Black★Rock Shooter

Black★Rock Shooter


Earlier this year, Black Rock Shooter appeared to be everywhere, and everyone was talking about it. I myself discovered it whilst watching an episode of Danny Choo’s Culture Japan. With it’s interesting music, eerie-looking characters, coupled with the rising hype, I was convinced to give it a try.

Not many animes can claim to originate in the unique way that Black Rock Shooter did. A character drawn and posted onto a blog, which inspired J-Pop band Supercell to write a song (with the Haysune Miku Vocaloid sysnthesiser, a collaboration on a film clip, an OVA, several manga, an iPhone game, and then as an eight-episode anime. With an almost backward rise to popularity, it is a wonder how BRS managed to become so successful. But the answers are definitely there – in the music, the twisty storyline, and the enigmatic monochrome characters with their sole splashes of colour.

brs1Black Rock Shooter is essentially a story of two halves. In reality, Mato Kuroi and Yomi Takanashi meet at school, and their opposites attract immediately – naive and innocent Mato with reserved and mature Yomi. They become close friends, but some friendships are not meant to last, and they find themselves drifting apart throughout the school year. Meanwhile, in a surreal fantasy realm, the fiery blue-eyed Black Rock Shooter goes up against the scythe-weilding Dead Master in a fight to the death.

I’ll be honest here – the storyline isn’t exactly the strongest, but this is what allows so many other different aspect to take the reins and steer. The music, of course, is very important in BRS, and when it was combined with the otherworldly fight scenes it was almost a work of art. It was vibrant, intense, frenzied and it practically left me open-mouthed. For the most part, not a single word was spoken throughout these fight scenes; they didn’t really need them as the message was channeled through music and tension and colour, which was just fascinating to witness. In comparison, the normal world of schoolgirl life managed to convey a similar theme even though the settings are poles apart. So much is conveyed by what the character’s aren’t saying to each other that it creates a heady tension that kept me waiting for the inevitable snap.

However, as mentioned earlier, this anime is only eight episodes long. That’s a lot of psychological pain and plot tie-ins to get into eight episodes. They succeeded with the former, but the latter suffered as a result. I guess the trick with BRS is to not over-think it all. For me, there were a lot of unanswered questions at the end. I caught on quickly to the main plot ideas of this series, but I was always guessing on how they would come into realisation. And they didn’t. Not in any solid way that I could grasp. It would appear that the main joy-factor of Black Rock Shooter is in the ride, and not the destination. But don’t let this put you off – BRS rose to fame for a reason, and the things of which it boasts (a wonderful score of melodies, sinister characters, and a progressively complex layering of two stories in perfect synchronisation) are definitely worth the watch.