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Ah, back to making weekly episodic notes. For those of you not familiar with these, whenever I find an anime (preferably one currently airing) where each episode is able to provoke substantive thought and hopefully discussion, I make episode by episode notes on it. The notes are made while watching, and don’t act as any kind of review or reflection, they’re just my thoughts as I’m watching. I’ve done this previously with some of the later episodes of Kill la Kill, and now I’m doing for Brynhildr. Please, if you can expand on any of the ideas I bring up, offer criticism, have something different to say about the episode, or want to discus the episode in anyway, comment down below. With that out of the way, let’s jam.

1) Torture Porn:

1.1) Over the first two episode I was lured into this show’s trap. I began to care about the characters in a way that never ends well in Arms series, and thought the dark themes would only be mild. But Arms has not ceased their depraved ways, instead they’ve refined them. And now I’m caught. What they’ve made this time isn’t just their usual torture porn, it’s emotional torture porn. That’s right, Arms has made a Netorare series. Haruhi help us all.

Brynhildr in the Darkness episode 3 1

1.2) “I can still go to the ocean,” she says, with so little genuine feeling that I’m not sure if she’s passive aggressive, or has just gone Rei Ayanami on us. Actually, it’s obviously the latter, and that just makes it hurt more. Have you ever read Katawa Shoujo? Emi’s arc? Yeah, that line encompases almost everything that made that so painful. And at this point you’re assuming that the reason she’s in bandages is because she got hurt trying to save someone. The real reason makes it even worse…

1.3) It turn out their obsession with death is much deeper than just the threat of being caught. Death is unavoidable for all of us, but most of the time we have the luxury of forgetting about it. But for Neko and Kana, the pills don’t just mean they only have 5 days left, they mean they have 5 days left and they have to count some more time lost every couple of hours. Even the name gives it a bad tone. They aren’t death preventers or cures, just suppressants. Death is always there, and the best you can do is suppress it for a little while. These aren’t just the powerful witches who could predict the future and spit boulders any more, they’re also far more mortal and fragile that the average human.

1.4) So this other witch has a 6 meter long attack that cuts people into pieces. Can we just call her Lucy?

2) Who she is:

2.1) Another thing about the “I can still go to the ocean” line is what it actually means to Neko and Ryota. She makes it sound like a chore, like she’s doing him a favor. She doesn’t actually really care about going to the ocean, but she knows he wants her to. And why does he want her to, because Kuroneko wanted to. She wants to go for him. He wants to go for the memory of Kuroneko, that memory being manifest in Neko. No one really wants to go. And even if Neko is Kuroneko, she doesn’t want to go anymore. They’re both suffering for the sake of a memory.

“Somehow I feeling like a wanted to go a long time ago.” Alright, so there’s little doubt that Neko and Kuroneko are existentially linked in some way. But they’re also clearly not the same person. They share an appearance, some personality traits, some vague memory, and possibly a DNA structure but who knows what the witch experiments may have done to that. Tossing out any Hericlician concepts of identity (because that just ruins all the fun :P), are these two the same person in any way? Hopefully the show will try to answer that.

3) Helplessness:

3.1) I think Kana could come to be the most interesting character in this show. She doesn’t obsess over herself because she can’t, and as we’ve seen she instead channels her energy into encouraging her friends (or at least Neko) to make the most of their lives, whatever that may mean. She’s stuck in bed all day, but she seemed content to tell Neko to she should enjoy the time she has left back in episode 2. But now at a crisis happens and Neko almost dies, she’s right next to her yet can’t lift any more than a finger to help. It must feel terrible to be in that position.

3.2) And now the the bad news is out, what’s Kana have to say? Please bring us cake for the five days we have left. Neko is just as helpless as Kana in this case, but having that line come from the one who needs their cake ground up in a blender before they can eat it just makes it all the more helpless.

3.3) “Don’t cry” “I’m just going to die a little fast, that’s all.” Do I have to say anything more? And that nosebleed… suddenly I feel like a monster for chuckling at the end of episode 2.

4) Helpfulness:Brynhildr in the Darkness episode 3 2

4.1) As I said in my first reaction, what makes Ryota stand out from a lot of other protagonists is his activeness. And specifically that seems to be of two kinds so far, curiosity, and helpfulness. He wants to help. But right away he’s reminded how little he can do. Sure he can cut them tons of firewood, but he can’t help them live long enough for it to matter.

4.2) Kana asks Neko to kill her before she has to suffer. That’s her option for helping. Either just let her suffer and die slowly, or kill her. Helpfulness and Helplessness are one-and-the-same here. Or at least, they co-exist by nature, but in this case they’re so close to each other that they’ve practically removed what should be a defining gap.

4.3) But I guess that’s not a problem for Ryota. He’s capable, not just useful. He doesn’t just help Neko by predicting the future like Kana, he can actively save her thanks to his photographic memory. Kinda convenient that that just came up now. Slight writing flaw I think.

5) Memories:

5.1) On one hand remembering things is painful, on the other forgetting them is too. Safe bet they’re talking about the same event here, but from completely different perspectives. Ryota remembers losing Kuroneko. Neko forgets having Ryota in her life. Also the themes of guilt are pretty heavy in this scene -Ryota’s blamed himself for Kuroneko’s death for ten years, and Neko’s blaming herself for Kana’s death before it even happens. But we’re not even halfway through, and this is already pretty long, so I’ll save that for the comments or next week.

5.2) When she uses too much magic she loses things that are important to her. Memories, I assume.

5.3) And now she’s drawing a picture or writing. Trying to preserve those memories, I assume.

5.4) Damn, never mind. It was a decent guess though. Also, I’m starting to appreciate that opening theme now.

6) Destiny:

6.1) By involving himself, Ryota admits he understands that his life goes with Neko’s or Kana’s if either of them get caught. I guess witches are kinda like wobbuffets in that way, they get you with destiny bond 🙂

6.2) I guess destiny actually does have a role in all this, considering Kana’s ability to predict the future. it was Ryota’s destiny to die, but that was changed. And now it’s Neko’s destiny. Problem is, with Ryota he was saved by an outside force, namely Neko and Kana. What outside force is there to save Neko?

6.3) Alright, nevermind. I guess Kana acts as the outside force for Neko. It does kind of make sense (once you get around the whole magic thing). But what if Kana predicted her own death?

7) Classifications:

7.1) So the witches have different rankings… that sounds kinda shounen-y. I’m not sure what genre to make this show at this point, but I guess that’s not a bad thing. Hell, it’s probably a good thing. Now, I’m guessing over time the three witches we’re now familiar with will develop and expand their powers and reach higher ranks. It seems like one of the benefits of introducing this ranking system. Sure, it makes the villains more intimidating, but it also provides a sense of pacing.

Alright, those are my thoughts on this episode. This show’s going to do more damage to my psyche than Evangelion, isn’t it? Oh well, it’s worth it for a good anime 🙂

Don’t Lose Your Way