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Black*Rock Shooter OVA - My Thoughts/Review

Black*Rock Shooter OVA - My Thoughts/Review
24 Jul 2010 21:44:20

NOTICE: This review is based on watching the raw. While I know enough Japanese to understand the basic gist of what's going on, I'll update this review upon seeing the subbed version. Also, there are some spoilers in the later portion of the review. However, I'll clearly mark when the spoilers begin and end, for those who want to avoid them.

Well, with the newest issue of Hobby Japan hitting shelves in Akiba, and the B*RS DVD bundled with it, it was only a matter of time before it got leaked. I managed to watch the raw version of it today. If people want, I can provide them with the raw - it ain't piracy if they're giving out for free. X3

Anyway, I have to say, what the hell did I just watch!? I'm rather disappointed, to say the least. The trailers, for the most part, emphasized 50 minutes of badass-loli-combat, with some occasional civilian-mode scenes (kinda like a gothic-lolita version of Sengoku Basara). What we got, however, is this:

Don't get me wrong, a slice-of-life component is fine. However, they took it WAY too far. It basically consists of 10-30 seconds of combat, followed by an abrupt, out-of-the-blue switch to 5-10 minutes of slice-of-life, and the cycle goes on. Overall, I estimate that the actual Black*Rock Shooter got about 5-8 minutes of screentime in her own OVA. Even then, though, those battle scenes are a little disappointing. Visually, they're beautiful, and really fun to watch, but there's zero voice-acting whatsoever. The scenery is rather pretty, though, in both the SOL and fighting scenes.

The plot basically goes like this: Matou Kuroi is an exuberant and hyperactive young girl going into her first year of high school. While there, she takes a liking to her mature classmate Yomi. Cue half an hour of slice-of-life antics, with the occasional 20-second B*RS fight scene randomly thrown in. However, in their second year, Matou also befriends another girl named Yuu. This is where things get... maybe "interesting" isn't the right word...


After another 10 minutes of SOL-friendship-montages interspersed with VERY brief fight scenes, we realize that Yomi has slowly been growing more distant from Matou.

Right in the middle of what seems to be the climatic fight scene, we cut to Yuu and Matou being questioned by police officers if they know anything about Yomi's mysterious disappearance. That night, Matou seems to be randomly biking to a hill out of despair, and she finds a blue glowy thing. She touches it, and...


She turns into Black*Rock Shooter as she's absorbed by the light. It cuts again to the climatic battle, where Dead Master has had her scythe destroyed by B*RS. No biggie, though, because she does this:

And traps B*RS in her tentacle-chains. After 30 seconds of struggling, our heroine breaks free, and approaches Dead Master ominously. Then, Dead Master, rather than unleashing some sort of awesome attack, begins taking a few steps backwards...

...And stumbles off a ledge. Really? You were such an ominous-looking, cool villain, and you can't even predict the location of a ledge in your own castle? Regardless, Black*Rock Shooter catches Dead Master, who attempts to squirm her way free from B*RS's deadly loli-hug. She then screams, and starts shedding murky-green powder from her body, which forms the shape of Dead Master as it falls off the ledge. Cut to Black*Rock Shooter hugging an unconscious Yomi, who's wearing Dead Master's clothes. B*RS carries Yomi to safety as the castle falls apart for no given reason, and then it cuts to Yomi, Matou, and Yuu entering their third year.


And before you ask, the song that helped make Black*Rock Shooter so famous doesn't appear in the OVA at all. Black*Gold Saw and Strength make brief appearances, but serve no real purpose (B*GS is a generic mook, and Strentgh just stands on a cliff Piccolo-style for all of 6 seconds).

So, let's summarize things.

-Very pretty scenery in both the slice-of-life portions and the other-world portions.
-Fight scenes are a blast to watch while they last.
-Some neat character designs, but most of them get barely any screentime.

-Very misleading trailers, merchandising, etc. - this is a slice-of-life show with 5-8 minutes of combat, not an action show.
-Slice-of-life character designs are extremely generic - schoolgirls A, B, and C. Whoop-de-doo.
-No voice acting in the other-world portions. The only sound in the fight scenes is swords clashing and generic metal.
-Complete wasted potential with most of the characters.
-Underwhelming climax.

Unless you really, really want to see what all the hype is about or love the character designs, don't bother. Just wait for someone to make a collage of the fight scenes - that way, you'll save the 40 minutes wasted on the slice-of-life portion. Even then, don't go into the slice-of-life portions expecting something comedic, like Azumanga Daioh or even K-On - there's little-to-no comedy, even in the slice-of-life portions. Overall, Black*Rock Shooter fails as both the dynamic, stylized action show it markets itself as and as the heartwarming slice-of-life show the actual OVA attempts to be.

This was my face as I watched this.
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mu597 (USA)
24 Jul 2010, 12:53:10
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Well that's disappointing, and doesn't help that the character designs are a lot blander looking too.
mu597 (USA)
24 Jul 2010, 14:57:21
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I just watched it, extremely disappointed with it.

Why was there such a heavy focus on the slice of life segments?

Why bother including Strength if she played such a small part? (She'll probably be the villain of the the sequel if this one somehow manages to be successful)

Why wasn't the ending song sung by miku?

On a positive note Black★Gold Saw's fight was the best part only because it was an uninterrupted fight scene.

Seriously though what were they thinking?
usagi_joou (Russia)
25 Jul 2010, 01:01:18
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I've seen it yesterday evening on some sharing site and considered downloading... but then refrained. In fact I expected something like this from reverse cycle "figures - anime" (instead of "anime - figures").

I guess this OVA is something like 1-hour commercial for the figures. But anyway, the potential was really high it's a pity they didn't use it T_T
I'm too old for this shit, ain't I?
KururuSouchou (USA)
28 Jul 2010, 13:36:32
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It doesn't even feel like a 1-hour commercial for the figures - all the figures are of B*RS or Dead Master, both of whom get barely any screentime. 80% of the screentime goes to the schoolgirls, who have zero merchandise, so they kind of failed as far as a toy commercial goes.

Even then, things like the old Transformers and G.I. Joe cartoons possessed a certain campy charm to them that made them entertaining despite their blatant commercial status - the OVA has none of that.
Impending_Sky (Russia)
25 Jul 2010, 03:07:58
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As for me - I absolutely love it =)
KururuSouchou (USA)
28 Jul 2010, 13:38:42
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I think the whole slice-of-life aspect of it would've been fine if it was marketed as a slice-of-life show. However, all the trailers made it look like a stylized action series. The end result felt like going to see Star Wars only to be given Seinfeld - fine on its own merits, but terribly disappointing when you're promised Star Wars and not Seinfeld.
Kajico (USA)
28 Jul 2010, 02:15:48
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The first part seemed kind of generic to me, I liked the whole character setup though i think it took too long imo, I think it has potential though and I actually liked it.
KururuSouchou (USA)
28 Jul 2010, 13:39:42
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Of course, I don't even know if there are any plans to make a sequel. It wouldn't surprise me, given how much of a merchandising juggernaut huke's art has proven to be.

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