Black Rock Shooter (TV) Is Surprisingly Good

Black Rock Shooter is not your typical anime series. The idea for BRS came from the artwork used in a music video. The artwork was apparently so popular it brought forth a slew of dolls and figurines. And then, in 2010, BRS broke from the realm of otaku-affiliated toys to the TV screen in a single episode OVA which was called, surprisingly enough, Black Rock Shooter. Perhaps more surprising was the fact that this OVA was released simultaneously in Japan and the U.S., and was a DVD-Blu-ray combo with two Nendroid Puchi (petite) dolls attached to it.
The OVA told the story of Kuroi Matou, a cheerful and carefree junior high student who approaches a transfer student named Takanashi Yomi and become her first friend. While the story’s main focus stayed on Matou, a mystery figure called Black Rock Shooter was shown fighting in a strange apocalyptic world from time to time. After Yomi disappears without a trace Matou discovers that this apocalyptic world is somehow connected to their own and that her friend was absorbed by her alter-ego from that world.
The OVA proved to be lacking. With no prior information to go by other than the artwork and music video it turned into an artistic experiment with little in terms of plot or sophistication. The life of Matou and Yomi were hardly ever interesting, and the entire impact of the OVA rested on multiple short scenes where Black Rock Shooter fought in the artistically provoking apocalyptic world.

More than a year has passed since then, and now a revamped TV series by the same name is being broadcasted. I decided to check it out and see if the series manages to bring a bit more sophistication into this plastic-oriented franchise.
I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. The show basically took the premise of the OVA, extended it and made it more sophisticated and intriguing. The new series focuses on the emotional aspect of junior high student life. The apocalyptic world of Black Rock Shooter still exists, but here it represents the emotional strifes of the teenage girls in the series. Each troubled teenager is represented by a fighter in the apocalyptic/emotional world, and if they have an emotional confrontation in the real world their alter-ego fight it out in the emotional world. There is a deep connection between the characters and their fighting alter-egos, but it’s only reveled near the end of the series. Suffice to say that if an alter-ego is defeated in the emotional world it’s character in the real world is drained of all emotions regarding the conflict at hand.  And Black Rock Shooter is an emotional series indeed. In a smart move, the series tries to shock you with just how intense and insane the emotions of a teenager can be. Although Matou is still at the center of attention, the TV series show multiple views of certain conflicts and more characters are added as time goes by. The show also introduces us to an evil badass school counselor. I’ve never thought I’d see that one coming.

The art style has greatly improved from the OVA. Sadly, the main character designs remain simple to a fault, but are nonetheless more detailed than before. The emotional world, on the other hand, has been reborn in an amazing way. This world is now represented entirely in CG and looks quirk and colorful as it is sinister and surreal. It’s a delight to watch Black Rock Shooter fight in this world, and although the real world is a bit more intriguing this time around, the emotional world is what makes the show the interesting and artistic feat that it is.

If, like me, you were dissapointed by the OVA and hesitated whether or not to watch the series, I promise you it is a much more rewarding viewing experience. I look forward to seeing how the story will wrap up in the following weeks. I’m also eager to see how the Blu-ray will look like.

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