Double Feature: Black Bullet 3+4

Holes, more holes in your body, which is totally not a yaoi joke.

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Black Bullet is a pleasant surprise that is quickly becoming the series I look forward to most.  With a few caveats, but we’ll get into those at the very end.  Because while there’s a few logical hiccups so far, it’s a good action series that carries you along without much complaint.

Rentaro is venting to our cute doctor, but she’s just bored, calling his problems average. She says all this to get him motivated and understand he is Enju’s family.

Nice feel good, but did we miss a scene? Why is this necessary when he said he’d search every block for her?

Enju shows up at her school, trying to force her peers to accept her humanity….but you didn’t honestly expect that to work, did you?  Ordinary Humans seem to regard Cursed Children as full Gastrea, and as we’ll later learn, they are indeed in danger of turning if their “blood toxicity” rises above a certain threshold.  It does seem a -little- harsh that not one of them is sympathetic, though maybe the ones on the fence are staying out of it, letting the loud obnoxious ones block her way.

In some good news, the case has been found.  Enju just dives right in, and relentlessly beat the flying spider thing like a boxing champion fighting a fat kid.

But her bravado turns out to be compensation, and she’s on the verge of tears, lamenting that she killed it in order to protect those she considered her friends at school, and she breaks down.

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This was an excellent scene.  And it really stems from the great job they’ve done characterizing Enju as a believable child.  Rentaro doesn’t have the words.  And really…what the hell do you say to a ten year old at a time like this?  What trite garbage isn’t going to sound like the hopelessly optimistic words of an ivory tower guidance counselor? But Rentaro falls back on the one truth he can carry. He is Enju’s family, and he will always be there for her no matter what.

It’s as good a resolution as we can have.  But it’s interrupted by Kagetane, who beats seven kinds of hell out of Rentaro, and leaves him for dead, Enju running for help.

Well Rentaro isn’t dead! And Kisara is here in the hospital to explain that the Seven Stars device can summon a “Stage 5 Gastrea”, these are powerful behemoth’s who cannot be killed by normal methods, and are even unphased by the varanium barrier.  If one attacked Tokyo, it would certainly cause devastation, but the real end would be in the destruction of the monoliths, which would invite the hordes of Class 1-4 Gastrea outside the barrier to enter and it would be the end of Tokyo.

Rentaro is requested to join the attack on Kagetane. Seems he isn’t bothering to hide anymore. There’s a brief scene where we learn Rentaro was operated on ten years ago…dun dun dunnn!

After some hijinks outside the barrier, Rentaro and Enju find the little blonde Initiator attached to the Bleach asshole, her name is Kayo. We learn that she has a “dolphin type”, and judging by some of the Gastrea outside, bugs aren’t the lone Gastrea (though that’s what we’ve seen so far).  But her dolphin type makes her incredibly intelligent for her young age. We learn a lot of shit about asshole, whose name is Shogen, like how he has Kayo kill other pairs to keep the reward to himself.  Still, she’s determined to help him, as they are partners.

Episode 4 opens with Kayo staying behind to cover the rear, as they’ve been stalked by a few dozen giant Gastrea.

Moving into town…seriously that OP is badass…it’s been a massacre. Even Shogen is dead.

The higher ups, watching on cameras, because of course they have the outsides of Tokyo monitored at all times (seems fishy), are nervous. But Kisara arrives, proclaiming she knows Rentaro will emerge victorious. She exposits that ten years ago, Dr. Muroto saved Rentaro’s life…Just uttering our sexy-creepy-doctor’s name gives it away to the commanders present.

Yes, Rentaro is also one of the Mechanization Unit.

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A pretty damn good fight breaks out between the pairs.  Kagetane reveals his reasons.  Living weapons, like himself, like Rentaro, like the Cursed Children, are regarded very little by people once peace sets in.  The public has the memory of a fucking goldfish, so by starting the conflict with Gastrea in earnest, perhaps they’ll be more appreciative of the ones who have lost a part of their humanity to keep them safe.

…From what we’ve seen of this society, I’m finding it really hard not to side with him.

Rentaro gets a hole blasted through his chest. Yes, again.

But luckily, Sexy-Sensei gave him a shitload of experimental drugs, designed to give Humans Gastrea regeneration.  He survives, because of course they’re fatal in 20% of all cases.  Actually I’m more shocked it’s that low.

Against this power, Kagetane has no answer, and is killed.  But there’s still the matter of the Stage 5…

Rentaro and Enju head for a huge cannon, and well…this is so final fantasy.  Our heroes are sitting on the sidelines watching the military fight the giant monster while they run around questing to fire the giant gun and not actually engage it themselves.  Long story short, after firing his arm out of the Varanium cannon (yeah don’t ask), Rentaro goes to find Kayo.  She’s dying. Because happy endings are for fairies and nanban.

It’s a rather sweet scene…but, okay, time to address it.

At this point, we are on Chapter 16 of the manga, so I have read.  And the show feels like it. The pace is terribly fast, so much so that each of these little moments feels cheapened. And the space between events hurts the impact. Like Rentaro getting stabbed through the chest.  It’s almost a meme with the frequency it’s been happening.  Enju’s arc of “betrayal” is played out across two episodes, but all in all is about eight minutes of screen time.  This is Black Bullet’s primary weakness, and I’m not sure why the pace is so quick, but it seems like there must have been a better way to do it besides compressing it all together. Maybe outright skipping chapters could have helped? Or maybe they did. Maybe this IS the abridged version o.o Fuck.

Because our ending scene in Episode 4 is supposed to be some big reveal…but it is so disjointed from the story we’ve been following I only vaguely can connect some of the dots, and I’m not sure how Rentaro did.  His adoptive father was behind the whole thing.  They pinned the blame on an opposition party leader, and he has conveniently committed suicide over the incident.  Turns out he’s as big a racist as anyone, and thinks of the Cursed Children as Gastrea, disapproving of the motion to give them human rights.

We also find out what was in the case. A tricycle. Yes. Rentaro is obviously confused how THAT could summon a Stage 5. Buddy, you ain’t the only one.  He also asks what Gastrea are, a question that seems to come from nowhere, and I feel we missed a line of important exposition somewhere down the line. Seitenshi says she cannot answer, but offer that if he becomes more prolific, perhaps he will sit on the ruling council some day, and can be privy to such classified information.

So, Black Bullet, as of now, isn’t crippled by its pacing…but it is certainly its biggest handicap.  I hope things get more focused in the future, because if we continue to expand on plot points that were glossed over or made unimportant by the series, I’ll be very confused very quickly, and then I’ll be very mad.

I’m also curious what happens with the role of antagonist, as Kagetane seemed to feature rather prominently in the opening credits.  Perhaps they’ll just change.  But it’s a shame as I enjoyed his chemistry with Rentaro.  They made great foils, and Kohina seems like a great wild card to play now that her father’s gone.  We did often see him holding her leash VERY tight, so without that tempering influence (never thought Kagetane might be considered “moderation” did you?) will she go off the handle?

But the very last scene…is that Enju’s true blood tests are being withheld. She’s actually sitting at about 43% corruption, just a hair shy of that almighty 50% mark. Well fuck you too, Future Tokyo.

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One thought on “Double Feature: Black Bullet 3+4

  1. I agree with your views. Black Bullet is great and I love the opening song, but the pace is quite fast. I would have enjoyed the episode 4 more if the fight was longer and the other scenes more developed. The plot seems to be rushing a little in these two episodes. Also, I’m hoping that Kagetane will return later. He’s an intriguing antagonist, so it’s strange if he really died.

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