imagine what will happen to her then? Saya thought of killing Mato now but couldn’t bring herself to since she didn’t do anything wrong. Since Mato is trapped in BRS, Saya thinks of going to the other side and talk to her. Maybe her voice will reach her. She reminds that it isn’t Mato that she wants to protect, but that girl. Saya enters the other world and through BGS tries to talk to Mato inside BRS. The battle is still raging on as BGS manages to trap BRS. She remembers the summer that she first met that girl. When Saya was a student, she first saw Yuu coming out of school in her swimsuit. She invited her to her home and treated her. She learns from mommy that Yuu has gone through lots of hardships. Whether it’s being bullied, her own family who doesn’t care and her pig sty home, Yuu endured and locked all the pain in her small body. Saya continued to treat Yuu as her friend and one day as she talked to her, she mentioned how she admired her for holding in her anger. However Yuu said it wasn’t her. Whenever she’s bullied or felt pain, the other girl comes out and takes all of her pain instead. That’s why to her it doesn’t hurt.

One night Saya heard there’s a fire at Yuu’s place and rushed to the scene. She concluded she might have started the fire to take revenge on those who put her through everything. However as Yuu is being escorted into the ambulance, she could tell what Saya was thinking. Still, she put up a smile. Saya realized she was wrong and wanted to apologize but Yuu was whisked away in the ambulance. Later it was learnt that the cause of the fire was due to Yuu’s stepfather’s cigarette that he had forgotten to put out. Saya felt guilty and wanted to make it up to her. When she finally got to meet her, she exclaims she’ll do anything for her to be forgiven. Yuu notes this world is more painful than the other one. Though she doesn’t like pain, she was wondering if her other self should take all her pain. Since Saya did say she’ll do anything, Yuu wants to protect her and say her other name. Yes, it is BGS. Insane BRS breaks free and resumes the fight. Not even the Kohata clones BGS summons (now wielding sharp weapons) could beat her because Insane BRS decapitates them all! Insane BRS is about to strike BGS put her aim is off thanks to Strength’s interference. Then blasting away to another platform, BRS now faces Strength. Saya returns to her own world but laments she did something horrible and that girl protected her. She is sad she couldn’t do anything since she had a duty to protect that world so Yuu tells her she has been forgiven. Saya gets emotional so it’s Yuu’s turn to console her. Yuu apologizes to just about everything (for enforcing her wish upon BRS and Mato) and knows Mato is in pain right now. Mato narrates the reason BRS fights and hurts everyone is save them from grief but she feels that is wrong. BRS gets clobbered by Strength. Yomi returns to school and Kagari notices how cheerful she is. And she’s not putting up an act. Later Yomi sees Mato’s name in her handphone and deletes it.

Episode 7
Mato narrates how much she loves that multi-colour bird story. Despite having a tragic ending, she felt attracted to that little bird. Saya notes she can’t interact with BGS as she’s trapped in that world forever. Yuu thinks of going to that world to save her. Noting she is a mysterious girl, feelings like hatred, envy and sorrow hardly exist in her. She doesn’t acknowledge the part of her and tries to help the ones drowning in. Those emotions are what BRS is made of. She kills the emotions of others to save them from their sorrow. BRS will defeat their other selves and after that, they’ll never reach Mato ever again. BRS makes her counter attack on Strength. Mato’s voice is able to get through BRS to stop fighting but she shoots her own leg to shut her up. Mato hears Yuu’s voice that she must wish to get out of BRS. Shout out that she’s not her. We see clips of family and friends talking about Mato. In short, she’s a good girl. Then Mato realizes that she was running away so that she didn’t end up getting hurt or hate. That’s why she admired the tainted little bird. Yuu tries to calm her down saying that there is nothing wrong wanting to make a world a better place but Strength butts in on their conversation. She starts saying how she hates people who spread lies about her. Strength and Insane BRS exchange firepower and both take equally damaging shots. Strength ‘shows’ the pain she is experiencing and that her duty is supposed to protect her. The place is on fire and the fight becomes intense. Strength pounds Insane BRS to a pulp. Meanwhile Saya finds Yuu’s unconscious body by the bridge and takes her back. But Strength reveals something. She says she is the real Yuu and that the real Strength is down inside her just like how Mato is.

