Black Rock Shooter, I am (not) alone

by eternal on August 4, 2010

I apologize for being the last person on the planet to write about this.

As far as I can see, Black Rock Shooter is, basically, an anime adaptation of a music video. Most of us have already heard the iconic song by ryo and there’s more than enough fanart for everyone to be familiar with the character designs, but I don’t think I’m the only one who wasn’t intimately familiar with the “story” until recently. The source material is pretty cool – mostly thanks to artist huke and his dark, imaginative world – but it doesn’t seem to be about much. Miss “Black Rock Shooter” appears to be fighting to save someone, or maybe to protect a friend? She exists in a lonely world, searching for something. She eventually breaks her chains and… rides off on a motorbike? And then someone promises to keep on singing.

I know there’s a bit more to the BRS universe than meets the eye, but the OVA seems catered to people who at least have a faint idea of who ryo is, and it seems to work. Now, I’m not big on interpreting lyrics and poetry, but I think it’s safe to say that the original song and video can be read in a multitude of ways, and I quite like the angle taken by Yamakan and the team at Ordet. The characters Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master symbolize the hearts of Mato and Yomi, and their battles in huke’s desolate world represent their strained relationship as friends. Fair enough. A simple plot that easily fits into 50 minutes, and it somehow involves both implied schoolgirl yuri and dark, stylish combat.

As far as being faithful to the source, the anime has some neat little references thrown in. Mato’s many stars are a clever shout-out  to her alternate persona, and some of the BGM is arranged from the original Vocaloid song. It’s amusing to hear Black Rock Shooter in that bouncy, happy-go-lucky, first-day-of-school style of instrumental anime BGM. Outside of that, I can’t say that the OVA is particularly stunning aurally or visually, but it did a very good job of visualizing huke’s post-apocalyptic battleground. I suppose he deserves the most credit for conceiving the concept, but at least his work wasn’t butchered.

Altogether, Black Rock Shooter isn’t bad; if anything, it’s pretty good. I’m sure it’s attracted some disappointment thanks to its sheer popularity, but it’s hard to get disappointed over a music video adaptation. At the very least, I now have a pleasantly cheesy shoujo-ai story of love and friendship to think about whenever BRS comes up on shuffle.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

rune_devros August 4, 2010 at 9:37 pm

BRS seems to polarize the viewers. A lot of people seem to either really like it or really dislike it.


RyanA August 4, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Ah, I liked the touch of stars. It was noticeable and relevant :)


kimaguresan August 4, 2010 at 10:27 pm

I ended up liking it a lot more than I thought based on everyone else’s initial thoughts. The parallel world worked especially well since most of it had no dialogue. It let the “real” world do the talking and Mato and Yomi’s conflict fight it out so to speak.

And yes, stars. I kinda feel like re-watching this now.


Smithy August 5, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Actually loved the OVA. As rune_devros said it seems opinions on it are quite polarized and from what I’ve seen, most BRS fans that were into the whole BRS lore/cult are disappointed in this anime (mostly because it didn’t explain what the other world was all about) which seems to appeal more to people who aren’t very much familiar with BRS.

Think it was a great story about two girls’ friendship and the hardships they encounter when a third person appears, with the other world being a unique metaphor to symbolize their inner struggles.


ETERNAL August 7, 2010 at 3:43 pm

I think you’re right about the source of the polarization: if a person is already a huge fan of BRS, they’re going to have a lot of expectations going in. I’m just a casual Vocaloid fan who tries to keep up with VocaRan, so I’d accept pretty much anything that looks nice and makes sense. Bonus points for the cute girls.


Jinx August 6, 2010 at 8:22 pm

The anime industry need more competent screen writers like they had in this OVA. A bit slow perhaps, and nothing gets explained really, but it works.

My only beef is with BG SFX and some animation during the fighting scene. But I’ll forgive them, since it’s a one shot OVA


ETERNAL August 7, 2010 at 3:45 pm

I was thinking about the animation while watching this: everything looked nice, but I noticed that the battles weren’t particularly stylish. I was much more impressed by their visualization of huke’s world than of the actual combat. I imagine that it requires a fair bit of time and effort (and therefore money) to animate fight scenes, though, so it’s forgivable for an OVA.


Yi August 7, 2010 at 3:43 am

What surprises me the most though is that there is not that much of the original music that inspired the artwork in this OVA other than a slight nod. I was hoping for more. Still I agree it seems more like a music video adaptation.

Anyways, the stars are quite cute. They string the worlds together and at one point, I started playing “Where’s Waldo” with them


ETERNAL August 7, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Where’s Waldo wouldn’t be a bad idea, like counting the Uguu’s in Kanon. I think someone already did that…


nike dunks October 3, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Kudos to you and your publisher for utilizing the technology
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