Friday, 3 February 2012

Black★Rock Shooter - Episode 1

Let's be honest here - for all of its hype, the Black Rock Shooter OVA wasn't anything to write home about, proving ultimately to be a disjointed mish-mash of ideas that had neither the time nor the directorial skill to pull together into anything more coherent.  Despite that, here we are again, this time with the more luxurious possibilities that come from a TV broadcast run.

As per that OVA, the most instantly visually arresting elements of Black Rock Shooter are those set in its mysterious checkerboard world - a place, it seems, of constant conflict for our titular character as she comes across weird and wonderful locations as well as those who she knows from the real world.  The link between this place and reality is, at this early juncture, not explained at all, but with colour as one of the clear motifs of the series there's clearly a method to this madness, and if nothing else (and despite some really clunky CG) the occasional segments set in this "dream world" are striking and surprisingly violent as what seems to be almost a depiction of the protagonist's inner heart.

Beyond this, and back in normality, we join the world of Mato Kuroi - a kind, energetic and decidedly naive girl who seems more taken by her surroundings than her classmates.  At least, this is the case until she bumps into Asobi Kotori... or rather, Yomi Takanashi if she'd read the name correctly - a girl who immediately strikes her as someone Mato would like to call a friend.  After some shy beginnings the two hit it off over their shared love of a book, which ultimately sees Mato invited to Yomi's house.  It's here that the girls fun is interrupted by a seemingly unwanted guest - a wheelchair-bound girl named Kagari who seems to take an instant dislike to Mato and has no problems in saying so.  This naturally upsets Mato greatly, but even this isn't enough to dissuade her from trying her best to become friends with Yomi.

As opening go, I still feel a little unsure as to what this TV outing of Black Rock Shooter will offer - at first glance, its characters are horribly simplistic in both animation and personality, and this in turn feels so far adrift from the grittier otherworldliness of the show that it's hard to put the two elements together.  Somehow, Kagari's appearance manages to change this to some degree, giving things a decidedly weird edge that hopefully moves us closer to a balance between the two worlds within the series - this is clearly something that needs to be fleshed out substantially more moving forward, and it's perhaps the pivotal point in whether Black Rock Shooter will succeed or fail.  As a mish-mash of elements and animation styles, it's on unsure footing from this opener, but I certainly wouldn't want to write it off just yet.

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