Yomi can’t quite put her finger on it. It’s like she felt something really painful had happened before. Then the teacher comes in to ask if the class knows anything about Mato because her mom called and she hasn’t returned home since yesterday. The class becomes alerted and Yomi might have remembered something about Mato and dashes out. She starts feeling pain in her heart. Then when the class see the police at the school gates, they think it must be something big. At the same time, Kagari’s heart also starts to hurt. Meanwhile as Strength (or was it Yuu) pounds Insane BRS, Yuu (or was it Strength), Mato can’t fathom that the Yuu she knew all along was actually Strength. As explained, Yuu’s heart was hurt very badly. When she was fighting in this world, the pain and suffering of the girls living in reality created both the emotionless girls and this world. They were influenced by the reality girls’ emotions and fought by their instincts. Till BRS came. They fought for the sake of fighting without thought of winning or losing. Before Strength was about to die, she heard Yuu’s voice and felt her pain was different than other girls. Since they’re mostly pain and hatred, if BRS kills her while she’s shouldering them, what would be left of Yuu? Yuu says her world is more painful and difficult. Even if she died with her pain, she’d still face more down the road. Since this other world is easy to understand and that one just fights and don’t need to think, thus pain is easier to understand than anything. Yuu suggests they switch places. She’ll stay in this world while Strength faces reality. Saya watches the motionless body of Mato and Yuu at her place. She apologizes for letting Strength shoulder it all but hopes she’ll protect that world in her place since that world is her only shelter. Yomi’s heart grows more painful each time she thinks about Mato. Then she remembers all the times she had with the person whom she calls her friend. She couldn’t understand why she was trying to forget her.

Episode 8
Yuu still continues to beat up Insane BRS like a punching bag and she’s taking out her frustrations of the real world on her. However Strength notes that her hope of wanting to save her from BRS is now impossible. She drops down the abyss since if she disappears, the pain that’s warping her senses will vanish as well. Once she forgets that, she won’t be able to remain in this world. Yuu doesn’t want that to happen and pleads for Strength to change her mind as she doesn’t want to face reality. This allows Insane BRS to finish her off. Mato finds herself in a dark place and sees Insane BRS before her. Then she realizes she has become BRS herself. Strength is cracking up (literally) and Yuu is frantic that she doesn’t want her to go since she’ll be all alone. Mato tells Insane BRS how she made her bear all her suffering and pain and that she doesn’t want to hurt anybody but herself. Eh? Say what? That’s because if you don’t get hurt, there are other worlds you can’t see otherwise. Insane BRS is happy to oblige to give her some pain. Lots of it. Red is for the blood that you cough up. Blue and black is for the bruises from the punch… Wow. That’s lots of colours :). Of course Mato is beaten up so bad that she’s about to go to the next world. She laments she can’t hurt anyone to hurt herself (well, it’s an ironic situation). Thinking how the multi-colour bird flew to witness the many different colours, Mato gets the strength she needs to revive and materialize a cool power machine gun. Yomi realizes she loves Mato wanted to share the pain, sadness and ache with someone. Kagari and Kohata start shedding tears when they remember their important person. While Mato and Insane BRS continue to churn out crazy amount of bullets at each other, we see the revival of Dead Master, Chariot and BGS. Mato is going to hurt Insane BRS no matter much she hurts herself just to get it through her heart. Is taking all the bullets her idea of getting hurt? Mato materializes a freaking huge cannon and blasts Insane BRS away!!! So powerful that it cracks the walls of this world and a myriad of colours start gushing in. Then everything goes boom!

