Review #36- Black★Rock Shooter

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Greetings! Welcome to our very next review! Today we will be covering the anime Black★Rock Shooter. As a sort of disclaimer, I found this anime to be rather challenging personally to review, but I will do my best. Beware of minor SPOILERS, like always.

Now without further ado, let us begin the review!

Summary:  In spring, two girls meet: Mato and Yomi. They each sense something in the other that they lack in themselves, and are drawn to each other in spite of their contrasting personalities. Though initially hesitant, they form a strong connection. But they both have secrets – and in an empty world, two girls fight: Black Rock Shooter and Deadmaster. A strange being, Black Gold Saw, watches their mysterious battle, laughing. This is the story of two girls, in two worlds, entangled by the threads of fate. -Anime News Network

Plot: 6/10

The plot of this anime was kind of joy ride in some ways. Despite what the summary above says, this is really only the plot of the first couple episodes. The focus of the plot shifts around in this anime frequently, making it some what hard to follow, especially towards the end. Another sticking point is the unclear relationship between the regular world and the “other world” for the first few episodes. The “other world” seems like it is suppose to be symbolic until it is revealed that are actually real things. Some of the truths of the show’s universe are easy to miss among all the plot shifting, leaving a viewer confused if they are not paying close attention. All this being said, the show does do an excellent job introducing characters and maintaining an even pacing, while building the plot appropriately.

Characters: 9/10

The plot is completely character driven, and because of this, the characters themselves are very strong. The cast is also kept somewhat small, preventing cluttering, which was greatly appreciated and allowed the show the proper time to develop each character. While this is true, some of their reactions are exaggerated, which while in tune with the over the top nature of the show, is a bit annoying and takes away from the otherwise realistic characters.

Animation: 8/10

The show is done in both regular animation for the regular world and CGI for the “other world”. In most modern anime CGI is normally a turn off, but the CGI for Black★Rock Shooter is very good and does not take away from the show at all. The regular animation is not the best, but acceptable.

Soundtrack: 8/10

The soundtrack of this anime is pretty much hit or miss when used in regards to each of the scenes, though it generally does its job well enough. An interesting note is the opening is done by Vocaloid, which fits in with the show.

Themes: 10/10

Black★Rock Shooter really aims to make everything over the top, and all of this is the effort to display the themes. There are a lot of interesting themes brought to life, such as sacrifice, friendship, and the trials of youth. What the show spoke loudest was the last theme just mentioned: the trials of youth. Drama is inevitable once the hormones of puberty start kicking in, and sometimes it can feel as if one alone in these struggles. Each of the girls in the series seems to follow this idea, and their struggles to break free from it are clearly evident. The themes of this series are easily seen, and flow through every fiber of the anime.

Final Score: 8.2/10

Final Grade: B

B-Ro’s Take

Black★Rock Shooter was an amazing anime. This anime is one of my favorites, from the animation to the themes it is just amazing. The animation in this anime is breath taking. It has two worlds that have slightly different styles. The normal world has a very familiar look as other anime with good animation, but the alternate world is all done with pastel colors. This gives the alternate world a very surreal feeling and makes it look very unquiet. The characters are very interesting as well. Most of them have lots of problems and often exaggerate their feelings, but this work quite well with the show only taking very little away from it. We also get to see multiple sides of the characters by seeing their alternate world versions of themselves and by how they change throughout the anime. The story in this show is very action pact and deep. The alternate world is just constant fighting between the characters. This represents your emotions getting the best of you and taking control. There is also deep meanings about losing friends and how you really need friends to help support you. While the theme of friendship can seem childish and over used, but it is done in a way that seems new and more complicated thus making it a non-issue. Sadly because of the way the anime handles the story and themes it makes it a bit hard to follow at times. Out of 10 I would give this anime an 8.5. It is a good anime with some deep meaning. I would recommend this anime to anyone who likes action or just wants something different to watch. – B-Ro

LowKev’s Take

Black★Rock Shooter was a strange experience for me. For the majority of the show, mixed feelings doesn’t even begin to describe my reaction. I’ve never taken so many notes prior to writing a review trying to figure out if I like a show. Well I’ve made a decision, but let me get into the show. No matter what I think of the show itself, I highly respect the way it was made. The collaboration and inspiration that went from Huke’s original illustrations, to Ryo making the opening song based on the illustrations, to the anime itself is really cool. The series seems to be known for its epic Cgi fight scenes. While they are pretty cool to look at, I wasn’t as into them overall. I didn’t have much of a reason to be emotionally invested in them, other than how the fights matched what was going on in the real world. It almost felt lifeless to me, at least at first. Like two puppets duking it out for no reason except for spicing up the show and being a visual representation for emotions. The characters were… interesting. They actually have a lot of depth, but their personalities sometimes switch on a dime it seems. The show really wants to be shocking at times, and to me it tries a bit too hard. There are a LOT of over the top emotional breakdowns, and while some of them really hit their mark, I would’ve preferred more subtleties. The plot was a bit strange to me at first. I was expecting the entire show to be about Mato and Yomi’s relationship, but it ended up being much, much more. It was kind of hard to follow. However, for whatever reason I couldn’t stop watching. It perplexed me how hooked I was to the show, and I’m glad that was the case. Without spoiling anything, the ending of the show is a colorful stroke of brilliance! It was beautiful, deep, and the fighting really had emotional weight. It couldn’t have ended on a higher note. While I wish the rest of the show was as amazing, perhaps I just didn’t get the show for most of it. I had these expectations of the plot being about one friendship, and was confused when it wasn’t, and was getting lost in the details of how the two worlds work. I feel like the story is more meant to display the themes, and once I decided to just go with it, it got much better. The show also got much better once I understood the characters more. I feel that this show would’ve benefited from less hyperbole and a longer season. Maybe also give us more reason to care about the battles beyond them looking cool and relating to the other world’s events. The show has a lot it wants to say, and I for the most part like what it says. It just needed more time and not feel like it needed to always shock me. I have to mention that the opening is the first Vocaloid song we have covered. It didn’t blow me out of the water, but I do overall like it. The rest of the soundtrack mostly does its job. BRS can be pretty confusing, but it definitely has some cool layers. The themes are really great, and the combat ended up being really cool in the end. I will definitely be rewatching this series now that I know what to expect, and perhaps I will fully be able to appreciate it. But for now I can say it was flawed but in the end brilliant. Definitely give it a shot, just follow the good old rule of “just go with it” and let the themes do their thing.

Final Comments: With lots of action and generally being over the top with all that it does, Black★Rock Shooter offers an anime rich in themes compounded by interesting animation. The chaotic nature of the show leaks into the plot to poisonous degree, however.

Thank you everyone for reading! We hope you liked the review, and would love to hear your comments. Check out some of our Bonus Posts, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Our next anime review with be Sunday Without God.

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6 thoughts on “Review #36- Black★Rock Shooter

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