Vitals Black Rock Shooter
Original Video Animation
Genre: Action, Drama, School, Slice of Life
the story of Black Rock Shooter was a bit perplexing for me. How could a
few illustrations from a small time artist in Japan spawn not only an
OVA but a video games as well? And how did an entire mythos around this
franchise generate a dedicated wikia. It’s a testament to the power of
Vocaloids and Hatsune Miku, who the character is based off of.
Rock Shooter’s story structure is split, half the story taking place in
an generic unnamed Japanese town, the other half in a post-apocalyptic
gothic ‘Otherworld’. In the former, we follow the budding friendship of
Mato and Yomi as they begin junior high school. The latter depicts the
eponymous character squaring off against a Dead Master, who bears a
striking similarity to the real world Yomi. What’s odd is that these
settings are never really connected, the only relationship they share is
the visual similarities of the character designs. The ‘Otherworld’
segments are filled with action sequences, while aesthetically
impressive, are distractions from the heartwarming tale of the two young
girls. At points I would scratch my head at the purpose of adding these
sections other than branding it the ‘Black Rock Shooter Anime’. Its
safe to say the pacing suffered as well as the story. In the last few
moments a slapdash attempt is made to reconcile the two setting and
produce an unsatisfying ending.
the plot falters the script really shines through. The exchanges
between Mato and Yomi are touching and believable and form a foundation
for likable characters. While supporting characters are sparse, they are
well selected, everyone pitching in to deliver a poignant emotional
climax. Nothing to write home about, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Rock Shooter’s blue palette is pleasing, a visual motif found in both
worlds presented. The muted colors draw the focus to the strongest
aspect of this piece, the characters. The ‘Outerworld’ disappointed me
though, where the benefit of creative freedom wasn’t exercised. The
feudal geometry is interesting but common. I had higher expectations of
Studio Ordet, made up of ex-Kyoto Animation employees, responsible for
the fantastic art design of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. The
animation is standard, most of the grunt work of the action sequences
aided by CGI.
continues throughout with the sound production. While the seiyuu Kana
Hanazawa and Miyuki Sawashiro perform admirably, there is nothing worth
noting. Considering that Black Rock Shooter’s first fifteen minutes of
fame we’re from a music video, I expected the music to be, well,
excellent. That’s not the case, most the score is just generic j-pop
guitar and percussion. Considering that the Ryo and supercell, the
original songs producers, were on board, I would hope that their talents
were utilized more. It seems that they were kept on the production team
to only help create remixes for the official soundtrack.
the opening sequence the missteps become apparent. There was a clear
lack of imagination in this venture, surprising because of it’s artistic
roots. The story, visuals and audio are half baked and unrealized.
Maybe Black Rock Shooter was just not ready to be explored in this
medium. A music video is one thing, but delivering a quality animated
experience is whole other beast and the fifty minute time constraint is
not an excuse. With Studio Ordet in talks of creating a thirteen episode
run of Black Rock Shooter, I can only groan, as it reeks of that
cash-in smell for a steadily expanding merchandising brand.