The next thing Mato knows, she is in a barren world and Strength is lying close to death. Yuu doesn’t want her to die because she can’t handle reality but she points out everyone is here for her. Noting both worlds have merged, their hearts can also merge into one. Yuu still doesn’t have the confidence that people won’t like her so Strength assures her she is her soul. Without feelings, she fought for her. Without feelings, they can only act on instinct. That’s why they could never fight for someone they hate. They love her, they want to protect her, they don’t want to see her sad. That’s why they started fighting for her in the first place. She wants her to believe that the real world can be a nice place too. Before Strength disintegrates, she thanks Mato for teaching her how wonderful the real world can be and that they’ll always be friends. When the real Yuu wakes up, Saya immediately hugs her in her relief. Mato makes her way home and is surprised to hear Yomi calling her. Mato instantly comes hugging her and apologizes for hurting her because she wants to get hurt too. But to say to let’s suffer together properly? I hope she doesn’t mean that seriously. Mato narrates the world filled with different colours. Warm, bright, sparkling, dirty, sad and lonely colours. Because of so, the world is a beautiful place. Mato, Yomi and Kagari return to being best friends as Kohata and her boyfriend are back together again. Though Yuu takes her first step back into reality, she’ll be glad to know that Mato, Yomi and Kagari are always there for her. The quartet become good friends as each of them has the chain stitch as token to commemorate their friendship. In the other world, Strength revives and sees BRS who says she’ll continue to get hurt and bear the pain and thus continue fighting in this world. So the pain is not going to stop, eh?

What Is The Colour Of Pain And Sorrow? Can Hurt Feel So Good?
Well, the only thing that I enjoyed watching this was the cool fights of the dark personas. Trying to explain it in relation to grief, sorrow, suffering and the likes was a good try but for a guy like me, it didn’t really matter because not that I understand it all completely. The more I try to think about it and rationalize everything, the more complicated it seems to become. For instance, I was trying to comprehend wouldn’t it be better for the girls then to let their dark persona get defeated because this way they will be freed from all the pain that they are suffering now? If it is said that the girls in the other world bear all their pain, well, it looked like they aren’t in any pain at all. I mean, you see them fighting, get stabbed, shot, blasted, whacked and everything else but they don’t really put up an expression that indicates all those blows taken were actually that painful. Heck, in fact I felt painful for them the way they got gored! Maybe as explained, pain in this world is less complicated and simpler so even if it hurts, it is not like what we imagine, screaming and crying through the top of your lungs. But still, pain is pain and as long you’re a living thing, you are still susceptible to pain.

I guess the characters were rather okay. Each of them had their own issues to deal with and eventually overcame them with each other’s support. Mato may seem like she always happy and cheerful, the kind of girl that will not even hurt a fly. In a way that is a good point because I feel that no matter how angry and upset you are, you’ll be ‘blinded’ once you blow your top and lose control of yourself. From the world I come from, you would have to be higher than a saint to do that and if anybody of such really exists, first thing we’ll say that he/she isn’t human. So at least with Mato realizing that instead of brushing things she should be angry about aside and put up a happy face, now she learns to experience a new range of emotions. Sometimes it’s good to have a few negative emotions because too much of a good thing isn’t really good for you in the long run. Of course, too much of a bad thing is worse so it’s best to keep a good mix and balance of the kinds of emotion. Positive ones more lah. As compared to the OVA, BRS here seem to be more violent and brutal and it feels she’s like a heartless killing machine. So the reason why she appeared and started hammering all the other dark personas is still a big mystery to me. Maybe it was explained so it’s either I wasn’t listening or did I remember since it was complicated. I just know she kickass :).Perhaps all Kagari wanted was just a friend. She got so obsessed with this concept that she took it upon Yomi and made that poor girl her ‘slave friend’. Yomi was initially trapped and felt responsible to take care of Kagari. Once Kagari was set ‘free’, it ironically turned the other way round. Kagari doesn’t need Yomi anymore but Yomi couldn’t do without her. It tells us that this kind of extreme friendship isn’t really any friendship at all. Friends give and take and don’t hurt each other the way we see them do here.

