Black Rock Shooter is an eight-episode anime series based on the fictional character created by the artist known as Huke (real name Ryohei Fuke.) The titular lady resembles a gothic version of virtual pop idol Hatsune Miku, who ironically sings the show’s opening theme song. Back in May 2014 the folks at Manga Entertainment brought the series over to the UK, as a subtitle only release, which can be purchased on a two disc DVD set that retails for around £15.00. I decided to give the series a go as I recently started playing the Black Rock Shooter video game on the PSP. Unbeknownst to me the game and anime are radically different, with the cartoon version being the inferior of the two.
Although the series is called Black Rock Shooter the protagonist of the show is actually a teenage girl named Mato Kuroi. Maoto has just started high school where she meets a reclusive lass named Yomi Takanashi. The pair bond over their shared love for a children’s book titled The Little Bird of Many Colours. Unfortunately for them Yomi’s childhood pal Kagari Izuriha (a nutty girl confined to a wheelchair) doesn’t take kindly to anyone getting close to her only buddy and will stop at nothing to sabotage the blossoming friendship. As the story progresses we learn that Kagari isn’t the only one who is a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Yomi is wrestling with her own inner demons along with the school’s basketball captain who has been recently humiliated by bullies.
These sensitive ladies could use a good shoulder to cry on, but alas the school’s counsellor is a caffeine junky that dishes out terrible advice, which makes anyone seeking her guidance feel worse than when they initially visited her. What’s the solution then? Well, like most people, the gals in question transfer their bitterness over to an alternate dimension where superhuman doppelgangers battle to the death in a post apocalyptic world. Who will emerge victorious when Mato’s gun totting avatar Black Rock Shooter clashes with Yomi’s Dead Master persona? You’ll have to watch the series to find out… oh and if you do check out the anime good luck deciphering its plot because it doesn’t make a lick of sense to me.
Why couldn’t the animators just adapt the PSP game’s story into an anime? A superhuman clone battling against alien invaders may not sound original, but it would have been easier to follow than this incomprehensible mess. I think the studio responsible watched Madoka Magica and figured that they too could pull off a series featuring cute girls, otherworldly combat and dark psychological themes. Alas it didn’t work. Black Rock Shooter should have focused on either being a high school drama or an action packed science fiction slugfest. Trying to gel the two contrasting ideas together sadly didn’t work. It gets rather ridiculous when late into the series a far-fetched explanation is given for the existence of the supernatural dimension and everyone just goes along with it.
My final rating has to be a two out of five. Black Rock Shooter boasts some impressive CG animation during its action scenes, but it’s sadly wasted on this series. The cast are mostly likable until they go off the deep end and lose their minds. Kagari’s mental instability is due to a traumatic childhood event, but the rest of the characters don’t have a good reason for breaking down so readily. Maybe teenage hormones are to blame? For the sake of drama the girls just seem to make mountains out of molehills. Even when compared to other animes Black Rock Shooter comes across as rather bizarre and that’s saying something given how whacky Japanese cartoons can get.