Double Feature: Gokukoku no Brynhildr: Episodes 1+2

 

All we need is a puppy…

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You’ll recall I dreaded this series.  I have never been a fan of “socially awkward boy and his magical female companion” series.  I could not tolerate Witchcraft Works.  People told me there was parody or subversion somewhere in there.  Well, I think I watched a different Witchcraft Works from these people because I need to break out those tiny brushes to scrape away the sediment to find it.  Going to need a Vidocq-level microscope to show it to me, I’m afraid.

“Gokukoku no Brynhildr”, or “Brunhildr in the Darkness” does give some strong indications it might be shooting for more, though.  I can’t entirely put my finger on it…but I don’t have the same sense of dread I had with the aforementioned Witchcraft or any of the other siblings in this field.

Perhaps I have become desensitized to this crap.  I am not ruling out the possibility that I have gone insane.

Or, upon further research into the show, I discovered what may be the reason.  The creator of this series (though not the script writer) is none other than Lynn Okamoto.  If that name is not familiar to you…it’s the Elfen Lied guy. Yeah. In fact this project is something of a tribute band to that work, as it is an Arms production, and you can see a lot of similarities in style to that series.

Elfen Lied, as we all know, is a rite of passage for any true anime fan. Once you’ve seen it, it cannot be unseen.

Don’t worry though, we aren’t QUITE on that level.  It may actually justify a comment made by the creators of KILL la KILL that “the edgy creators of 10-20 years ago have lost their edge”.  Especially for…fucking ARMS, for cryin’ out loud, the studio that gave you La Blue Girl, Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai, and Queen’s Blade.  This is like Justin Bieber just going J-Metal one day on a whim. This is a tame, tame series.

At the moment.  Sorry. I need a disclaimer whenever the firepower might be brought out when we least expect it, and we are all kind of totally expecting it now, right?

Whatever the reason, heart or shoes, I’m finding myself enjoying this one.  And there’s plenty of room for it to slip up and piss me off, so this will be a true throw of the dice.

So we start our lead character, Ryota, talking about his childhood friend, whom he used to call Kuroneko.  She died, it seems, because they went on a stupid journey across what I think is a dam, and fell.  He blames himself for grabbing her hand when she reached for him.  He survived (somehow) but she didn’t. He never even knew her name.

This sense of guilt has followed him into his junior year of high school, where he studies to be a researcher at NASA.  Wait…NASA? Kind of dating yourself here, show. For shame.  How will you be relevant in six months?

Brynhildr

Okay in all seriousness, it’s clear his guilt has lingered, and arguably will linger for some time.

Anyway, a new transfer student arrives. Kuroha Neko.  She insists that she isn’t the same girl. Oh sure.

Okay, let’s be honest here. There’s definitely a connection.  Even if it isn’t the same exact girl, there’s something fishy going on.  And I’ve seen Elfen Lied, long lost childhood friends and empty memories are totally the main course here!

Anyway, Kuroha arrives at the observatory where Ryota is the sole member of the astronomy club.  We learn in a cute scene that Kuro doesn’t know multiplication.  Ryota says “how did you get through first grade without knowing them?!” First grade…seven years old…oh I see, not the same girl at all, mhm.

Okay time to be a lech, I love Kuro’s outfit.  She’s crazy cute with those gloves and boots.

And she kicks Ryota’s ass in arm wrestling.  Without any visible definition to her body. In fact, Ryota observes, she’s rather squishy around the biceps.

Either way, she’s here to warn Ryota not to go home, otherwise he dies.

But Ryota is a naturally curious person, as his persistent interest in the sciences proves.  He may be going into astronomy specifically because of guilt, but as a top academic and this little act shows, he still is inquisitive and would probably be in a related field one way or another.  He walks home, even if he dies, he’d know she could predict the future after all.

Well just as he works out exactly what would happen, he gets caught in the landslide he predicted.  But Kuro is there, preventing the huge boulder from crushing him.  She explains that she’s a witch. Though her powers originate from an implant at her brain stem-area.

Episode 2 opens with Kuro explaining that she’ll be killed if anyone finds out about her.  And it would be best for Ryota to forget her.

So, I am in love with this OP.   Not so much the song itself, but it sets the mood beautifully.

Gokukoku no Brynhildr - OP - Large 04

There’s a little flashback to Kuroneko and she is just adorable.  This is a genuinely funny bit that doesn’t feel like the show is trying to force the kawaii-kawaii down our throats.  But it’s easy to see why she left such an impression in Ryota.

Kuroha isn’t in class the next day, so the teacher assigns him to deliver a couple forms to her to finalize her transfer. On the way, he spies a JSDF convoy passing through, and we are shown the inside has a bound girl with an implant.

Well, surprise, the girl who will get killed if she’s found out gave a gazebo as her address.  But there is an abandoned village nearby, apparently it was to be flooded by a dam but that project was scrapped.

…Uh oh, a blue haired girl who can see the future with a failed dam project? Run, Ryota. RUN LIKE HELL!

It occurs to me this will probably tie into the dam that killed Kuroneko.

Well Ryota comes to see Kuro singing to herself doing laundry.  After a bit of a conversation where he says she should continue school, they hear a voice, when Kuro blasts the ground in front of him and tells him coldly to leave.  But in his haste, he forgot to give her the papers, so he’s on his way back.  He enters the abandoned home, and finds a still lolita (as in, lolita fashion! gawd). She’s a witch, too, and lost her ability to move from her surgeries.  She communicates Stephen Hawking style with a hand keyboard.  And she has a serious attitude problem.  Her name is Kana, and I like her.  They explain that their days are numbered, they escaped a research facility and the military is no doubt going to kill them and anyone associated with them.  Kuro reasons that if her life is limited, she will spend it saving people, like she did Ryota yesterday. Kana continues the whole time to be rather animated in her computer voice, somehow.

She is the one who can see the future, and tells Kuro that they captured a friend of theirs who escaped the research facility along with them. Distraught, she dismisses Ryota.

Well, Kana isn’t all mouth. She convinces Kuroha to go to school. After saving her from an embarassing class (seems Kuroha can’t read kanji very well…I can’t blame her), they get a message from Kana, and they avert someone’s death.  Rather standard adventure stuff.  Nothing out of the ordinary for a show of this type.

Oh, we cut to the girl who was captured.  After an interrogation, where she is told that her friend was killed for helping her, they remove her implant and she…ewww…um…let’s say someone took way too much joy in re-enacting the Wicked Witch of the West. I note that all it takes to kill these girls is a push of the button.  Bad design or insurance against rebellion? You be the judge.

Well Ryota arrives at the girls’ place with cake and snacks.  Of course these girls have eaten government food for ten years straight. Naturally, they’re eating the cake first. Fuck the etiquette!

I am liking this show.  I will pin down “why” soon, I hope.  Maybe it’s the style, or the character of Kuro, or that Ryota isn’t a completely naive, or despicable human being.

Maybe it is that same part of me that likes Elfen Lied.  I know lots of people have a problem with it. They say it batters the characters just to be sadistic and is unrelatable.

But if you’ve had a shitty life, it isn’t all that strange. And is actually quite relatable.  I think that’s why I feel an affection for Ryota.  He’s a guilt-ridden character seeking to absolve himself for something that, I think, would haunt many of us.  If you’ve ever obsessed over that one moment where you could have changed the outcome, then he’s a believable, identifiable character.

If you haven’t, then I’m sure he comes off as a whiny brat social reject who can’t get his act together over something that he really shouldn’t be blaming himself for.

But this blog has always advertised as subjective. So continue this series we shall.

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