Surprisingly I never have guessed that Yuu was Strength and vice versa. I was predicting that there would be more than Yuu to being just a side character for the TV series and perhaps somewhere at the end there was going to be a twist but I never expected they swapped places all along. It’s pitiful that the real Yuu had undergone a lot of bad emotions in reality. But if she has been fighting for so long in the other world, you would think that her hate and pain would have subsided in time, though I won’t expect it to completely disappear. Instead, she’s still that bitter girl who can’t accept reality and continues to take out her frustrations in the fights in the other world. Maybe it’s the kind of pain that won’t go away no matter how much time passes. Even if she had eternity, lived forever or fight and beat every persona meets, that kind of pain and suffering she experienced when she was a kid was too much to bear. Only with Strength’s near loss did she realize that her own world isn’t totally filled with such extreme hate and pain. When you’re in your comfort zone for so long, taking the first step out into a new world seems daunting. But that is what friends are for. I’m with a little step by step, she’ll manage to get by with her new friends. See, it’s not that bad, right? Saya is a mystery to me. Besides seeing her and her penchant for drinking coffee (which she reveals she hates anyway), it was hard at first for me to classify if she’s the villain or an ally. By deduction and the familiar looks, I could easily guess that BGS is Saya. I don’t really understand why she said mean things to the girls. Maybe it’s her way of being cruel to be kind. She had her reasons why she wanted to revive Dead Master and to ‘kill’ Mato but I didn’t really fully understand it. In the end, all she wanted was to save the real Yuu and protect the other world because as I am concluding, if the other world collapses, then the girls in this world will have to endure all the pain and suffering. Hey wait a minute. If the dark personas die, then the girls are set free from their emotion, right? As I found out, BRS fights the other inhabitants of the other world regardless of its impact on reality and this is what Saya wanted to protect. Uhm, so what impact was it BRS would have on reality? The girls being set free of those emotions? Argh! This is so confusing. I’m not going to think about this anymore.

So I’m going to turn my attention to the cool fights instead. All I can say is that they are mind blowing and creative. No doubt that it is the other world and it is exactly this reason probably why the imaginations and fantasy start flowing. Things that don’t really follow the physics of reality and that is why when I watched them in action, it was exhilarating, exciting and electrifying. I just wished they had shown more of such fights. Hah! Do I sound like a blood thirsty person? Just like in the OVA, the scenes alternate between reality and the other world. Sometimes I find it annoying because while I’m enjoying the fight, then the scene changes and this puts a slight damper on my enjoyment. But if this wasn’t done in this way, we won’t understand the big picture and see the effects of things as they bring about simultaneous results and consequences in both worlds. Maybe at times the fights might be gory and a little too violent for girls to watch. I mean, you see things get impaled to them, they get slashed and their limbs something get cut off. Not to mention the loser gets her head decapitated! And I am not sure if their blood is some dull colour instead of red. Case in point, when we see BRS get gored. Is that her blood? Feels like oil spewing out from a ‘machine’. I love the way the huge weapons the dark personas carry and the power blast that comes with it. You could say that their arsenal packs a load of punch. Each time they clash, it is of epic proportions. The odd buildings, monuments and scenes of the other world may look creepy but they also add to the excitement of the fight, be it getting smashed into it or just to enhance the effects of the bout.

The voice casts of the OVA were retained in the TV series with Kana Hanazawa doing Mato and BRS while Miyuki Sawashiro voices Yomi. If you’re wondering why I didn’t mention Dead Master because this dark persona doesn’t have any lines in the series. Kana Asumi also retains her role as Yuu but this time she doesn’t sound so girly like Yuno in Hidamari Sketch or Taneshima of Working!! At least when the real Yuu is revealed, she sounded like a crazy girl whom hatred and pain has eaten her sanity away. It’s the same case with Eri Kitamura as Kagari (Rin of Kodomo No Jikan, Kureha of Sora No Woto). When she was screaming in her climax scene at the hospital, man, I never thought she could scream like a crazy woman. She’s pretty convincing when she snapped. Newly added to the cast for the TV series is Mamiko Noto as Saya. What else can I say more about her? Her trademark voice is still there and I still totally love it. Also added is Manami Numakura as Kohata (Asano in Natsuiro Kiseki). When I first heard the rock opening theme which is the same name as this show, it somehow reminded me of Bakemonogatari’s ending theme, Kimi No Shiranai Monogatari. That’s because both songs are sung by Supercell (though for this show, Hatsune Miku provided the voice for the vocals). This is the same group which got inspired by the concept of the BRS character and came out with a song of the same name albeit a different one from this TV series. The ending theme is a slow pop rock ballad by Bokura No Ashiato also by Supercell.

