The Black Rock Shooter hype has perhaps hit its climax with the release of this 50-minute OVA. If you reading the word hype makes you go, “huh?” the following is an explanation on both why this came to be and why the hype really isn’t much to be concerned about.
Black Rock Shooter is the title of a song put out in 2009 by Supercell, a band that puts the Hatsune Miku singing synthesizers to good use. Huke, one of the bands members, gave birth to Black Rock Shooter with illustrations, and once the music video was made for it, peoples be hooked. So how can you take a music video and turn it into a 50 minute OVA? This was the task Ordet studios, a small company who has only provided production assistance in the past, challenged themselves with. Yoshioka Shinobu was brought on to write the script for the OVA. Did they shell out an OVA that not only could please the most hardcore BRS fans, but interest people that had no working knowledge of this, or me, who liked the art of Black Rock Shooter?
Black Rock Shooter is two different universes following Mato (Black Rock Shooter) and Yomi (Dead Master). On one side, which I’ll refer to as School World, you have a story of two girls, Mato and Yomi, who meet at school and become friends after Mato approaches Yomi and the two realize they live in the same neighborhood. On the flipside, the BRS World, you have Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master in a hard fought battle of gunshots, chains and more. The BRS World is a post-apocalyptic world, dark and barren, illustrated by a dark grungy theme the world presents itself with. What the OVA does with these two worlds is weave in and out of these scenes (a lot early on) as parallel universes, and also to tease the viewer into waiting for the big duel to begin.
In the School World, Mato is going to school and notices a girl (Yomi) getting out of a car. Yomi merely looks at her, barely acknowledging Mato’s existence. But after Mato talks to Yomi, she opens up and they become friendly. They get along really well, both of them excel at sports and everything’s just dandy! The turning point in the School World is when they are assigned different classes the next year. The melancholic attitude of the girls upon finding this out is a sign that something’s going to happen. In the BRS World, the OVA opens with a fight scene in which Black Rock Shooter appears to be swiftly defeated by someone known as Black Gold Saw. Following that, we anxiously watch as Black Rock Shooter approaches the church where Dead Master waits, wanting shots to be fired, walls to be smashed, etc.
With only knowing the premise before watching this, one might think that the School World will be boring, uninteresting and more of a chore to watch than anything else. That wasn’t fully the case for me, as I was actually OK with watching the School World parts. The problem is that the BRS World already tells you that something is going to happen between Mato & Yomi, and the result of them fighting stems from nothing more than jealousy. Because the BRS World lacks dialogue, the emotions of Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master are conveyed through Mato & Yomi, and those seiyuus (Kana Hanazawa and Miyuki Sawashiro) did a fine job carrying the OVA as they account for roughly 90% of the dialogue. I do think it was a mistake to not have dialogue in the BRS World, because it feels too separate from the other world. In a way, the BRS World hurts the School World more than the School World hurts itself. Had the BRS World had some kind of narrative attached to it that felt more linked to what was going on in the School World, it definitely would’ve helped Black Rock Shooter from a story perspective.
On animation and audio fronts, while the school scenes are average quality, Black Rock Shooter looks pretty cool. Grungy scenery, dark-colored skies and checkered floors and walls create a unique realm and it just looks very cool. There is some good music in the fight sequences and the ending song is cool, but I’m not gonna be lurking Nyaatorrents for the OST. Taking these two elements into consideration, the following quote from me is what, in my opinion, is the biggest problem with the OVA, because I feel confident others might feel the same way: “If someone could cut this video, put all the BRS World segments together and make an AMV out of it, that would be pretty sweet.” It’s just that at the end of the day, the two tastes aren’t that great together. The best element of the OVA is Black Rock Shooter herself. She’s not a character that displays emotions, but she definitely is cool to look at and fun to watch with her big gun on her left arm that can change at her desire. The fight scenes are enjoyable, and I’d even say the choreography of those scenes was executed well. Thing is, them being mixed in with the School World scenes kills any momentum it was gathering.
So yeah, another hyped anime has some issues with story implementation. Been there, done that, would buy a t-shirt if it existed. Hardcore fans might walk away somewhat satisfied since there was good Black Rock Shooter action, others will feel like they lost 50 minutes. I personally would’ve preferred this being released as a series of top-notch music videos rather than interweaving actual plot together to form an OVA. It’s not that the OVA is executed poorly. I do think it’s a plot device that could’ve worked for Black Rock Shooter; it’s just that the reason people wanted to watch Black Rock Shooter was interspersed with a story and an alternate universe, and that they didn’t really gel. All fans really wanted was a 50-minute joygasm of Black Rock Shooter fighting enemies, but ultimately the BRS World only netted 20-some minutes of it. The BRS World is the best part of Black Rock Shooter, and somehow at the same time the worst part of it.
After The Credits
We see something post-script that opens the door to more animated content from the world of Black Rock Shooter. We see another character in the BRS World that really doesn’t do anything. Basketball manager Yuu is giving off vibes that she feels left out now that Mato & Yomi have reunited as best friends.