, , , , , , , , , ,

Episode 10 gives a decent picture of an average Brynhildr in the Darkness chapter, but this isn’t an episode show, and with so few episodes left, the overarching plot kicks into full gear. Neko, Kazumi and the other need their Press X pills soon, and Gehirn wants the rogue witches dead and they’re done with moderation, as they send the most dangerous witch yet after them. Also there are some mysterious dudes in chairs that are way too big for them in the middle of a swamp or something. I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation for why they meet like this and don’t just use Skype. Also, I’m starting to think Gehirn was the wrong Eva reference.

Things are about to get real. The final showdown is just around the corner. All questions will be answered soon! But first, a new witch joined the group, so they all have to go into the hot-springs and grope each other. I get that this has been a thing in anime since Outlaw Star and even earlier, but it used to just be “the fan service episode”. But this hot-springs thing has been a repeated scene throughout the series, and almost every episode has boobs just barely censored by the camera angle or steam. If it was at least erotic then I could just give the show an ecchi tag and enjoy it, but this is paint-by-numbers fan-service, and the only times when it’s not dull are when it’s just disturbing (Studio Arms, sexual exploitation of minors kind of disturbing).

After the bath, the new witch, Hatsuna, decides she needs to test Ryouta’s loyalty. Since her power is that she can regenerate from any injury even if she’s decapitated, and Ryouta doesn’t know this, she lures him into a dangerous situation where he must risk his life to save hers. Don’t worry though, since she can regenerate, it’s all perfectly safe really. Except for the fact that Ryouta easily could and nearly does die. And really, Ryouta’s just one human, surrounded by super-humans, all of whom have told Hatsuna he’s trustworthy and Hatsuna didn’t bother testing them before getting naked together, and even if he did stab her in the back she could regenerate and be fine. This whole test is just her sadistic game, but I guess Ryouta is a masochist.

Ryouta chooses to be in this situation, is highly intelligent, courageous and dependable, and is surrounded by cuet girls who all love him, yet he refuses to touch any of them but is constantly accidentally seeing their tits. The wish fulfillment is stupefying. I get that a main character should generally be likable and a little enviable, otherwise the audience will have a hard time feeling invested, but could they have given him just one bad trait? And “he’s too nice” doesn’t count! I don’t feel invested in this character, because I know what he’s going to do. Feeling invested in a character means worrying about them, and hoping they do the right thing in the end. I can’t hope Ryouta will do the right thing at any point, because it’s a foregone conclusion, decided either by lazy writers or calculating marketers early in development, that he can do no wrong. Screw him; I didn’t believe for a second that he might actually die in this scene, and I’m disappointed he didn’t. And just as a cheery on top of this pile of crap, Hatuna apologizes for nearly killing Ryouta, then asks him on a date, saying, “I think I like you.” I think I hate her. On the bright side, OP 1 plays in the background here, so that was kinda nice.

It seems odd that, with only a small supply of the pills they need to live, the group is wasting their time with all this. Well, that suddenly dawns on them too. Okay, I’m not being fair. They thought they had a solution to the pills, but it wouldn’t come through in time. For just a brief moment there is potential for drama and character depth, but the power of friendship quickly sweeps that under the rug, and makes this whole thing a useless digression. But thank the heavens, because the real plot has arrived to save the day! Now, how can I avoid spoilers…

Because of classified information, classified information is able to locate classified information and alerts classified information. They classified information to retrieve classified information, and this gag’s already classified information.

Obviously, this format falls apart at this point. Thankfully, it should have already gotten across what Brynhildr is. It’s a weird, kinda really stupid, pervy show, with some damn good moments. The different powers are utilized in really unique and creative ways at least sometimes, and the only problem with the action scenes is that there aren’t enough of them. But with how inconsistent this show’s quality really is, one question remains, does the ending do the good parts justice?

Deus ex machina, cliched one-note villain, the same trite message of friendship just repeated, and a plot twist seen several episodes (and an OP) away. I’ve never agreed with “the ending is paramount”; sure it’s important, but a good show can prove its worth before the last episode. Closure, on the other hand, that is essential. It’s the reason I came back to Brynhildr, it had started expressing ideas about memory and identity, and I wanted to see that through. What I got was some hackneyed friendship memo.

I was ready to write off the show completely, and then this happened…

Brynhildr in the darkness review kick 1

brynhildr in the darkness review kick 2

Brynhildr in the darkness review kick 3

In the face! I don’t even care that his foot is backwards in the second shot! It’s moments like this that make me wish I did video reviews, because I could just play that on repeat forever. And, honestly, things finally pick up a little after this. We’re in the final moments now, and while better late than never, on time would be a lot better than late. A couple curve-balls are thrown; I get at least some of the closure I was hoping for, not much but some; the show gives a fairly compelling reason why even memories from the distant past can inform someone’s current identity, and we get a final battle. A ridiculously short battle, with the characters just throwing generic energy blasts and shields at each other.

But it just couldn’t finishing on a positive note, could it? No, this is Arms, this is Elfen Lied stuff, so at the last second it has to get as depressing as possible, for no reason, while the cheery-ass, god damn ending music plays. And, still not done fucking with me, the credits themselves drop another bombshell, with no explanation. According to some forums it’s explained in the manga, but that doesn’t let the anime off the hook.

One more thing I should mention, towards the end there is one word, “Initializer”, used a couple times that seems like it could connect the show with Black Bullet and its “Initiators”. I did some research, and didn’t find anything on this, and it really makes no sense from a production side since none of the writer, director or studio are the same, so there’s probably nothing to it. But I can’t shake the odd, out of place connection.

Seven months ago, I stated watching Brynhildr in the Darkness, and had no clue whether or not it was good, or even whether or not I liked it. Now, after 13 episodes, I can conclusively say, I still have no idea. Is it good? Sometimes. Is it bad? Most of the time. It certainly had more dumb moments that actually good ones, but that’s true with most anime these days. But at least I can say I enjoyed the show, and don’t regret watching it. I’m even thinking about trying the manga now. I would just give a halfhearted, “try the first couple episodes” recommendation, but that’s what I tried, and clearly it didn’t help me make up my mind. It’s either all 13, or 0. Do it if you don’t have much else you’re interested in right now, and you should find at least a few parts that make it worth your while. Oh, and check out OP 1, it’s pretty great.

Don’t Lose Your Way