As I found out from Wikipedia, this series was popular enough to spawn a few spin-offs of manga and games. From what I know, all of them have different storylines and more characters that have short and cool but seemingly unpronounceable and complicated names (at least to me). Reading briefly their profiles seems pretty interesting. Maybe it’s because I still had my mind set on the awesome battles that I saw in the TV series so I could imagine the manga panels and video game play if these characters were to unleash their cool weapons. I’m sure the series is trying to tell us a thing or two about friendship and not violence and fights solve your woes. If every time you want to free yourself from sadness and go into a fight, I think that will just mess things up further. That’ll be more than just a pain in the neck. Speaking about pain, to a certain extent pain is good because it tells us the limits of how much out body can take. It tells you to stop what you’re doing. Without pain, you might be going on light an Energizer battery till your body breaks down. And you still wouldn’t know it. I also found out that there were some character redesigns for BRS and Dead Master for the TV series. I don’t remember much from the OVA but perhaps some of the main features of BRS are still there. But for Dead Master, I remember she held some Death Scythe as a weapon in the OVA but here she uses chains. Plus, she resembles more of a bride rather than a gothic devil. Oh, I kinda noticed that the pupils of the characters’ eyes, how come they resemble like half cogwheels?

I’m not saying that I am suffering a great deal of pain and sorrow now but from time to time, I do feel such feelings. So what am I trying to say? That the other world whereby your dark personas fight and take your pain is non-existent! Haha. Just joking. Maybe it’s because I’m not a girl so I don’t have this thing so bad that it splits my emotions and creates another world. But would it be great if you had a doppelganger to take in all the pain and suffering for you and at the same time fight some serious kickass battles. And I’m not talking about creating an avatar and go play an MMORPG. Some say that pain is relative and to some it’s just mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter, that is. Seriously, would you want a hot chick with blue flaming eyes like BRS to shoulder your pain? Maybe if only I had those cool huge blaster cannons…

Black Rock Shooter

November 11, 2010

After reading so much about the hype and excitement over Black Rock Shooter, I guess it was enough for me to go check it out. As far as I know, this one episode OVA is based on the song of the same name by the band Supercell. Furthermore, the song was made for the original character created by one of the band members of the group. I’m not a big fan of Vocaloid’s Hatsune Miku but well, I read lots of people associate the character here with her though they aren’t the same.

It’s been a long time since I have watched an anime episode that lasts more than 30 minutes. Heck, I don’t remember if I ever watched anime movies. The last time an OVA I watched exceeded the half an hour time was Lucky Star OVA so I thought this is going to be one big project spectacular project compact into 52 minutes even if it’s just a single episode. Well, I don’t have much background knowledge on this since I’m not a big fan. But watching this was a little confusing because it shows back and forth between 2 different worlds. One, a normal world of a pair of girls attending high school together and another, the titular character Black Rock Shooter wielding a super gun ‘fixed’ to her arm in a death duel with Dead Master and her scary death scythe. Due to that, I’m going to blog on one world first before the next and finally how both sides connect.

The high school girls
Mato Kuroi wakes up early one morning, surprisingly before her alarm clock rings because she is excited for her first day at high school. On her way, she stops at a scenic spot at the top to have a breathtaking view of the city and snaps a shot of it with her handphone. Realizing she’s late for school, Mato rushes to the train station and makes it in time. When she arrives at the gates of her school, she spots a girl coming out of the car, supposed coming from a rich family. Their eyes met but the girl ignores her. Mato finds her in the same class as herself. After the entrance ceremony, Mato quickly makes acquaintance with her. She is Yomi Takanashi and just like Mato, I read her name wrongly as ‘Kotoriasobi’. Pronouncing and writing a word can be very different in Japanese. Rational? Because there are “no hawks” (takanashi) where “little birds play” (kotori asobi). Sighs… I will never understand how Japanese kanji work. They quickly become friends as Mato learns she has just moved into the town and returned from Germany.

They have become so close that they accompany each other from school and going home and even lending notes to each other (sorry guys, no yuri stuff here). Mato tells of her intention to join the basketball club and during the try-out she is pretty good and impressed her seniors. Yomi too thinks of joining a club but it isn’t basketball. Volleyball. Good thing is that both their clubs use the same gym hall so they can still be close to each other while practicing. Just separated by a giant net. On a day they are walking home together, Mato brings Yomi to her special place: The scenic spot. She gives Yomi a handphone strap which also serves as a token of their friendship. Yomi is happy and will treasure it. Over the next one year, the duo continue to spend time together and be the best of friends. From watching movies to the pool and watching the fireworks together. Seems peaceful, eh? But can this go on forever?

