BlackêRock Shooter Anime Review
Written by: ClayDragon
When you watch a lot of anime, over time you accumulate a number of shows that you’ve heard of, and perhaps have been meaning to check out, but haven’t actually got around to watching. For me, BlackêRock Shooter was one such show, so when I was asked to review it, it was like hitting two birds with one stone. That being said, I knew next to nothing about the show itself, so I was going in completely blind. In hindsight, maybe reading a plot summary first would have helped a bit.
|But...but you're speaking Japanese...|
Not because BlackêRock Shooter is bad, not by any means, but because I had no idea what was going on. All I knew about this show was that there was a girl who has an eye on fire and a massive gun. What I didn’t know is that the plot is staggered between said girl (the eponymous BlackêRock Shooter), and high school drama. I was promised action, not another school setting, dammit! That being said, it’s not as bad as it sounds.
|No really, it gets better.|
On the high school side, first year pupil Mato makes friends with a shy loner called Yomi, but gets a bit more than she bargained for when she realises how messed up Yomi’s personal life actually is. On the other side of the plot, BlackêRock Shooter is embroiled in a series of fast-paced battles against a number of mysterious enemies in another world. Whilst it may seem as though the two stories have nothing in common, the plot threads from each one come together nicely halfway through the series (although astute viewers may figure it out early).
|Is that you, Makise Kurisu?|
At the start of the show, BlackêRock Shooter’s biggest strength comes from the fact that there’s very little exposition regarding the Otherworld plotline. Whilst some viewers may get confused (like I did at first), enough context is offered up early on to nudge you towards a conclusion about the two worlds, and it’s nice having to exercise your brain as opposed to having all the information spoon-fed to you. Sadly, this show’s greatest weakness is that there’s a large info-dump in the middle, and then not much after that. As such, some events and actions in the latter half are not explained properly, which made me even more confused.
|Pew pew pew!|
In terms of characterisation, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The nature of the show means that the mindset of each character is examined in much depth, but the series is so short – only 8 episodes – that I didn’t feel as if any of the characters had particularly grown on me. Aside from Mato and Yomi, the only other important school characters are Mato’s other friend Yuu, Yumi’s friend Kagari, and a school counsellor who must hold the record for being the worst guidance teacher ever. BlackêRock Shooter herself was probably the best example of this problem since she’s absolutely awesome in a fight, but she never speaks, so all her development is explained by other people as opposed to actually being shown.
|Seriously, who makes tea in a microwave?|
Speaking of the fights, they’re absolutely amazing to watch, and the gifs in this review don’t really do them justice. The animation style changes between the high school setting and the Otherworld, and whilst the school animation is fairly ordinary, the Otherworld animation is anything but. The locations are visually striking (my personal favourite was an arena that was essentially a massive, constantly-rotating Rubik’s Cube), and there was at least one moment in every fight that impressed me.
BlackêRock Shooter is an anime based on a music video based on a sketch of a girl who would go on to become the show’s namesake. Given the show’s close ties with music, the soundtrack is suitably awesome. The opening in particular is instantly memorable, in part because it’s sung by Hatsune Miku (essentially a singing voice synthesiser, in case you didn’t know). Although the ending isn’t as memorable, the background tracks make up for it, especially when it comes to the music played during the fight scenes.
|Rocket Raccoon just got very jealous.|
The only other problem I have with this show is that there were very few emotional moments. Sure, there were sad scenes and heartwarming scenes but, stemming back to the limited episode count, I didn’t feel invested enough in the characters to particularly care. That being said, the show’s climax did manage to elicit some feelings from me, so it’s not all bad.
|You and me both, girl.|
Overall, BlackêRock Shooter isn’t exactly what I was expecting. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since I still enjoyed the show, but I can’t help but feel that it would have benefitted from a full 13-episode run as opposed to only 8. Although the school-based characters aren’t particular noteworthy and the exposition is rather spotty, the link between the two worlds is an interesting concept, if a tad underdeveloped (I’ve been intentionally vague about it since it might be considered a somewhat significant spoiler). That, and some of the setpieces used during the fights are downright awesome.
|Rainbows make everything better.|
Good Things: Awesome soundtrack and Otherworld animation.
Every fight is a treat to watch.
Psychological analysis focuses on real-world issues (mostly).
Intriguing premise regarding both worlds.
Bad Things: The characters don’t get that much development.
The latter half of the show can get a bit confusing.
Limited emotional impact.
|I'm surprised she still has a face after that punch.|
ClayDragon has finished studying Physics at university, and understands about as much as he did when he started. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at firstname.lastname@example.org. He has an ask.fm account at ask.fm/ClayDragon. When not playing games or reading, he can be found with his head in his hands whilst trying in vain to figure out what to do with his life. He is a lean, mean, reviewing machine.