Series Review: Black Rock Shooter (8/10)

Instant summary: The emotional stress of middle schoolers are carried forward into another world, where their counter-parts turns it into combat prowess.

Since the creation of Black Rock Shooter (character), I feel there's very little more to it other than the character design. I feel that it's never really about the song; Black Rock Shooter (song) might be one of the earliest tracks that propel Hatsune Miku to fame, but I feel that it's one of the weaker tracks in Ryo's first album. I'm betting that it's really huke's rendition of the character that gave it the kind of popularity it receives, and well, I even own a couple of Black Rock Shooter figurines myself. Still, no one could really say what kind of universe BRS belongs in, and even the game had a vastly different setting than that of the anime. So, in all fairness, the anime version of the BRS world is probably unique to that of the writer, and not exactly the correct one.

So... while the OVA really failed to impress, the TV series won me over in the end. It didn't seem like it, but the concept used in the OVA worked out pretty well to portray what kind of character the writer wants BRS and the other "avatars" to be. It seemed ridiculous that middle schoolers' problems would cause this much pain, but I bet in our younger days this is exactly how we thought it felt like. All that violence turns out to be an excellent way to translate the angst in the girls' minds, and seeing Mato resolving a conflict in tandem with Black Rock Shooter winning a battle makes things really interesting.

The story itself is nothing to write home about, but it does work well with the rather low episode count and serves to bring out the concept brilliantly. Aside from the supernatural elements in the end, the girls' problems are nothing too different from that of reality, but it sells the BRS characters well with a bit of exaggeration. Personally, I thought it would have worked out really well as a movie with a bit of trimming; the story is short and simple enough, yet there was never really a boring moment; it seems like the premises gave an excellent excuse to merge gruesome action with dramatic real life problems, and we're about to enjoy both without really feeling the disconnection between the two contrasting genres.

I wasn't too positive about Yamakan's new studio Ordet or his involvement in the anime, but the production values also surprises me. The action with all the use of CG turns out to be really good, compared to most of the action series out there. They didn't disappoint with the character designs either; BRS still looks as cool as ever, and it look even more so awesome animated. I didn't know what they did with the opening song Black Rock Shooter because it sounded way different from the original, but at least it's something I wanted them to use for the anime. The only thing that I was a little disappointed with is that they didn't manage to cast Saki Fujita (VA of Hatsune Miku) as BRS.

I hope I didn't fail to highlight how gruesome the action is. It's lucky that the girls were pretty much mute; if they were to start screaming in pain, this would have been a horror show.

All in all, I really enjoyed it. Enough to make me look forward to what the next project of Ordet would be.

Plot/Concept: Excellent!
Story Style: Good
Audio/Visual: Great!
Value: 8