One day during club practice, Mato sprains her leg so her super coach, Yuu helps nurse her. Yomi is pretty concern but in the end the injury wasn’t much to Mato. Next year arrives and both girls are now in their second year. Unfortunately, they are in different classes. Sad as it may be to be separated, they remain positive that they can see each other during other times. Though they continue to spend time in school whenever they can, soon Yomi notices Mato interacting more with Yuu who happens to be in the same class with Mato. Gradually, Yuu and Mato get friendly and their friendship of twosome becomes a threesome. Every time Mato and Yuu chat, Yomi kept quiet and felt left out. That’s why the saying, two’s a company, three’s a crowd. On a day when Yomi pays a visit to Mato’s class, she sees her chatting away happily with Yuu. Feeling depressed as Yomi turns away, she disappears into a black aura. Mato notices something amiss but couldn’t figure it out.

Over the next few days, Yomi avoided Mato and the latter started to get worried. That’s because the former left club practices early and even not responding to SMS Mato sent. Mato despite being worried, continues to go to school alone and wondering what has happened to Yomi. One day on her way back, she gets a shocking SMS from her mom to call her immediately after school. A message that includes “Police”, “Yomi” and “Missing”. Fearing the worse, Mato rushes home. She and her mom talk to the police officers waiting in their living room. They tell her how Yomi’s parents have requested them to search for their daughter. Seems Yomi left for school that morning and never returned. They’re not sure if she ran away from home. Mato breaks down while telling them what she knows. She is pretty sure she didn’t run away from home.

In school, Mato becomes gloomy and rumours about Yomi’s disappearance become the talk of the school. The incident was never reported in the newspapers as they think they don’t want to incur the wrath of the kidnappers. Though Yuu cheers her up and says that she has to stay positive and believe Yomi will return, but deep down in Mato’s heart, she’s still troubled. Early one morning, Mato gets a surprise SMS from Yomi, though it is blank. She rushes out to find her and at the scenic spot she finds her handphone strap on the ground. Holding it dear to her heart and wondering where she has been, suddenly a flash of light emerges from it and soon engulfs her.

The fantasy realm
As the anime opens on a creepy rocky island in the middle of the sea, a battle between Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master is taking place. Their swords clash and the only sound you will hear are those and the destruction of the walls and floor as they fight. No dialogues here. In the end, Black Rock Shooter got stabbed as the floor crumbles. I’m not sure if the next scene is after or before this event because we see Black Rock Shooter now with her gun, standing atop a bridge. Entering a place filled with ruined buildings and chequered designed floors, she makes her way across the strange land. Reaching a chasm, she sees a castle below it and dives down. She seems to know where she is heading as she makes her way into the castle, from the dull-coloured corridors to its main gate. Meanwhile, we see another little girl, packing two mean-looking guns on her arms each. She makes a move and jumps down.

Inside the throne room, Black Rock Shooter comes face to face with Dead Master waiting for her. It now dawned to me how Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master look strikingly similar to Mato and Yomi respectively. Just add a gothic touch to them. Black Rock Shooter extends her hand but Dead Master replies by attacking her along with her twin skull ghouls. The heroine jumps to evade and since it has come down to this, her left eye starts to glow in a blue flame. Dead Master seems pleased. Both girls now engage in exhilarating combat. The great clash almost turned the room into Swiss cheese. Dead Master uses her scythe to break the floor. As Black Rock Shooter falls, Dead Master swoops down and they both engage in aerial combat. When she lands, Black Rock Shooter manages to rid of the ghouls and then chases after Dead Master.

Evading Dead Master’s multiple chain attacks and arriving in another chamber, the fierce fight continues. Black Rock Shooter is able to break Dead Master’s scythe with a shot but that didn’t put her off as she know switches to her chain weapons. They were too much to handle so Black Rock Shooter got chained by them. She is chained up to the wall. After staring at each other, Black Rock Shooter got the power to break herself free. She approaches Dead Master, who seems to fear her now. She extends her hand but Dead Master slips off the edge. Luckily Black Rock Shooter caught her and embraces her. Dead Master isn’t happy and tries to break free. Try as she might but it is only Dead Master herself that falls to her death. Seems Yomi was possessed by her and now that she is free from her clutches, we see her smiling while they embrace. The place starts to crumble as Black Rock Shooter carries her while making their hasty escape.

The link
When Mato opens her eyes, she is surprised to find herself in the clouds. She sees Black Rock Shooter who knows Mato cares very much about Yomi and her friend too cares a lot about her. Black Rock Shooter asks if she wants to save her but Mato says she doesn’t want to do that, but rather she wants to walk and laugh with her again. She wants to see Yomi now. Black Rock Shooter notes her determination so Mato asks who she is. She replies “Black Rock Shooter” as both girls merge.

The aftermath
Mato and Yomi seem to return to their normal daily lives and are friends again. Yup, they’re talking like how they use to. I guess they have learned their lesson, eh? But the story ends with a twist. As both girls leave school, Mato notices Yuu and she doesn’t look happy. She’s acting rather strangely in contrast to her cheery self. Why does she give a feel like as though she’s a stalker? Uh oh. Don’t tell me now she’s a jealous and the same thing is going to happen again?

Bleak, rocked, shot down
Erm… That’s it? I couldn’t say that I am satisfied with that kind of opening ending. In fact, there wasn’t anything spectacular about this whole anime anyway. Forgive me but I also seem to read that some are disappointed and some totally love it. It’s personal, I guess. So besides the action sequences, the main part was seeing how the best friends came to be, drifted from each other, then one realized she neglected the other when she start to go missing and went on a rescue mission. Sure, the storyline isn’t anything special though it gives good character development albeit a short one and it is a believable one since there isn’t anything exaggerative. Mato is a cheerful girl and it is understandable that she easily makes friends. Hey, remember the first time she tried with Yomi? I felt Yomi wasn’t jealous that Mato was getting closer to Yuu but rather felt neglected and didn’t want to bother her but unfortunately that turned into depression. There are a few questions that bugged me. First, how did Yomi get possessed by and whisked away to the other world in the first place? Was it her depression? Second, who was that double-arm-gun loli? Her appearance was definitely a mystery and probably a teaser. I don’t know, after thinking about it, she resembles closely to Yuu. Third, do Black Rock Shooter and Mato have any connection with each other?

Though the art for the high school world seems pretty normal, the graphics for the other world seems pretty cool. Probably it’s because it’s fantasy so I’m pretty much taken by the location and setting. The action may not be the best but at least I still consider them to be good. It doesn’t disappoint. I can’t be expecting this series to be about two girls fighting each other for the entire 52 minutes, right? I just wished that they didn’t ‘break’ the fight scenes and should’ve shown them continuously. Need more of Black Rock Shooter shooting her cool gun… There are several background music and they are quite pleasing to the ear as they are composed by one of the band members of Supercell. I thought they would use the Black Rock Shooter song as the ending theme but I guess it’s better to have another one. Named Braveheart by The Gomband, it is your typical rock song and it lasted for nearly 4 minutes! Better to play the whole song, eh? Surprisingly I could recognize Miyuki Sawashiro’s voice as Yomi. After hearing her voice too many times recently, why not? She sure does make Yomi sound dim overall. Kana Hanzawa is the voice of Mato and Kana Asumi as Yuu.

I’m not sure but I think there may be a production of this series either as another OVA or a TV series. Hey, there was a pilot version of it released way back in September 2009 before the full edition was released at the end of July 2010. Whatever it is, I’m pretty ‘turned off’ after watching this because it was nothing much after all my initial expectation. Heck, what was I really expecting anyway? Fanservice? Oh please. Am I kidding myself? Thus I didn’t turn into a fanatic fan of the increasingly popular Hatsune Miku. Hey, at least I know who she is. So people, next time if you’re thinking about disregarding your best friends, please spare a thought that being left out can hurt very much. It’s worse than having a worse enemy. Hey, hey. What do you know? Since I’m an otaku, I don’t have many friends around me to get hurt… Or else, it’ll be real troublesome to have a girl with a big gun going on an adventure fit for video games to save a precious soul. But that’s worth it, right? That beautiful thing called friendship.

Black Rock Shooter